Monday, July 20, 2015

Cousin Bait Works Again - Jesse W. Smith Obituary

In this case, it was my Ancestry Member Tree. Jill S. found that I had Jesse Smith (1816-????) of Jefferson county, New York in my Ancestry Member Tree, married to Matilda Gilman.

In the course of her research, Jill had found the obituary of Jesse W. Smith (1816-1910) of Oak Park, Illinois published in the Jefferson County Journal newspaper, dated 2 November 1910; she found it on the Old Fulton N.Y. Post Cards website (

Here is the obituary:

The transcription of this obituary reads:

Jesse W. Smith

Oak Leaves, published at Oak Park, Illinois, in the issue of Oct. 15 contains an obituary notice of Jesse W. Smith, a former resident of this town, and lived near the Lick bridge on the farm now owned by Will Strickland.

On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 9, Jesse W. Smith, for thirty-seven years a resident of Oak Park, died at his home. 284 Forest Avenue, in the ninety-fifth year of his age.

His death marks the close of a singularly long and active life.  For many years he has been the oldest member of the "Borrowed Time" club, and had he lived till the third day of March 1911, he would have passed a quarter of a century beyond the usual span of life allotted to man.

For years he has been a familiar figure on the streets of our village as he drove to and from his work, and by many of his friends and neighbors, besides those of us who are proud to claim relatinoship, he will always be affectionately remembered as "Uncle Jesse."

His long grey beard, his venerable appearance, combined with the well known face of his extreme age, and that in summer time he was frequently seen with a scythe in his hand, gave him also the fanciful name of "Father Time."

Descended from good old Revolutionary stock, like his New England ancestors, his character was marked by firm principles, unbending integrity and almost unparalled habits of industry.  Thrifty and economical in an age too much given to extravagance and waste, he was at the same time generous in the best sense and singularly thoughtful of the comfort and happiness of others.  Green vegetables in their season and other garden products had a mysterious way of appearing at the back door in his neighborhood, and no one who was sick or unfortunate was ever denied his hospitality.

He was born near the town of Belleville, N.Y., March 3, 1816.  In 1848 he married Marilda Gilman who died in 1853, leaving two children.  In 1856 he was married to Priscilla M. Townsend, who, with their son, William T. Smith, residing at 284 Forest avenue, survive him.

His eldest son, Henry D. Smith, living in Denver, Col., is a child of the first marriage, and his daughter, Mrs. T.R. Trobridge, died at Elgin, Ill. about seven years ago.

Before coming to Oak Park in 1878, his married life was spent near Adams, Jefferson county, N.Y  


I had Jesse Smith in my database because I was "collecting" Smith persons in Jefferson county in my effort to determine the parents of Ranslow Smith, the adoptive father of my second great-grandfather, Devier J. Lamphear Smith before I knew Devier was adopted.

The obituary provided me with a birth date, a birth place, a death date, a death place, and marriage years for his two marriages; plus, the names of his two spouses (I had Matilda, it was Marilda), and information about the whereabouts of two sons and a daughter.  Subsequently, I found several census records and Illinois death index records for Jesse and Priscilla, and their Find A Grave memorials.  Quite a nice haul.

A source citation for Jesse's obituary?  Sure, using the "Newspaper, Online images" template in RootsMagic 7):

"Jesse W. Smith," obituary, Jefferson County Journal [Adams, N.Y.], 2 November 1910, page 1, column 4; digital image, Old Fulton N.Y. Post Cards ( : accessed 20 July 2015), Historical Newspaper Pages collection. provided by Jill S. via email, 19 July 2015.

That was fun - adding the information to the database, transcribing the obituary, and crafting a source citation for it.  Maybe a descendant of Jesse W. Smith will find it in an online search and be able to hear about his illustrious ancestor.

I love surprises like this!  Thank you, Jill S.!!

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