Monday, July 24, 2006

Ranslow Smith Inn update

I posted last week about my email from Old World Wisconsin telling me that an inn built in the 1850's by Ranslow Smith, a 3rd-great-grandfather of mine, had been moved from Dodge County to OWW and was open to the public. I've received another email from Martin Perkins at OWW about the inn:

In 1983 I had one of my staff compile a fairly extensive biography on the Smith family. We now use that as the basis for interpreting the Four Mile House, which we believe he built in 1853.

Our research indicates that he was the son of Russell and Esther Smith. His father was a native of Rhode Island and his mother of Connecticut. They left the seaboard colonies and moved to Oneida County, New York, where Ranslow was born c.1805-06. His brother Lyman was born in 1807 and a second brother George in 1812.

By 1830 the family relocated several hundred miles north to Smithville in the Town of Henderson in Jefferson County. Ranslow had married by 1830 and lived alone with wife, Mary. (Probably in the house you referenced with the carved mantel). Interestingly enough, all three brothers made their way to southern Wisconsin in 1843 where each became innkeepers.

All of this material and more is included within the 25 page report which you are most welcome to see. Unfortunately, I cannot send it to you electronically, but could place it in the mail.

The Four Mile House is the centerpiece of the Crossroads Village exhibit area. Although we interpret it in 1870, several years following Smith's sale of the property and during the ownership of Englishman, Peter Worthy, the Ranslow Smith connection is extremely important to us.

I look forward to receiving the 25 page report from Mr. Perkins. The names of Ranslow Smith's purported parents -- Russell and Esther (--?--) Smith -- are new for me and were not on my radar previously. I've done a little research in online databases and don't find them clearly identified in Oneida County NY, CT or RI. There is an 1800 census record of Coventry, Tolland County CT with a Russell Smith enumerated next to a Ransford Smith which looks very tantalizing.

I need to be's hard sometimes. This breakthrough is the result of an email from another Smith researcher several years ago - she noted that her Eldridge Smith had bought the inn from Ranslow Smith in the 1860's, and that it was now at Old World Wisconsin. I finally got around to following up on the tip.

Sometimes I'd rather be lucky than good.

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