SYNOPSIS OF THE LIFE OF THOMAS SMITHERS/
Third Generation Thomas Smothers is a grandson of William
Smithers and Maria Catharina Jeakey of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
His parents are Jacob Smithers and
Rebecca Huff of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
The 1850 Smyth County, Virginia census and the 1860 Morgan
County, Kentucky census list the birthplaces of Thomas and
his wife, Lydia, as Pennsylvania and their dates of birth as 1801 and between
1801 and 1807, respectively. Both
of them were probably born in Luzerne County in Pennsylvania.
It is assumed that Thomas married Lydia in Pennsylvania prior
to 1822; however, records of her maiden name and date and place of her birth
have not yet been discovered. All
census records found on Thomas are consistent in indicating that his
date of birth is 1801 and when applicable his place of birth is always shown as
On 23 August 1827, an inquisition of his father’s estate
was held at the home of Thomas in Nescopeck Township, Luzerne County,
Pennsylvania. Thomas was
apparently married at the time of his father’s death in 1826.
According to a land plot filed with his father’s estate papers, Thomas
lived on thirty acres of land adjacent to the 167 acres of land owned by
his father, Jacob Smithers. The
estate papers dated 23 and 24 August 1827 document the fact that Thomas was
awarded approximately thirty acres of his father’s land.
Perhaps that is the thirty acres of land that is shown on the plot that
was occupied by Thomas at the time of the inquisition. It appears that sometime near the year of 1827, Thomas moved
his family to Greene County, Tennessee. In
1837, Thomas reassigned to another person, all his rights, title and interest in
the land in Pennsylvania that was left to him by his father, Jacob Smithers;
thus eradicating for him, any further personal dealings in the settlement of the
There was a Philip Smothers who was residing in Greene County, Tennessee at the time of Thomas’ arrival there. No doubt these two Smothers were probably related. The 1830 Greene County, Tennessee census lists Thomas Smothers as head of the household with seven other persons, including an elderly male born between 1760 and 1770 and an elderly female born between 1770 and 1780. My speculation is that these older persons are probably the parents of Thomas’ wife, Lydia. This census also lists a male and a female born between 1824 and 1826. Because of their possible birth years, it must be assumed that they were both born in Pennsylvania. These two children were again enumerated with Thomas on the 1840 Greene County, Tennessee census; however, the two elderly persons had disappeared from the census count by1840 and it is logical to believe that they must have died between 1830 and 1840.
To further complicate matters, no further records have been
found after 1840 for the son. Too,
although actual documentation has not been discovered to link Elizabeth
Longbottom to Thomas and Lydia, all available evidence points to a positive and
concrete parental relationship between them.
The fact that (a) the 1830 and 1840 Greene County, Tennessee census lists
Thomas with a daughter
who has a close birth date to Eliza Elizabeth; (b)
Eliza was married in 1848 in Grayson County, Virginia close to the time that
Thomas moved his family
to Smyth County, Virginia locating on the boundary of Grayson County, Virginia; (c)
Eliza’s first six children, including a set of twin girls, are believed to
have been born in Smyth County,
Virginia between 1849 and 1858; (d)
in concurrent travel with his son Henry, Thomas and his remaining family moved
to Kentucky between 1858 and 1859 as did Eliza and her family; (e)
Eliza named a son Henry Thomas
which is an indication that he was named for her brother Henry and
her father Thomas; (f) Eliza’s
seventh child was born in Kentucky in 1859; (g)
Lilburn and Eliza Elizabeth
appear on the 1870 Fleming County, Kentucky census as does her brothers, Henry
and William and her father Thomas; (h)
descendants list Eliza Elizabeth Longbottom as Elizabeth Smothers born in 1822
in Pennsylvania; (i) at the time
they were married in Grayson Co, Virginia on 27 August 1848 the
names of Eliza and Lilburn where
recorded as Elizabeth Smuthers and Wilburn Songbottom.
Thomas and Lydia had three sons and three
daughters who were born and lived in Greene County, Tennessee.
These children can be positively documented.
Wills and inventory records of Greene County, Tennessee indicate that
Thomas Smothers made estate purchases on 3February 1840 and 7
February 1843. A Greene County, Tennessee deed book reflects him selling, to
Zacki Clary on 2 September 1845, sixteen and a half acres of land located on
Grassy Creek in Clary’s Corner. Probate,
birth, death or marriage records have never been located in Greene County,
Tennessee for Thomas Smothers or any members of his immediate family.
According to the 1850 Smyth County, Virginia census, Thomas
and his family were residing in St. Claire District in that county.
It is not known why Thomas choose
that area in which to establish his family since there is no evidence that other
Smothers kin resided there. Unfortunately,
his two youngest daughters died tragically in Smyth County, Virginia in 1853 and
1857. Further, Smyth County birth
records reveal that his daughter, Rebecca, had a daughter born out of wedlock on
20 August 1857. It is evident that
Thomas and his family endured much personal tragedy while residing in
Smyth County, Virginia which I am certain was one of the contributing factors in
his decision to once again find a better home for his family.
Sometime between 20 August 1857 and 1858, Thomas and Lydia,
with their children Rebecca and William and grandchild, Cornelia who
was Rebecca’s daughter, moved to West Liberty, Morgan County, Kentucky.
Thomas and these same family members also appear on the 1860 Morgan
County, Kentucky census. No doubt,
his son Henry and his family traveled concurrently with Thomas to Kentucky,
because Henry had a son who was born in Kentucky in 1858. Further, Henry and his
family were residing in the Morgan County household of the James Richardson
family in 1860. A connection to the
Richardson family has not been determined. Also residing in Morgan County is Thomas’ daughter
Eliza Elizabeth and her family. There
were some other Smothers families located in Morgan County, Kentucky as well as
in many other adjacent Kentucky counties; however, this researcher has never
found a connection to any of the other Smothers families.
Thomas had relocated to Fleming County, Kentucky by 1870.
His wife, Lydia, must have been died by 1870, because she does not appear
on an 1870 census record. This census does however list Thomas’ age
as 69, a carpenter by trade, born in Pennsylvania and residing in the township
of Flemingsburg. Enumerated with
him are his daughter, Rebecca, age 38, and his two granddaughters, Cornelia age
l3 and Lidda age l0. Lidda is the
child that was born to Rebecca out of wedlock in Kentucky in 1870.
Thomas’ youngest son and child, William, was married in Fleming County
in May 1869, which is an indication that Thomas had already relocated
to Fleming County before the 1870 census was taken.
The 1870 census also shows a Mike Secrest, age 30, a female and a male
age 13 and 7, respectively, living in the Thomas Smothers household.
Thomas’ connection to that group has not been determined.
The three known sons of Thomas served in the War Between
the States --- Henry and William served from Kentucky in the Union Army and
Jacob was a member of the Confederate Army and served from the State of
The surname of Thomas was Smithers, as were the
two Pennsylvania generations before him. However,
knowingly or unknowingly, his name reverted to Smothers after his arrival in
Greene County, Tennessee. His name
remained Smothers until his death in 1874.
Such was not the case with his descendents.
Their surname has been and still is shown as Smothers, Smithers and
Smethers. Only his son Jacob carried forth the spelling of
Smothers for himself; but to the contrary, descendants of Jacob chose the name
of “Smithers, Smethers and Smuthers”.
According to his death record, Thomas died of old age in
Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky on 11 December 1874 at the age of 74; he
is listed as married. The marriage
entry is perplexing since he is shown without a wife on the 1870 census.
However, the marriage entry on the death record is shown only as a
“ditto” so I am relatively positive that it is incorrect -- but on the other
hand …. did he actually remarry? …and will we ever know for certain!
June M. Millwood
a 2nd great granddaughter