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 Pennsylvania.

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 estate.

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 Virginia.

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