An American Family History

Josiah Allen Smith

josiah Josiah in front of his house in Wright, Minnesota


Josiah at his ranch near Moorcroft, Wyoming

Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

Illinois became a state in 1818. A large influx of American settlers came in the 1810s by the Ohio River.

Josiah Allen Smith, Jr. was born in Meigs County, Tennessee on November 22, 1859. His son, Bryan Smith, listed Josiah's birthplace as Chattanooga, Tennessee in his World War I draft registration. He was the son of Josiah Smith and Sarah Pitts. He was listed in the 1860 census as ten months, but his name was incorrectly recorded as Joseph. Family memories of Josiah are recorded in the Wind in the Willow.

About 1865, he went with his family by flatboat down the Tennessee River from Tennessee to Tazewell County, Illinois. About three years later they moved on to Chariton, Iowa.

He was listed in the 1870 census as age ten. In the 1880 census, a Joseph Smith age nineteen who was born in Tennessee was enumerated. He was working as a servant in the W. M. White home in Benton Township, Lucas County, Iowa. 

He married  Eliza Fox when he was 27 on May 6, 1886. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Josiah and Eliza Smith

According to his granddaughter, Maryon White, he was fun loving, sociable, and optimistic. He played the violin and sang. He liked to go to dances, tell stories, and try new ventures, but he also had a dark side.

Eliza claimed that Josiah drank (an unforgivable sin in her eyes) and was abusive.  I never heard that he abused her, but stories like this make me believe he could be very hot headed. One time Jack asked for a dime, Josiah threw a dime on the floor, and when Jack bent over to pick it up, Josiah kicked him clear across the room. Another time Josiah bought "store cookies" for his lunch, left them on the kitchen table and went out on the porch where he could watch through a window. When Twyla stole a cookie, he started to give her a licking (not a spanking). He was so angry, the older boys intervened and made him stop.

He appeared in the 1920 census of Beseman Township, Carlton County, Minnesota. He was 59 years old and living next to his son, Harry, and his family. He was primarily a carpenter, but was a jack-of-all trades.

He moved to Wyoming in 1920 to visit his daughters and later bought a ranch and made his home there. He had a saw mill when he lived in Wyoming. He lived on a little house on the Taylor place.

Moorcroft, Crook County, Wyoming

Josiah always kept a loaded shotgun hanging on the wall, and his treasured fiddle lying on a chest or table nearby.  One day when Eliza was cleaning, the shotgun was accidentally knocked from the wall.

His son, Bryan, moved to Wyoming in 1929 and lived with Eliza and Josiah for several months while he built their two room house. Bryan's son, Bill, remembered that

Grandpa rocked in his chair and turned his pocket knife over end for end in his fingers . . . Grandpa helped build our two room house. After that the only significant activity that he engaged in was gardening, cutting hunting cottontail with his single barrel 22 gauge shotgun, [and] walking up to the county road for the mail.

Grandpa had a big and I mean big watermelon patch north of the house and he planned on selling the melons, but they were stolen one night and other unripe melons rudely destroyed. 

Robert Jack Smith remembered: 

Grandpa used to whittle a lot and he had a very sharp small pocket knife. He taught Bill and I how to make 'Bull Tongues,' balls in a box and chains. He also gave courses in the great game of Mumbley-peg. . . he used to read "Wild West"' pulp magazines . . .

Josiah died March 1, 1938 from prostate cancer in the hospital in Sundance, Crook County, Wyoming. He is buried at Moorcroft,  Wyoming next to his wife, Eliza.

Children of Josiah Smith, Jr.
and Eliza Fox
  • Mary Grace Smith White Hanley
  • John Elmer Smith
  • Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey
  • Harry William Smith
  • Ethel Edith Smith Taylor
  • Bryan Sewell Smith
  • Augusta Lena Smith Larson
  • Andrew Jack Smith
  • Twyla May Smith White
  • Children of Josiah Smith, Sr.
    and Sarah Pitts
  • Elizabeth Jane Smith Frank
  • Allison Woodrow Smith
  • Nancy Ann Smith Wilson
  • Mary Ellen Smith Widaman Dixon
  • David Henry Smith
  • Josiah Allen Smith
  • John Smith
  • George Washington Smith
  • William Smith
  • Ida Belle Smith Hoops
  • Sarah Catherine Smith Hoops
  • Charles Elmer Smith
  • Cora Edna Smith Downard
  • Tazewell County, Illinois was formed out of Peoria County in 1827.

    In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

    Josiah with his granddaughter Doris Taylor about 1924
    Wyoming was admitted into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.



    Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa and is in Lincoln Township.

    Josiah A. Smith was born in eastern Tennessee. November 22, 1859 and died March 1st, 1938 at the hospital in Sundance, Wyoming.

    On May 6th, 1886 at Chariton, Iowa he was married to Miss Eliza Fox. To this union nine children were born. His wife and seven children survive him. Also 28 grandchildren.

    His living children are:  Mrs. R. C. Larson, Sac City, Iowa; Mrs. W. H. White, Des Moines, Iowa; J. E. Smith, Omaha, Nebr., Mrs. E. L. Kimsey, Mrs. J. E. Taylor and Bryan Smith, all of Moorcroft, Wyoming. Two children, Mrs. Perry Hanley and Harry Smith preceded him in death a few years ago.

    Mr. Smith first came to Wyoming in 1920 to visit his daughters and later bought a ranch and has made a home there.

    He had been in poor health for some time and  was taken to the hospital February 22 (a handwritten note says "took him to hosp. 19th instead of 22.")  He suffered from Brights Disease and other complications.  At his advanced age of 78 years it was impossible for him to recover.  His children were all at his bed-side during his last illness. Our sympathy goes out to them in their sorrow.

    Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys. It can be caused by an infection, but is most commonly caused by autoimmune disorders that affect major organs. It was called Bright's Disease.

    DNA match with other descendant in this line.

  • Sarah Stanfield Pitts
  • Sarah Pitts Smith
  • Josiah Allen Smith
  • John Elmer Smith
  • Virginia Smith Miller
  • DNA match with other descendant in this line.

  • John Pitts
  • Sarah Pitts Smith
  • Josiah Allen Smith
  • John Elmer Smith
  • Virginia Smith Miller
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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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