An American Family History


Compiled by Maryon White
Transcribed by Shelley Mitchell

Table of Contents
Josiah and Sarah Pitts Smith
John Newton and Sarah Jane (Ricketts) Fox 
Josiah and Eliza (Fox) Smith 
Mary Grace Smith White
John Elmer Smith
Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey
Harry William Smith
Ethel Edith Smith Taylor
Augusta Lena Smith Larson
Bryan Sewell Smith
Andrew Jack Smith
Twyla Mae Smith Larson

Introduction by Maryon White, July 25, 1992
While Bill Smith's efforts to preserve family history have been primarily limited to facts, I have long felt the need to preserve what might be labeled fantasy. Our memories are notoriously unreliable, and yet, when compared to other people's memories, might help form a picture of the individuals in our backgrounds. With that in mind, I hereby start a "memory collection." 

I will jot down, as accurately as possible memories of our relatives. I hope you will feel free to correct my impressions, and more importantly to add any stories you can. Each time, the focus will be on just one part of the family. Of course, as this progresses, there will be repetitions and over-lapping, but I consider it a worthwhile project, and hope that at least some of you will feel the same way.

Perhaps some of you will wonder why I spend time writing about people long gone, and events probably best forgotten, but I hope some of you may find these accounts interesting and possible even of value as I tell you of the physical and emotional problems of some of our kin. There are many by-by-products from this memory exercise-some happy recollections, some sad reminders of things best forgotten, but mostly sheer amazement at the strength and fortitude that saw our elders through some really "horrific experiences."  I have already learned that I have had a pretty soft life, after all, and have come to appreciate more than ever, the wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins.  I have been privileged to share.

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
  • Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796. It was initially part of North Carolina.

    Letter Written by Jack Smith to Shelley Mitchell
    Portland, Oregon
    December 28, 1970

    Dear Shelley,
    Thanks for the nice card and letter.  No, we hadn't heard you were in Arcata. I don't know just how, but I was under the impression you kids lived in the San Francisco area.  I seldom hear from Virginia or any of the rest of those people down there except Ila. She usually writes us nice newsy letters on our birthdays and Christmas. She writes exceptionally nice newsy letters and of course, we appreciate them.

    Relative to our genealogy. In 1925 or 26, the graduating law students all over the country that belonged to some fraternity took up tracing people's families as a means of making a few pennies to help tide them over until they could get established as lawyers. One of them let there in Red Oak for a couple of years, then left. I don't remember his name, where he went or the fraternity they all belonged to, but they traced by writing back and forth between them. He was supposed to trace back 5 generations on both sides. They succeeded on the Fox side (mothers') but could not go any further back on Dad's side than his father and mother and not very much about them, except they were very rich(?) and lived in Tennessee, and had 13 kids.   . .[He described the families here and I have included that part elsewhere]

    Shelley, if you can make heads or tails from this, you have got me beat, but you asked for it, and maybe it will help you some.  We had the best Christmas I can remember. My whole family were here with the exception of my son in law John. He is doing a year in Thailand, so Kathryn will be with us til May at least. It's the first Christmas she has been home for 7 years, so it seems good to have her.Hope this finds you and yours all well and happy and with both front pockets full of $1000.00 bills.
    Write again sometime,
    As Ever, Uncle Jack    THE END

    Red Oak is the county seat of Montgomery County, Iowa.

    Wyoming was admitted into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.

    Letter from Bryan Smith to Shelley Mitchell
    Moorcroft, Wyoming,
    April 18, 1971

    Dear Shelley,
    I remember you children quite well. It is hard to write, I had to learn to print after I was 72. My early memories are very distinct. I would give a great deal if I had made notes of early family gatherings. My Grandfather Smith was a veteran of Mexican War, also a confederate soldier. Gus's birthday is mixed up, but I am sure she was close to me.  

    Lest I forget, I will always remember your mother's family, especially Hazel and her kindness to Elmer.The Smiths always wanted to share.  

    Now, Shelley, investigating your family tree is not so good.   Depends on what branch you follow whether you find a famous person or a hemp rope around the neck of some of your relatives and the other end tied to a limb of the family tree. Investigation is revealing. Interesting to see what 4 or 5 different historians will do with the same set of facts. On a rating of 100 for par, the average family history is 5. I can assure you that you come from above average family connections. Lots of kids with customary arms, legs, hair and teeth. No feeble minded ones, way above average. We are well as can be expected or better. Plenty to eat, burn and some money and happy. Would like to have stamina to write you some of the things I have learned.  Education should be a calculated risk.   Think it over.

    Bill has received two weeks notice from Boeing after over 20 years. Jack is in Rawlings Wyoming, Joan in Seattle.   I am living. I still fumble and Stumble, but we are happy. I will never be free of Menier's Disease [vertigo].

    Best regard to all.  Be sure and save your money as it may be worth something some day.
    Uncle Bryan Smith

    The Mexican–American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 after the US annexed Texas. Mexico claimed ownership of Texas and did not recognize the successful secession.


    Introduction by Shelley Mitchell
    When Maryon White entrusted me with the family memory books last year, I knew that they were too wonderful to just be kept at my house. I wanted to share these wonderful inspiring stories with everyone! I have transcribed all of the stories as carefully as I could and included as many photographs as possible. I realize that the finished product is not nearly as special or personal as the memory books, but at least the stories are there.

    As I was typing the stories I read them again and was moved to tears of joy and laughter more than once. I am so proud to be a member of this unique and special family.

    Thank you many times to Maryon for making this project happen, to Aunt Ethel for giving me an occasion to share it with everyone (the celebration this year of her hundredth birthday) and to my mother, Virginia Smith Miller for instilling in me the love and concern for family that comprises the thread that weaves all these stories together.

    This story will never be complete and I encourage you to add to it as new generations are born and the stories change. As the tapestry that is our family grows and becomes more beautiful I hope these stories of how it started will inspire all of us to keep the spirit of our grandparents alive.

      Introduction by Roberta Tuller
    In the early 1990s Marion White bought a bunch of black composition books and starting writing the family history.    She had an elaborate system of sending them around to all the family members. The system included prepaid envelopes and postcards so she could keep track of where the composition books were. When they had gone around to everybody, Shelley typed it all up and printed the first edition of the Wind in the Willow.  Just about everything is included here. I have left out a few extraneous things and have reorganized a bit to make things clearer. I have not censored the content. I wanted to because some of it is incorrect or disturbing, but I left it the way it was because that's what people said.


    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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