Monday, November 13, 2017

Christiana Elizabeth Howard Smith 1832-1897

Christiana Elizabeth Howard Smith

I wanted to take a moment and share some letters that were written by my 3rd great grandmother, Christiana Howard Smith (1832-1897) between the years 1877 and 1888. I acquired digital copies of these from a distant cousin a few years ago. The letters can be difficult to read due to the handwriting, grammar, and spelling; but, nonetheless, they contain quite a bit of information that depicted a hard life for a widow in 19th century Florida.

First, I'd like to share a bit of background information. Christiana Elizabeth Howard was born in Liberty County, GA on the 8th of October, 1832 to Jacob Howard and Rebecca Moody Howard. On the 2nd of January, 1851 she married James Bryant Smith in Liberty County. By 1860 she was
Christiana's father, Jacob Howard
living in Levy County, Florida. Between 1852 and 1874 she gave birth to 9 children. On the 9th of May, 1874 (one month before her 9th child was born) her husband, Bryant Smith, died. She was now left to raise her children and provide for her family by farming all on her own. In her letters, she mentions fevers and other illnesses, rain and drought, and the fact that she was going blind. Christiana died on the 18th of February, 1897 and was buried in Ebenezer Cemetery (near Chiefland Florida, Levy County) next to her husband.

On a side note, her sister-in-law, America Smith Lewis was murdered on the 29th of August, 1902. This fascinating story, as told by Ty Starkey, can be found  here. The murderers are known to be the last men to be legally hung in the state of Florida.
Tom Faircloth and Theodore Smith hung on the gallows
Levy County, Florida

And... here are the letters that you have been waiting for...

Transcription: click here

Obituary for Christiana Elizabeth Howard Smith

Graves of James Bryant and Christiana Smith
Ebenezer Cemetery, Levy County Florida

To see Letters written by Christiana's daughter, Laura D. Smith, check out this post.

Here is a previous post about my 2nd great grandfather, CSA Private John Henry Tedder POW

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  1. These gallows were left standing to remind the locals about the consequences of committing crimes. My father, who is Raymond Parks Smallwood, said every day he looked out the window of his high school, around 1938, and studied the gallows still standing. He always remembered the impression they made upon his young mind and heart. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, who were murdered, were my mother's, mothers grandparents so this story has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing! It was definitely a tragic time in our families lives.

  2. The hinges from the trap door of those gallows are here in Bronson... They are in a fireplace mantle in a house.

    1. That's amazing! yet... macabre. I did not know about that. Being from Bronson, you wouldn't happen to know where the Lewis house was located would you? I was wondering if it was still standing. All I know is that it was about 5 miles south of Bronson.

  3. This is a fascinating blog. Thank you for sharing your family, as well as other's comments.

  4. Do you know the name of the last child born to C.E. Smith. I fount a family of Nathan Bryant in the 1900 census Kissimmee, Florida. They had an adopted daughter listed as Benie Smith born 1881 but thats not always accurate. My grand father's mother's name was Vollie or Vola smith, she married Jehu Robert Smith, death certificate states parents as Barnie Smith and ? Crews. I can't find her parents and was wondering if maybe Benie could be my great grand mother. Thank you for posting your family story, I can't wait for more. Victoria

  5. Kindred Roots,
    Thank you so much for sharing your family's stories and pictures.
    I happened to run into your blog on Facebook. I started reading and couldn't stop. I love it. 6th generation. Early Florida Pioneers Simmons.
    Shirley Fields Ingram