Submitted by Diane Hill Zimmerman
© 2009

Brown, from Loy Hill

     I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes were my eyes. Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end. We found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, had in the Image, fashioned in the womb by the Will of God, the Eternal Father.

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

     All of my ancestors came from Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and eventually settled, over two hundred years ago, in what is now Harrison County, West Virginia. My roots are deeply imbedded in West Virginia soil. No wonder it hurt when I had to pull them up.

      The Smith’s were my mother’s side of the family. They were an exceptionally close, loving and hard working family and most of what is good in me came from them. They were also unfailingly kind, hospitable and unashamedly patriotic, loving their country almost as much as they loved their family.

      There have been many attempts to find the father of James Smith (1732-1819), the earliest Smith ancestor I’ve found, and many theories formed.

      Wilmer Kerns[1] wrote that “the Powell and Smith families emigrated from New Jersey to Hampshire County during the colonial period, settling in the vicinity of Parkes Valley, north of U.S. Route 50. The father of James Smith was Aaron Smith and his wife was Ruth.”

[1] Wilmer Kerns, PhD, Historical Records of Frederick County, Virginia p.293

      Other sources state the father’s name was Thomas. No evidence of either of these can be found though many have looked.

      Yet another source has listed the parents of James Smith as John Smith, b. 17 Dec 1700 at Wolvehampton, Staffordshire, England and d. 10 Jan 1760 at Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County, New Jersey. The mother is listed as Mary Smith b. 30 Mar 1703 at Leeds Point, Atlantic County, New Jersey, and d. 15 Feb 1771, also at Egg Harbor City. They also listed this James Smith’s children who are completely different from my James Smith’s children. It appears that two James Smiths were combined, a problem with such common names from the same area.

      I found another family fable on the Smith-Beale site at MyFamily.com concerning James’ father as told by Lloyd B. Smith, son of Jacob Harrison Smith and Sarah Denham, son of Jacob and Anna Wamsley Smith.

      Aaron Smith (b. 1682) came from England to America with William Penn and located on a farm in New Jersey. His son, James Smith (b. 1732), was born in New Jersey. When he became of age, he migrated to Winchester, Virginia and settled on a farm. Married Ruth Ann Parks [I don’t think her first name was Ruth, I’ve only seen it as Anne] of Winchester. They had seven [three] children, the oldest was Aaron Smith.

      Aaron Smith (b. 1751) was born on his father's farm in Winchester, Virginia. On his 21st birthday in March, 1772, he left home. His possessions consisted of a horse, a saddle, a flint lock rifle and a small amount of cash. With this equipment he rode West for 200 miles, mostly on Indian trails, through heavy forest, over the Allegheny Mountains and staked out a 400 acre rich timber claim in the Monongahela River valley at the mouth of Simpson Creek.

      By that fall he had a log house built and rode back to Winchester, married Sarah Allen, took her on the horse behind him and they rode back to begin a new settlement, known by the old timers, as the Smith Settlement on Simpson Creek. He and his family became influential in this part of Virginia.

      He and his wife, Sarah are buried in Laurel Point Cemetery just across the road from his home. He was a Methodist and anti slavery. He built the first Simpson Creek Methodist Church. Note from Sara: The Laurel Point Cemetery is now called the Smith Chapel Cemetery by the Harrison County Historical Society.

      My mother (Sarah Denham Smith b. 1834) and I visited here in 1906. The log cabin had grown to a large house but now was going to ruin. The tombstones made of sandstone were weathered but could be deciphered. My father had told us of a water fall that was on my grandfather's (Aaron's) farm. I found it when I was there in 1906. The water had a fall of about 10 feet in a small stream that ran through the pasture.

      My favorite Indian story was told by my father when I was a small boy: "Early one autumn morning Aaron's boys ran into the house to ask their father to have the gun to shoot a wild turkey that was gobbling behind a log in the woods not far from the front door. Aaron went to the door and listened. He remarked that he had better get that turkey. He ran, took the gun, went out of the back door and disappeared in the woods. Soon a shot rang through the woods, and Indian jumped up from behind the log and fell over dead.”

      Ellouise Smith, Contact Person for Group 17, Haplogroup R1b1b2, at the Northeastern Smith DNA Project, kindly answered my query concerning James Smith’s parentage as follows: “You are correct in your understanding that the parents and siblings of James Smith (c. 1732) are unknown. Some former researchers, my grandfather among them, believed James' father was Aaron Smith who was born in Ireland around 1703; and that Ruth was his wife. There is another legend, however, that states that Aaron Smith was the 5th generation in America. If the Aaron to which the legend refers was the son of James (and I believe that to be the case) then James was 4th generation, not second. So far we have found nothing to indicate the possibility, let alone the probability, of either of these being true.

      Others say that the original immigrant was indeed named Aaron Smith and that he came to the colonies aboard the ship "Welcome" from Deal, England along with William Penn. I don't have my notes with me, and don't remember the exact year, but it was around 1682. I searched the ship’s lists and found a couple of transcriptions for that particular sailing and can testify there was no Aaron Smith listed. There was a William Smith and, if I remember correctly, a Robert Smith. There is a lack of proof and a justifiable basis for doubting the validity of this statement. We have proved the relationship between distant cousins who are descended from James through his son, Aaron. These relationships were previously documented, so the DNA has served the purpose only of confirming the documentation - proving there was no hidden parentage in their cases.

      W. Jeff Smith, of California, has joined me in the search for the origins of James - recorded sources as well as DNA - and has actually done more along those lines recently than I have. We both have to put it aside for varying lengths of time at random periods due to other demands on our time and energies. In addition, both of us are pretty well confined to doing our searches via the internet.

      I would be interested in seeing your work - and am sure others of our group would as well - when you are ready to reveal it. A well documented history is always welcome.”

      Further confusion is caused by two more James Smiths about the same age in the Hopewell, NJ, and Frederick County, VA, areas at the same time as my James Smith.

      1)The most common misconception has James Smith being the son of Thomas Smith, brother of Sarah Smith who married John Parke and the grandparents of Anne Parke who married James Smith. This theory is prevalent in the LDS Pedigree Files and many other databases. DNA evidence has disproved this. You can read more of this DNA study at the Northeastern Smith DNA project at smithconnections.com/index.cgi.

      This James (abt. 1730 - 1781), son of Thomas, was called Major James, his military rank. He was born in Hopewell, New Jersey, and lived in Old Frederick County Virginia for a time before migrating to Rowan County, North Carolina. He was married to Clara Anderson. They had left with the other’s from Hopewell, who were forced out of their Hopewell homes by Daniel Coxe and the Cornbury conspiracy. He died of smallpox while a British prisoner in Camden prison, South Carolina, on 6 May 1781.

      2)Col. James Smith (1737 - 1812) was also a military leader, born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He married Anne Wilson in 1763. After they moved to Westmoreland County, PA, his wife died. He then married a widow, Margaret Rodgers Irvin, and moved to Kentucky. He died in 1812 in Washington County, Kentucky.

      He was with General Braddock when he was defeated in attempting to capture Fort Duquesne in 1755, and was captured by Indians and adopted into their tribe. He left an interesting account of his captivity and the rest of his life in An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the life and Travels of Colonel James Smith, (Late a citizen of Bourbon County, Kentucky) During His Captivity with the Indians in the years 1755, ‘56, ‘57, ‘58 ‘59. Philadelphia: J. Gregg, 1831.

You can read or download this book at:
Google Books

      Sylvestus Smith was a neighbor of John Parke, Sr. so James may be related to him. Another candidate is Jeremiah Smith, a well-known resident of this area of Old Frederick County.

The search for James Smith’s parents continues.
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