Submitted by Diane Hill Zimmerman
© 2009


      Aaron Smith was b. 28 Mar 1751 in Hopewell, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, son of James Smith and Anne Parke. He d. 11 Oct 1826 at Lower Simpsons Creek, Harrison, Virginia. He md. Sarah Allen on 1 Nov 1772 at Winchester, Frederick, Virginia. She was b. 3 Apr 1753 in Frederick, Virginia, dau. of Joshua Allen and Elizabeth Barnes. She d. 6 Apr 1837 at Lower Simpsons Creek, Harrison, Virginia. Children: James Allen, Aaron, Joshua, Levi, Moses, Barnes, Elijah, Timothy, Sarah, Jacob, William, Elizabeth and Elias.

      The journal of Absalom Wamsley Smith (1819-1904), son of Jacob Smith, son of Aaron contained valuable information concerning Aaron Smith as well as the area and time of his childhood and young adulthood. Absalom had converted to the Mormon church and migrated to the Salt Lake Valley.

      Grandfather Aaron Smith and Sarah Allen were married in 1772. Shortly after they were married they settled on Simpson Creek, one and one-half miles from the mouth, where it empties into the West Fork of the Monongalia River. It being a new county, they had to commence making a home in the heavy timber. The first thing he did was to build a log cabin to live in.

      Aaron Smith's cabin was added onto by him and by Elias and then Jefferson Johnson Smith. This photo shows the house as it looked in JJS day. Aaron's original cabin was the den behind the stairs on the 1st floor. The house burned several years ago.

      Soon after, while grandfather was away working, quite a distance away in the timber, there was a large bear that had scented some meat that grandmother was cooking. It came to the house, the door being shut, this brown bear went to the chimney and began to climb up. Fortunately there was a gun in the house and grandmother, being a woman of great courage, took the gun, went out and shot the bear and killed it.

      Here they lived and raised a large family and died at a good old age at their home place. The land contained ninety acres covered with heavy timber, a portion of the land being on the creek bottom. The timber was mostly sugar maple, mixed occasionally with black walnut, hickory, chestnut, and sycamore, bordering the creek. On the upland were white, red, black and yellow oak, and white chestnut, poplar, hickory, beech, and a great many other varieties, too numerous to mention. This land was given to [my] father [Jacob Smith] at the age of twenty-one by my grandfather, Aaron Smith, to make a home.

      In the year 1833, Nov. 13th, I and my brother Elisha, were returning home from a corn husking, from Uncle James Smith's about eleven o'clock at night. I noticed in the sky numbers of stars falling from the heavens, from the southeast direction. We watched them for a few moments and they increased very fast. We were much excited over the strange experience, but we went home. The stars continued to fall, but we went to bed without informing my father of the strange phenomena, with the intention of getting up after taking a short sleep. About two o'clock in the morning I got up, and the stars or meteors, as they were called by some, caused me to call my father and the rest of the family. They were all greatly surprised at the sight. Many of the neighbors saw it and were greatly frightened. Some said they thought the world was coming to an end. This continued till daylight, then they disappeared.

      I will give a short description of the schoolhouse where I went to school. It was built of rough logs about eighteen by twenty feet square, covered with what we call clapboards in that country, with a door on one side and a large fireplace on the other end, about six feet wide, for burning wood. The seats were made of rough slabs with four legs to hold them up the proper height, the seats without any backs. Long narrow windows were on the side of the house. They were made by cutting out a log out of the wall, on each side. This would leave room for glasses 8 by 10 inches. When finished, this window, as made, was one foot by eighteen feet in length. Under these were the writing desks. They were made by boring holes in a log, the right proper height, under the window on each side of the building, then inserting long pins of wood eighteen incormed the desk for writing.

      The girls sat on one side of the room, and the boys on the other. No charts, maps or blackboards were on the wall. The books I used were the old Webster's spelling book, Pike's arithmetic, the English and National Reader, and we wrote with slate and pencil, and with paper and goose-quill pens. This formed my outfit for school. This outfit was very different from the privileges our children have in getting an education at the present time 1893."

      Grandmother Sarah was a brave woman in a land where only the brave survived. The following account was in the Clarksburg Telegram, Sunday Feb. 4, 1933. The lady in the article called grandmother is my 5th gr. Grandmother, Sarah Allen Smith, wife of Aaron.

Well, they were worth wearing way back in the year 1777.
By Nellie M. Owens

      It was almost noon time on a day in the early spring of 1777. Such a day as comes only to the states that lie in the borderland between the north and the south. A day when the water comes from the sod beneath our feet and while we know that ice and snow may yet ascend upon us but also that nature has proclaimed her eternal promise of another springtime.

      Grandfather, whose name was Aaron Smith, had long awaited such a day for supplies were exhausted in the little settlement along Simpsons Creek. He had left at dawn with the other men from the settlement for the upper waters of the Monongahelia. Only a few men remained to guard the women and children. The winter of 1777 had been a particularly hard one although the settlers had remained unmolested by the Indians but they feared a renewal of hostilities with the coming of spring. Grandmother and two children had remained in the care of a faithful colored slave and his wife and careful instructions had been given for their safety.


      They were churning in the doorway on this particular morning when a neighbor rode up to the gate bidding them to hurry to the fort. The Indians were coming. A horse was hastily saddled and a bag of provisions prepared and placed across the horse. Grandmother took the baby on her lap and the other child was placed on the horse behind her . After telling the colored people to follow her, the journey to Powers Fort, three miles away, was started.

      Powers Fort was built in 1772 by Major John Powers the noted Indian fighter. It was built in a bend of Simpsons Creek on what is now known as the John Lowe farm about three miles north of the present town of Bridgeport. Major Powers secured the Tomahawk rights to the land from the trapper, John Simpson [for whom Simpsonís Creek is named]. The fort was a small one built of logs of the stockade type and barely large enough for the protection of the settlement.


      In order to reach this fort, grandmother must cross the river. When she reached the ford, she found the stream swollen with the recent thawing and completely out of its banks. One fancies that for a moment she faltered, that her mind flew to grandfather as he pictured the loss of his wife and children. Perhaps she even thought of the red peony that she had carried across the mountains from New Jersey and planted in the yard which would bloom for the first time this year. But grandmother was made of stern material. She had come here as a bride in 1772 and all the resourcefulness of the pioneer woman was [within her].

      Dismounting her horse, she removed her petticoat, a voluminous affair of homespun linen and placed a child in each end and tied the openings with strings taken from the bag of provisions. This she placed across the saddle and quickly mounting she urged her horse into the swollen river where he swam to the opposite shore carrying grandmother and her babies to safety.


      Near evening the colored folks walked into the fort, the man carrying the churn of cream upon his head. When grandmother remonstrated him for this he replied, ďLaw missus, you tink Iíse gwine let dem Injuns get our good cream? woman was [within her].

      Smith Chapel has been rebuilt three times but has existed as a place of worship since the late 18th century. Following is a transcript from a Clarksburg newspaper concerning the church:

THIRD CHURCH - The Smith Chapel along Meadowbrook Road near Bridgeport is the third Methodist church built on the site. The current one was constructed in 1905-06.


     Smith Chapel United Methodist Church located on the Meadowbrook Road, Bridgeport, was voted at the West Virginia annual Methodist conference to be honored as one of the historical church sites in West Virginia. The church will be assigned an historical site number and will be presented a special plaque signifying its placement on the registry of the United Methodist General Commission of Archives and History.

      Aaron Smith established a settlement in the region in 1772. The community of Smith Chapel was so named because Aaron Smith and his family were instrumental in the construction of the meeting house which served as the first church and school for the area. That meeting place has been rebuilt two times. The congregation of Smith Chapel now holds regular worship services in the church that was built in 1905-06. Classrooms and multi-purpose rooms have been added to the original structure. Smith Chapel community has one of the oldest continuing Methodist congregations worshiping in Harrison County.

      Descendants of Aaron Smith still live in the community near the original site on which he settled prior to the Revolutionary War. The Aaron Smith family and the Watters Smith family, for whom the Harrison County state park was named, may have been related.[1] The Smiths have played roles through many generations.

[1]  It is believed by some that Aaron Smith and the Watters Smith families were related but there may not be any definitive proof.

      A consecration service planned for August will include previous pastors of Smith Chapel. Members, former members, friends and residents of the area are invited to attend the celebration of this special occasion. Additional information for this service will be published later.

      A special thanks is given the church historian Miss K. Esther Sutton. To have Smith Chapel considered for this honor, pertinent material was researched and compiled by Patricia R. Mauller.

      Aaron Smith is listed in the 1790 census of Monongalia County as having 8 whites in household.

      In Dyer's Index for Monongalia County Aaron Smith was granted 400 acres on Simpson's Creek in 1784, Book 1, page 287.


Granted 244 acres on Simpsons Creek in 1784, book 1, p. 288.
Granted 19 3/4 acres on Simpsons Creek in 1828, b. 6, p. 54.
Granted 15 acres on Shinn's Run in 1849, b. 6, p. 250.
Granted 286 acres on waters of Simpsons Creek in 1786, b. 1, p. 571 and 308 acres on Simpsons Creek in 1786, b. 1, p. 609.


In National Archives I found a Bounty Warrant Record to Pvt. Aaron Smith, VA, to Francis Graves, Assignee #12556. Nothing else was found.

      From "Now and Long Ago, page 259, "Aaron Smith, 400 a. Simpson Creek, ad. John McIntire's settlement 1772."

      Sarah Allen Smith is tied to the family in three ways. Her fatherís second wife was Mary Swiger, widow of John William Swiger, one of the founding families of Brown. Joshua's son and Sarahís brother, Barnes Allen, married Eve Swiger, the daughter of his stepmother, Mary Swiger Allen. Gr. Gr. Grandpa Joseph Thompsonís mother was a Swiger from this family.

Continued in Part Four
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