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The Smith Family Featured

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As mentioned in a previous article Louis H. Smith, a William and Mary graduate came to Greenwood to tutor the Bryan children.

He was born in North Carolina in 1836, so he was 24 years old when he came here. In 1869, he married Emily Bryan. Emily was born in Greenwood in 1842, so she was 27 years old and he 32 when they married. She was educated at St. Mary's Knoll in Burlington, N.J.

 They had four sons. Louis B. was born in 1869. He spent his life in Greenwood. He was an officer in the Bank of Greenwood. He and Dr. R.A. Willis and others started the Greenwood Investment Company. They dealt in real estate, brought a railroad into town, built a grain elevator and a peanut shelling plant. It was known as the Greenwood Product Company. It was sold and transferred to Graceville where it became the world's largest peanut shelling plant. A peanut mill is still right here in Greenwood. Shelling is no longer done here, but the peanuts are bought here, stored and then shipped out for processing. They are primarily bought by Hershey's, Reese's, and Mars Candy Company. Louis B. Smith's first son, Louis H. worked for the peanut company here and in Graceville for over 20 years. He is the Smith from whom we bought the house. The information I'm giving you was prepared for a family reunion by Orren Smith, son of Louis H. and Mozells Smith. The reunion was held at Great Oaks June 21, 1980.

The second son of Louis and Emily was Hamilton Allen. He was born here on January 18, 1871. He received a West Point appointment in 1889 and received his army commission in 1893. In 1896 he married Josephine Hale. They had five children. He had various stations in the states. He fought in the Spanish American War in Cuba. He went up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. In World War One he commanded the 26th Infantry, 1st Division. He was a full Colonel at that time and was killed July 22, 1918 in France. He was buried there, but his body was moved to Arlington May 12, 1921. Several of his descendants attended the June reunion.

The third son of Louis and Emily was Winter Elijah Bryan Smith. He joined the family December 15, 1875 in Blakely, Georgia where his father was teaching. He was in the academy at Young Harris, Georgia at the age of 17. (Young Harris College is still in operation in the village of Young Harris, Georgia. Former Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller teaches history and political science there). Winter Elijah Bryan married Eudora Wilson, whose father was a physician in Chipley. Winter practiced law in Marianna, served as its Mayor and in 1909 was elected to the legislature.

Emily gave birth to Hugh, their last son in Arlington, Georgia, November 23, 1880. He attended Florida Military Academy in Bartow and later earned a bachelors degree from the University of Florida. He married Susie Liddon, daughter of former Florida Chief Justice Benjamin S. Liddon.

They had three children and settled in the Dothan area. He was a successful real estate developer in the 1920's. The depression of the 1930's was very hard on him. He was a chain smoker and developed cancer of the larynx to which he succumbed in 1939.

His wife Susie began her real estate business after his death. She was successful in this and continued it until her retirement in the 1960's.

The Smith family probably lived at Great Oaks longer than any other family. Some of them were here most of the time from 1860 to 1951. Louis H. and Mozelle moved in here in 1927 and lived here until 1951, except when they moved out in 1940 to permit the use of the house for a school. Now we will see how the innards of their home looked. The house was known longest simply as the Bryans Place, then as the Smith House. We named it Great Oaks because of the tremendous live oaks around it. The two large trees near the house were old when the house was built. Last year I calculated one to be 292 years old, the other was 288. The Smith reunion information says the row of oaks along the street were planted about the time of the house was under construction.

This is the Northwest bedroom as it appeared when we bought the house. Notice the cracks in the plaster and the fact that the room had never been painted. Keep in mind the war started about the time the house was finished and probably for this reason, the room was left unfinished.

This is same room after the plaster has been removed and the wood lath is exposed. The dark streaks are where the heat escaped through the cracks seen above. As the heat escaped it took some soot with it which caused the stain. The mantel is still used. Notice the chimney is built of the soft lime rock which was hand sawn from local quarries. The Marianna City hall and most of the business buildings on the north side of Lafayette Street are made of these blocks.

There were three quarries along Highway 71 in the Hartsfield property just below the Caverns Road. They were filled in the last few years. We had three chimneys. We tore them all down and rebuilt two of them with brick. Each chimney contains 10,000 bricks. The chimneys are about 40 feet tall. We originally had nine fire places. We now have five. At one of our Christmas parties we had fires in all five of the fireplaces.

The corners of the chimneys below the first floor were rounded on about a 6" radius. The foundation piers were made of brick. These corners were rounded on about a two inch radius. My opinion is this rounding was done by hogs rubbing against them.

Here we are looking from the South East bedroom into the upstairs hall. Note the door has molding around the panels. Also, the door frame was installed before the plastering was done. The lath was nailed on with 3D cut nails.

This is the middle of the west wall of the downstairs cross hall. The big timber is a 4x10. Lath has been removed from the near side. It is still on the far side of the ceiling. You can see how the braces are mortised in to the 4x10 and held by tree nails. (Wooden pegs). The entire house is framed like this. (No nails in the framing).

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Last modified onWednesday, 01 January 2014 03:58

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