Person:William Smith (640)

William H. Smith
m. bef 1820
  1. Edward W. Smithabt 1821 -
  2. William H. Smith1823 - 1863
  3. Jacob Smithabt 1826 -
  4. Elizabeth Smithabt 1828 -
  5. Andrew J. Smithabt 1830 -
  6. Samuel Smith, Jr1830 - 1863
  7. Nancy E. Smithabt 1836 -
m. 30 Jun 1853
  1. Emma Rebecca Smith1854 - 1938
  2. Edward A. Smith1855 - 1912
  3. Mary R. Smith1859 - 1953
  4. Wilbur David Smith1861 - 1930
Facts and Events
Name William H. Smith
Gender Male
Birth[1][2] 9 Jul 1823 Boone County, Illinois
Marriage 30 Jun 1853 Albia, Monroe County, Iowato Caroline Rowles
Census[6] 1856 Troy Twp, Monroe County, Iowa
Census[7] 1860 Troy Twp, Monroe County, Iowa
Military[3] 11 Aug 1862 Albia, Monroe County, IowaEnlistment
Death[3] 31 Aug 1863 Army Hospital, Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa
Burial[10] aft 31 Aug 1863 Oakview Cemetery, Albia, Monroe County, IowaPlot: Old Section north of the road, Lot 230

Early Presence in Monroe County, Iowa

Following his marriage to Caroline Rowles on 30 June 1853, the next record found of William's presence in Monroe County is his purchase of 40 acres of land the next year, 31 Oct 1854:

John Mock sold to William H. Smith, part of the NE 1/4 of Section 22, Township 72, Range 17.S4

Less than two years later, William sold this same land to his father-in-law.S5

In the 1856 Iowa State Census,S6 William and his wife and children were living with his father-in-law, David H. Rowles

Rowls, David 63 yrs 12 yrs in state b. Maryland Farmer
      Rebecca 63 yrs 12 yrs in state b. New York
      Mary 19 yrs 12 yrs in state b. Indiana
      Sarah 16 yrs 12 yrs in state b. Indiana
Smith, Margaret 12 yrs 12 yrs in state b. Iowa
      C. M. [m] 11 yrs 11 yrs in state b. Iowa
      Milford C. 19 yrs 10 yrs in state b. Illinois
      William 32 yrs 10 yrs in state b. Illinois Carpenter
      Caroline 24 yrs 12 yrs in state b. Indiana
      Emma R. 2 yrs 2 yrs in state b. Iowa
      E. A. [m] 1 yr 1 yr in state b. Iowa
William & Caroline are indicated as being married.

The other Smiths in this household appear together in no other source (Thank God for idiosyncratic state censuses . . .) and their identities (and significance) are discussed at length in The Problem of William H. Smith.

In the 1860 census of Monroe County,S7 William is listed as owning real property worth $1,500 (a considerable amount at that time), but no other land transaction has been found for him. He may have received an unrecorded gift of land from David H. Rowles. (After her husband's death in the War, Caroline and her children moved into Albia.)

Smith, William 36 yrs b. Illinois Carpenter (real estate = $1,500; personal estate = $200)
      Caroline wife 28 yrs b. Indiana
      Emma dau 6 yrs b. Iowa
      Edward son 5 yrs b. Iowa
      Mary dau 9 mon b. Iowa

William's Civil War Career

William H. Smith enlisted in Co. A, 36th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, 11 Aug 1862, at Albia, Iowa. At age 39 (considerably older than the average volunteer), he was described as 5' 8-3/4" tall, fair complexion, with dark hair & blue eyes. He gave his occupation as "Carpenter."

One letter in (what is presumed to be) his hand survives, written to John N. Massey (his wife's sister's husband, whom he addresses as "Brother John"), dated 28 Nov 1862 from Benton Barracks, St. Louis, where the 36th Iowa was undergoing basic training.

NOTE: While grammar, spelling, & capitalization is erratic (common for the period), his penmanship shows evidence of formal schooling on the "copperplate" model; i.e., circumstantial evidence that he grew up in or very near a town (his occupation also suggests this), not in the northwestern wilderness. (This is assuming that he did not have the letter written for him. . . .)S9

The 36th Iowa moved to Memphis by steamer, then to Helena, Arkansas, which it garrisoned throughout the winter. It was included in the Yazoo Pass expedition in February 1863, and the approach to Fort Pemberton, Mississippi. The 36th was "ordered out on an expedition of exploration to find a way of approach to the fort, but no way was discovered. Water was in our way in all directions. That trip made many cases of sickness in our ranks, . . . which resulted in death during that spring and summer."S3 This included William, who was mustered "sick in hospital" in March & April 1863.

He was shipped back to Keokuk Army Hospital in April or May, and died there 31 Aug 1863 of "Chronic Diarrhoea" (probably amoebic dysentery). It's reasonable to think that Caroline was with him in Keokuk in his last days. His body was taken back to Albia and he was buried in the old part of Oakview Cemetery, north of the road, Lot 230.S3 A metal GAR marker was attached to his headstone at some later date. (However, the GAR marker was missing on my last visit to Albia in 2005, probably a victim of vandalism.)

No will or probate record has been found. I assume this is because William's widow, Caroline, already had control of their property (such as it was) while he was away in the service. She received a pension in 1864 & also under the Act of 1866 (cert. #16,677), which apparently continued to her death in 1905. She never remarried.

Note: My grandfather, A. D. Smith, died when I was quite young, but I remember him pretty well. Of course, he never knew his own grandfather, William Smith, but he was eighteen or nineteen when his grandmother -- William's widow, Caroline -- died. My grandfather never had much to say about the paternal side of his family, however. Years later, I came across a letter written by A. D. to the Iowa Chapter of the Ladies of the GAR (apparently in the early 1930s when the organization was raising money for some memorial project and was written up in the local newspaper), inquiring after any information they might have on the Civil War service of his grandfather, Wilbur Smith. "Wilbur" was his own father's name and I find it odd that A. D. hadn't known his own grandfather's name was "William," when his grandmother lived nearby. He also told them he had in his possession (or had seen) "a picture of him [William] in the uniform of the Northern soldiers." The GAR Ladies apparently replied to his inquiry (their letter has not survived) and identified William by his proper name. My grandfather wasn't buying it.
In a letter written a month later to the National Archives, A. D. stated he was certain his grandfather's name was "Wilbur" (contrary to what the GAR Ladies had told him), and that his grandmother, Caroline, had told him his grandfather had been in Andersonville and had died after returning home. The latter is patently untrue and has all the marks of family folklore. (Contracting dysentery as a P.O.W. was more romantic than picking it up in a Mississippi swamp.) Also, much of the 36th Iowa was captured at Marks Mills in 1864, and was imprisoned at Camp Ford at Tyler, Texas. A. D. may have learned this as a boy from family friends in Albia who also were veterans of the 36th, and confused the information in his memory years later.
That photograph has never been seen by my father, nor by his mother (who lived until I was in college and whom I knew well), nor by anyone else in the family to whom I have spoken.
Where is that picture?
----Michael K. Smith
Success! The owner of the picture mentioned above has been discovered -- a 3rd cousin I didn't even know I had, descended from William's daughter, Emma Rebecca. It appears at the top of this page. (The resemblance to my father, especially in the chin, is amazing.)

Deaths of U.S. Volunteers, 1861-1865 (See line 10)

This page represents a "brick wall" -- i.e., researchers are "stuck" in their efforts to find more information. Can you help? Use the Talk page for discussion of this particular brick wall.

  1. William H. Smith Civil War Enlistment Certificate.
  2. Troy Twp, Monroe County, in Iowa, United States. Iowa 1856 state census, p. 1000.

    William specifically names his place of birth in several documents -- but Boone County had no white residents at this early date. Could it have been Boone County in Indiana? Or Missouri?

  3. 3.0 3.1 William H. Smith Civil War file.

    (of "chronic diarrhea" (probably amoebic dysentery, contracted in the Mississippi swamps). Death certificate signed by M.H. Taylor, Surgeon, U.S. Infantry)

  4.   Monroe, Iowa, United States. Deeds, Book E, p. 301.
  5.   Monroe, Iowa, United States. Deeds, Book E, p. 151.
  6. Iowa, United States. Iowa 1856 state census, p. 1000, house/family 144/144.
  7. Monroe County, Iowa. 1860 U.S. Census Population Schedule, p. 255.
  8.   Hickenlooper, Frank. An illustrated history of Monroe County, Iowa: a complete civil, political, and military history of the county, from its earliest period of organization down to 1896: including sketches of pioneer life, anecdotes, biography, and long-drawn reminiscences spun out by the "oldest inhabitant". (The Author, 1896).
  9.   William H. Smith - letter 1863.


  10. William H. Smith, in Find A Grave.