John Moore Smith (About 1825 — About 1906)

Mary Elizabeth Conyers (About 1825 — After 1880)
Parents: Unknown
John Anderson Conyers, Sr. and Susan Spradlin
Daughter: Laura Francis Smith

John Moore Smith[1] and Mary Elizabeth Conyers were born in Tennessee in 1825. We are not sure where John was born, but Mary was probably born in Wilson County. Tennessee was then still a sleepy little state. In fact, it had been a state for only 29 years.

In Washington, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as the sixth United States president. It would be four more years before Tennessee’s own favorite son, Andrew Jackson, would be elected to that office. Eighteen twenty-five was a year of great progress for transportation. The Erie Canal opened, facilitating river transportation. In England, the first public railroad anywhere was completed. Other progress that year included the patenting of the first safety pin. (Since the zipper would not be invented until the 1890s and Velcro not until midway through the twentieth century, the safety pin was a good invention. You had to assume people were getting pretty tired of buttoning things.)

John and Mary[2] married in Wilson County, Tennessee on May 3, 1845. They had at least thirteen children and perhaps as many as sixteen, as follows:

James Smith, born about 1846;
Susana Smith, born about 1848;
Launean Smith (male), born about 1851;
Laripa Smith (male) born about 1852;
Laura Francis Smith, born August 28, 1852 in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee;
Octavia G.P. Smith, born about 1853;
George M. D. Smith, born about 1854 in Tennessee;
John Smith, born in Tennessee in about 1856;
Martha J.D. Smith, born in Kentucky about 1857;
Mary Smith, born in Tennessee in about 1858;
Burton E. Smith, born in Tennessee in about 1861;
Charles C. (Charley) Smith, born in Kentucky about 1864 and
Mack Smith, born in Kentucky about 1868.

In addition, they had three other children whose birth dates are not known: Doc, Lark and Malum. Some or all of these last three may be nicknames for the ones listed above.

Nannie Maude Spears reported to Brian Reeves in July 1975 that John Smith was a teacher. She said he first settled on the Tennessee River in Tennessee near the Cumberland Gap. He enlisted in the Civil War on the Confederate side, but never received a pension from that service. She said he died in about 1906 or 1907.[3] Nannie Maude Spears said that everyone called her grandmother, Mary Conyers, "Miss Mary."[4] A fictionalized biography of John Smith written by Nannie Maude Spears and found in her papers after her 1976 death indicated John Smith was about 9 years old when his father died.[5]

The 1860 census shows him living in the Sumner County, Tennessee household of his father-in-law, John Conyers. He was working as a farmhand, but also owned his own real estate valued at $300, as well as personal property of $194. Living with him were his wife, Mary Conyers Smith, and their children James Smith, age 14; Susana Smith, age 12; Launean Smith (male), age 9; Laripa Smith (male), age 8; George Smith, age 6; John Smith, age 4 and Mary Smith, age 2.[6]

Sometime in the mid-1860s, while the Civil War was raging, John moved his family from Tennessee, a southern state to Kentucky,[7] officially a neutral border state. This is not to say he had no allegiances. Apparently, he did. First, the move, though across state lines, was only to an adjacent county. Additionally, the papers of Nannie Maude Spears, contained an August 26, 1883 letter to John Smith from George F. Hager, the Grand Commander of the Tennessee American Foreign Legion. It is transcribed as follows:

John Smith, Scottsville, Ky

Friend John, Our reunion takes place at Gallatin Sept 17th. Come without fail. No excuse. All the boys will be on hand.

By 1870, John’s living situation had reversed. Instead of living in his father-in-law’s household, his father-in-law now lived in John’s home. John had moved his family to Allen County, Kentucky and 84-year old John A. Conyers lived with them. John was a 46-year old farmer with real estate valued at $400 and personal property valued at $1,533. He could not read. His wife, Mary E. Smith, was a 46 and was "keeping house."

The children living with them in 1970 included: Laurean H. Smith, a 19-year old farmhand; Octavia G. P. Smith, age 17; George M.D. Smith, age 16, a farm laborer; John A. Smith, age 14; Mary E. Smith, age 12; Burton E. Smith, age 9; Charles C. Smith, age 6; and Martha J. Smith, age 4. Charles and Martha were born in Kentucky; the others in Tennessee.[8]

The 1880 census for the New Roe area of Allen County, Kentucky shows that John Smith is still farming and the 55-year old head of a household including his wife, Mary E. Smith, also 55. A census section for disabling health issues, says that she had a "disease of liver." Three children still lived with them: Burton E. Smith, age 18 (shown as "working farm"); Chas Smith, age 16; and Martha J.D. Smith, a 13-year old female. John, Mary and Burton had been born in Tennessee, as were each of their parents, except John Smith's father was listed as having been born in Scotland. Charley was shown as being born in Kentucky. Martha's listing did not show her place of birth. Also living with them was Margaret Holland, age 16, no relationship shown, who was also born in Tennessee.[9]

Returning to the papers of John and Mary’s granddaughter, Nannie Maude Spears, there was one note that said:

John Smith's father came from Ireland to teach - married in U.S. - had __ children - boy named John and daughters named (________), got sick and started back to Ireland, died on boat, buried in Ireland, children sent back to U.S. to mother.

Smith, John 003

-- (oldest) Sis married Conyer -- Allen Co. children -- Bluford, Clara, Bessy
-- Jenny married Buddy Keen -- 2 children

Click here to see the entire sheet.

The papers for John Smith were used to get Dot's (Nannie Maude Spears' daughter Dorothy Juanita Ewing) a scholarship because he served in Civil War."[10]

Yet another paper gives a list of John Smith's children. There are two names shown there which are not shown elsewhere: