Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

Written by Jay Guy Cisco
From Historic Sumner County, Tennessee

Retyped for the page by Diane Payne and Danene Vincent

     Daniel SMITH, son of Henry and Sarah CROSBY SMITH, of English origin, was born in Stafford County, Virginia, on October 28, 1748, and died at his home, Rock Castle, in Sumner County, Tennessee, on June 6, 1818. Upon coming from England the family first settled in Somerset County, Maryland, but later removed to Virginia. He was educated at William and Mary College, and, like many of the young men of talent of his day, became a surveyor. On June 10, 1773, he married Sarah MICHIE, of the eastern shore of Maryland, and soon afterwards settled in the western country. He was appointed Deputy Surveyor of Augusta County in 1773. At that time this county embraced nearly all of Southwestern Virginia; Mr. SMITH settled in that part of the county, which later formed Botetourt, then Fincastle, then Washington and finally Russell County. His place was on Clinch River, twelve miles below Blackmore's Fort, at Maxwell's Hill. It was known as Smith's Station, though the fort was called Fort Christian. As early as 1774 he was Captain in the Colonial troops, and was one of the most active company commanders in Dunmore's war. The correspondence which passed between him and his superior officers shows him to be a man of education beyond most men of his day. He participated in the battle of Point Pleasant in October, 1774, and in many of the engagements with the Indians. He aided in defending the frontier against the Indians during the Revolution. He was a member of the Committee of Safety for Fincastle County in 1775, and of a committee that sent resolutions to the Continental Congress July 15, 1775, in which they declared that they would "never surrender their inestimable privileges to any power on earth but at the expense of their lives."
     When Washington County was organized Captain SMITH was appointed one of the Justices of the Peace by Governor Patrick HENRY-December 21, 1776. On the same day he was appointed Major of Washington County militia. In 1780 he was appointed Sheriff of Washington, and the next year upon the reorganization of the militia, he was commissioned Colonel in the Second Battalion. In 1779 he was appointed with Dr. Thomas WALKER to extend the line between Virginia and North Carolina, which line had been run by Jefferson and others. He was in the battle of King's Mountain, and soon after the close of the War, in 1783, with the BLEDSOES, SHELBYS, BLACKMORES, NEELEYS, and others, came to Tennessee. He located a large body of valuable land near the present town of Hendersonville, in Sumner County, and in 1784 began the building of Rock Castle, but owing to the depredations of the Indians the house was seven years in being completed. It is constructed of cut stone, has seven large rooms and is as sound today as when built, and has been "the roof tree" of five generations, and is now the property of Mrs. Horatio BERRY, a great-great-granddaughter of General SMITH. Two carpenters engaged in the construction of the house left work in one Sunday afternoon to fish in Drake's Creek nearby and were killed by Indians. Two youths, one a son of Colonel Anthony BLEDSOE, and the other a son of his brother, Colonel Isaac BLEDSOE, who were living at General SMITH'S and attending school near Hendersonville, were killed by prowling Indians. Samuel DONALDSON, who married General SMITH'S only daughter, was killed by Indians.
     In 1790 General SMITH was appointed by President Washington Secretary of the ceded territory south of the Ohio. He was elected by the first Legislature of Tennessee one of the four Presidential Electors. In 1798 he succeeded Andrew JACKSON in the Senate of the United States and was again elected in 1805 and served until 1809. In 1793, in the absence of Governor BLOUNT, he acted as Governor of the Territory. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1796. He made the first map of Tennessee, published by Carey, of Philadelphia, and used by Imlay in 1794. Michaux, a french botanist, who passed through this section of the county in 1792, and after his return to France, published an interesting book of travel, speaks of his visit with General SMITH, of the beautiful fields of cotton and corn which surrounded his house, of the translations of foreign works his library contained, and of the quiet, studious and exemplary life led by a retired public servant. Living at a time when many public men were justly or unjustly the object, not only of censure, but of official accusation, it is worth while to publish the following from Jefferson's paper.

     "Daniel SMITH was a practical surveyor, whose work never needed correction. For intelligence, well cultivated talents, for integrity, and usefulness, in soundness of judgment, in the practice of virtue and in shunning vice, he was equaled by few men, and in the purity of motive excelled by none."

     Smith County was so named in honor of General SMITH.
     General SMITH had two children, a son, George who was born in Virginia, May 12, 1776, married Tabitha DONELSON, and Mary, who was born in Virginia April 26, 1781. She married Samuel DONELSON, Andrew JACKSON'S law partner, who was later killed by Indians. There was quite a romance connected with their marriage, it being an elopement. Andrew JACKSON made a rope ladder and helped his partner to steal his bride from an upper room in the old Rock Castle homestead of the family. After the death of Samuel DONELSON his widow married James SANDERS of Sumner County, by whom she had several children.
     George SMITH, had a son Harry, who was the father of Mrs. Horatio BERRY, who inherited the Rock Castle estate, where she now resides.

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