Josiah King Smith

Josiah King Smith - Mystery Man

Submitted by Ivan H. Smith,

Huron County First Family Member #156

Ivan Smith, the great-grandson of JOSIAH KING SMITH had been told by his father that Josiah King Smith known as "King" died in TN in the Civil War. It was not until we got his Civil War records that we realized that he returned to Lake City, MN, after the war and lived until 16 April 1877 when he died of "consumption."

During his military stint in the Civil War, he was a member of the Minnesotaís First Regiment, which was famed for making the first attack in Gettysburg, also known as the "turning point of the war." There were eight companies, 262 men, who charged down Cemetery Ridge into the center of several thousand Confederates. Less that 40 men of the Minnesota regiment came back from the charge (including Josiah King Smith), but they brought the Alabama flag back with them.

His Civil War records also revealed that his place of birth was Milan, Huron County Ohio. With this added information, plus his marriage to Caroline Keith in Grundy County, Illinois, we were able to trace his steps in reverse.

"King" and Caroline Smith had three sons; the first two were born in Illinois and the third, Walter Cole Smith (Ivan's grandfather), in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin -- just across Lake Pepin from Lake City, Minnesota.

As we began to try to identify Josiah King Smith's parents, we seemed to come to a dead end. With additional research we learned that Josiah King Smith was in Michigan with a Tinker R. Smith. We have a copy of a deed which both signed as witnesses, as well as another deed which Tinker and Nancy both witnessed.

Tinker Smith was considerably easier to trace-- at least in his early years. He married Nancy Ann Parker in Milan on 27 March 1816. Like Mary and her little lamb, "Everywhere that Tinker went, "King was sure to go." They seemed to be together as they worked their way westward from Ohio to Michigan, at least until Josiah King got married. Then Tinker stayed in Michigan (Van Buren County) until Nancy died. Tinker remarried to a Mary and they were still living in Michigan (Cass County) in the 1860 census; Tinker was 70 years old in 1860. On earlier census records, Tinker had a son listed whose age fit Josiah King Smith's. However, these early censuses did not give the names of children.

Another possible parentage appeared for Josiah when we got a copy of a deed from Huron County Ohio in which Josiah Smith, Tinkerís father, a colonel from the Revolutionary War who was the first Smith -- in Tinkerís line -- to settle in Ohio. He received fire lands in 1811 in Milan. He sold land to one "William Smith, his wife Abigail and their son, Josiah." This transaction, however, occurred in August 1821, two months before the birth of Josiah King Smith. Further disproof of this as Josiah King Smithís parentage is that when they sold this property (in 1836), both signatures (that of Josiah and of William) were witnessed by an "X" making it appear that neither one could read or write. On the deeds Tinker and Josiah King Smith witnessed in Michigan, just two years later (in 1838), both had beautifully handwritten signatures. If these were the same Josiah, how did he learn to write so well in two years while moving from place to place?

One further piece of evidence that Tinker was Josiah Kingís father was that they named their first son was "Parker," Nancy Ann Smithís maiden name.

We are still puzzled by Josiah and hope to one day be able to prove that Tinker was indeed his father. If we can do that, we will have at least two more generations of early Huron County, Ohio, ancestors prior to Josiah King Smith.

We have not, at this date, gotten any proof of Tinkerís death. We assume he may have died in Cass County, Michigan, but -- like early birth records in Huron County, Ohio -- written documentation of such events is very sparse. As Ivan says, "Now we know where the expression, ĎHe didnít give a Tinkerís damní came from."

Written by Janet E. Smith for her husband, Ivan.

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