Ann Marie Smith, Church and Family

If you are a family history researcher or blogger, you will understand why I have been reluctant to tackle this particular family line. SMITH. But the Smiths are not going to get any easier to figure out if I keep ignoring them.  So here is my great-grandmother, my father’s grandmother, Ann Marie Smith (Butts).

Ann Marie Smith 1835-1917

parents of Mame Kaser

Henry Allen and Ann Marie Butts, about 1880

Ann Marie Smith, my father’s grandmother, joined five other children when she was born in Knox County,Ohio on the 12th of April, 1835. The children ranged from three years old to ten. Isaac, their father, the shoemaker, must have mended a lot of shoes to be able to feed his large family.

Her parents, devoted Catholics originally from Maryland, took her to the mission that would become St. Luke Catholic church in Danville Ohio to be christened the following July.

Jean Baptiste Lamy

Jean Baptiste Lamy, taken in 1860. From the French Wikipedia site.

 

HISTORICAL NOTE:  Four years after Ann Marie Smith’s  baptism, a traveling priest began serving the Danville area.  Jean-Baptiste Lamy would be Annie’s priest when she was a young child. He built the first wooden church to serve St. Luke Church in 1840, before he departed for New Mexico in 1850. This means Father Lamy would have presided over the baptism, christening and infant deaths of the Smith children that came after Annie. I also found a marriage license of Annie’s older sister, Mary Jane, SIGNED BY Rev. Lamy!!

Father Lamy signature

Father J. Lamy signature on the marriage certificate of Mary Jane Smith and Cyrus Stevens, 1845.

Willa Cather’s book Death Comes to the Archbishop covers the New Mexico life of Father/Archbishop Lamy.

For the rest of her life, Annie would know only Knox County, Ohio as her home, and St. Luke as her church.  The beautiful brick church, with its soaring interior, still serves the area.

While every child certainly was welcomed with love, little Ann Marie must have been a special delight because Mary (Krigbaum) and Isaac Smith had suffered the loss of an infant girl in 1833.

I wrote a bit about Ann Marie’s married life when we read her husband, Henry Allen Butts’ letters home from the Civil War, but I recently realized that I had not looked at Ann Marie’s earlier life at that time.

Ann Marie’s Early Life

During the early years of her life, the Smith family kept growing. But before she gained more siblings, three-year-old Ann lost a 7-year-old brother (George). In the same year, her mother Mary Smith gave birth to another girl who died in infancy, Priscilla Bell Smith.

Then the curse–if they believed in such things–was lifted and five-year-old Annie gained a close playmate when Isadore Orilla  joined the family in 1840. I believe Mary felt particularly close to Isadore, because Annie honored her sister by using her name for my grandmother. Mary Isadore Butts (Kaser) received the names of her grandmother Mary and her aunt Isadore.

Three years after Isadore joined the family, Mary presented another boy, James, and in 1845, the youngest, Joseph Dalice, joined the family.

With a new baby , and a total of eight offspring in the house, Mary Smith no doubt had mixed feelings about her oldest daughter, Mary Jane’s marriage and departure. The oldest son, John Henry also married in 1845. Mary Jane had reached 20 and John (also called Ivan) would now be 22.

Adding Children and Losing Children

In 1847, when Ann Marie reached twelve her mother gave birth to another girl baby who died in infancy.  Poor Mary. She had lost three children in infancy and one at only seven years old. Another shock hit the family when Ann Marie reached fourteen years old.  Ann Marie’s older brother Jeremiah died in a farm accident when he was only twenty-two. Of twelve children Mary Smith had given birth to, only seven survived to 1850.

[In 1849 William Smith, 21, may also have married and lived in another county with an uncle named George, but I need further research on this since there are dozens of  William Smiths to sort out.]

When the census taker wrote down the facts in 1850, he showed 15-year-old Ann Marie as the oldest of the children still at home. The others were sister Isadore (10) and brothers James (8) and Joseph (6). Although their mother Mary apparently could not read and write (at least in English), the Smith children all attended school and became literate. In 1860, Ann Marie still lived at home at 25 years of age–probably already considered a spinster. (The census shows her as 24.)

The Spinster Meets Her Man

In 1860, Henry Allen Butts showed up in the Pennsylvania census living in a boarding house.  How he met his wife Ann Marie Smith remains a mystery to me. Political division stalked the land, and most expected war to break out. Henry, who presumably had not yet met Annie, joined a Pennsylvania Regiment of the Union Army for a year.  When he mustered out, he apparently moved to Ohio. His father had died in 1846, and I am not sure where his mother was by 1860.

Records show that Ann Marie Smith and Henry Allen Butts married August 23, 1864.  They obviously had met nearly a year before that, as their first son, Giles Allen (called Alan or Allen), came “prematurely” a month after the marriage.

The Civil War Intrudes

The war continued to rage in 1864. Henry did not own land, and did not have a skill to rely on, so he joined the Union Army in Ohio. Since Henry had already served a one-year stint with the Union Army from Pennsylvania,  I can think of no reason other than financial that he would leave his “Dear Wif” and the baby he obviously doted on. His love for both of them shines through his letters, regardless of grammatical and spelling challenges.

If Ann Marie felt frightened and alone when her husband left for the front, things only got more troublesome when her brother John also joined the war.

The oldest boy in the Smith family John Henry Smith, enlisted at the beginning of 1864, even though he was already forty years old and married with children.  Henry Allen Butts mentions John Henry in a letter to his wife “Annie”. Annie had told Henry in a letter from home that her brother had gotten a leave and visited with his children.  The visit, in retrospect, suggests a bittersweet memory.  John Henry fought through several severe battles with his unit and died of wounds he received near Nashville Tennessee before 1864 ended.

It is easy to see Mary’s problems during 1864 with her husband gone and money in short supply. She is offered a job helping out as a housemaid, but Henry doesn’t approve of that, so she struggles along, without borrowing and without working outside the house.

Although Henry fought under Sherman in the famous March to the Sea, he survived to return to Ohio and invest in a small farm. More fortunate with babies than her mother, Ann Maria Smith gave birth six times and all six lived to adulthood, although one daughter died at 26.  Ann’s father died in 1886 and her mother died in 1892.

After the War

I encourage you to read the story of the rest of Ann’s life which I covered in this post about Henry’s first letter home.  Rooted in Knox County, near the small town of Danville, Ann Marie lived until April 1917 when she was 82 years old.  My father would have been eleven years old when she died, and remembered both Ann Marie and Henry Butts.

A memoir written by Homer Blubaugh tells more about Ann Marie, so devoted to her church that she would walk a few miles to church carrying her youngest baby, known for her enormous vegetable and flower garden.

Ann Marie Smith lies buried in the Catholic churchyard in Danville, Ohio. (I believe her grave is unmarked. Her husband’s grave was unmarked until a veterans’ organization erected a Civil War Veteran monument.) St. Luke church shepherded her into the world with a christening, brought her solace throughout her life and saw her departure. Henry survived her and died in 1920.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary Isadore Butts (Kaser), who is the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts)

Notes on Research

  • History of St. Luke Church and Father Lamy, the St. Luke website.
  • Death Comes to the Archbishop , Willa Cather.
  • United States Census, 1850, Millwood, Knox, Ohio; 1860, Union, Knox, Ohio;1870, 1880, 1900, Harrison, Knox Ohio; 1910, Union, Knox, Ohio.
  • Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993, Record for Henry A. Butts, Ancestry.com
  • Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Annie M Butts, Knox County, pg 1158,  Ohio Department of Health and Ancestry.com
  • Smith Family Bible,  Isaac M. Smith and family. Family Bible in possession of family of Joseph Dallas Smith; Elizabeth Ferretti Smith Rotterman, near Cleveland Ohio, 2016. Hand written Bible page transcribed by Mary Martha VonVille on Family Search.org https://familysearch.org/tree/person/M7BQ-48D/details
  • “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” by Rev. Homer Blubaugh, Saint Mary Church, Lancaster, Ohio.  This is a combination of documented and anecdotal information about the Butts family from Ohio. Some was gathered at family reunions. Some is downright wrong, but some is quite interesting. My copy was sent by Butts descendent Helen Findon in 2003. The document says Revised May 11, ’92 – Rev. Homer Blubaugh. Copies in the authors’ possession.
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9 thoughts on “Ann Marie Smith, Church and Family

  1. Cathy Meder-Dempsey


    Twitter:
    I also have ancestors I am reluctant to tackle. I checked my database for Smith and found I have 1,068 individuals with the surname. One is an ancestress. Elizabeth SMITH. I checked if I have done any research on her. Her name comes from the 1757 marriage entry in St. James Northam Parish in Goochland County, Virginia. It was in The Douglas Register, a diary kept by the Rev. William Douglas from 1750 to 1797 (located this while searching for a source for the date of marriage). There is also an entry for her oldest known child with David PROFFITT born in 1760. It gives her maiden name. The search is on for her parents. Positive results of this exercise were 1. I located letters of administration and the inventory for her husband David and 2. the will of her father-in-law Sylvester PROPHET. Thanks for the push, Vera.

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Way to go, Cathy! DNA matches helped a bit here, because it helped me build the line laterally and knowing her siblings and children’s lives helped know hers. I doubt tackling her parents is going to be quite as easy as she was–the early the more difficult–unless you’re in New England where they kept all those meticulous town records! At the moment, I don’t even know the nationality of this Smith family.

      Reply
  2. Eva Johnson


    Twitter:
    Such a wonderful story about Ann Marie Smith! It’s lucky that she stayed in the same town her whole life, so that she was a little easier to track. I have some Johnson ancestors that moved around, or lived in the same town as a few other women of the same name, so they are very hard to sort out!

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thanks Eva, glad you enjoyed it. I had not thought about the fact that her staying put made life easier, but you’re right–its bad enough when there are three John Andersons in the same township (as I have) but even worse if they are in a bunch of different states and/or none of them ever LEFT that township!

      Reply
  3. Nancy H. Vest


    Twitter:
    You discovered a lot about her early life. That’s so hard to do at times. Our families intertwine in a way. My mother’s family is from South Carolina. Sherman’s March came through both of the counties that my mother’s family lived in at the time. Such a dreadful war for the entire country. So many men lost.

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Yes, I’ve had uncanny luck with female lines that way. So sorry to hear that my great-grandfather caused harm to your mother’s families home territory. Yes, it was a terrible time for everyone.

      Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Kerry: The census says she could not read or write, and the aside is my own thought. I still don’t know what their nationality was, but if it was German, (Schmidt), I know from research that many of the German immigrants did not speak English for several generations after immigration. I learned that the Protestant churches had servies in German rather than English into the 19th century, and they conducted German-language schools. I also know from the history of St Luke Church that there were enough Germans in the Knox County area that people requested the Catholic services at least sometimes be presented in German. Of course, since I don’t know the Smith’s background yet, she may have been English, and simply uneducated.

      Reply
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