Dr. Dallas Smith Becomes a ‘Phisition’ in the Big City.

Joseph Dallas Smith ( 1845-1933)

My great-grandmother Annie Smith Butts’ would have been 7 years old when her younger brother Joseph Dallas Smith joined the family.  It seems that people mostly called him Dallas, but occasionally, official records refer to him as Joseph. I will call him Dallas, because I like the unusual name.

Note to ancestors named Smith:  It surely helps when you use an unusual first name with the last name Smith!!

Dallas, born after the Isaac and Mary Smith family moved to Ohio from Maryland, would  be the last living child of the family.  (One daughter, born two years later, died within a few months.)

By 1850’s census 6-year-old Dallas’ family included Ann (15), Isadore (10) and James (8).  The older children by then were out on their own.

In 1860 the census shows the Smith family consisted of the three teenagers : Isadore, James and Dallas. Ann,  24, would soon be married to my great-grandfather Henry Allen Butts. When Dallas reached 19, he must have been hit hard by the death of his older brother John Henry in the Civil War.  Can’t you just imagine the 19-year-old wanting to join up and his mother pleading with him not to? At any rate, the war was winding down, and Dallas stayed put in Knox County.

The family continued to live in Union Township, Knox County in 1870.  Dallas’ older brother William had returned home and worked with his father as a shoemaker. Dallas, now twenty-four, living with his parents and still unmarried, worked as a farmer. But in the next decade his life changed dramatically.

Dallas Smith Becomes a Phisition

At some point he decided to become a doctor.  According to the 1901 Physicians and Dentists Directory of State of Ohio, J. D. Smith graduated from Wooster College and became a “regular” physician in 1880. That means that he was not an eclectic physician like my great-grandfather  “Doc” Stout and Doc’s brother George nor a naturopath, homeopath or osteopathic physician.

Wooster, in Wayne County, would have been an easy commute from Danville, and perhaps the premed part of his education took place there. However, the short-lived medical school operated in Cleveland, Ohio from 1864 to 1881. In 1881 faculty split to either join the Cleveland Medical College to form Western Reserve University Medical Department or reopen the University of Wooster Medical Department

The 1880 census taker, using very creative spelling, notes the occupation of the 35-year-old Dallas Smith as “phisition.” At that time, Ohio did not license doctors, but by 1896 he would have been granted a license as a graduate of a regular medical school.

Dallas Smith set up his practice in the town of Gann, which I knew as Brinkhaven when I lived in Ohio. Dallas still lived in Knox County, but in 1880 the census shows him living with his sister-in-law, the widow of John Henry Smith and her son instead of with his parents.

He was about to have another very eventful decade.

The Move to Columbus

Some time in the 1880s, Dallas moved to Columbus. Before 1892 he had set up his office at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus.  The state capitol in 1901 had a population of 141,000.  In the medical directories, future census reports and legal papers (1892, 1900, 1901, 1905,  1910 ) he lived and practiced medicine at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus.

Broad Street was the “Main Street” of Columbus Ohio, and followed the old National Highway through town.  The State Capitol Building stands at the intersection of Broad Street and High Street, so the government and commercial center of town grew up around that area. East Broadway became the home of large mansions and lush parks along its wide expanse.

The Scioto River (Sigh-OH-ta) runs through the western edge of downtown and Broad Street extended across the Scioto. Dr. J. D. Smith’s office and home would sit in that area west of the river. The area is highway commercial now and only a few of the gorgeous old Victorian homes have survived. A modern building now stands at 980 where Dallas lived.

Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick

The same year that we see Dallas listed as a “phisition” in Knox County in Ohio, a 25-year-old Irish lass, Martha Fitzpatrick, shows up in the Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) census working as one of two servant girls in the home of a lawyer.  That lawyer and his family live on Broad Street, about eight blocks away from Dallas’ eventual home/office.

Both Martha’s parents were Irish, although the 1880 census indicates her birthplace as Ohio. In 1900, at the peak of Irish immigration, the Irish were the 2nd largest ethnic group in Ohio, right behind Germans. After poring over census records with many Fitzpatricks, all of whom had numerous children, I believe that Martha’s father was named John (and of course there are dozens of John Fitzpatricks) and her mother Ellen, and in 1860 the family lived in Lancaster Ohio.  Martha had two sisters and two brothers in 1860, which as Irish families go, was very small. Her grandfather, also named John, lived with the family.

In 1870, when she was 18, I found Martha Fitzpatrick working as a domestic in a township with a Lancaster, Ohio mailing address.  The well-to-do family hired three domestic servants. However, by 1875, she has moved to Columbus Ohio and is working for that attorney that shows up on the 1880 census as well. The fact that this house with three servants was a few blocks from Dallas hints at the fact that he had chosen a nice neighborhood to live and work in.

Dallas Marries Martha

Marriage license.

Dallas Smith and Martha Fitzpatrick Marriage license.

It would be delightful to learn how the small town doctor met the Irish domestic servant, but, alas, all we have to go on is a marriage license that tells us that in January of 1884, they were married. Ohio marriage licenses from that period hold sparse information. The printed form assures us that the groom is over 25 and the bride over 18 and neither of them are currently married to someone else. That’s about it. From other records, we know that Martha is ten years younger than Dallas Smith.

Presumably, Martha had made a giant leap from taking care of someone else’s house to be the lady of the house in a Broad Street home of a doctor.  Dallas Smith apparently did well for himself in his new location and shared his good fortune with his wife.

Deaths in the Family

November 1892 was a tough month for Joseph Dallas Smith.  Late that month his mother died. At the time, Dallas would still have been coping with the death of his young wife on November 3, 1892

Martha only lived eight years after their marriage, and died at the age of thirty-eight without having any children. Unlike most married women of that period–and particularly, one would think, of former serving women–Martha Fitzpatrick Smith left behind a will.  In it we learn that she owned two pieces of property in her own name.  One of those she willed to her older sister Annie, along with a Leader Sewing Machine.  The other property (both pieces of land were in Columbus Ohio) went to her beloved husband Dallas Smith, along with all her other personal belongings.


Lizzie Fitzgerald

The search for the background of Dallas’ second wife Elizabeth proved frustrating.  Those large Irish immigrant families all seemed to name a daughter Elizabeth.  However, with a few clues from her later life, I believe I found her family and perhaps what she was up to in the several years before she married.

It seems likely her parents were both Irish, and all information agrees that Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald was born in Canada.

I have not tracked her father from Ireland to Canada, or determined whether her mother actually came from Ireland or France, (or perhaps French Canada). However, I do believe that thanks to the sparse information on Elizabeth’s death certificate I do have some clues.

Census reports from 1870, 1880 and 1900 of David Fitzgerald with wife Ellen show that Elizabeth came from a family with ten children. The five oldest, including “Eliza” were born in Canada, and the youngest were born in Pennsylvania. That narrows down the arrival of the family to 1865-1867, most probably 1866 when Elizabeth would have been about 3 or 4 years old.

This is one of those times when the missing 1890 census would come in very handy!

The Facts

Marriage License

Dallas Smith and Elizabeth/Lizzie Fitzgerald Marriage in Pennsylvania

Joseph D. Smith married “Lizzie” T. Fitzgerald (Elizabeth Theresa)  in Lawrence, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1894, two years after his first wife died. Good news!  Pennsylvania marriage licenses of that period delivered a great deal more information than Ohio licenses. According to  the marriage license, Lizzie’s birth year was 1863 (October 23, 1863) making her at least eighteen years younger than Dallas Smith, who would have been 49 years old and Lizzie, perhaps,  had not yet reached 31.

That birth date is somewhat in doubt, since subsequent census records vary from 1863 to 1867, however her death certificate lists October 23, 1862, so the year seems to be close to that.

From her death certificate, I learned that her father’s name was David Edward Fitzgerald, born in Ireland and her mother’s maiden name was Ellen Cheevy.

The Marriage license also tells us that Lizzie came from Canada, and it names her birthplace : Belle Ewart, a town in Ontario, Canada.  When married, she lived in Newcastle Pennsylvania. Her occupation: dressmaker. ( The license is signed by A. S. Love, clerk of the Orphan’s Court. How appropriate.)

Census reports vary on what year Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald immigrated from Canada, but they agree that she was still a young child, between three and five years old. Based on census reports that ask the question, she did not become an American citizen.  The reports say her father came from Ireland or from Canada and two records says her mother came from France, but others say Ireland.

Married Life

Married in April 1894, the couple settled in the home Dallas had occupied since he moved to Columbus, at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio.  Elizabeth gave birth to a her daughter, Martha, nine months later in Januaury 1895. Apparently, Dallas wanted to honor his first wife by naming his daughter for her.

Three years later, March 2, 1898, Elizabeth gave birth again and the couple named their second daughter Elizabeth (called Betty.)

The 1900 census tells us that Elizabeth now had the help of a 17-year-old servant girl.

On August 18, 1903, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, James.

A Move from Broad Street

In 1910, we find the family still living at 980 West Broad Street, and Dallas, listed as Joseph, still practicing medicine, but they no longer have a servant living with them.  However in the next decade Joseph apparently retired and the family had moved to 2177 Indiana Avenue. The stimulus might have been a devastating flood in 1913 that inundated the West side of the Scioto River where the Broad Street home was located. The new house still stands near Ohio State University.

Collumbus home of Dallas Smith

2177 Indiana Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, where the Dallas Smith family lived in 1920.

In 1920, all three children still live at home.  Martha, twenty-four, works as an order clerk; Betty (Elizabeth), 22, also works as a clerk, and James F.,16,  still attends school. However they did not stay in this house for long.  By the time Betty married in 1924, they had moved again, to 1743 Fulton Street.

A Marriage in the Family

In August, 1924, Betty married Robert V. Rotterman a telephone engineer from Cleveland. (the 1920s Ohio marriage licenses  carry more information than earlier).

I recently discovered a DNA match with a man named Rotterman.  I know that the Rotterman family has extensive information about Dallas and Elizabeth and their family, since they are descended from the only one of Dallas’ children who had children.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get in touch and share information?

Aging Parents

By 1930,  Martha (32) now a stenographer and James (25) a clerk, remain at home with their  85-year-old father and 65-year-old mother. Betty has moved to Cleveland with her husband.

In 1930, Dallas Smith’s family resides in the home they have occupied since the early 1920s at 1743 Fulton Street in Ohio.  The house is on the east side of Columbus and the home currently on the property looks like it has been extensively remodeled, so I am not showing it here.

Dallas lived in this house until he died April 26, 1933. The cause of death is listed as senility and he is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus.

The family continued to live in the Fulton Street house, according to the City Directories of 1935, 36 and 37. The 1940 census shows Elizabeth and Martha and James continuing to live on Fulton Street with their mother. Now Martha worked as a stenographer in a certified accountant’s office and James as a salesman of soft goods.  Neither Martha nor James ever married.

On May 10, 1946, Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald Smith died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried with her husband at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus. They were back on the west side of the Scioto where he started.


I see a pattern in Dallas’ marriages. Do you?  Dr. Smith seems to like Irish girls much younger than he is.

Now, how did Joseph meet a woman living in Newcastle Pennsylvania? I suspect that she may have not have actually lived there, but it was the home of her parents.

My suspicion about Elizabeth’s residence before marriage stems from the fact that I believe I found the correct Elizabeth Fitzgerald listed as a dressmaker or seamstress living in Columbus in years between 1889 and 1892. (Remember, she is listed as a seamstress on their marriage license.)

My father’s great-uncle definitely broke the mold of the Smith family, particularly by leaving Knox County.  He also struck out on a different career and married two much younger women from immigrant families.  All these things contribute to making Dallas Smith well worth the telling of his story.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher)  is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, the son of
  • Mary Isadore (Mame) Butts (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts), the sister of
  • Joseph Dallas Smith.

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census Reports, 1850- Millwood, Knox County, Ohio; 1860, 1870, 1880 – Union, Knox County, Ohio; 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 – Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; 1860, 1870 Pleasant, Fairfield, Ohio; 1880 Union, Lawrence, Pennsylvania; 1880, Columbus Holmes, Ohio; 1900 Newscastle, Ward 6, Lawrence Pennsylvania.

Ohio Births and Christening Index, 1800-1962–Elizabeth F. Smith, (Ancestry.com)

Ohio Marriages 1774-1992, Joseph Dallas Smith to Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick, 17 Jan. 1884; Elizabeth F. Smith and Robert V. Rotterman, August 5, 1924,  Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania Marriages 1852-1968, Joseph D. Smith to Lizzie T. Fitzgerald, April 4, 1894, Ancestry.com

U.S. City Directories 1822-1925 (Ancestry.com), Polk’s Columbus Ohio City Directory, 1932, XJ. L. Polk & Co., Publishers,Smith,  Jos. D (Eliz);  1833, Martha E. Fitzpatrick; 1885, Martha Fitzpatrick; 1895, Smith, Joseph D.,  Physician.

Ohio Deaths 1908-1932, 1938-2007 (Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health)  Elizabeth T. Smith, 16 May 1946

Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653045, Joseph Dallas Smith. This page also has an image of his death certificate.; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653124, Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick Smith; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653902 Elizabeth Teresa Fitzgerald Smith

Ohio Wills and Probate 1786-1998, (Ancestry.com), Martha E. Smith, Franklin County, Executors Bonds and Letters, Vol 8-9, 1890-1895, and Probate: 21 Dec 1892, Will Records, Vol N-O, 1891-1894

Smith Family Bible, transcription shared from Family Search tree of Mary Martha Vonville. Family Bible [was] 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.

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