Tag Archives: Isaac Smith

William Jackson Smith, The Bachelor Uncle Postmaster

William Jackson Smith 1828-1911

William Jackson Smith, my great-grandmother Annie’s third oldest brother deviated from the mold of most of the Smith family men.  While I’m missing some census reports, he seemed to not have a steady career until his late middle age. How ironic that a man who found a career as a postmaster, proves difficult to track by address! And most significantly, he never married.

Lacking a family history narrative or diaries, I will probably never know what made William Jackson Smith a bachelor.  However, with all those brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and probably cousins as well, he would not have led a lonely life.

What a challenge my Uncle William has been.  He seemed to go out of his way to hide from me and confuse me. The common name “William Smith” provides challenges in tracing my 2x great uncle’s life.  In the most “official” records–his government employment and his obituary, the middle name or initial helps clarify which William Smith, but of course we can’t count on the census takers to always use a middle initial.

That also makes we wary of other “William Smith” records like the Civil War draft index from 1863.  Because the birth year is only one year off, I thought at first that his name appeared on that record, but I now have eliminated that possibility.  The registration states that William Smith is a resident of Harrison Township, Knox County and is a farmer.  I have no other evidence for either of those facts. And there is another William Smith who fits that profile better.

Okay, I know I should not take all this personally.  On the bright side, his life interests me because it did not fit the mold of most of the other Ohio.


The same confusion of William Smiths from Knox County made me go through some census reports line by line to try to find “my” William in 1850, 1860 and 1880 census reports. I could eliminate any that were married. The Williams listed were born in Ohio and their parents were born in some place other than Pennsylvania or Maryland.  Too many discrepancies to assign the name to William.

William, born and baptized in Maryland (according to Catholic church records for Maryland), moved with the family to Knox County Ohio. According to a census report from 1830, I have learned that the Isaac Smith family probably lived in Quemahoning Township, Somerset, Pennsylvania that year. I can tell it was a brief residence because baptism records show that the family lived in Maryland when William was baptized in 1830, and his sister Elizabeth’s birth and death took place in Knox County Ohio in 1833. Another sibling, George Washington Smith ‘s birth, recorded in the family Bible without location, took place in January, 1831, presumably in Pennsylvania.

1830 Census

That 1830-1840  census reports–the kind that I call the “chicken scratch” census because it has only the name of the head of household plus tic marks for other residents, matches up nicely with Isaac Smiths family.

  • The form shows two boys under 5–that would be Jeremiah (3) and William (2);
  • one boy between 5 and 9–that would be John Henry (6 or 7)
  • and one man between 20 and 29.  Isaac would have been pushing the upper edge of that category.
  • Additionally, in 1830, the Isaac Smith family included, according to this census and in real life, one girl under 5–that would be Mary Jane;
  • And one woman between 20 and 29–Mary Maria who would have been 26.

Since Isaac had already applied for a land patent in Ohio, perhaps the family was just transiting through Pennsylvania on their way to their final destination.

At any rate, William shows up as twelve years old in 1840 in Knox County with the rest of the family.

Missing 1850 and 1860

I have not found him on either the 1850 census or the 1860 census, despite going through every township in Knox County that is anywhere near where his family members were living.  A mysterious disappearance. All I know is that he was not living with his parents or his older siblings.

Reappearing in 1870

William reappears in 1870, living with his father and mother in Union Township, Knox County, Ohio, post office: Jelloway. Only his younger brother Dallas still lives at home.  William is 40 years old.  In 1880, he again is listed with his father, now in College Township next to Union Township.

 Civil Service Records to the Rescue

Another gap since the 1890 census is missing.  However, since he was appointed as a postmaster in 1883, and reappointed several times, we know that he was living in Knox County, Ohio, perhaps near the crossroads of Hunt, where he worked, or perhaps still living with his parents until they died (1886 and 1892).

William Jackson Smith’s Older Years

The 1900 census confirms that he has never married. At 73 years of age for the first time he is listed as living alone in Union Township, Knox County.

As he ages, William moves in with his younger brother James, a farmer in Union Township of Knox County.  In 1910 he lives with James and his wife and their infant child.


Going by the few census records I have and the extensive Civil Service Records, I have pieced together the odd employment history of William Jackson Smith.

What he did in earlier life I have no clue. We do not see an occupation for him until he is forty years old and living with his parents. In 1870, he practices the same trade as his father, shoemaker.

Starting in 1883, at the age of 53, he finally finds steady (more or less) employment. William Jackson Smith receives appointments as postmaster for the tiny village of Hunt, Ohio.  Originally called Hunt’s Crossing, the name changed to Hunt in 1882 and the post office survived until a few years before William Jackson Smith died. He served as Postmaster for most of those years, with short breaks in service.

Appointment records show October 1883 – October 1887 and May 1908 to May 1912. These dates do not coordinate with Presidential elections, so his was not strictly a political appointment. Besides, as an article that I’ve linked below points out, people paid more than $1000 a year were appointed by the President or Senators. Below that, by an assistant Postmaster General. And, He actually served between 1887 and 1908 according to the pay schedules, so the break in service starting in 1887 was brief.

Payments for his yearly service show up in the Register of Civil, Military and Naval Service, published every two years, show these annual payments to William.

  • 1885: $104.96
  • 1887: $89.33
  • 1888: $52.40
  • 1889: $80.78
  • 1891: $81.83
  • 1895: $8l.90
  • 1897: $99.79
  • 1899: $97.18
  • 1901: $90.61
  • 1903: $73.92
  • 1905: $81.80

William Jackson Smith died before he finished his last term of appointment. The post office was decommissioned in 1912.

William Jackson Smith’s Death

William died at his brother James’ home on February 20, 1911, having reached the age of 84.

His brother filed probate papers in lieu of a will, that listed his next of kin:

James F. Smith, brother, Howard, Ohio; Joseph Smith, brother,  Columbus, Ohio; Mary Jane Stevens,sister, Howard Ohio; Anna Marie Butts, sister,Buckeye City Ohio (part of Danville); Lillis Blubaugh (niece), Danville; Victoria Blubaugh (niece); Henry Smith (nephew) Coshocton County, Ohio.  William left property of $700.

The Final Mystery

Even William’s last address provides somewhat of a mystery.  Find a Grave says that he was buried in the Workman Cemetery in Danville, Ohio.  Why would this member of an extensive Catholic family be buried in a German Baptist cemetery?

Did you have an ancestor who served a term or more as a postmaster?  Check out this National Archives page to learn more.

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
  • William Jackson Smith



Annie’s Siblings–The Isaac Smith Family

Ann Marie Smith (Butts)

Ann Marie Smith (Butts)

My great-grandmother Annie Smith  lived all her life in Knox County, Ohio. However, her father, Isaac Smith and mother, Mary Maria Krigbaum Smith started their family in Maryland, and Annie’s many brothers and sisters were born partly in Maryland and the rest in Ohio.


Birth and Death Dates of Smith Family Members

Those who lived to adulthood ( 8 out of 12, although one of those adults died at 22) nearly all made it into their 80s.

The order of birth, which is how I presented them here,  contrasts sharply with order of death.

Birth Order:

  • John Henry 1823
  • Mary Jane   1825
  • Jeremiah     1827
  • William J.     1828
  • George W.  1831
  • Susan          1833
  • Annie           1835
  • Priscilla        1838
  • Isadore        1840
  • James           1843
  • Dallas           1845
  • Rebecca       1847

Whereas, if we look at order of death, we find that the infant deaths occurred early and anyone who survived past the Civil War had a very good chance of reaching their 80s (with the exception of Isadore). Here is the age at death and year of death.

  • Susan (1)           1834
  • Priscilla (0)         1838
  • George W. (7)    1838
  • Rebecca (1)        1848
  • Jeremiah (22)     1849
  • John Henry (41)  1864
  • Isadore (39)         1879
  • William J. (83)      1911
  • Mary Jane (88)    1913
  • Annie (82)            1917
  • James (87)            1930
  • Dallas (88)            1933

In this age when death in childbirth was so common, none of three women in the family who had children, died in childbirth. Mary Jane (Stevens) had the most children–eight and Annie (Butts) had six.

Their Lives

The family moved to Ohio definitely by the time of the birth of Susan in 1833, and perhaps two or three years earlier. The information is lacking on George’s birthplace.

The adult men were mostly farmers, the women farmer’s wives and mothers. Most stayed right in Knox County, Ohio where they grew up. Here are a few more details.

John Henry, 1823-1864. I introduced the man who did not survive the Civil War earlier.

Mary Jane Smith (Stevens) 1825-1913.  Annie’s oldest sister had a very long and relatively unremarkable life as a farm wife and mother.  Born in Maryland, she married Cyrus Stevens (1821-1887) in November 1845 in Knox County.  Their children were as follows:

  • Rebecca Frances  (1848) Died before 1851
  • William (1850) Died young
  • Isaac (1851)
  • Aletha (1853)
  • Alice/Ann  (1855)
  • Ellen (1858)
  • Charles (1863)
  • Fulton (1877)

In the six years between 1886 and 1894, Mary Jane’s father died, then her husband (1887) and finally (1892) her mother.  1900 comes missing, but by 1910 at the age of 84, she is living with her sons Charles, a farmer in Knox County.  According to the Smith Family Bible records, Mary Jane died in 1913.

Jeremiah Smith (1827-1849) and destined to die young and leave no record of his life, except the family Bible. Maryland Catholic church records  show the baptism of an unknown child of Isaac and Mary Smith in May 1827.  The family Bible says he died at 22 years old.

William Jackson Smith (1828-1911), born while the family still lived in Maryland. I will write separately about William, an anomaly in several ways.

George W. Smith (1831-1838), probably another unidentified child in baptism records in Maryland. Death and birth dates recorded in family Bible.

Susan Elizabeth (1833-1834) Died at less than one year old.

Ann Marie (Butts) (1835-1917) I have written about Annie and her husband previously.

Priscilla Bell (1838) Died as an infant. (Note that the 7-year-old George died the same year).

Isadore Orilla (Critchfield) (1840-1879)  Isadore did not marry until she was in old maid territory–28 years old. Her husband, Thomas Critchfield only 24, was another farmer in Knox County.  They married in 1870.  The couple moved in next door to Thomas’ widowed mother and his two adult sisters.  After only nine years of marriage and no children, Isadore died at the age of 39.

James F. (1843-1930) Although James came of age during the Civil War, and registered for the draft in 1863 when he was twenty, he did not appear to have served. He married in 1870 and lived next door to his father, Isaac Smith.  James apparently had ambition and studied for the law. However, although he was listed as a lawyer in the 1870 census, subsequent census reports say “farmer”. By 1880, he and his wife Rebecca have a daughter Roxie, who was destined to die as a young teen.  He had no other children.  His brother William lived with him in 1910 in Howard Township, Knox County, but William died in 1911.

Rebecca and James moved into Millbrook Village, part of Danville, Ohio in their later years.  They both lived long lives, Rebecca surviving James who died in 1930 at nearly 87 years old.  I cringe when I think of the horrible death reported on this death certificate.  Starvation resulting from cancer of the face.”

Joseph Dallas Smith (1845-1933) Dallas, as he was called, led the most colorful life of all, and so I will be writing about him separately.

Rebecca (1847-1848) Unfortunately the last child born to Isaac and his wife Mary died when she was less than one year old.  My great-grandmother, Annie would have been twelve years old.  Isaac, in 1847 had reached the age of 47, and Mary was 43.

I will write more about the mother and father, Isaac and Mary (Krigbaum) Smith, who lived to 1886 and 1892 respectively, long enough to enjoy many grand-children. and great-grandchildren. That would include, potentially, my grandmother Mary “Mame” Butts (Kaser), my father’s mother who was born in 1868.

The Isaac and Mary Smith Family, A Guide

When families like the Isaac Smith family come up for discussion it sometimes is “hard to tell the players without a program.”  Here is a guide to the family (sisters and brothers of my great-grandmother Ann Marie Smith Butts) with birthdates and (mostly) places of birth. Twelve children, of whom seven lived to adulthood, plus one who died when he was twenty-two (Probably). Six left “issue” as the old biography books say.

Much of the information here comes from the transcription of an old Smith family Bible, which is not always correct.  Therefore I have put question marks beside most information that I am not sure of from more than one source. (Always remember that genealogical research is a work in progress.)

Father Isaac Smith. Born circa 1800 either in Pennsylvania or Maryland.  Died 1 November 1886, Ohio.

Mother Mary Maria Krigbaum Smith. Born 26 July, 1804, Maryland. Died 28 November 1892, Ohio.

Smith Children:

*Lived to Adulthood

*John Henry Smith. 26 January, 1823, Maryland. Died 17 December 1864, Nashville Tennessee. (Civil War)  [Referred to as Ivan Henry in Family Bible] (Married Rebecca Jane Draper.)

*Mary Jane Smith (STEVENS). Born Circa 1825 in Maryland. Died September 1913 (?) in Knox County, Ohio.

Jeremiah Smith. Born 19 February 1827 in Maryland. Died 9 January 1849 (?) in Knox County, Ohio. (22 years old, not married)

*William Jackson Smith. Born 1 December 1828 in Maryland. Died 20 February, 1911, Howard, Knox, Ohio. (never married)

George Washington Smith. Born 1 January 1831(?). Died October 1838 (?), Knox County, Ohio. (7 years old)

Susan Elizabeth Smith. Born 16 June 1833 (?) Knox County, Ohio. Died October 1838. (?) Knox County, Ohio. (Infant Death)

*Ann Marie Smith (BUTTS), Born 12 April 1835, Knox County, Ohio. Died 24 April 1917, Danville Ohio.

Priscilla Belle Smith, Born 20 February 1838 (?), Knox County, Ohio. Died October 1838(?), Knox County, Ohio. (7 months old)

*Isadore Orilla Smith (CRITCHFIELD).  Born 13 June 1840, Knox County, Ohio. Died 28 January, 1879 (?), Knox County, Ohio. (no children, although her husband remarried and had two daughters.)

*James Francis Smith. Born 27 September 1843 Danville, Knox, Ohio. Died 13 September 1930, Millwood, Knox, Ohio. (Married Rebecca Hawn)

*Joseph Dallas Smith, MD. Born 24 January, 1845, Knox County, Ohio. Died 26 April 1933. (Married twice: Martha Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Fitzgerald.)

Rebecca Francis Smith. Born 12 September 1847 (?), Knox County, Ohio. Died February 1848(?), Knox County, Ohio. (5 months old)