Samuel Smith - Historic Marker

This Tennessee Historic Marker is located on U. S. 170, Hickory Valley Road in Union County.

When doing genealogical research you never know just what you are going to find. Sometime ago when working on the Hubbs article, I came across a “prize find.” In 1999, when researching and publishing Union County Schoolday Memories, I did not find a smidgen of information about Samuel Smith and did not include that school in Schoolday Memories. This, of course, doesn’t mean there was nothing there–it just means at the time I didn’t find it! However, in the Hubbs file I found a picture of Josiah Smith (son of Josiah Smith and Nancy Stonley Condray Smith) and Almeda Hubbs Smith! Samuel Smith was a slave who belonged to Harbert Smith of Alabama and was willed to the elder Josiah Smith by his father. It seems that the younger Josiah Smith married Almeda Hubbs. Josiah and Almeda are buried in Hickory Valley on what was the Fate Buckner place. There are just the two graves marked, and the cemetery is now called Josiah Smith Cemetery. Josiah and Nancy may very well have been buried there; but, if so, there are no stones. Now, the Josiah pictured here did not inherit Samuel Smith–rather his brothers, James and John, shared jointly his services. Samuel Smith was born about 1819 and died July 21,1887. We do not know his date of birth–only that he was 68 years old at the time of his death. I knew that in order for the Tennessee Historical Commission to approve a marker there had to be some documentation, but I had not been able to obtain it. Perseverance does pays off. I contacted the Tennessee Historical Commission, and this is the documentation for the Historical Marker:

The Will of Josiah Smith, dated April 19, 1838, recorded at Rutledge, Grainger County, Tennessee, contained the statement “. . . one slave Sam and others to be divided between my two sons, James and John Smith.. . .”

The Will of Harbert Smith of Jackson County, Alabama, relinquishes at the death of Harbert Smith, one negro boy named Sam to Josiah Smith.

Oral community history revealed that Samuel Smith was a blacksmith and likely had his shop on property he purchased from Tabitha Sharp for $35 on February 22, 1868.

A deed dated October 28, 1868 from Christopher C. Selvidge and William G. Selvidge mentions, “old school house.”

Samuel Smith purchased 20 acres from Peter Sharp on February 6, 1874 and on February 18, 1879 he purchased four acres south of the grave yard on Jesse Butcher’s line for $30 . . . from Richard Lee Tharpe. This is the plot of land on which Samuel Smith was buried.

Oral history of Mrs. Daw (Bessie) Buckner of the Pinhook community and Mr. Clayton Irick revealed information about the exact location of the school and stories about Samuel Smith being a blacksmith. These discussions took place about 1980.

Pathways, Vol. 6, No. 2, page 44, 1986, “Blacks in Union County.” Pathways is a quarterly publication of Union County Historical Society.

Union County Quarterly Court Minutes, January 1883, M. T. Colvin, Superintendent of Schools in Union County , referred to a “colored population of 36 males and 26 females of which 26 scholars were on the rolls and one colored male teacher.”

Cedar Grove Baptist Church Minutes third Saturday in July 1880 lists Sam Smith as a member. Also the minutes of April 19, 1856 lists, among others, Josiah and Sam Smith as members of the Church at Liberty in good standing. A number of members are listed, “and are set apart to be constituted a church at a school house near John A. Smiths in the Hickory Valley. . . .” From this set of minutes it would appear that there had previously been a school at this location. If anyone can enlighten me about the earlier school, please do.

Marker 1 D 22 Samuel Smith

Following the Civil War, Samuel Smith, an ex-slave and blacksmith, purchased 110 acres of Union County land. In the 1880s, he established near this site, the only school and church for Blacks in Union County. Smith died on July 21, 1887 and was buried on his own property, which later became part of Butcher Cemetery.

Picture caption:
Josiah Smith (1826 - 1906) and Almeda Hubbs Smith (1828 - 1914)

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