Monday, February 1, 2016

Celia Smith and Mary Elizabeth Smith

Celia Smith was born April 23, 1853 in Hardy County Virginia.  Celia was the daughter of a carpenter, Jacob Smith, and his wife Nancy Entler of Moorefield, Hardy County, Virginia.  Jacob was born in Pennsylvania about 1801; his grandfather, Philip Schmidt, came from Germany in 1737.  Nancy was born in Virginia about 1808; she was also of German descent. 

In 1860, Celia was the youngest child in the household of Jacob and Nancy Smith.  Her older siblings still at home were Mary, Emily, George, and Frances.

In 1870 Celia was a 17-year-old still living in her father's household with her older sister Emily.

Celia became the mother of a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, on October 13, 1877.  Immediately after birth, Mary was placed in the home of a black family in Petersburg, Grant County, West Virginia.  Solomon Peterson, a neighbor of Celia Smithsupposedly helped her find a home for her illegitimate, biracial daughter. Elias and Hannah Green Gilbert "adopted" Mary.  Hannah Green Gilbert was Solomon Peterson's mother-in-law.

In 1880 Celia was living in the household of Sarah Weese, a widow keeping house in Moorefield, Hardy County, West Virginia.  She was a single 27-year-old boarder, probably helping care for Mrs. Weese's young daughters, Mary and Rose. 

In 1900 Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Smith was a 22-year-old servant in the home of Daniel W. and Margaret Belle Babb in Williamsport, Grant County, West Virginia.  It was in this community that Mary met and eventually married Homer Stewart, a local farm laborer, on April 12, 1909.

Celia died June 6, 1903.  She was moved from her initial burial site to the Smith family plot in Olivet Cemetery in Moorefield by her daughter. Mary once took her son Brownley to the cemetery to point out where his grandmother was buried.  He later did the same for his children.

Mary became an excellent homemaker, housekeeper and cook.  She could work wonders with a few simple ingredients to create meals for her family.  The Bonar family on Patterson Creek Road in Burlington, Mineral County, West Virginia often afforded Mary's services, especially on special occasions.  It it believed that on one of these occasions, Mary encountered a relative of her mother Celia Smith, as a guest of the Bonars;  she bravely made it known that she was Celia's daughter.

When Mary died in June of 1950, her oldest son, listed as the informant on her death certificate, identified her father as Solomon Peterson.  This was not common knowledge or generally accepted by others.  Mary always said that she did not know who her father was.

Mary Elizabeth Smith
on her wedding day
Mary Elizabeth Smith Stewart
In 1870 Solomon Peterson and wife Salllie Jones had four children living with them in Moorefield, West Virginia.. Sallie died before November 1874, when Solomon married again.  In 1880 Solomon Peterson and wife Mary Green were living in Moorefield, West Virginia with two of his older sons  and two of their sons.  Solomon and Mary lost two children at birth and another at age seven.  Between 1886 and 1900 Solomon Peterson moved his family from Moorefield, West Virginia to Wheeling, West Virginia.  Solomon died in 1918.

West Virginia Vital Records, Grant County, rural
06//11/1950:  Death of Mary Elizabeth Smith Stewart
1880 US Census West Virginia, Hardy County, Moorefield district
02/19/1945:  Celia Smith (27) was boarding with Sarah Weese and her two daughters.
1870 US Census West Virginia, Hardy County, Moorefield township, Moorefield
398/400:  Celia Smith (17) was living with her father Jacob Smith and sister Emily.
1860 US Census Virginia, Hardy County, District 2, Moorefield
nnn/641:  Celia Smith (8) was living with her father Jacob Smith, mother Nancy and four siblings. 

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