Colonel Robert Smith

by Edmund Starling, 1886


Colonel Robert Smith was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on the nineteenth day of August, 1784, from which place his father moved to Monongahela County, Virginia, where the family lived until the year 1796. During this year, Mr. Smith, unmindful of the great difficulties attending a journey to the far West, removed with his family, to Henderson County, and settled almost directly opposite Evansville, Indiana. After remaining here but a short time, he found to his great discomfiture, that the river bottoms were extremely unhealthy, and thereupon determined to remove in search of a healthier location. He again broke up home and settled near what is now known as Smith's Mills, on the farm at present owned  by B. F. Martin, where he continued to live up to the time of his death. When Colonel Smith, then a lad of fourteen years of age, and his father passed through Henderson, there were but three or four log cabins to be seen, and the county nothing more than a vast wilderness. he was strong, healthy and full of natural fire and energy, and in this wild country he had realized his fondest backwoods dreams, for the forests were filled with game of all kinds known to the western wilds, including buffalo, bear, deer, and thousands of turkeys, squirrel and small game. The only drawback to a youth of his temperament was the lack of educational facilities; there were no schools, and, although deprived of even what is termed an ordinary common school education, he yet so managed with such books as he could lay his hands upon, to gather for himself a fair understanding of the most important English branches. At the age of nineteen, in the year 1803, Colonel Smith intermarried with Miss Seltsey Rollesson, a lady of strong mind and in every way fitted to make home cheerful and happy. No two ever lived more happily together. When the memorable campaign of Harrison against the Indians was agitating the country, Colonel Smith, being a man of ardent patriotic temperament and ready to resent a wrong done his country at any time, volunteered as a private and went under General Samuel Hopkins into the then Indian territory, beyond Terre Haute, Indiana, but was too late for the battle of Tippecanoe. When the Kentucky troops were disbanded, he returned to his home and assumed once more that arduous duties of making a livelihood in the yet wilds of Kentucky. Later, when the British were threatening New Orleans, his noble spirit rallied to the call of his country, and at the head of a company organized in this and adjoining counties, embarked on a flatboat or barge for New Orleans, to join General Jackson's army. He arrived with his company on the evening of the fourth of January, 1815, and only received his arms and amunition[sic] the night before the great battle. On this memorable eighth day of January, Colonel Smith and his men distinguished themselves for gallantry, daring, indomitable courage, and will-power. They were during the whole engagement in the thickest of the fight, in the centre and immediately opposite the spot where the renowned General Packenham was killed. In May, he, with his company, returned home, and ever after that time it was his custom to celebrate the 8th day of January. After this war Colonel Smith settled down upon his farm, and yet while devotedly attached to his life's profession, he was nevertheless an active participant in all matters of interest to his adopted county. He served as magistrate during the years 1816, '17, '18, '19, '20, '21, '22, '23, '24, '25, '26,'29, '30, '31, '32, '33, '34, '35, '36, '37, '38, '39, '40, '41, '42, '43, '44, and as sheriff of the county two terms, 1827 and '28 and 1845 and '46. In the year 1816 his wife died, and his to him was by far the hardest blow of his life; by this wife he had five children, Hosea, Eliza, Cynthia, Sarah and Matilda, two of whom are yet living, Hosea and Eliza. Hosea Smith is now in his seventy-ninth year, and lives where he was born and raised near Smith's Mills; Eliza married Littleberry Weaver, and is still living with her son, Albert B. Weaver, near the City of Henderson. In the year 1817, Colonel Smith married his second wife, Elizabeth Carrington, with whom he lived in conjugal happiness to March the 5th, 1858. when he died upon the same place he had settled sixty-four years before. By his last marriage there were seven children, Elizabeth, Francis, Thomas S., Robert, George W., Mary Ann, and Margaret, only three of whom are now living; George W., Mary Ann, and Margaret. On the ninth day of February, 1862, George W. married Miss Adelia Cotton, unto whom there were born four children, Minnie, Ella, Maud and George. Mrs. Smith died several years ago, and on the ninth of February, as both marriages were solmenized on that day. Margaret Smith, on the twenty-third day of December, 1857, married B. F. Martin, by whom she has had two children, Sallie B., who married Dr. Lev. Royster, and Fannie. Mary A. Smith, on the twenty-sixth day of November, 1857, married Samuel L. Cooper, by whom she has had four daughters, namely, Maggie, Lizzie, Katie and George.

December 18th, 1821, by an act of the General Assembly of Kentucky, Colonel Smith was appointed in behalf of Henderson County, together with Reuben Berry, of Union County, and Daniel Talbott, Surveyor of Henderson, to run and establish the boundary line between Henderson and Union Counties. Smith's Mill's Post Office, one of the first established in Henderson County, and the pretty little village called by the same name, derived their appellation from an old horse mill, erected by Colonel Smith near the spot where the residence of B. F. Marton now stands. No man took a more active interest in the development of Henderson County, than did Colonel Smith. From 1803 to within a few years of his death, his name was intimately associated with every public enterprise. he was instrumental in building more than one house of religious worship, and was never known to fail with his means when called upon for any like purpose. He was a Whig in politics, and a recognized leader of his party. Since the foregoing was written Hosea Smith and Mrs. Eliza Weaver have both died.

The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 672-75;

Return to the Henderson County KyGenWeb Home Page