|View of modern day Fitchburg, Massachusetts (source)|
The parents of Samuel G. Smith were Samuel Belding Smith and Mary Hall of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Samuel Belding Smith was born on October 20, 1807 in Winchester, New Hampshire. He was the son of Samuel Smith and Hannah Belding. Mary Hall was born on August 23, 1803 in Westminster, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Elisha Hall and Prudence Martin. They were married on July 29, 1827 in Fitchburg. Samuel and Mary had three children together:
Mary Ann Smith (b. 1828; d. aft. 1910; m. Philip Howe)
Sophia Smith (b. 1830; d. 1851)
Samuel G. Smith (b. 1837; d. 1922; m. Ellen Partridge)
Samuel B. Smith was a carpenter. The 1850 U.S. Census shows him living in Fitchburg with his family and notes his occupation. The real estate he owned was valued at $650, so it appears that Samuel was living comfortably. With him in his home was his wife, Mary, and their eldest child, Mary Ann, who was recently married to Philip Howe and had six month-old twin boys Alvah and Alvin Howe. Philip is not listed in the household, but he and Mary Ann were definitely married at the time, so it's possible that he was away for some reason at the time of the census. Another explanation is that Mary Ann and Philip may have had a household elsewhere, but Samuel and Mary might still have included Mary Ann and the twins as part of their family to the census recorder. Also living with Samuel and Mary was their 19-year old daughter Sophia and their 12-year old son Samuel. This moment, captured in the census, is bittersweet, for two tragedies were about to befall the Smith family.
On August 5, 1851, Sophia Smith died. She was twenty. The tragedy of losing their daughter must have devastated Samuel and Mary. Sophia was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Fitchburg, next to her paternal grandmother, Hannah Belding Smith. Then, in 1852, Alvah Howe, their two-year old grandson, died.
Sometime between 1852 and 1860, Samuel and Mary Smith decided to leave Fitchburg. We have no way of knowing if the dual losses they suffered prompted this move, or if it was purely a decision born of economic opportunity. The couple settled in Bunker Hill, Illinois, over a thousand miles west of Fitchburg, with their son Samuel. Mary Ann and Philip Howe accompanied them, setting up their own household nearby.
|The distance between Fitchburg, MA and Bunker Hill, IL.|
Samuel continued to work as a carpenter in Bunker Hill. He died there on December 8, 1893 at the age of 78.
It's not clear when Mary Hall Smith died. There is a record at Bunker Hill Cemetery stating that a Mary Smith born in 1803 died on 17 May 1886 and is buried there. It would be easy to assume this is Samuel's wife, Mary. However, some peculiar information is found on Samuel Smith's probate record. This document, dated 27 December 1893, contains a statement from Samuel's son, Samuel G. Smith, which reads as follows:
Petitioner further shows that the said Samuel B. Smith died, seized and possessed of real and personal estate consisting chiefly of six (6) acres of land in the North East corner of of Section Number Twenty-Two (22) in Township Seven (7) Range Eight (8) west of the third principal meridian in the County of Macoupin and the State of Illinois, [unreadable word] old furniture, carpenter's tools, etc.
All of said personal estate being estimated to be worth abut twenty five dollars.
That said deceased left surviving him Mary Smith, his widow who has for a number of years resided out of the state and Samuel Smith and Mary A. Howe his children as heirs.
This indicates that Mary had not been living with Samuel for years, and was not even in the state of Illinois, much less buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery. Where was Mary? Why wasn't she living with her husband? In 1893 she would have been 89 years of age. It is possible that she'd was infirm and had gone to live in a medical facility, but why out of state? These questions don't have answers at this time. I cannot find any records for Mary Smith after the 1880 U.S. Census, which shows her living with Samuel in Bunker Hill.
Samuel and Mary Smith were the first of their immediate family to move west. This marked the beginning of the Smith family's migration from Massachusetts to California. Their daughter, Mary Ann Smith Howe, would take her family to Santa Ana, California. Their son Samuel Smith's children would later follow their cousins west to California, settling in nearby Los Angeles.