To get started, I’d like to give a quick overview of our Smith heritage, which I’ll then discuss in detail in future posts.
Our earliest confirmed* Smith ancestor is Henry Smith, my 10th great-grandfather. Henry was born in 1588 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. Norwich is about a two and a half hour drive northeast of London and is marked with a green A on the map above. Around the time of Henry Smith’s birth, Norwich was one of the largest towns in England, with a population of about 16,000. Despite devastating fires and outbreaks of plague in the 1500s, Norwich was prospering by the late sixteenth century. Our ancestor, Henry Smith, was a reverend in Norwich. In 1635, Henry Smith, his wife and their six children sailed from England to Boston, Massachusetts. The Smiths lived briefly in Charlestown, Massachusetts before settling in Wethersfield, Connecticut.
After this, our Smith ancestors spent several generations living in Hadley, Massachusetts, Northfield, Massachusetts and Winchester, New Hampshire. They seem to have been largely prosperous, prominent and controversial. Henry Smith, our immigrant ancestor, is credited with creating a political division in Wethersfield that saw many families decamp to another settlement. Several generations later, our ancestor Capt. Samuel Smith of Winchester, New Hampshire, was charged with Toryism during the American Revolution.
In the mid-1800s, our Smith ancestor Samuel G. Smith settled in Bunker Hill, Illinois with his wife, Ellen Partridge. Samuel’s son, Walter Samuel Smith, then moved to Los Angeles, California, possibly because some of his cousins, the Howes, had already relocated to Southern California. He arrived in Los Angeles sometime in the 1890s, and the Smiths have been in Southern California ever since.
* There is still debate as to Rev. Henry Smith’s origins and parentage, which will be discussed in a future post.