dbclean(Photo courtesy of my second cousin, Trudy Gauntt.  He is proudly wearing his GAR ribbon.)

Daniel Boone Smith is my great-great grandfather.  He has no relationship to the “real” Daniel Boone, but he was my introduction to my family’s history and thus, he is my Ancestor #1.

I first heard about Daniel Boone Smith in the late 1970’s.  I was sitting at my grandparent’s (Walter Roberts Smith and Mabel Edith Miller) kitchen table in Evansville, IN.  Grandpa was telling me about his Smith family.  Daniel (a.k.a. D.B. because he signed several documents that way) was his grandfather.  He had never met him but he claimed to have some information about him and the rest of the Smith family.

Some of these things turned out to be true.

  1. He was born in England.
  2. Grandpa went to the Mormon Church library in Salt Lake City and looked him up and found him. (Well, he found his name.)
  3. He worked for the U.S. Consulate in Canada.

At least one thing turned out not to be true.

  1. Every Smith born here was sent back to England to go to Oxford. I don’t know where that story came from but no Smith ancestor I could find ever attended Oxford.

It was another twenty years before I became really involved in genealogy.  One of the first emails I ever sent from my dial-up connection to the Internet was to Oxford University to see if D.B. ever attended there.  He didn’t and neither did his son, Charles (who went by C.W.)

In the mean time, I had received several copies of letters from my Dad (Robert Smith’s) sister, Marcia Grabert.  Most were written to my great grandmother Elizabeth (Rees) Smith (C.W’s wife and D.B.’s daughter-in-law).  In that collection there was also a letter from D.B. himself.  I later received another of his letters from one of my Dad’s cousins that was written on stationary from the United States Consulate in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  So I sent off another dial-up email to the National Archives to see if they had any employment information.

I ended up buying a roll of microfilm that contained dispatches from D.B.’s time as Vice Deputy Consul of the U.S. in Hamilton, Canada.  One of the most important pieces of information I ever received for him was in the roll of microfilm, it was a letter of recommendation, a resume of sorts, to that post.[1]  It contained his life history up to that point.

So I went about trying to prove all the things in the letter.  I was able to verify most of it, but there are still big gaps that I work on from time to time.


Following the format of the letter, let’s start with his Age:  His birthday was December 11th but I don’t know what year for sure.  This letter says 1830 but other documents say 1827, 28 and 29.  His second marriage was to a younger woman and he suddenly became younger himself.  The death certificate that she filled out and the tombstone she had set for him says he was born in 1835.  This photo is of the footstone from Hamilton Cemetery for Daniel and his young son, Percival who died as an infant.  d-bsheadstone

Nationality:  He was definitely born in England because I have his Naturalization papers[2].  But I wasn’t able to verify that it was Stafford when I visited there in 2011. https://walkerfamilyconnections.wordpress.com/day-5-and-6-stafford/

The letter states that he was born of German parents.  Other documents related to his employment with the government say that he spoke German so it is certainly possible he learned it from his parents but I have only found one document that gives their names and I’m suspicious of it because I haven’t found them on any census, or other record.  The New York Town Clerks Register of Men Who Served in the Civil War says his parents were James Smith and Teresa Fuller. [3]


He says they emigrated when he was 6 weeks old to Allentown, Pennsylvania, “whence he removed after a few years residence to Lebanon in the same state”.  Yet, I can find no likely James and Teresa Smith anywhere in Pennsylvania from 1830-1860.

When we get to his Qualifications, I have a little better luck.  There was a Moravian Academy run by a Mr. and Mrs. Klug in Lancaster (not Lebanon) County, Pennsylvania. [4] The Moravians have no records for the time period but it seems likely that this was the school he was referring to.  When it gets to his college years he is listed as a student in the Alumni Record of Gettysburg College (formerly Pennsylvania College).  It lists him as a “non-graduate” who attended from 1856-59 and says he was from Lebanon.

I could find nothing on his study of medicine but he did own a farm in Aurelius, New York that his wife, my great-great grandmother, Angeline, inherited from her first husband, John Myers.  She is listed in the marriage notice as Angeline T. Myers but her maiden name was Cretsley.


My great grandfather, Charles William Smith (a.k.a C.W.) was born on the farm in 1864, the year that D.B. joined the service.  The Smiths lived on the farm for only a few years after their marriage selling it for $100 in 1867 to the Myers children.

His military service is well documented.  He enlisted on the 17th of August 1864 and was mustered out in Richmond, Virginia just a year later in June of 1865[5].  Despite his later pride about his service it seems he didn’t see much in the way of battles.  Most of the time he was either sick, or thought be a deserter.  The desertion proved to be false, according to a letter in his pension file[6].  He had an extended leave that hadn’t been recorded.

In the 1865 New York State Census [7], D.B., Angeline, and 1 ½ year old Charles were still living on the farm and Angeline’s mother and younger sister were living with them.  The 1867 Cayuga County Gazetteer and Directory [8] lists Angeline’s name first, with her occupation as farmer.  D.B. is listed as a Merchant Taylor, an occupation he would follow most of the rest of his life.

His move to Jackson, Michigan is verified by the 1870 census.[9]  The local paper contained several ads for his business which apparently he wasn’t very successful with.  In an 1873 ad, he was “All Ablaze” [10] but just two years later, 1875, he was bankrupt[11].



Sadly, Angeline died from Spinal Meningitis in 1877.[12]  D.B. began selling off her estate not long after.  It appears that the Smiths may have had some money at some point because he had a lot to sell.  Perhaps Angeline inherited some fine things from her first husband, John Myers. [13]


He was apparently preparing for his move to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  I’ve been unable to find why he moved there.  Did he have family there?  Did he know someone?  Was it just the hope of greener pastures?

By the 1881 census he is listed living in Hamilton with his new wife, Rebecca Farmer, who was about 21 years younger than him.[14]  His son, C.W. wasn’t there with him.  The family story is that C.W. ran away at the age of 15 after his father moved to Canada.  That seems to be confirmed by the 1880 U.S. census [15] which shows C.W. at the age of 16 living in Chicago with possible family of his mother.  That’s still to be determined.

By the time of D.B.’s letter of recommendation he had been living in Hamilton for about seventeen years and continued to work in the clothing industry.  He and his son, apparently never saw each other again.  In the letters written to Charles from Daniel, he begs his son to come visit.  But by the time he applied for an increase in his Civil War Pension in 1915, he states that he doesn’t know if his son is alive or dead because he hasn’t heard from him in 18 years.[16]

Daniel Boone Smith died on 9 Dec 1917.  His obituary (which got his middle initial wrong) [17] says he died at home  and leaves his wife and daughter to mourn.  No mention of his son, Charles William.   dbobitclipped

His death certificate[18] says he died in the Hamilton home for the insane and that his cause of death was senility.  Could it have been Alzheimer’s?   It’s possible.  My grandfather, his grandson who first told me about him had the disease.

There is so much more to discover about this man.  Who really were his parents?  Why did they move to this country with a six-week old infant, if in fact they did?  What was the rift between Daniel and his son, Charles that caused them to never see each other again?

I believe that D.B. truly loved his son, and C.W.’s mother, Angeline. In a letter written to his son on 31 August 1895, he wrote in very flowery language about the day they were married.

“The date of your last letter to me completed the period of thirty four years since your deceased mother and I were married, and on the 16th (actually the 9th) of May it was sixteen years since her death. The very moment that my eye caught sight of your letter dated August 26th of the present year, like the suddenness of a lighting flash it carried my mind back to the 26th day of August 1861 with the bright sunshine of that lovely summer morning added to the melody of Nature’s winged songsters and the exhilarating zephyrs from the pure waters of Cayuga Lake, all from without, while within Human Natures breast, there were then hopes and joys, fears and doubts, silver linings tinged somewhat with shading frowns, not lightly, but truly and most solemnly reminding those two souls most deeply interested in that the greatest of all human events or incidents, of the ancient philosopher’s maxim, “act well your own part and all things will be well”. [19]

Daniel Boone Smith may not have always “acted well”, the strained relationship with his son seems to indicate that but I think he tried. There is also a strange set of letters in his National Archives file where he was questioned by a fellow employee and used “strong language” in return, eventually losing his job there.  So not all was “well” with his life.  But I think he lived as well as he could and I continue to be curious about my #1 Ancestor.

[1] 1896 Letter of recommendation for  D.B. Smith to  Vice Consuler position, from C.F. Macdonald, Consul, Consulate of the United States, Hamilton, Ontario,Canada – to W. W Rockhill, Acting Secretary of State. September 24, 1896. NARA Microfilm roll T470 roll 7.

[2] Petition of Daniel B. Smith to become citizen of the United States (Naturalization Petition).  Saturday, October 21st, 1876.  Jackson, Michigan.  p. 502, Obtained from Michigan Historical Center, Box 30740, Lansing, MI  48909-8240.

[3] New York, Town Clerks Register of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865, Daniel Boone Smith.  Ancestry.com

[4] Ellis, Franklin,. History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men. Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1883. Ancestry.com.

[5] New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts for Daniel B Smith. 1861-1900, Ancestry.com.

[6] Daniel Boone Smith, Civil War Union Pension, Company G, 148 New York Infantry, NARA. Photocopy.  Some pages copied at the National Archives, July 2008.

[7] 1865 New York State Census, Aurelius, Cayuga County, New York, page 59, household 398, family 423, [D.B.] Smith, with [Sarrah] & Mattie Cretsley, 27 June 1865, FHL film 853200, V. 1.

[8] Gazetteer and Business Directory of Cayuga County, N.Y. for 1867-8.  Heritage Books, Inc. Bowie, Maryland, reprint 2000.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, 1st Ward, City of Jackson, Jackson County,  Michigan, p. 137R, line 1, family 85, Daniel B Smith, Ancestry.com.

[10] “Ahead of the Times…D.B. Smith’s Grand Central Clothing Horse, All Ablaze, Not with Fire but with Business”, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Michican, 2 Dec, 3 Dec, 15 Dec 1873, Genealogybank.com.

[11] “Closing Out of a Bankrupt Stock, Douglas and Myers purchase DB Smith’s goods”, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Michigan, 4 Mar, 5 Mar 1875 (ad ran daily through March), p. 1, Genealogybank.com.

[12] Death Certificate, Angeline Smith, 9 May 1877, Jackson, Michigan, State Office Number 16, Register 117.

[13] “A Rare Opportunity, Executor’s Sale of Household Goods, D.B. and Angeline Smith”, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Michigan, 9 Dec 1878, p. 1, Genealogybank.com.

[14] 1881 Canadian Census, Wentworth County, Ontario, Hamilton, District 169, Ward 2, Division 1, p. 62, Smith-line 19, Garner- line 17, Farmer-line 15, LDS Film #1375892.

[15] 1880 U.S. Census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, ED 94, p262B, Lovejoy, Dock family, Charles W. Smith boarder, 18 June 1880, Ancestry.com.

[16] Daniel Boone Smith, Civil War Union Pension, Company G, 148 New York Infantry, NARA. Photocopy.  Some pages copied at the National Archives, July 2008.

[17] Daniel P. Smith, The Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, December 10, 1917, after p. 10.

[18] Certificate of Registration of Death, Daniel Boone Smith, 9 December 1917, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  Civil War Union Widow’s Pension file.

[19] 1895 Letter from D. B. Smith to his son C.W. Smith (written on Consulate paper), August 31, 1895, Liz Walker, copy, original owned by Peggy Rymut.


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