2017-07-13 / Personalities

Smith descendants gather for 18th annual reunion June 24


During the family reunion, J. Belknap Smith family descendants (left to right) Ruth Harris, John Harris, Anne Bowes, Joe Harris, Ed Porter, and James Bowes examine communion items given to Greenwood Baptist Church by the Smiths over 160 years ago. During the family reunion, J. Belknap Smith family descendants (left to right) Ruth Harris, John Harris, Anne Bowes, Joe Harris, Ed Porter, and James Bowes examine communion items given to Greenwood Baptist Church by the Smiths over 160 years ago. The descendants of Jane Septima Shank Smith and Joseph Belknap Smith met at Mistletoe State Park for their 18th annual reunion on Saturday, June 24.

The event began at noon with a bring-your-own-lunch, setting up for a raffle, and the usual discussion with favorite old and new stories. A barbecue and business meeting followed.

The weekend event continued on Sunday with attendance at Greenwood Baptist Church in Lincoln County.

Greenwood was the church of the Smith family. They are remembered by the communion set which the family provided and which has its special cabinet near the pulpit. The Smith home, a few miles from the church, was a 22-room, three-story building on Little River. Except for the family cemetery, the home site is now covered by Clarks Hill Lake. The Association maintains the cemetery which is still in use.

Smith came South from New York in 1852, leaving an office on Broadway and hoping for improved health of his wife. After her death, he married the local Septima Shank and wrote to reassure his mother that, “She is as much like (a close relative) as any person I have ever met…always kind and cheerful.” Although an apprentice pharmacist in 1835, he had a strong investment interest in mining and quickly got into gold mining across Little River in McDuffie County. In the 1860’s he bought a grist mill in McDuffie and a rock-crushing gold mill across Little River in Wilkes County, the river having been dammed for a power supply.

Although Smith became a colonel in the Confederacy, he never saw action due to the importance of his grist mill operations, important in food supply. By his wife Septima, he had four daughters, Kate, Ruth, Sophia, and Annie. Kate married Joseph Porter; Sophia married Arthur Porter, a surveyor of Thomson; Ruth married Henry Fluker, son of W.T. Fluker of Washington; and Annie married a minister, Dr. Ernest Smith, later in her life. They moved to Thomson when the property was taken for Clarks Hill Lake and flood control.

Both the Fluker and Porter lines were represented at the reunion of over thirty descendants.

The A.H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville will be the site of the 2018 event.

Return to top