Wednesday, November 14, 2018

3300 Hwy 82 Dunn, NC 28334
P.O. Box 1811 Dunn, NC 28335

(910) 891-5019

Click Here To Watch a Video on the History of Averasboro

The John Smith Family & Lands - The Battlefield of Averasboro

The entry of the Smiths into the area where the Battle of Averasboro was to be fought in 1865 occurred a hundred years before.  Alexander Smith (c. 1740-1779), with the backing of his father, John Smith, acquired several tracts of land and a ferry site on the Cape Fear River.  Alexander's father, his older brothers, and the Needham Bryan family had established the town of Smithfield on the Neuse River twenty-five miles to the north.  Alexander's father, who migrated from Virginia, had served in the Colonial Assembly from Johnston County in the mid-1740's.  Both of Alexander's older brothers, John and Samuel, had served in the Provincial Congress in 1774 and 1775.  All were staunch supporters of the Revolution, and John, Jr. was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Continental army.  Alexander himself was among the patriot forces at Moore's Creek Bridge.

Following Alexander Smith's death in 1779, his widow Elizabeth Whitfield Smith (1745-1800) married Farquhard Campbell (1721-1808), a prominent business and political leader who had immigrated from Argyleshire, Scotland, about 1740 to the Cape Fear River valley around what is now Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Most of the next two generations of the descendants of Elizabeth Smith and Farquhard Campbell were to occupy the plantation land that came to be known as "Smithville," just south of the village of Averasboro on the Cape Fear River.  Smithville would straddle the Cumberland County and Harnett County lines after Harnett was created from Cumberland in 1855.

By 1800 John Smith, the only son of Alexander Smith, had become the family patriarch.  He married Isabella Campbell, the daughter of Farquhard Campbell and his first wife Isabella McAllister.  John Smith prospered in his operation of the river ferry, the plantation, and the milling facilities that he had added.  The land holdings totalled over 8,300 acres.  John Smith was a member and strong contributor to the Bluff Presbyterian Church and served in the State Sentate from 1812 through 1814.  The three older sons of John and Isabella Smith--Farquhard Campbell Smith (1801-1871), John Campbell Smith (1805-1875), and William Turner Smith (1810-1855)--worked with their father on the plantation, and in 1843 he deeded all of his property to the three of them. The fourth son, James Campbell Smith (1814-1843), who  graduated from the University of North Carolina, had become a doctor and practiced medicine in Fayetteville until his early death.  His son, James Campbell Smith, Jr., would serve as a first lieutenant in the Fifty-fourth North Carolina Infantry during the upcoming war years.

During the Battle of Averasboro, Farquhard Smith and his family were residing at "Lebanon," which had been given to him as a wedding gift by his father in 1825.  Farquhard and his wife Sarah Grady Smith had eight sons in the Army of hte Confederacy.  Four of the sons were in the Forty-first Regiment of N.C. Troops (Third Regiment N.C. Cavalry), three were in Texas units, and their fifteen-year-old youngest son joined General Hardee's forces at Smithville and fought with them at Bentonville.  With Farquhard Smith at Lebanon when the battle began were his three unmarried daughters and the family's servants, his wife having died in 1860.  Lebanon, the adjacent structures, and the surrounding grounds were used as a Confederate hospital site.  Also, General Slocum used Lebanon as his headquarters after the Confederates had retired from the area.  The Smith's youngest daughter Jane wrote a detailed account of the distress and indignities encountered during and after the battle.  This account has been preserved and published.

William T. Smith, who had graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1832, died in 1855 and was survived by his widow, Mary Campbell Smith, two sons, and four unmarried daughters.  Both sons served with their cousins in the 41st Regiment N.C. Troops (Third Regiment N.C. Cavalry).  Their home, which was built about 1834, was the most southerly located of the Smith houses. It was used as a Union hospital during the battle.

John C. Smith and his family occupied "Oak Grove," the oldest of the plantation houses built by John Smith.  At the time of the Battle of Averasboro, John C. Smith was forced to evacuate Oak Grove with his second wife Eliza, their four young children, and at least one of his older daughters.  Since the house was located directly on the initial battle line, it was subsequently used as a field hospital during the battle.  Two of John C. Smith's sons were serving in the Forty-first Regiment N.C. Troops (3d Regiment N.C. Cavalry) near Petersburg, Virginia, at the time.  His other son with the same command was wounded near White's Tavern, Virginia, in August 1864, and died in Richmond four days later.  His remains were returned for burial in the Smith Ferry Cemetery.

Within a month after the Battle of Averasboro, the surviving Smith sons were returning to Smithville and recovery.

John Smith (1772-1851) - Father of Farquehard C., John C., and William T. Smith

John Smith was a wealthy and influential citizen. He conducted a ferry on the Cape Fear River. On June 27, 1812, he announced his candidacy for the State Senate and was elected, serving 1812, 1813, and 1814.

His granddaughter (Mrs. Jane Evans Elliot) wrote of him, in her diary under date of January, 1852:

"My dear and honored grandfather now sleeps with his fathers. He died last June at Father's. The funeral of such an aged and estimable man was peculiarly solemn and interesting. He was borne to his final resting place by his six oldest grandsons and the coffin was placed in the very center of the family burying ground, by the side of our grandmother's grave; the lid was removed and the children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors and the family servants, crowded around to take the last look at that venerable face. What an impressive lesson in immortality! ... There lay the patriarch of years, who was gathered as a shock of corn full ripe in his season. Most reverentially, affectionately and tenderly was his beloved form deposited to sleep with kindred dust. Peace to thy ashes, my dear old grandfather. Never shall I forget a form manly and revered, which is associated so fondly and vividly with my earliest recollections. May thy numerous posterity emulate thy worthy example and may they live worthy of this honorable birthright."

His children were:

  1. Elizabeth Smith.
  2. Alexander Smith; b. 1797, d. 1815; bu. Smith's Ferry, N. C.
  3. Isabella Smith; b. 1800, d. 1876; m. Henry Elliot (S 78). No issue.
  4. Farquehard Campbell Smith.
  5. Mary Smith; b. Oct. 4, 1803, d. Dec. 5, 1861; m. John Campbell Elliot (S 82); bu. Smith's Ferry, N. C. Children under father.
  6. John Cambell Smith.
  7. Jane Smith.
  8. William Turner Smith.
  9. Robert Smith; b. 1812, d. 1813; bu. Smith's Ferry, N. C.
  10. James Campbell Smith.