Rest in Peace Sam Shepard, bluegrass neighbor in Midway, Kentucky and the best Frank James ever.
Rest in Peace Sam Shepard, bluegrass neighbor in Midway, Kentucky and the best Frank James ever.
When I first read Dennis Smith’s story “My Loveable but Unrestrainable Grandfather, Stanley D. Smith” the ancestry of Stanley D. Smith seemed entirely incidental to our James heritage. Except for his wife, Stanley’s ancestry easily could have been dismissed. After all, Stanley’s wife Geneva Josephine Curry relates more evidently to our James through her Harper ancestry at Nantura Farm in Woodford County, Kentucky. Nantura is adjacent to the Black Horse Inn, where Frank and Jesse James’ mother Zerelda Elizabeth Cole was born. Had I ignored Stanley’s antecedents out of habit and not looked more closely into Stanley’s origins out of instinct, I might not have uncovered the delightful odyssey of surprise that lay hidden.
Stanley’s hidden ancestry proved to be as unrestrainable as Stanley’s character. To my surprise, out of Stanley’s past appeared a variety of multiple spontaneous relationships. These surprises would have been unrecognizable before. Now, they assembled progressively to attach Stanley as a New Found Line relation of our James. At my odyssey’s end, Stanley D. Smith’s unrestrained ancestry links Stanley to another New Found Line of our James family that was first discovered almost twenty years ago. What a surprise to learn that our James family was in the past of Stanley’s wife, and Stanley, too!
THE DEMAREST SURPRISE
Not even Dennis Smith expected this new surprise. The genealogy Dennis provided to Stray Leaves for Stanley did not reach farther back than Stanley’s grandparents. When I spotted the surprisingly familiar “Thiebaud” surname of Stanley’s grandmother, my curiosity was piqued. I had to dig back further into Stanley D. Smith’s past.
The first surprise sprang up when I discovered Stanley’s ancestors reached back from Stanley’s grandmother, Emily Jane Thiebaud 1842-1919, to David Demarest 1620-1693. This immigrant Huguenot family of the Demarest came to America from the Picardy region of France through Baden-Wurtemburgh, Germany. Their “des Marest” family name was transformed in America to DeMarest or sometimes to Demaree. David’s brother Jean Demarest was the founder of the French patent that settled the northern part of New Jersey. Today this region is called Bergen County.
The DeMarest name is very familiar to me. When growing up in Chicago, I often spent my summers living with my aunt and uncle in Cresskill, a small town in north Bergen County. I wrote about this in a photo album I posted on Facebook, titled “My Summer Mother.” Six doors away from my aunt and uncle’s home at 425 Piermont Road was the borderline between Cresskill and the borough of Demarest. This town was named after the Jean Demarest family. Ralph E. Demarest built the small railroad that ran behind my aunt and uncle’s home, linking the developing small towns of Tenafly, Closter, and Demarest. Below Tenafly, the railroad line of Ralph E. Demarest linked to a connecting line in north Hudson County. From there, passengers rode the connector down to the ferry at Weehawken that crossed the Hudson River from New Jersey into New York City.
THE RANDOLPH SURPRISE
Here in Danville, Kentucky, where I live now, I formerly owned an historic Italianate home built by Rev. James C. Randolph. He was a Presbyterian minister who came to Kentucky from New Jersey’s Bergen County.
When I bought the home and began to research its history, I learned that in the early 1830’s a large exodus of veterans from the Revolutionary War departed upper New Jersey to claim lands in Kentucky for their military service.
I was especially surprised to learn that the home’s original owner and builder, James C. Randolph, came from Bergen County to teach at Centre College in Danville. Presbyterians were not the only group to come to Kentucky from New Jersey. Dutch families came, too. They settled in Harrodsburg and Mercer County, just north of and adjacent to Danville.
THE COLE SURPRISE
I also learned that a Cole family resided in northern New Jersey. To my surprise, a couple of these Cole turn up in the genealogy of the DeMarest family.
This New Jersey family of the Cole originated in Connecticut. They had a different immigrant progenitor than our Cole family in Kentucky, belonging to Zerelda Elizabeth Cole, Frank and Jesse James’ mother. The progenitor of the Cole family of Frank and Jesse James was John Cole. He came from England to Culpeper County in Virginia. From there, this Cole line migrated through the Dutch region of Pennsylvania into Kentucky.
Since the Connecticut-New Jersey Cole line appeared to me not to have any overt connection to the Cole ancestry of Jesse and Frank James, I never investigated this Connecticut Cole line any further. After the surprise I found now by looking more closely into Stanely’s past, I am beginning to think that maybe I should research more deeply into both of these Cole families, focusing precisely on the timeline prior to their arrival in America. The probability of these two Cole families being one now appears to be significantly increased.
THE POOR SURPRISE
During the American Revolution, Brigadier General Enoch Poor also was active in this region around the settlement patent of the Demarest family.
As the son of Thomas Poor growing up in Andover, Massachusettes, young Enoch enlisted to fight in the French and Indian War. Enoch’s family were supporters of the separatists against the Stamp Act of King George. In his mid-teens, Enoch entered the campaign to invade Canada against the British.
Later Enoch became a general in George Washington’s Continental Army, spending a winter at Valley Forge. Afterward, Gen. Enoch Poor was assigned to protect the Marquis de Lafayette. Some history says Enoch Poor died when he was shot in a duel. He is buried in the yard of the Dutch Reformed Church in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Although not yet proven, there is a very high probability that Enoch Poor, born and raised in Andover, Massachusettes, shared a kinship with Frank & Jesse James’ second great-grandfather Abraham Poor also of Andover, Essex County, Massachusettes. Both Enoch and Abraham Poor have progenitors named Thomas Poor.
While too old for military service himself, Abraham Poor was a supplier to Gen. Washington in the Revolution. Enoch Poor was specifically found at Valley Forge. So, too, was John M. James who married Abraham’s granddaughter Mary “Polly” Poor, born of Robert Poor a Coronet in the Revolution and Elizabeth Woodson Mimms. Also at Valley Forge with Poor and James was Joshua Logan Younger, another supplier to Washington’s army who became the great-grandfather of the brothers of the Younger gang.
The evident synergy shared by these two families of Enoch and Abraham Poor significantly increases the likelihood that, like the two Cole lines, these two lines of the Poor family also are directly related.
THE VAN ARSDALL SURPRISE
Returning to the irrepressible ancestry of Stanley D. Smith, I reached back through the ancestry of Stanley’s mother Della Belle Malcomson. There I discovered Stanley’s third great-grandfather to be Capt. Simon Van Arsdall 1750-1820 of Somerset County in New Jersey.
Simon’s Van Arsdall family was long established in its day among the Dutch of New Amsterdam (New York City), and from northern New Jersey through central New Jersey and down to Pennsylvania. During the Revolution, some Van Arsdall joined the Conewago settlement in Pennsylvania. Three generations of Simon Van Arsdall’s family reached back to their immigrant Sijmon Jansz van Arsdalen. Leaving the Netherlands, he came to the New Amsterdam of New York City. Like the Demarest, the Van Arsdalen surname transformed itself over time to Van Arsdale and Van Arsdale, and on occasion VanOsdol.
In Pennsylvania’s York County, Capt. Simon lead a militia group consisting of Dutchman. The militia included Abraham Banta, an uncle of Rachel Banta who was born in Bergen County. Surprisingly, Rachel Banta is a granddaughter of David Demarest. When Rachel’s first husband died, she married Capt. Simon.
Following the Revolution, Capt. Simon and Rachel Banta Van Arsdall joined a large group of “low Dutch,” many of them from Capt. Simon’s militia. Following the lead of another migrant from Pennsylvania, Col. James Harrod in 1775, they migrated in 1779 down the Ohio River and overland to Fort Harrod in Kentucky, later to become the town of Harrodsburg.
I was well acquainted with the Banta family in Harrodsburg. In 2012, I was visited by Warren Bonta who came to Kentucky in search of his Banta ancestry. Warren was a former right-hand man for civil rights leader Ceasar Chavez in California. Warren’s son Rob Bonta is a California State Representative. Warren and I traveled all over Harrodsburg, visiting Banta cemeteries and sites.
Some of these Banta and Van Arsdall who did not remain in Harrodsburg moved on to Switzerland County in Indiana, where Stanley D. Smith was born.
THE FINAL JAMES SURPRISE
My odyssey of surprise findings, seemingly circuitous and disconnected, finally pulled together. My litany of families – the Demarest, Cole, Poor, Banta and Van Arsdall – altogether brought me to a final surprise destination. Stanley D. Smith is, in fact, linked to the James family. The final connection between the James and Stanley’s Van Arsdall families occurred in Harrodsburg, Kentucky when Margaret Lightfoot James married Dwight Van Arsdall on October 27, of 1880.
Around 1999, Stacy Lynn Foster-Bennett contacted me. She had discovered our Stray Leaves website. Stacy is a fourth great-granddaughter of John LIghtfoot James and Margaret T. Brown, progenitors of the James family line in Harrodsburg. Stacy arranged a reunion of her line of James descendants. She provided historic photos and family bible documents with personal introductions to living descendants. Through Stacy’s generous contributions, the New Found Lines of
Stacy arranged a reunion of her line of James descendants. She provided historic photos and family bible documents with personal introductions to living descendants. Through Stacy’s generous contributions, the New Found Lines of John Lightfoot James and of Henry Field James then were published on Stray Leaves.
Since then, research has continued to advance. New lines of other related family have been found. In another stunner, four generations of men descend from Dwight Van Arsdall and Margaret Lightfoot James. All four generations carry the name of Clyde James Van Arsdall. Their middle name of James honors their James ancestry. They also wear some genetic physical characteristics of the James. See this FREE DOWNLOAD of their ancestry.
As if this long journey of research and findings did not produce enough stunning surprises, additional bonus surprises can be added to the mix. Besides his kinship with the James family, Dwight Van Arsdall has two other significant kinships.
Because Dwight Van Arsdall is a half-third cousin of President Thomas Jefferson, Dwight and his descendants also inherit kinship with all of the descendants of President Jefferson and Sally Hemmings who carry the Woodson surname.
Furthermore, because of Dwight’s marriage with Margaret Lightfoot James, Dwight Van Arsdall inherits Margie’s kinship with Cole, Dick, and Jim Younger of the Younger Gang. Not to mention, he also inherits half-cousins in the Dalton Gang. See FREE DOWNLOAD.
Finally, within a short distance from the burial sites of Dwight and Margaret Lightfoot James-VanArsdall reside the burial plots of John Pendleton “Black Jack” Chinn. Frank James and Chinn were wartime cohorts and close peacetime friends for the rest of their days.
Still riding through Kentucky with Quantrill at the end of the Civil War, they were confronted in the winter of 1864 by Maj. James H. Bridgewater, a Unionist but also a Pence family relation. Bridgewater’s bloody assault occurred at the farmhouse of Sallie Van Arsdall, east of Harrodsburg. Four members of Quantrill’s band were killed. When Springhill Cemetery was founded as a memorial to fallen Confederate dead, Frank James and Chinn disinterred their fallen friends and reinterred them at Springhill.
THANK YOU, STANLEY
Would any of these surprise findings be made if the story of Stanley D. Smith remained untold and restrained? No one can tell.
The James family owes some debt of gratitude to Stanley and to his grandson, biographer Dennis Smith, for teaching us about Stanley’s unrestrainable character, and for their ancestry that also appears to be just as unrestrainable.
by Dennis Smith
My great-grandmother Della Belle Malcomson-Smith died from complications when she gave birth to my grandfather Stanley D. Smith. My great-grandfather Arthur Kingsley Smith blamed Stanley for his wife’s death. He would not have much to do with Stanley until seven years later when he remarried and had a new wife.
Stanley’s grandparents, Oliver M. Smith and Elizabeth Shaw, raised Stanley. Oliver was a veteran of the Civil War. In Oliver’s household, Stanley’s four aunts spoiled him. They had a lot of influence on his upbringing.
Stanley Smith grew to manhood in Braytown in Switzerland County, Indiana. His maternal grandparents, John Shaw Malcomson and Emily Jane Thiebaud, were very prosperous farmers who farmed the historic Thiebaud farmstead. When they died, Stanley received a large inheritance.
Stanley married Grace Barnes Adams and spent his entire inheritance on her. He took Grace to Europe, but when the money was gone, Grace was gone, too. For the rest of his life, Stanley never proved himself a good money manager.
In his broke status, Stanley married a second time to my grandmother, Geneva Curry. The Curry farm was not too far from where Stanley grew up. When Stanley’s father took Dollie Turner as his second wife, Arthur reconciled with his seven-year-old son. When Stanley married for his second time to Geneva, Arthur built them a small house on his land to live in. Having watched his son squander an inheritance making bad financial decisions, Arthur never deeded the land to Stanley. It was in this house where my father, Arthur William Smith, was born.
Next to this small house, Stanley built and ran a small gas station and store. He also, farmed and did custom butchering in the fall of the year. Occupied as he was, Stanley began drinking and going to bars in Vevay and Madison, Indiana. Sometimes he would take Geneva and the children, only to leave them outside in the car. My aunt Elizabeth remembered going into a tavern to get her father and the bartender giving her fresh fried potato chips.
When Stanley’s money would run out, he was known to pass a bad check, only to be arrested. Geneva would sell a cow to get Stanley out of jail. This went on for several years until Geneva had enough of it. Even though she was pregnant at the time, my mother Geneva filed for divorce from StStanley in 1939.
Geneva’s divorce from Stanley was final in 1940 when my uncle, Paul Edward Smith, was born. Stanley was to pay child support for Paul. According to my Aunt Elizabeth, he never did.
Stanley moved to Indianapolis, Indiana with his son Arthur, my father. They lived with a cousin, Harold Mains, who was working for the Indianapolis Street Car Company. Harold and Stanley were raised together in Switzerland County. They were lifelong friends. Stanley’s store and gas station reverted to Arthur and Dollie and Stanley’s half-sister Reba Smith. They continued to run it for several more years.
In Indianapolis, Stanley married for the third time to Laura Woolford, bringing my father Arthur together with his new step-sister Myrtle Woolford. Stanley managed a parking garage, and my father Arthur worked for him parking cars. Stanley continued to drink but more responsibly. He had a hobby wood shop in the basement of his home, where he cut off part of his fingers on his left hand. I remember watching his hand when I was a small boy, with amazement as he ate his breakfast with missing parts of his fingers.
As his grandsons, my brother Randy and I always were treated well by Stanley. We stayed many a night at his house with Laura. Myrtle babysat us. Myrtle always likes to tell the story of me at age five when I told Stanley that teenage Myrtle had begun smoking. I suggested she should be spanked. Stanley did not spank her, but he did tell Myrtle’s mother Laura. Ironically, Laura and Stanley were heavy smokers. I remember Laura, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and play solitaire. She was always, Grandma Smith to me.
Sadly, Stanley D. Smith brought on his own death. He got diabetes. Stanley would not stay on his diet, which caused him to have a stroke. I saw him at his home then. We hugged. He was slender and frail. The damage was done. He had a second stroke and then a heart attack killed him at his home in 1961. I went to his funeral and burial. No matter what flaws my grandparents had, I still loved them.
FREE DOWNLOAD – The Ancestry & Kinship of Stanley D. Smith
“William Arthur Smith, His Military Life & Purple Heart” is a new installment series, revealing a New Found Line for Stray Leaves. Written by Dennis Smith, a first cousin of Frank & Jesse James, Dennis traces his ancestry in personal family stories through each generation. He reaches back to his ancestors Anthony Lindsay III & Ailsey Cole, Richard James Cole & Anne Hubbard, and Anthony Lindsay Jr. & Rachel Ann Dorsey. The series culminates in the story of the author’s cousin Dr. James V. Scruggs, the doctor and family relative who was the first to arrive on the bloody scene of the Pinkerton Agency raid on James Farm in 1875.
Arthur “Art” Smith had already dropped out of school prior to his marriage to Lois Roberta Roberts. He worked at various jobs to support his new family. That included working for his father Stanley D. Smith, parking cars. Stanley managed a parking garage in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Art and Lois R. Smith were now living with Nellie Roberts, his mother-in-law, on the east side of Indianapolis, in a half of a double at 251 S. Gray St. Nellie Roberts was paying most if not all of the bills. My brother, Randall Robert Smith, was born there on March 23, 1947.
Art Smith and George Thayer, a first cousin of Lois, decided that they would enlist into the U.S. Army, together in September of 1948. According to military records, they entered the U.S. Army in Madison, Indiana.
George Thayer related that they left for basic training from Indiana to Fort Lewis in the State of Washington. On the train ride to Fort Lewis, Art and George visited one of the stores at a train stop and they took some candy without paying for it. They were caught and the U.S. Army had to pay for the candy. Art and George were not allowed off the train at any other stops.
While at Fort Lewis, Art and George decided to go into the Airborne together, but George got injured in basic training. Art was transferred to the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina after basic training. George stayed at Fort Lewis. During this time, Art received Airborne training, even though George related later they had to push Art out of the airplane every time they took him up to jump.
In 1949, the 82nd Airborne had the rare opportunity of going to Philadelphia for a parade. President Truman visited the parade and Art was one of the guards along the president’s parade route. Art’s photo was in the newspaper together with Harry Truman that year.
While at Fort Bragg, Art missed his wife Lois and son Randy. He had them come and live with him on the base. Lois related that Art did not make enough money as a private to take care of the family. She said Art ate in the mess hall. All she had to eat one night was a candy bar. She wrote her mother for a train ticket home. Her mother, Nellie Roberts, sent the ticket.
Art Smith had been friends with Chuck Hughes since he was a teenager in the Westside of Indianapolis. Chuck Hughes and two other unknown friends had come to Fort Bragg to visit Art about the same time Lois was preparing to return to Indianapolis. They had driven down in an old car. They were running low on gas money. Art, Chuck Hughes, and their friends talked Lois into cashing in the train ticket her mother sent her, and use it instead for gas money. Lois and son Randy drove back with Chuck Hughes back to Indianapolis. Art stayed at Fort Bragg. This was in the late summer of 1949.
On the drive back, Lois related she had used an outhouse at a rest stop where she was attacked by a rooster. Blood was running down her leg where the rooster had spurred her. Chuck Hughes knocked the chicken out with a dirt clod. The farmer who owned the rooster was upset because it was his fighting rooster. They high-tailed it from the rest stop.
By late 1949, Lois was back in Indianapolis. She lived with her mother Nellie at 316 S. Gray St. on the east side. Lois was pregnant again. Art no longer wanted to be in the U.S. Army. He asked Lois to get him out on a “hardship discharge,” because he had a wife, son and a baby on the way. Lois went to the Red Cross in early 1950 and the Red Cross got Art Smith out of the Army by the Spring of that year.
Art’s Father, Stanley D. Smith drove Lois to the hospital in an old pickup truck, on the day I was born. Stanley drove a little faster every time Lois had a labor pain. After I was born, Art and Nellie Roberts were in the living room at 316 S. Gray St., where they gave me the name of Dennis Smith. My grandfather Stanley always kept a good relationship with his grandson’s.
To explain in one word, the marriage of Art and Lois turned “volatile”. They fought the whole time. Lois threw a bottle at Art as he was walking away from her and hit him in the back. Art, Lois, sons Randy and me continued living with grandmother Nellie in the small two bedroom house on Gray Street.
Art was working in Auto Body Repair but he went out for cigarettes and a newspaper one day. He never returned. Nellie Roberts who was making less than $20.00 a week took care of her daughter Lois with grandsons Randy Smith and me while paying all the bills. There was no welfare in Indiana at that time.
My mother Lois searched Indianapolis for Art. She found him on the Westside, lying on a couch with a blond girl that looked like the actress “Doris Day”. She asked him to return home but he refused.
Lois then went to the Red Cross to see what they could do to help with her financial situation. They could not help her but they were upset that Art Smith was not living with his family and informed the U.S. Army. Lois R. Smith then consulted with an attorney and filed for divorce and support in June/July 1950, her only recourse. In June 1950, the United States went to War with Korea. On 22 Sept 1950, the divorce of Arthur William Smith and Lois Roberta Smith was final, with custody and child support of Randall R. Smith and me, Dennis Smith, going to our mother.
Lois R. Smith then consulted with an attorney and filed for divorce and support in June/July 1950, her only recourse. In June 1950, the United States went to War with Korea. On 22 Sept 1950, the divorce of Arthur William Smith and Lois Roberta Smith was final, with custody and child support of Randall R. Smith and me, Dennis Smith, going to our mother.
On 25 Sept 1950, the U.S. Army sent Arthur William Smith to Fort Hood, Texas. By Oct 1950, Arthur William Smith was on his way to the Korean conflict. He had requested to be returned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. The U.S. Army refused his request. Arthur William Smith was sent to the front lines of the Korean War.
Art was sent on patrols and guard duty. One time he was disconnected from his company and he found himself in the midst of North Koreans and Chinese. He covered himself with dead bodies to evade capture. Then on Jan 7, 1951, Arthur W. Smith received the Bronze Star. The U.S. Army had Art’s service record number incorrect in this order. He never received or knew of his Bronze Star. An attempt to get this corrected has been filled with an Indiana Senator.
Art sent a letter to his mother. Nine days later, Arthur W. Smith received the Purple Heart, for getting wounded in the buttocks from friendly fire. Korea had the worst winter in history with the temperature going 30 below zero at night.Geneva Curry Smith in Madison, Indiana telling her “he doesn’t expect to survive”, he has body lice, his feet are frozen and his friends are dying around him. An army colonel had taken their blankets away because he thought they had it too soft. By Jan. 22, 1951, Art was in a hospital in Osaka, Japan.
After his somewhat physical recovery, Art Smith was assigned to Osaka, Japan as a pay clerk until March/May 1951. Then he was sent to Wake Island to work as a clerk. They did not send him back to the front line because of his prior military service and the short time left in his enlistment. Art finally was discharged on Nov. 10, 1951 in Camp Carson, Colorado.
My grandfather Stanley was living at 1330 Naomi St. in Indianapolis in 1951, with his wife Laura Smith and stepdaughter Myrtle Woolford. When Art got out of the Army he lived with his father, stepmother, and stepsister. Art had post-traumatic stress, from his experience in the war. He was hard to wake up. Stanley had to throw a glass of water on him and run. Art would always come up fighting.
Art’s drinking increased. He was a bartender in several rough and seedy bars, one being “Blake’s Tavern.” Once, he claimed he played cards in the back room after closing with “Elvis Presley,” This could not be confirmed. It was possible, though, since the owner of Blake’s was an entertainment promoter.
Art started racing motorcycles and stock cars. He raced stock cars at the old “Art Zipps” or now Speed Drome on Kitley Road. He married a second time to Margie Louise Moore on Sept. 2, 1956. The marriage soon ended in divorce. It is said that she tried to shoot Art.
Art’s drinking led him to have a stroke before he was 30. The stroke left one side of his face paralyzed for a while.
He dated several women until he met Lorene Kellams Sodrell, who had a young son. He married Lorene on Aug. 31, 1958.
He remained married to her until his death in 2009. Art helped raise her son but he remained estranged to his own son’s his entire life. He rarely paid any child support for me and Randy. This put a huge strain on grandmother Nellie Roberts who mostly raised us. She never complained.
It is believed Art blamed Lois for his return to the Army and for his being sent to Korea. It is believed this resentment was directed against his sons, too. The casualties of War extend far beyond the battlefield.
Art deserved his Purple Heart and Bronze Star, but he would not have been in Korea if he had just stayed home and taken care of his family.
SMITH FAMILY TODAY
Arthur William Smith was born Nov. 15, 1928, in Switzerland County, Indiana.
On Aug. 31, 1946, Arthur William Smith married Lois Roberta Roberts, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Arthur was 17 years old and Lois was 16 years old. Lois was pregnant with Randall Robert Smith. They were living on the westside of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Arthur W. Smith was the son of Stanley D. Smith and Geneva Curry Smith. Stanley divorced Geneva in 1940. Stanley remarried to Laura B. Woolford. They lived in Indianapolis. Geneva later remarried to Edgar Fredenburgh. They lived in Madison, Indiana. Arthur’s sister Elizabeth A. Smith lived with Geneva Curry Smith Fredenburgh.
Lois Roberta Roberts-Smith’s mother was Nellie Plummer-Roberts. She had married John D. Roberts but John Roberts left her and Lois Roberta Roberts in 1941 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lois’ father moved to Mississippi to train troops for WWII, where he married another woman.
Nellie P. Roberts never remarried.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DENNIS SMITH
FREE DOWNLOAD – The Ancestry of William Arthur Smith