My Loveable but Unrestrainable Grandfather, Stanley D. Smith

Stanley Smith
Stanley D. Smith 1902-1961
                        My Loveable but Unrestrainable Grandfather                    Stanley D. Smith

by Dennis Smith

Della Belle Malcomson
Della Belle Malcomson, 1868-1902, mother of Stanley D. Smith who died from complications of his birth

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.

Oliver M. Smith
Oliver M. Smith 1837-1906, grandfather of Stanley D. Smith
Elizabeth Shaw-Smith
Elizabeth Shaw-Smith 1844-1938, spouse of Oliver M. Smith and grandmother of Stanley D. Smith

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.

Arthur Kingsley Smith
Arthur Kingsley Smith 1868-1945, father of Stanley D. Smith who held Stanley responsible for the death of his wife Della Belle Malcomson

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.

John Shaw Malcomson & Emily J. Thiebaud
John Shaw Malcomson 1842-1914 & wife Emily J. Thiebaud 1842-1919, grandparents of Stanley D. Smith who left Stanley an inheritance which he squandered.

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 D. Smith & Geneva Josephine Curry
Wedding photo of Stanley D. Smith & Geneva Josephine Curry, November 23, 1937, Switzerland County, Indiana, grandparents of author Dennis Smith

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.

Stanley D. Smith & Laura B. Woolford
Stanley D. Smith and his third wife Laura B. Woolford 2007-1983

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.

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Tuesday June 30th, 2020

Stray Leaves

Here's some colorful video history on George Morgan Chinn, a grandson of Frank James' cohort John Pendleton "Black Jack" Chinn. Whenever I drive from Danville to Midway or Lexington, Ky, I pass the ruins of Chinn's Cave House.
Here also are a couple of testimonials about George, also colorful, from the files of the James Preservation Trust.
#1- "I remember George very well. He was my late father's cousin and we do have his linage through the Morgan's, dating back to John Morgan in 1778. He was a really smart fellow and funny. His [Ed.: grand] father was Jack Chinn. I have a picture of him with William Jennings Bryan, Dicky Brant, and Frank James (Brother of Jesse) seated in a buggy hitched to the only grey horse that won the Kentucky Derby. Jack was fined five dollars for speeding in a horse-drawn vehicle. He paid ten dollars and told them to keep the change because he was going out of town (Harrodsburg, Ky) the same speed he came in. My dad had a lot of these old family tales."
And #2 - "hi I knew him personally. He has a lot of historical books at the Fort Harrod Museum. He also published one about Brooklyn or the Palisades area of Jessamine and Mercer Counties. His wife's nickname was Cotton because of her white hair. They were both feisty. I lived and grew up on five acres that attached to the Chinn land. It was at 5555 Lexington Rd in Mercer county. The Chinn mansion was in a hairpin curve...'Chinn curve.'
"We had hunters and trespassers that would go on the property and we would have to call the Chinns to have them removed.
"My grandfather grew up and ran with Jack Chinn. Jack had a moonshine still in a cave across the ky river from the mansion. He would take a boat across to the cave.
Mr. George Chinn was a historian and you can look for his books on google. Or contact the Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg or the local library. Sorry, that is all I have except I know George had a daughter."
George Morgan Chinn also was a director of the Kentucky Historical Society and editor of their publication "The Register." He authored several books, including "Kentucky: Settlement and Statehood, 1750-1800," still in print, "The Encyclopedia of Hand Arms," and the five-volume work "The Machine Gun."
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Thursday June 25th, 2020

Stray Leaves

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth. ... See MoreSee Less

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth.

Comment on Facebook This 1879 map from ...

...and we're speaking the same language! Really awesome!

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