THE SMITHS OF ABRAHAM, W.VA.
George Washington Smith Jr., Emily Alice Vandall
and Emma Catherine Biars
Updated 20 Nov 2013
Smith -- origin of surname. Smithers, Smithson, Smythe. English - occupational from Middle English meaning "smith," referring to a worker in metal, one of the most important crafts, giving rise to one of the most common surnames. (“The Wordsworth Dictionary of Surnames,” Terry Freedman & Iseabail Macleod, 1997, Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, Page 224.) Smith, Smyth, Smythe (Eng.) r.w. Smith (O.E.) Blacksmith, spearsmith, nailsmith, arrowsmith, or other medieval trade name. (“What’s in a Name? Surnames of America,” La Reina Rule & William K. Hammond, 1973, Pyramid Book, New York, Page 386.)
George W. Smith Jr. was born 30 June 1860 in Meadow Creek, Raleigh County, W.Va., one of nine children of George Washington Smith Sr. (12 Dec 1826/19 Jan 1862) and wife Catherine (Kate) Bennett (November 1825, Greenbrier Co., W.Va./07 Nov 1904 Raleigh Co.). George Jr. was a prominent member of the Abraham community in Richmond District, Raleigh County. He died 06 April 1940 in Raleigh County. Death certificate. (Go to the George Smith Sr. page for more about his birth family.) Smith family home in 2011. (Previously I had a link to a Raleigh County Landmarks photos of Smith homes, Sr. and Jr. and the Abraham Post Office. That site appears to be gone. But the same photos are now on New River WV album 44.) George Smith Jr. was the first postmaster of Abraham, W.Va., when the post office was organized in 1907. He was postmaster for 35 years until he turned it over to his daughter K. Golda Smith Fox. Mrs. Fox, George's last surviving child, died at age 99 in June 2009. (Abraham Post Office in 1974. Former Abraham PO in October 2011.) George Jr. and his brothers Ervin and General Marion Smith operated Smith Brothers, a large general merchandise store. The family also operated a sawmill during the week. On Saturdays the mill was converted to a grist mill to grind corn. George also farmed. (Abraham Post Office Once Site of Booming Business, Beckley Post-Herald, Aug. 9, 1974, Page 13. Photo.)
"People came (from) far away to the store. He kept about anything people needed," said his daughter Eda Smith Ellison.
G. W. Smith Jr. was named deacon of New Salem Baptist Church on 21 Oct. 1886. G.W. Smith Jr. and Jackson Plumley paid the pastor for past services.
Nina Vest Bennett, then married to Percy Bennett, was a neighbor to George and wife Emma in Abraham, W.Va. Nina's sister Golda was married to their son Earl George. In March 1992, Nina wrote a letter to niece E.M. Smith that contained family history including the following:
"Mr. Smith (George Washington Smith Jr.) bought a truck (pickup) before he died say 3 yrs. Every time (his son) Earl and Golda used it to go home in he would tell them to take Nina. I thought a lot of him, I often think about getting to go home because of him. I guess that (is) where your dad (Earl) got his good deeds from. Mrs. Smith (Emma Biars Smith) liked me and after he (her husband George) died she was so lonely about 3 or 4 times a week she came down to my house and (ate) the evening meal with me. I have often wondered why she would eat at my home. I wasn't a good cook, didn't have much to eat like she did, nevertheless she was a faithful visitor and I really loved her. What she thought she said and lots of people didn't like it but she wouldn't lie so they couldn't stay angry long. Ha. Mr. Smith had a mill (grind corn) he had a grocery store and was postmaster. So they had plenty. No one could really say anything mean about them. Your Aunt Pearl (Pearl Smith Gwinn), I dearly loved and she was beautiful, kept an immaculate house…Mr. Smith was the one who would always do things for people – just like your daddy (Earl George Smith). That could have been the reason he was so prosperous. You children lacked for nothing."
Emily Alice Vandall
George W. Smith Jr., 21, and Emily Alice Vandall, 17, married on 18 Dec 1881 in Raleigh County, W.Va. George was 21 and Emily, 17. Marriage record. Emily was born 18 Oct 1864, in Fayette County, W.Va., a daughter of Joseph Dan (Joel) Vandall (20 Jan 1824/February 1901) and Elizabeth “Betty” Fox (born March 1825). The family name has also been spelled Vandle. Emily and George had nine children. Emily, 40, died on 02 Jan 1905, near Pear in Raleigh Co. of "interstitial nephritis," a kidney disorder, complicated by tuberculosis. Death record. (Photo of George and Emily shared by Cousin Susan.) Links to Vandall information: The Vandal Family Homepage Information on the site about Emily’s birth family
Children of George and Emily
- BERTHA JANE SMITH. Born 28 Dec 1882 in Raleigh County, W.Va.; died 18 July 1941, in Summers County, W.Va. She married Wade Surbaugh 29 Nov 1905 in Raleigh County. (The source of the marriage date is Marriage Records of Raleigh County West Virginia 1850-1910 compiled by Ronald Ray Turner.) Wade was born around 1880 in Summers Co., a son of Francis Marion Surbaugh and wife Elizabeth C. Duncan. (Wade's birth record says he was born 21 Apr 1880. But his World War I draft card and death record say he was born 16 Dec 1880. The 1900 Summers census says Dec 1879.) Wade died on 25 Aug 1940 in Hinton, Summers Co. He was a brakeman for Chesapeake & Ohio Railway for almost 40 years, working out of Hinton, and owned a farm in Raleigh County. (Source: Roger Surbaugh.) Wade and Bertha had three children, Emma, Thelma and Harry. Bertha Surbaugh's death certificate. Tombstones in Greenbrier Cemetery, Hinton: Bertha and Wade. (Courtesy of D. Mack.) Photo: Wade Surbaugh and his only son Harry, probably 1925-30. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Roger.)
- GLENVILLE EVERETT SMITH. Born 15 March 1886 in Abraham, Raleigh County, W.Va; died 12 Feb 1952 in Hinton Hospital, Summers County, Hinton, W.Va. He married Lucinda Franklin Gwinn 17 Aug 1910. Lucinda, born 15 Aug 1891 in Lockbridge, Summers County, W.Va., was a daughter of Alexus Laben Martin Gwinn and wife Elizabeth Ann Stickler. Lucinda died 10 Nov 1979 in Lockbridge. Lucinda and Glenville are buried in Dequasie Cemetery in Lockbridge. They had 15 children: Elsie Virginia, Beatrice Elizabeth, George Everett, Cecil Lawrence, Basil Arthur, Mildred Irene, Mabel Evelyn, Glenville Muriel, Harriett Isabelle, Lois Edith, twin daughters who died shortly after their birth, Jesse Franklin, Madalyn Rose and Shelvia Jean. (Information provided by Shelvia.) Glenville Smith obituary. Death certificate. Lucinda Smith honored.
- WAYNE SMITH. Born 14 Aug 1888 in Raleigh County; died in July 1911 of a gunshot wound. Wayne's tombstone says he died in 1913 but I found a 1911 Raleigh Herald, Beckley, W.Va., article -- Accidental Shooting -- about his death that year. He married Parthena Davis 29 Aug 1910. Birth record Wayne was buried in the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Abraham, W.Va. Find a Grave: Wayne Smith
- ARTHUR JACKSON SMITH. Born 15 Oct. 15 1890, in Raleigh County; died 24 May 1956, in Hinton, Summers County, Hinton. He married Rufina M. F. Plumley 30 Oct 1912. Mrs. Smith (b. 11 Mar 1895/d. 26 Sep 1936) was a daughter of Jackson Plumley and Minerva Richmond. Arthur and Rufina had eight children: Clyde A. Smith, Forrest Gladwell "Frosty" Smith, Theodore P. Smith, Roy M. Smith, Margaret Smith Bragg, Imogene Smith Gwinn, Mary Ellen Smith Richmond, and Alice Mae Smith Cales. (Sources: obituaries and Our Families, Larry G. Shuck, 1995, Gateway Press, Baltimore, Md., Page 125.) Arthur J. Smith obituary. Death certificate. Tombstone in New Salem: Photo 1 (with flowers) and Photo 2 (with dates visible). Find a Grave: Rufina Smith.
- ADA SMITH. Born 18 Nov 1892, in Raleigh County; died 09 March 1970, in Huntington, Cabell County, W.Va. Her name is Ida Martin in the Social Security Death Index and her obituary. Obituary. Birth record. A descendant e-mailed some information about Ada's life. Ada lived in Cabell County for 60 years and worked at the Hotel Frederick, one of Huntington's finest hotels, as a pantry girl. (See Hotel Frederick, Postcard 11.) Ada married Harry Martin. She and Harry had a son, Harry Martin Jr., born 14 Feb 1916/died Feb 1981 (SS Death Index). Harry Jr.'s obituary. The 1920 census for Huntington Ward 2, Cabell, has Harry, 4, living in the Mary Kilgore household as a ward. Harry Jr. married Elaine A.. Find a Grave: Woodmere Memorial Park, Huntington: Harry Martin Jr..
- CHARLES OTA (C.O. "SMITTY") SMITH SR. Born 23 May 1897, in Raleigh County, W.Va.; died 13 Dec 1978, in Hinton Hospital, Summers Co., W.Va. His half brother Everett A. Smith called him “Oat.” On 17 Aug 1915, C.O. married Flora Lee Arthur, daughter of Charles William Arthur and wife Caroline "Callie" Janney. He was a locomotive engineer and for several years served as constable for Richmond District in Raleigh County. Obituary Campaign article. Flora was born 09 Sep 1934 at Turkey Knob, Fayette Co., W.Va., and died 07 Nov 1995 in Beckley, W.Va. Flora's obituary. Article (1977, Raleigh Register) about Flora's childhood home, the Arthur farm: Forgotten Americana – 109-Year-Old Farm Defies Urban Sprawl. Mr. and Mrs. Smith had nine children: Louella Ethel Smith Goodson (1915-1997); Juanita Flora Smith Fitzgerald (1919-2007), obituary; C.O. Smith Jr. (1921-2013), obituary; Jesse Sebird Smith (1923-1991), obituary; Dempsey Rudolph Smith (1931-2001), obituary; Carrie Eileen Smith Mann (1924-2013), obituary; June Elizabeth Smith Westfall (1929-2003), obituary; Robert Noel Smith (1934-1995), obituary; and Rachel Marie Smith Richmond.
- EMILY MAE SMITH. Born 25 Jan 1900, in Raleigh County; died 15 March 1952, in Raleigh County. Her half brother Everett A. Smith spelled her name “May.” According to Our Families, Page 125, Emily was married to Ezra Huffman, George Surber and W.E.Hutchinson. Marriage record - 1930/Summers, Emily Huffman, 28, widow, and George Surber, 23, widower. Marriage record - 1942/Summers, Emily Surber, 40, and William E. Hutchinson, 44. Emily Smith Hutchinson obituary
Emma Catherine Biars
George Jr. married his second wife Emma Catherine Biars on 05 Aug 1908. Emma was born 20 July 1878, in Harrison Township, Gallia County, Ohio, to Gustava “Gus” Biars and his wife Catharine "Kate" Kraus. (Go to Smith/Biars Page 3 for more information on Emma's parents and brothers.) The family story is that George, 48, a widower with nine children, did not plan to have more children with his second wife. As the saying goes, "man plans, God laughs." George and Emma had seven children.
Emma Biars' first husband was Charlie Thompson, according to family members. Emma Biars, 22, single, employed as a servant, was still at home with her parents in 1900. (Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Clay, Gallia, Ohio; Roll: T623_1271; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 26.) So, it looks like Emma Biars married Charlie Thompson some time after June 1900 when the federal census was taken. The marriage ended in divorce.
George died in 1940. In 1944 Emma married Harrison Maynard in Raleigh County. Marriage record. According to family members, it was not a happy marriage. I don't know if Mr. Maynard died or the marriage ended in divorce. Emma Biars died on 26 Aug 1967 in Raleigh County. Emma Biars obituaries: Daily Mail Post-Herald. She was buried in the New Salem Missionary Baptist Cemetery, Abraham: Find a Grave. Additional photos: Emma at Abraham, W.Va. (Thank you, Katherine N.) George Smith Jr. family. George is in the center, seated, and Emma is to his left. Behind Emma is their son Earl George Smith and his wife Golda Mae Vest, holding Billy Lee Smith. If you have corrections or additions to the IDs, please e-mail me. And if you want a copy with the "ink," let me know. Smith children -- brothers Everett, Carl and Ernest Smith and two of their sister K. Golda Smith Fox's children, James and Dorothy Fox.
Children of George and Emma
- KAY GOLDA SMITH. Born 23 Sept 1909 at Abraham, Raleigh County, and died 11 June 2009 in Raleigh County at 99 years old, the last surviving child of George W. Smith Jr. She married Euell Emory Fox (14 June 1900/30 Aug 1968) in 1927. Euell was a son of Rancelor Fox and wife Rosa Ella Buckland. Golda and Euell had three children, Dorotha G., James Euell "Jimmy" and Katherine. Mrs. Fox was postmaster at the Abraham Post Office for many years and was the subject of several news articles. Golda Smith Fox obituary. Link to Register Herald, Beckley, W.Va., online obituary, 13 June 2009. PHOTOS: Fox family photo -- Rosa Fox (wife of Rancelor) and children: Left to right, Lennie Miller and husband Hershey “H.J.” Fox, Bronzie Fox, Rosa Fox, Omer Bennett and wife Inez Fox, Euell Fox holding son James E., and wife K. Golda Smith Fox. Children, left to right: Sara Frances Fox (wife of James E. Christian - wedding article) and brother H.J. Fox Jr., and Dorothy Fox (wife of Garland Plumley) daughter of Golda and Euell. Golda Fox and family members at the Abraham, W.Va., Post Office, 1974. Rancelor Fox and William Marion Bennett. Tombstones in New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery: Golda Fox, Fox family row -- Euell, Golda and son Jimmy, Euell Fox. Close up of Jimmy's marker on Find a Grave.
- EDA FLORA "EDIE" SMITH. Born 11 Feb 1912, Abraham; died 30 June 2003, Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, Raleigh County. Married Horace Benton Ellison (October 1909, Pluto, Raleigh County/17 March 1956, Pinch Creek Road, Pluto). Edie and Horace had three children: Charles, Glen and Patricia. According to her obituary, “Mrs. Ellison was a homemaker and a former assistant at the Abraham Post Office. She enjoyed quilting and listening to religious broadcasts on the radio. She was of the Baptist faith.” Edie was buried in Meador Cemetery, Pluto, Raleigh County. ADDITIONAL PHOTO: Eda and sister Golda
- EARL GEORGE SMITH. Born 21 March 1914; died 07 April 1986. Married Golda Mae Vest 26 Dec 1934. Golda, a teacher, was a daughter of Leonard Vest and his wife Emma Stella Gadd. (For a list of Golda's siblings, go to Emma Stella Gadd Gadd Page 2) Earl built their first home at Abraham. They later lived at Jumping Branch in Summers County then bought the Vest farm on White Oak Mountain in Raleigh County from Golda's parents. The elder couple built a new house nearby on the property. For years the Vest/Smith home ("the yellow house") was a way station for travelers crossing the mountain and there are many stories about people who took shelter there. Earl spent most of his working life as a coal miner and died from black lung. He was a member of the United Mine Workers of America. Golda, a graduate of Concord College, Athens, W.Va., taught in Summers and Raleigh counties. They were members of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Abraham, and later transferred membership to the newly formed White Oak Missionary Baptist Church, White Oak, W.Va., where Earl was a deacon. Earl and Golda had four children: Billy, Bobby, Ellen and Eva. The couple and sons Billy and Bobby, who died in childhood, are buried in Smith Cemetery on their White Oak Mountain farm. Billy and Bobby Smith 1. Billy and Bobby 2. Billy and Bobby 3. Earl and Golda were honest, hardworking Christian people. Earl died first and Golda never stopped missing him. Golda died in 1991 in the Ohio home of her eldest daughter. Find a Grave: Earl and Golda Smith Billy Lee Smith Bobby Earl Smith.
- CARL EUGENE SMITH. Born 17 Sept 1916, Abraham; died 31 July 1995, Beckley, W.Va. Married Bessie Mae Kincaid on 24 Jan 1947. Marriage record. She was born 28 Dec 1924, a daughter of Samuel "Pete" Kincaid (1898-1974), also known as Sammie or Samie, and wife Sadie Adkins (1906-1986). (Kincaid-Adkins marriage record. Sadie's obituary.) Bessie died 25 Nov 1993 in Charlottesville, Va. Carl and Bessie had a son, Hershell. Bessie's obituary. According to Carl's obituary in the Beckley newspaper, he "was a disabled World War II U.S. Army veteran, having received the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He was a lifelong member of the DAV Chapter No. 18 and was of the Baptist faith." Final resting place: Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens Mausoleum of Faith, Beckley. Obituary of Johnnie Lee Kincaid, Bessie's brother.
- EVERETT ABRAHAM SMITH. Born 01 March 1918, Abraham; died 05 March 2003, at Montgomery Elderly Care, W.Va. In 1939, Everett married Iva Violet McDaniel (05 Jan 1920/12 Dec 2000), daughter of Horace Greeley McDaniel (obituary) and wife Bicy Ruhama "Hamie" Williams (obituary). (Note: Iva's birth date is 06 Jan on her marriage record and 05 Jan according to her obituary and the Social Security Death Index.) Iva and Everett's marriage record. Everett and Iva had six children: Boyd, Gary, Darrell, Harold, Brenda Kay and Patsy. According to Everett's obituary, “Mr. Smith was a member and former trustee of Chelyan United Methodist Church. He had also worked tirelessly after his retirement on the clean-up and upkeep of the Slaughter's Creek Cemetery. He was a retired foreman for Valley Camp Coal Co.” Iva's obituary. Everett and Iva were buried in Kanawha Valley Memorial Gardens, Glasgow, W.Va.
- ERNEST SIDNEY SMITH. Born 01 Dec 1919; died 27 March 1978. He was a retired coal miner and a veteran of World War II. Married Macie Mildred Meadows 15 March 1941. Macie (10 June 1923, at Pluto, W.Va./ 26 Aug 2005, Shady Spring, Raleigh County, W.Va.) was the daughter of the late H. Sanford Meadows and Stella Ward Meadows. According to Macie's obituary, “ ‘Nanny’ was a retired LPN, and enjoyed spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Other hobbies included bird watching, gardening, nature, and traveling. She was of the Baptist faith." Ernest and Macie had four children: George, Jo Ann, Gene and Linda. Ernest and Macie were buried in Sunset Memorial Park, Beckley. Ernest Sidney Smith obituary Macie Meadows Smith obituary.