Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jesse Siler Smith (1821-1870): "Left Behind"

Jesse Siler Smith (1821-1870): "Left Behind"

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This photograph of my second-great grandfather, Jesse Siler Smith, was kindly was provided by cousin Jesse Gerald Smith, Jr., also a second-great grandson of Jesse Siler Smith.

I asked cousin Jesse if he knew where our second-great grandfather was buried. Here is his sad answer:

Good question. We have agonized over this for many years. Here is the long version. Jesse died in 1870 under less than ideal circumstances.

First, the war had wiped out most of the family's means. I believe (by conjecture) that even though the McDowell family (i.e. Jesse's sister with WW McDowell) was living in the brick house [Smith-McDowell House], they like everyone were under financial duress. It is inconceivable to me that Jesse would not have been buried with the family up at the original graveyard where present day Fernihurst stands [on the A-B Tech campus behind the Smith-McDowell House].

I believe Jesse was buried "on the cheap" meaning there was no money at the time for a nice headstone. Maybe owing to the manner in which he died also might have played a part in his "unnoticed" passing. But lack of financial resource is the most likely reason.

Secondly, there may have been a plan to eventually place a headstone when it was feasible, however the sale of the [Fernihurst] property with the graveyard in 1875 and subsequent moving of the family remains to Newton Academy Cemetery left it undone.

Putting it simply, Jesse is still up at the old site near Daniel Smith's original cabin. I recently discussed with a local historian in Asheville that she was told that during the construction of Fernihurst, after the removal of the remains of the Smith family, that it was reported that the remains of at least two other bodies were unearthed at the site of the old graveyard. These remains were quietly put back in the ground and not commonly referred to, for various reasons, not the least that they did not know who they were for sure. This analysis is the only rational one I can come up with.

Jesse was "left behind."

Posted By: Richmond Stanfield Frederick, Jr.

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