Jacob Henry Smith Family Papers

1846-ca. 1960s [bulk 1846-1890s]. 11 boxes (ca. 160 folders), ca. 275 items.MSS. COLL. #39

NOTE: The numbers cited in parentheses, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name or topic will be found.


The Jacob Henry Smith Family Papers consist of genealogy, correspondence, manuscripts and other items pertaining to the ancestry, experiences, and ventures of the Smith family. The majority of items relate to the immediate family and direct descendants of Jacob Henry Smith, who served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church from 1859 to 1894. His wife, Mary Kelly Watson Smith, authored the original Civil War-era correspondence and diaries spanning 1904-1923 that are the highlight of this collection.

Arrangement: This collection is arranged into four groups and within each group materials are organized largely by document type. The four groups are: Family History; Smith Family, ca. 1846-1982; Jacob Henry Smith, ca. 1846-1897; and Mary Kelly Watson Smith, 1847-1927.

Provenance: The materials in this collection were acquired from descendants of Jacob Henry Smith and others over nearly six decades. A few of the major sources are described below.

Dr. Opie Norris Smith, a grandson, compiled and gave the typescripts of Jacob Henry Smith’s diaries (1997.93.1), the originals of which are held by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also donated family photos (1988.9.1), some of Mary Kelly Watson Smith’s correspondence (1992.5.3; 2002.96), “The Writings and Sermons of the Rev. J. Henry Smith” (1992.5.3), and items relating to his service in World War II (1993.51.1) and subsequent medical career (including 1987.156.1). He conducted extensive genealogical research on both the Smith and Dupuy branches of his family; this material was acquired through the estate of his wife, Rebecca, in 2007 and can be found in the Family History group.

The thirty original volumes of Mary Kelly Watson Smith’s diaries (1987.6.1) were donated by three of her granddaughters in 1987: Mrs. John B. Sealy Jr., Mrs. Mary W. McAlister Flora, and Miss Sarah L. McAlister. Their gift also included several letters and a wedding invitation (1987.6.2), and five years later Mrs. Mary Flora gave a binder containing an additional 73 letters (1993.81.1). During the processing of this collection, this binder was disassembled and the letters were integrated with those received from other sources.

Processing: This collection was organized by Stephen Catlett and intern Kate Hayworth, and the finding aid was written by Kate Hayworth in July 2013 and completed by volunteer Alice Bailey in January 2014.


Jacob Henry Smith (1820-1897) was born in Lexington, Virginia, to Samuel Runckle Smith (1788-1869), a Calvinist refugee from the Rhenish Palatinate, and Margaret Fuller (1766-1846). He graduated from Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) in the spring of 1843, briefly studying law before focusing on theology. The following fall, he entered Union Theological Seminary in Farmville, Virginia, and received his certificate two years later. In 1848, Smith married Catherine Malvina Miller (?-1854) of Powhatan, Virginia. He served in Presbyterian churches in Virginia and was employed as Principal and Professor of Latin and Greek at Samuel Davies Institute in Halifax County, Virginia, from 1850 to 1854. After the death of his first wife, he re-married to Mary Kelly Watson (1836-1924) on January 8, 1857, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he continued to work as a preacher until he was called to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro in 1859. He remained there until he died, assisted in the last three years of his service by his son, Egbert Watson Smith.

Jacob Henry Smith was a powerful speaker and traveled extensively, preaching before many congregations along the East Coast. During the Civil War, the buildings of First Presbyterian Church were used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers while Smith served as a Visiting Chaplain for the Confederate Army. In 1868, the church segregated its members, organizing the African Americans into the Colored Presbyterian Church and erasing their names from the First Presbyterian Church register. Smith served on the board of directors at Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary and received honorary Doctorates of Divinity from Hampden-Sydney College and the University of North Carolina in 1872 and 1877, respectively.

Mary Kelly Watson was born to Judge Egbert R. Watson and Mary Kelly Norris in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1836. She gave birth to seven children who survived infancy: Mary “Mollie” Lynn Smith (1857-1940), Henry “Harry” Louis Smith (1859-1951), Egbert Watson Smith (1862-1944), Charles “Phon” Alphonso Smith (1864-1924), Hay Watson Smith (1868-1940), Margaret Virginia Smith (1869-1927), and Norris Kelly Smith (1875-1882). During the Civil War, Mary was especially active in Soldiers’ Aid societies in Greensboro. She primarily participated in the operation of the temporary canteen at the Depot, which provided material comfort to soldiers traveling to and from the front by train, and was staffed by local women. Scavenged rags were routinely sewn together to make bandages, and carpets torn up and sent to the front to be used as blankets. In 1919 she published “The Women of Greensboro, NC, 1861-1865,” an essay on the Confederate war period. She was also the author of the posthumously published Some Meagre Recollections of Mammy (1927), a memoir recounting her relationship with a woman who worked in the family home first as a slave and then as a freedwoman. The Love That Never Failed (1928), edited by Susan McGee Heck Smith, is a collection of Mary Kelly Watson Smith’s letters.

Dr. Henry Louis Smith was a physicist and educator. In 1896, he married Julia Lorraine DuPuy (1873-1954) of Amherst County, Virginia, with whom he fathered eight children: Jacob Henry Smith (1897-1918), Helen Lorraine Smith (1899-1996), Raymond Dupuy Smith (1901-1955), Julia Dupuy Smith (1902-1993), Mary Kelly Smith (1906-1906), Louise Watson Smith (1907-1998), Opie Norris Smith (1909-2004), and Frank Simpson Smith (1911-1982). He is primarily known for his early research and experiments with x-ray photography and for performing one of its first medical applications. He taught at Davidson College as Professor of Sciences from 1887 until he was appointed president in 1901. From 1912 to 1929 he served as President of Washington and Lee College. Smith was credited by President Woodrow Wilson for substantially shortening World War I when he proposed informing the German army of Wilson’s intention to make peace by attaching messages to gas-filled balloons, which the wind carried across the French-German border. After retiring in 1929, he moved to Greensboro and became involved in civic and religious activities, and often traveled as a public speaker. In 1947 he published a collection of essays and speeches entitled This Troubled Country. During his life, he authored the column “Science and Our World” for the Greensboro Record. Constructed in 1951 as Greensboro’s first public housing project, Smith Homes at 707 West Florida Street was named in his honor, recognizing his advocacy of public housing assistance.

Opie Norris Smith (1909-2004) was born in Davidson, North Carolina, to Julia Lorraine Dupuy and Dr. Henry Louis Smith. He was raised in Lexington, Virginia, and graduated from Washington and Lee College before completing his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1933. In 1937, he married Rebecca Hines (1915-2007). After several residencies and internships at hospitals in Pennsylvania and at Duke Hospital, Norris Smith opened a practice in Greensboro in 1938. During World War II, he served in the Duke 65th General Hospital Unit at Fort Bragg, as well as the United States Air Force in England. After returning from the war, he founded and served as president of the Greensboro Academy of Medicine, working as Chief of Medical Services at Moses H. Cone Hospital. In 1981 he retired from the medical field. He retained the Smith family association with First Presbyterian Church, serving formally as elder and deacon. He was keenly interested in researching and documenting his family’s history and genealogy and transcribed sermons, diaries, letters and other documents created by his grandparents, Jacob Henry Smith and Mary Kelly Watson Smith. Many of the items in the Family History group were produced and organized by him. Together with his wife Rebecca Hines, he compiled and self-published The Descendants of Henry Hines, 1778-1868 (1970). The two were instrumental in founding the Guilford County Genealogical Society and establishing the Well-Spring retirement community.

Egbert Watson Smith was a minister, mission worker and author. Born in Greensboro, he attended Davidson College from 1878 to 1882, graduating as valedictorian of his class. After completing coursework at Union Theological Seminary in Farmville, Virginia, in 1886, he served as Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro and one year later was called to Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 1894 he married Mary Black Wallace (1874-1955) of Franklin, Tennessee. They had four children: Margaret Heiskel, Egbert Watson (1862-1944), Jessie Wallace, and Marion Wallace (1905-?). Between 1891 and 1894 he oversaw home mission efforts for the Presbyterian Synods of Mississippi and North Carolina. He received his Doctorate of Divinity from Davidson College in 1894 and afterward returned to Greensboro to assist his father Jacob Henry Smith as co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church. After his father’s death, he became pastor of First Presbyterian. During his time there, Egbert Watson helped establish several other churches in Greensboro and elsewhere in the state. In 1911, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work as Executive Secretary of Foreign Missions for the Presbyterian Church of the United States. The Desire of All Nations (1928) and The Creed of Presbyterians (1901) are among the many books he wrote about mission work during this period. Despite his attempts to retire, he continued to work and travel extensively for the Presbyterian Church of the United States until his death in 1932.

C. Alphonso Smith is best known as a prolific scholar of English, specifically of Anglo-Saxon literature, the American folkloric ballad and short story, and as the biographer of William Sydney Porter, whom Smith knew during childhood (O. Henry Biography, 1916). He authored numerous works of literary criticism, including What Can Literature Do for Me? (1913) and Edgar Allen Poe: How to Know Him (ca.1921). In 1905 he married Susan McGee Heck (1875-?) of Raleigh, North Carolina. They had three children: Susan McGee Smith (1906-?), Fannie Wilson Smith (1907-?), and Charles Alphonso Smith, Jr. In 1913 he founded the Virginia Folklore Society (one of the oldest of its kind,) and was the founder and first editor of the academic journal Studies in Philology. He received his A.B. and M.A. from Davidson College, and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. He was also awarded honorary degrees by the University of Mississippi, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Cincinnati. He taught at Louisiana State University from 1893 to 1902 before being appointed Head of the Department of English at the University of North Carolina. The next year he served as Dean of the Graduate School at the same University. During his tenure as Edgar Allen Poe Professor of English at the University of Virginia from 1909 to 1917, he taught at the University of Berlin as the Teddy Roosevelt Exchange Professor of English from 1910 to 1911. In 1917 he was appointed Head of the Department of English at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he remained until his death.

Hay Watson Smith was born in Greensboro and graduated from Davidson College in 1890. He withdrew from Union Theological Seminary in Farmville, Virginia, after one year to teach school in South Carolina, only to return in 1893 and graduate four years later. In 1902 he married Jessie Alice Rose (1877-1953) of Little Rock, Arkansas, and the couple had five children: Mary Virginia Smith, Margaret Rose Smith (1904-1957), George Rose Smith (1911-1992), Norris Kelly Smith, and Hay Watson Smith, Jr. (1909-1966). Hay Watson Smith conducted postgraduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York and received his Doctorate of Divinity from Oglethorpe University of Georgia in 1920. He is best known for advocating the theory of evolution in opposition to the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a credentialed minister. He testified against a bill designed to prohibit the teaching of evolution in publicly funded schools in Arkansas. Although struck down in the state Senate, a public petition led the bill to be referred to a popular vote, by which it was approved. In 1929 he was investigated by the Arkansas Presbytery under suspicion of unorthodox faith. In a 5-2 vote the accusations were declared to be insubstantially grounded. This decision was appealed in 1931, but he did not stand trial for heresy, primarily due to the consistent support of the Arkansas Presbytery and Synod. He resigned from the Little Rock Second Presbyterian Church in 1939 and died the next year.

Lunsford Richardson (1854-1919) grew up in Johnston County, North Carolina, on a plantation (later raided by Sherman’s army), and as a boy was close friends with several of the slaves. He graduated from Davidson College in 1875 and married Mary Lynn Smith on August 28, 1884. Together they had five children: Henry Smith Richardson (1885-1972), Laurinda Vinson Richardson (1887-1980), Mary Norris Richardson (1889-1969), Lunsford Richardson, Jr. (1891-1953) and Janet Lynn Richardson (1895-1988). He moved to Greensboro and opened the Richardson & Fariss Drugstore with John B. Fariss in 1891. He left the partnership in 1898 and founded the L. Richardson Drug Company, which sold pharmaceutical preparations wholesale. Among the products he offered were 21 different salves of his own preparation branded “Vick’s Family Remedies,” of which VapoRub was one. Richardson’s childhood friendships with his family’s slaves likely inspired his later philanthropic efforts that sought to improve the welfare of African Americans in Greensboro. In 1914, he funded a visiting nursing service for blacks that marked the first effort to provide medical care to that population. He donated funds for the construction of an African American hospital named the Greensboro “Negro” Hospital Association, which had a bi-racial Board of Directors and was staffed by both white and black physicians. This facility replaced Trinity Hospital (constructed in 1918), an overcrowded, sub-standard medical facility for African Americans. In 1934, the new hospital was re-named the L. Richardson Memorial Hospital in his honor.

Henry Smith Richardson was born in Greensboro and inherited Vick Chemical Company from his father, Lunsford Richardson. Smith Richardson downsized the product line and began selling VapoRub exclusively, at which point it gained national popularity. He was interested in corporate structure and management practices, and during the 1930s introduced the Vick School of Applied Merchandising, a program to recruit prospective employees out of college. See the Richardson-Vicks Collection for more information about this branch of the family and their enterprise.

Biographical Sources: This biographical note was compiled using items in the collection, as well as the publications and online sources listed in the Appendix.


The bulk of this collection spans the mid to late 19th century. The types of material that may be the greatest interest to researchers include correspondence, diaries, and genealogical research by O. Norris Smith.

A large portion of the collection consists of correspondence to and from members of the Smith family. Mary Kelly Watson Smith wrote numerous detailed letters to her sister, “Hay” Watson (IV 1:2-10), during the Civil War era, describing occurrences in Greensboro, reactions to national events and war news, and interactions with household slaves.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Henry Smith kept detailed diaries for much of their adult lives. The collection contains Mary Kelly Watson Smith’s original diaries spanning 1904 to 1923 (IV 3:1-20); typed excerpts are available under Digital Highlights in the Archives section of the website. While Jacob Henry Smith’s original diaries are held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the collection includes enlarged facsimiles of the original pages and typescripts of their content spanning the years 1846 to1848 and 1859 to1897 (III 3:1-13).

Jacob Henry Smith’s grandson O. Norris Smith conducted extensive genealogical research into the Smith and Dupuy branches of his family, and the Family History group (I) contains a variety of materials including genealogical charts and anecdotes by Norris Smith. Additional materials of interest include World War II-era publications owned by Norris Smith (II 9:3,5-8) and a memorial compilation on his father, Henry Louis Smith, with copies of correspondence, reminiscences and diary entries, and printed material (II 8:1).


I. Family History

1. Genealogy. 7 folders (7 items).

This series contains genealogical research conducted by O. Norris Smith. Among the materials he compiled are detailed genealogical charts, photographs, newspaper clippings, book excerpts, medical records, recollections written by family members, and his own anecdotal writings about family members. Smith’s findings on 18th century German immigrants may be of particular interest to some researchers (1:3).

2. Manuscripts. 10 folders (10 items).

The materials in this series pertain to O. Norris Smith’s research into the Dupuy (2:1-6) and Smith (2:7-10) branches of the family. His family “tidbits” contain a variety of items, including genealogical charts, photographs, copies of church records, correspondence, journal excerpts, and biographical descriptions.

II. Smith Family

1. Correspondence. 8 folders (ca. 10 items). ca. 1851-1868.

This series contains miscellaneous handwritten letters to and from members of the Smith or Watson families. Among these are several by close family friend Sallie Lindsay (later Gilmer). While in Greensboro in 1860, she wrote several letters to Hay, Mary Kelly Watson Smith’s sister, in Charlottesville, Virginia (1:3-4). Sallie visited Charlottesville and “found the people very kind and hospitable.” She describes her recent activities and mentions Hay and Mary’s father’s remarriage (1:4, January 4, 1860).

Several letters in the series comment on the Civil War. Alphonso Smith, Jacob Henry Smith’s brother, wrote a letter to his mother while in the Confederate service in Virginia (1:6, May 26, 1862). In an October 28, 1863, letter Sallie remarks on the soldiers wounded in the fighting (including an acquaintance, Cal Gilmer) and how it “made [her] blood boil” to “hear them abused” in Richmond newspapers (1:3).

A letter from an anonymous writer to Hon. Smith in the U.S. House of Representatives concerns the U.S. visit of Lajos (Louis) Kossuth, leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution in 1848 (1:1).

2. Correspondence Copies. 3 folders (ca. 25 items). ca. 1846-1918.

This series contains photocopies of letters to and from various members of the Smith or Watson families, including a bound volume assembled by O. Norris Smith (2:1). The originals of some letters can be found in the Correspondence series of Groups II and III. The letters include Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Henry Smith’s first impressions of their Greensboro home (2:1, April 29 & May 9, 1859).

3. Diary. 1 folder (1 item). 1982.

Rebecca Hines Smith recorded entries in a diary in the summer of 1982 (3:1). Her descriptions include a trip that she and her husband, O. Norris Smith, made “out West.”

4. Miscellaneous. 3 folders (3 items). ca. ?-1924.

Alphonso Smith’s “Intemperance, an address in three parts” was delivered in Pitt County, Virginia, on May 30, 1847 (4:3). The series also contains the diploma that Gertrude Allen Smith received upon her graduation from North Carolina College for Women (later Woman’s College and UNCG) in 1924 (4:2), as well as handwritten notes on scraps of paper (4:1).

5. Photographs. 4 folders (ca. 15 items). 1891-?

The highlights of this series are the 1891 and 1896 family portraits featuring Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Henry Smith with their children, children’s spouses, and grandchildren (5:2). Typed guides identify the family members shown in each portrait. Also included in this series are undated portraits of Rebecca Norris Smith Benson, daughter of O. Norris Smith (5:1), as well as photographs of the homes of Robert B. Hines (5:3) and Egbert R. Watson (located at 713 Park St., Charlottesville; 5:4).

6. Printed Materials. 1 folder (1 item). 1936.

The printed lecture “Why I Believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ” belonged to Julia Lorraine Smith, wife of Henry Louis Smith (6:1). Walter L. Lingle, president of Davidson College, gave this lecture on January 28, 1936.

7. Publications. 2 folders (2 items). 1909-1915.

C. Alphonso Smith delivered the address “The Significance of History in a Democracy” at the “unveiling of a monument to the Muse of History at the Guilford Battle Ground” on August 3, 1909 (7:1). The address “The Bible Teacher” was delivered before the Greensboro Training School for Sunday School Workers on April 15, 1915, by W.C. Smith (7:2).

8. Smith, Henry Louis. 4 folders (4 items). ca. 1890-1991.

Henry Louis Smith (1859-1951) was the eldest son of Jacob Henry Smith. In 1991, his son O. Norris Smith compiled a volume of photocopies containing writings, documents, and photos relating to his father (8:1). The series also includes a newspaper clipping about Smith conducting some of the first X-ray experiments in the United States (8:2), a portrait of Smith printed from an engraving (8:3), and his book entitled This Troubled Century, Selected Addresses (1947, 8:4).

9. Smith, O. Norris. 8 folders (ca. 25 items). ca. 1940s-1960s.

The son of Henry Louis Smith and grandson of Jacob Henry Smith, O. Norris Smith (1909-2004) complied much of the genealogy, correspondence, and family history materials in this collection. This series mainly contains World War II-era items he acquired while serving as a medical officer. Included are photos of the 65th General Hospital, sponsored by Duke University (9:1). Greensboro officers in the pictures include O. Norris Smith, P.B. Whittington, Dr. William D. Farmer, Dr. Ed Apple, and Captain Kent Davis.

Printed material in the series includes pamphlets distributed to U.S. Armed Forces to help them familiarize themselves with U.K. cities (9:3), as well as service member editions of Time magazine from 1943-1945 (9:5-8).

Smith also compiled newspaper articles and other materials pertaining to “The Fluoridation Experience in Greensboro, North Carolina” from 1954-1968 (9:4).

III. Smith, Jacob Henry

1. Addresses. 1 folder (3 items). ca. 1846.

Contained within this series are several handwritten addresses by Jacob Henry Smith (1820-1897, 1:1). They include remarks to the Missionary Society at Hampden-Sydney College and a May 24, 1846, farewell address for the senior class at Union Theological Seminary (1:1).

2. Correspondence. 1 folder (4 items). 1860.

The folder contains two letters (and photocopies) written by Jacob Henry Smith, one to “Haydy” and the other to Mary Kelly Watson Smith, relating mainly family news (2:1).

3. Diaries. 13 folders (13 items). 1846-1897.

Smith kept a diary for decades, and this series contains typescripts and copies of the originals, which are held by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. O. Norris Smith created a typescript volume of the entries from 1846-1848, when Jacob Henry Smith held his pastorate at Pittsylvania Court House, Virginia (3:1). The next typescript volume includes the entries from Smith’s relocation to Greensboro until his death (1859-1897), additional content from the letters of Mary Kelly Watson Smith, and the rosters of black and white marriages recorded (3:3). Another typescript volume covers “the Civil War decade,” duplicating the material from the previous volume from 1859-1869 (3:2). The photocopied volumes consist of enlarged facsimiles of the diary pages (3:4-13). The 1846-1848 volume also includes a copy of the typescripts made by O. Norris Smith (3:4).

4. Photograph. 1 folder (1 item). No date.

This undated portrait of an older Jacob Henry Smith was taken by Greensboro photographer S.L. Alderman (4:1).

5. Printed Material. 3 folders (3 items). 1859-1951.

The small, ribbon-bound booklet contains a poem called “A Trusting Heart” by Thomas F. Andresen, who dedicated the poem to Jacob Henry Smith (5:1). Upon Jacob Henry Smith’s death, his son Egbert W. Smith wrote a piece that was published in “The Greensboro Presbyterian,” the church newsletter (5:3).

6. Sermons. 2 folders (6 items). ca. 1865-1896.

The first folder contains three handwritten sermons delivered by Jacob Henry Smith (6:1). He recorded the dates and locations of each sermon on their last pages, as well as the numbers of the hymns that accompanied them (6:1). O. Norris Smith compiled a transcribed volume of Smith’s sermons and other writings, as well as the baptismal register during Smith’s time in Greensboro (1859-1896, 6:2).

IV. Smith, Mary Kelly Watson

1. Correspondence. 19 folders (ca. 60 items). 1847-1922.

This series contains correspondence to and from Mary Kelly Watson Smith (1836-1924). “I always write at night after the children are asleep, which is the only perfectly quiet time I enjoy during the day,” she comments in one 1860 letter (1:3, January 11). The bulk of her letters were written to her sister Hortensia Watson, known as “Hay” or “Haydy,” who lived in Charlottesville and never married.

NOTE: Below is an overview of the major topics and points of interest in the letters written by Mary Kelly Watson Smith, primarily between 1859 and 1866. A complete reading is suggested for the topics and specific years of interest.

News of Family and Friends: Letters from 1858-1859 describe church news, family news, and the marriages, deaths and other life events of acquaintances in Charlottesville and Greensboro (1:2). A letter dated April 22, 1859, contains first impressions of the Smiths’ new Greensboro home (1:2). General mention of church services and meetings led by Jacob Henry Smith are often made in Mary’s letters, and she describes a Synod meeting in a November 2, 1864 letter (1:6).

Mary often mentions the activities and occasional illnesses of her children, as well as their reactions to the war based on their childish understanding of it (1:3, 1860; 1:5, December 22, 1861; 1:6, January 18, 1862). For example, her four-year-old daughter Mollie questions if God loves the Yankees (1:5, December 22, 1861).

In an undated letter, she reacts to the news that her father had “won Mrs. Kent” and was planning to marry her (1:3). A February 9, 1860, letter mentions her father’s remarriage “last Thursday” (1:3).

Mary discusses the stages of mental illness of an acquaintance, young mother Mrs. Annette Wright (1:4, February 23 & April 6, 1861). She also mentions Mrs. Harper Evans having one of her frequent “attacks” without warning when she began screaming in the middle of a church service (1:6, April 22, 1861).

The romantic prospects of Hay and their friend Sallie Lindsay are recurring topics. In April 6, 1861, Mary writes to Hay, “Mr. Smith says there are seven young gentlemen in Greensboro, any one of whom he would be perfectly willing for you to marry!…For pity’s sake come on and try your fortune before the ranks are diminished!” (1:4). She also describes the complicated romance of Sallie and Mr. Gilmer, whom Sallie eventually married (1:4, January 8, 1861).

After the war, Mary mentions Jacob Henry Smith bringing his parents back from Virginia to live with them in Greensboro, where they rented a house (1:7, September 8, 1865 & January 8, 1866).

Household Slaves: Mary discusses her and her neighbors’ household slaves in several letters (1:5, June 30, 1861). She comments on the children of her slave Poca and the work and behavior of other slaves (1:5, October 1, 1861). The practice of hiring out slaves is also described (1:6, January 18, 1862). In a late 1863 letter she describes a search for a new servant, a “strong capable woman without children” (1:6).

After the war, she describes women and children going to live in “Freedom’s Camp” near town. She expresses her fear at hearing from neighbors that Poca “intended going to Danville with her children to live with Jim Henry.” However, upon questioning Poca about the rumors, she said she intended to continue to work for Mary. Mary was relieved, and commented that Poca would have “sorely repented it in a week,” as Jim would not have been able to provide for her and the children and “shield her from hard work as I do” (1:7, January 8, 1866).

By May 1866, Jacob Henry Smith had assisted in establishing a “Colored Sabbath School” at the church (1:7, May 15, 1866).

Pre-War Greensboro: Mary comments on a young woman “dismissed from the Methodist College last week for being an Abolitionist. She was one of the teachers and the girls complained that instead of giving music lessons she employed the time in inculcating and expressing very strongly her abolitionist sentiment” (1:3, undated letter)

She also remarks on a murder trial of a man suspected of killing a young woman who had gone missing. “The bones found in his plant bed and a few hairpins, common pins, buttons and hook and eyes found in the creek compose the testimony against him” (1:3, no date).

Reaction to National Events: Mary’s thoughts soon turned to the impending conflict between North and South. On April 19, 1861 (photocopy of letter), Mary comments on the Guilford Grays and Virginia Convention’s ordinance of secession, saying that “if it is true I am truly rejoiced, and think NC will follow in her footsteps without delay” (1:4). She adds, “Mr. Smith had been in favor of secession for a long time, but an avowal of his sentiments would have made him quite notorious” (1:4, April 19, 1861). In a letter dated December 22, 1861, she calls the Mason and Slidell affair “glorious” and comments that “Mr. Smith has been more aroused by Cameron’s plan for partitioning VA, than anything I believe that has occurred during the war” (1:5, December 22, 1861).

Wartime: She expresses hope that there will be “little or no blood shed” due to the Union army finding the Confederate Army too prepared and formidable to fight (1:5, May 16, 1861). In a letter to her grandmother she describes making fatigue shirts for an army company and notes its departure from Greensboro. She comments about hearing news of Mr. Smith’s brother Sam Smith, who served with the Rockbridge Artillery (1:5, May 28, 1861; 1:6, April 1 & April 15, 1862). Mary also makes mention of refugees from New Bern staying in town, and notes war news from around the state (1:5, October 1, 1861; 1:6, April 1 & April 22, 1862).

Additional Correspondence: This series also contains letters written to Mary Kelly Watson Smith. Several are from acquaintances she had as a young woman (1:11-14,16) and others are from her parents (1:17-18). A letter from Mary’s son Hay Watson Smith describes an operation performed on his throat (1:15). Also included is an invitation to the wedding of Henry Smith Richardson and Grace Stuart (1:19).

2. Correspondence Copies. 6 folders (ca. 40 items). ca. 1859-1884.

This series contains photocopies of the majority of the letters written by Mary Kelly Watson Smith in the preceding series.

3. Diary. 20 folders (ca. 40 items). 1904-1923.

It is believed that Mary Kelly Watson Smith kept a diary all her life, although only the volumes from the last two decades seem to have survived. This series contains thirty handwritten volumes (3:6-20), as well as typescripts of her diaries from 1912-1914 (3:1-5). A more complete overview and typed excerpts from the diaries can be found under Digital Highlights in the Archives section of the website.

4. Photographs. 1 folder (1 item). No date.

This portrait of a middle-aged Mary Kelly Watson Smith sits in an oval, wooden frame (4:1).

5. Printed Material. 1 folder (1 item). June 22, 1924.

A bulletin from First Presbyterian Church contains a written piece dedicated to the memory of Smith upon her death in 1924 (5:1).

6. Publications. 2 folders (2 items). October 1919-December 1927.

A printed pamphlet based on a written sketch by Smith is dedicated to Bibby Mosby. Known as “Mammy,” she was a slave and later servant who worked for Egbert R. Watson, and helped raise Smith. Listed among the footnotes of the pamphlet are the names and birth years of Smith’s siblings (6:1).

“The Women of Greensboro, N.C., 1861-1865” is a pamphlet written by Smith, which she read “at a meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Greensboro, October, 1919” (6:2).


11Genealogy-- Smith Family -- Genealogy Chart
2-- Smith Family -- Miscellaneous
3-- Smith Family, Part 1
4Genealogy-- Smith Family, Part 2
5-- Smith Family, Part 3
6-- Smith Family, Part 4
7-- Smith Family, Part 5
21Manuscripts-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Part 1
2-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Part 2
3-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Part 3
4-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Part 4
5Manuscripts-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Part 5
6-- Dupuy Family Tidbits, Supplemental
7-- Smith Family Tidbits, Part 1
8-- Smith Family Tidbits, Part 2
9Manuscripts-- Smith Family Tidbits, Part 3
10-- Smith Family Tidbits, Part 4
11Correspondence-- Anonymous to Hon. Smith (ca. 1850s)
2-- Lizzie to Haydy (June 7, ?)
3-- Lindsay, Sallie to Hadie (1863 Oct. 28-Nov. 27)
4-- Lindsay, Sallie to Hay (ca. 1860)
5Correspondence-- Sam to Haydy (1865, July 5)
6-- Smith, Alphonso to mother (1862, May 26)
7-- Watson, E. R. to Hay (1868, February 27)
8-- White, William L. to friend (1863, July 26)
21Correspondence Copies-- Miscellaneous (ca. 1846-1918)
2-- Miscellaneous (ca. 1860-1868)
3-- Lindsay, Sallie (1861-1863)
31Diary-- Smith, Rebecca Hines (1982, May 3-June 22)
41Miscellaneous-- Personal Writings
2-- Smith, Alphonso -- "Intemperance, an address in three parts" (May 30, 1847)
3-- Smith, Gertrude Allen -- Diploma (June 3, 1924)
51Photographs-- Benson, Rebecca Norris Smith (n.d.)
2-- Family Portrait (1891, 1896)
3-- Hines, Robert B. -- House (n.d.)
4-- Watson, Egbert R. -- House (n.d.)
61Printed Materials-- "Why I Believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ" (January 28, 1936)
71Publications-- Smith, C. Alphonso -- "The Significance of History in a Democracy" (August 3, 1909)
2-- Smith, W.C. -- "The Bible Teacher" (April 15, 1915)
81Smith, Henry Louis-- Printed Material -- "In Memoriam Henry Louis Smith" (1991)
2-- Printed Material -- Newspaper Clippings (1937)
3-- Portrait (ca. 1890)
4-- Publications -- This Troubled Century, Selected Addresses (1947)
91Smith, O. Norris-- Photographs (1940s)
2-- Printed Material -- Envelope (1940s)
3-- Printed Material -- Pamphlets (1940s)
4-- Printed Material -- "The Fluoridation Experience in Greensboro, North Carolina" (1954-1968)
5Smith, O. Norris-- Printed Material -- Time (1943, Nov. 1 - 1944, Mar. 6)
6-- Printed Material -- Time (1944, Apr. 3 - Sept. 4)
7-- Printed Material -- Time (1944, Sept. 11 - 1945, Apr. 2)
8-- Printed Material -- Time (1945, June 25 - Sept. 24)
11Addresses (ca. 1846)
21Correspondence-- from JHS (1860, Aug. 30-Nov. 18)
31Diaries-- 1846-1848 (typescript)
2-- 1859-1869 (typescript)
3-- 1859-1897 (typescript)
4Diaries-- 1846-1848 (copy)
5-- 1860-1861 (copy)
6-- 1862-1866 (copy)
7Diaries-- 1867-1869 (copy)
8-- 1870-1874 (copy)
9-- 1878-1882 (copy)
10Diaries-- 1883-1885 (copy)
11-- 1886-1889 (copy)
12-- 1890-1893 (copy)
13-- 1894-1897 (copy)
51Printed Material-- "A Trusting Heart" (1888)
2-- "Ladies-Soldiers' Aid Society of Greensboro"
3-- "The Greensboro Presbyterian" (Nov. 27, 1897)
61Sermons-- (ca. 1865-1896)
2-- "The Writings and Sermons of the Rev. J. Henry Smith"
11Correspondence-- Cousin to MKWS (1847, June 17)
2-- from MKWS (1858, Sept. 15 - 1859, Nov. 28)
3-- from MKWS (1860, Jan. 11 - Oct. 28)
4-- from MKWS (1861, Jan. 6 - Apr. 19)
5Correspondence-- from MKWS (1861, May 16 - Dec. 24)
6-- from MKWS (1862, Jan. 18 - 1864, Nov. 2)
7-- from MKWS (1865, Sept. 8 - 1867 Oct. 17)
8-- from MKWS (1884, May 21 - July 1)
9Correspondence-- from MKWS (1910, March 6)
10-- from MKWS (1918, Jan. 28 - 1922, Jan. 16)
11-- Hortense to MKWS (1851 Aug. 5)
12-- Marie to MKWS (1848, Aug. 28 - Nov. 3)
13Correspondence-- Rutherfoord, Helen to MKWS (1849, Dec. 4)
14-- Singleton, Mary to MKWS (March 7 ?)
15-- Smith, Hay Watson to MKWS (1921, Nov. 11)
16-- Souther, Florence C. to MKWS (1850, Aug. 16)
17Correspondence-- Watson, E.R. to MKWS (1848, Mar. 10 - 1860, Aug. 17)
18-- Watson, Mary Norris to MKWS (ca. 1848)
19-- Wedding Invitation -- Henry Smith Richardson and Grace Stuart (Dec. 1914)
21Correspondence Copies-- 1859, Apr. 27 - 1860, Oct. 28
2-- 1861, Jan. 6-Dec. 24
3-- 1862, Jan. 18 - 1864, Nov. 2
4Correspondence Copies-- 1865, Sept. - 1867, Oct. 17
5-- 1884, May 21-July 1
6-- no date
31Diary-- 1912, Jan.-May (typescript)
2-- 1912, June-Dec. (typescript)
3-- 1913, Jan.-June (typescript)
4-- 1913, Nov. 25 - 1914, May (typescript)
5Diary-- 1914, June-Dec. (typescript)
6-- 1904-05 / 1906
7-- 1907 / 1907-08
8-- 1908-09 / 1909, Jan.-Aug.
9Diary-- 1909, Aug. - 1910, Jan. / 1910, Feb.-Sept.
10-- 1910, Sept. - 1911, April / 1911, April-Nov.
11-- 1911, Nov. - 1912, May / 1912, May-Dec.
12-- 1912, Dec. - 1913, June / 1913, June 24
13Diary-- 1913, Nov. - 1914, May / 1914, May - 1915, March
14-- 1915 March-Sept. / 1915, Oct. - 1916, April
15-- 1916, April-Sept. / 1916, Sept. - 1917, Jan.
16-- 1917, Jan.-May / 1917, May-Oct.
17Diary-- 1917, Oct. - 1918, March / 1918, March-Aug.
18-- 1918, Aug. - 1919, Jan. / 1919 Jan.-July
19-- 1919, July - 1921, Feb. / 1921, March - 1922, Feb.
20-- 1922, Feb. - 1923, Feb. / 1923, March-Nov.
51Printed Material-- "In Memory of Mrs. Jacob Henry Smith" (June 22, 1924)
61Publications-- Some Meagre Recollections of Mammy (Dec. 1927)
2-- "The Women of Greensboro 1861-1865" (Oct. 1919)


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Founders and Builders of Greensboro, 1808-1908. Greensboro, NC: Jos. J. Stone & Company, 1925.

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“H. Smith Richardson: History of the Foundation.” Smith Richardson Foundation. Web. Last accessed 10/14/2021.

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