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James Smith

James Smith died on March 5th 1876 in Woodstock, N.B. He was 78 years old.

James Smith descendants, where are they now?

   The information below was researched by Vivian Wright, a retired teacher who taught at the Kennebecasis Valley High School.

   When Smith's parents died, an uncle took him in and raised him. When Smith was 17, he and a cousin left Ireland for Philadelphia, but for some reason changed their minds and ended up in Grand Falls, N.B., where they worked in the woods for a year.

   "Then they came to Saint John and found work in the shipyards," Wright said.

   "Unfortunately Smith's cousin, James MacDonald, died at a young age. There's no record of the cause."

   It wasn't long before the young James Smith found the girl of his dreams. He and Margaret McMorron, an Irish lass, were married. They had seven children.

   Records of the era show Smith was the first man to build ships in the Courtenay Bay area. His shipyard launched its first vessel around 1835, said Wright, followed on April 17, 1851, by the ill-fated launching of the Marco Polo.

   During the course of her research, Wright found evidence that paints Smith as a prosperous businessman with a flourishing shipyard, a grand home on Albion St. which ran along Courtenay Bay, and a big summer home at bay Shore on the city's West Side.

   As well as his shipyard business, Smith was involved in the York and Carleton Mining Company in Woodstock.

   "He lost a lot of money by being under-insured," Wright said. "He had ships go down and then lost his shipyard with a boat in the stocks under construction in 1855. All were under insured."

   The fire in the Smith shipyard was caused by a furnace door left open at the sawmill there. Sparks ignited the shavings and the whole yard went up.

   Wright isn't exactly sure when Smith moved to Woodstock where he died almost penniless. However, she feels it must have been sometime after 1861.

   In that year, his daughter, Elizabeth, died and notices were placed that coaches would be available at King Street to transport any mourners wishing to attend the funeral.

   "He must have still been quite prosperous then. When he died he had almost nothing".

   Wright doesn't put any truth into the rumor that Smith left his home on Albion Street to benefit "fallen womwn". " I've read his will and there's no mention of the house on Albion Street. It must have been sold before his death."

   Newspaper articles in 1905 record the story of the fire that destroyed the former home of the shipbuilder. A story in the Daily Sun states that Smith, on his death, had left the house to trustees to be used as a home for fallen women.

   Wright feels the story on the fire printed in the Daily Telegraph is more factual. That story said when the family moved away, the home was used as a hospital for infectious diseases and was later bought by charitable people as a home for fallen women.

   There's more to be known about James Smith, the man who built the Marco Polo. Vivian Wright just hasn't uncovered it yet.

The Descendants

   James Smith and his wife Margaret (McMorran) Smith had seven children. Vivian Wright can trace them and their descendants only so far.

    "It's my fondest wish to have as many descendants as possible on hand when we have the launching of the Marco Polo II," said Wright.

   The oldest Smith child, Margaret, was born in 1828. She married Samuel Parks and they had five children.

   "Unfortunately this whole little family was all dead by 1863," said Wright, who compiled most of her information from census taken at the time. "Three of the children, aged eight, six, and four, died within a month. There must have been an illness which swept through."

   The second child, James Thomas or Jimmy Tommy, was born in 1830. His first wife was Jane Eaton, daughter of Aaron E. Eaton. An 1871 census shows they had two sons, Sydney and A.A.E. Smith (presumably Aaron E. Eaton Smith). However no further information on the two sons shows up again.

   Jimmy Tommy married a second time to Isabelle Mitchell and late in life had a son, James Mitchell Smith.

   "Much of the information we have about the original James Smith comes from a letter Jimmy Tommy wrote at the age of 78 to his two-year-old son. He felt he wasn't going to around to tell the boy things about his family when he got older, so he wrote this letter."

   James Mitchell Smith's widow Hazel donated the letter to the New Brunswick Museum when her husband died in 1982. She lives in North Babylon, New York. The couple had two sons, one living in North Babylon, the other in Texas.

   The third child was a daughter, Charlotte, born in 1833. She married John Albert Venning and they had several children. One descendant, Harry LeBaron Venning, donated the only known portrait of James Smith to the New Brunswick Museum.

   The fourth child, Matilda Jane, was born in 1837 and she married James L. Dunn. She had a son, Harry, and a daughter, Ada Robertson. Wright knows of three grandchildren, Allistair Morrison, Mrs. Donald Finn and Mrs. Allan Ball.

   The fifth child, Elizabeth was born in 1841 and died in 1861, unmarried.

    Robert was born in 1844 and in 1872, married Miss Emma Tupper, daughter of "Lieutenant-Colonel Tupper" of Woodstock. They had three children Bessie, Annie, and Cecil.

   "After that census in Woodstock, they must have moved away because I can't find any trace of them at all," said Wright. "Sometimes I wish James Smith's name had been something like Osgood Peabody, Smith is a pretty hard name to trace."

   The seventh child, Samuel, was born in 1846 and married Margaret Elizabeth Harrison, daughter of "Hugh Harrison, Esq." Of Woodstock. They had five children, James, Samuel, Arthur, Frederick, and Eva.

   "As with Robert, there's nothing more to be found on them after 1881." Anyone with any information on James Smith or his descendants is invited to contact us at: Marco Polo Project

The article was taken from the Telegraph-Journal, date unknown.

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