George Rappeen Smith, founder of the city of Sedalia, MO., was born August 17, 1804, in Powhatan County, Virginia. Of his maternal ancestry but little is known beyond the fact that his mother, Sally Heydon, was born September 3, 1777, of Ezekiel and Sarah Heydon, and that she was the second wife of Mr. Smith's father, who was her second husband. Of the paternal ancestry and early years of Mr. Smith the following account is given by his daughter, Mrs. M. E. Smith:
Our father was the fourth in immediate lineal descent from George Smith, -- the first of the family of whom we have any authentic record, -- who settled in Powhatan county, Virginia, some time early in the eighteenth century. It is said by the accounts from which we get information that he emigrated in his boyhood from his home in the eastern part of the colony, and that he amassed a considerable fortune in lands and Negroes.
Thomas, the only known son of George and Ann Smith, was born December 29, 1719, and died September 25, 1786, aged sixty-six years and nine months; he succeeded to his father's estate and spent his entire lifetime at the homestead in Powhatan County. Thomas was the father of six children, having three times married, a son and a daughter being the fruit of each union. The youngest son was named James; the two older sons were each named George: the one was called George Stovall Smith, and the other (our grandfather) was known among his friends and associates as "Mill-pond George," from the fact that his father's home was located near a large pond known as "the mill-pond." He was born March 15, 1747, and died August 9, 1820, aged 73 years and 5 months.
When the Baptists first preached in that neighborhood the two older sons were among the converts to the new faith. When the Methodists followed at a somewhat later period, the remaining members of the family were among the first fruits of their preaching. The father, who had been an adherent of the Church of England, now became a zealous supporter of the doctrines of Methodism, and the conference of 1780 was held at his house. James, the youngest son, became a Methodist minister, and attained considerable eminence among that people for his eloquence and piety.
The two older sons, meanwhile, had become exhorters and ministers to the Baptist faith. In 1780 George Stovall Smith moved from Virginia to Jessamine County, Kentucky, where he assumed the care of a church. Five years later he was visited by his brothers George and James, and the visit was repeated by James in 1795, and by both brothers in 1797. Interesting journals of the scenes and incidents of these trips to Kentucky and back were kept by both George and James Smith. The journal of the former was destroyed by fire after the removal of his son to Missouri, but the journal of the latter is still in existence. Mention in it is made of the sermons preached by the reverend travelers at different points along the way; it records much friendly controversy touching religious differences between the two, but in every page it glows with the expressions of fervent piety and brotherly love.
George Smith, our grandfather, succeeded to the care of Powhatan (Baptist) church in 1784, upon the removal of the former pastor to Kentucky. He also became pastor of Skinquarter and Tomahawk churches in Chesterfield County. These continued under his ministry until 1804, when he removed to Kentucky, after having previously visited that country, according to our accounts, ten times. He first stopped in Woodford County, but shortly afterwards bought land in Franklin County and removed there. Here he was separated from William Hickman, his old friend and yoke-fellow in the church, only by Elkhorn creek. In their younger days the two had been knit together in soul, like David and Jonathan; and thenceforth the two old veterans of the Cross lived together like brothers indeed until they were separated by death. At the time when Grandfather Smith arrived in Kentucky there was much excitement about the slavery question. He warmly espoused the anti-slavery side and gave his full strength to its advocacy. This made him somewhat unpopular among the Kentucky churches; but he continued to preach from time to time.
Our grandfather Smith, like his father, was married three times. His first wife was Judith Guerrant, daughter of Peter and Magdalene Guerrant (born October 17, 1745; married October 20, 1765; died July 4, 1801), by whom he had two children, Mary Ann (born April 16, 1767; married to William Forsee, September 20, 1783; died January 1, 1806, aged 38 years) and Esther (born April 19, 1768; married James Martin, September 22, 1785; died November 28, 1808, aged 40 years, 7 months). Our father, the only son of our grandfather, was the child of the second wife, Sally Heydon, to whom he was married March 31, 1803. She died December 5, 1804; and on December 10, 1805, he married Elizabeth Dupuy, the widow of James Fogg (daughter of Bartholomew and Mary Dupuy; born August 31, 1766; married to James Fogg, December 11, 1799. A daughter, Martha Ann, whose short life came to an end in less than two years, was the sole fruit of this union.
Our father was born at the old home in Virginia on August 17, 1804, and was christened George Rappeen (or Rapin) Smith. Within a few weeks after this event the family started on their journey to Kentucky. The rough roads occasioning severe jolting to the occupants of the wagons, the kindhearted Negro nurse of the infant volunteered to carry him in a casket. The mother of the babe did not survive the establishing of a new home in the West. At the tender age of four months the child was left motherless, and was then transferred to the care of his half-sister Esther, wife of Mr. James Martin, who having a son of about the same age, became his foster mother. In the latter part of the same year, this sister with her family moved to the adjoining county of Woodford, taking the babe with them; and there he remained until the death of Mrs. Martin, about three years later. In the meantime the Rev. George Smith married his third wife, and after the death of Mrs. Martin the child was again taken to the home of his father.
Source: Harding, Samuel Bannister, The Life of George R. Smith (Sedalia: Privately Printed, 1904)
Submitter: Velma Sippie