Monroe Smock, Kentucky

Dr. Marji Smock Stewart, my late mother-in-law, wrote her family story for her son and grandsons. She called it “Finding the Rivers.” She shared it with other family members too and I think would be happy to see it online. Here is an excerpt about her father Monroe Smock and his father John Thomas Smock, from Daviess County, Kentucky. (Also see her Smock family tree.)

Finding the Rivers – Part I

marji dog duchess and monroe smock 1944
daughter Marji, dog Duchess and Monroe Smock abt. 1944, Owensboro KY (tap to enlarge)

John Thomas Smock 1863-1944

Granddad John Thomas Smock and his family of three kids (George, Leora and Monroe) plus my grandmother Cora lived in an old red house near the bridge and curve on Curdsville Road.

In his youth, Granddaddy was a real working cowboy. He worked in the plains States, following the wheat harvest, riding his horse from one area to another. We’re talking circa 1880. Granddaddy rode a horse almost until his death in 1944. He was an avid reader of old Western cowboy novels all his life.

John Thomas must have been working in South Dakota when he met Cora Delia Kohrdt. They married about 1880. Cora’s parents were German immigrants. Her father was Otto Kohrdt. My aunt Leora was born in Elk Point, South Dakota and probably that was also true of the eldest son, George. Their youngest, Monroe Thomas Smock, was born in Monroe, Louisiana. They moved to Daviess County, Kentucky, when Monroe was very young.

In Kentucky, the Smocks lived a typical farm life but apparently Granddad did well enough to acquire more property. There were a few farm hands who did the hard labor. My Daddy learned to work on the machinery and keep it in top running order. At some point John Thomas built the big house on the bend that I remember being my grandfather’s house. I never knew grandmother Cora. She died of breast cancer April 17, 1911 when Daddy was 15.

Not too long after Cora died, Granddaddy went to Tennessee with a team of horses, pulling a big wagon. When he returned home. his children recalled, he pulled up to the house with a new wife, Lena Denton, and her four children and their belongings. In 1915 Lena and John Thomas had a baby girl: Edna Mae Smock, later Glenn.

Monroe Smock 1896-1980

Also in 1915, my father Monroe married Cecile Sims. He was about 19. Their son, Hugh Kenneth, was born May 23, 1916. Monroe and Cecile were divorced when Hugh was very young. World War I was brewing so Monroe joined the US Navy. He became a machinist and was stationed in Philadelphia before shipping overseas.

monroe smock 1917-18Perhaps it was this experience on a ship, far below the deck, removed from fresh air and sunlight, that caused Monroe to think “If I ever have a chance, I’m going to be a ship’s pilot.” Those working on the engines had to stay on ship and work in the heat to “ready the engines” while those assigned to topside got to go ashore when the ship pulled into dock. Probably young Monroe knew what he was missing.

After the Armistice in 1919, Monroe returned to Kentucky and I assume he farmed. Granddaddy had given his daughter Leora (Denton) a farm (his first one with the red house on Curdsville Road). This might have been when Granddaddy gave Monroe a very small farm at the back of his bigger one, which backed up on Green River.

Elizabeth McDonald 1889-1991

In the meantime, down the road towards Curdsville, Lum and Sarah McDonald’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth, had returned home from Louisville. She became secretary/bookkeeper for her brothers Joe and Homer, who owned a coal mine near Henderson KY.

elizabeth-mcdonald-ca-1918At some point Monroe and Elizabeth renewed an acquaintance and began “seeing each other.” After all, they had lived most of their lives about 5 miles from each other. The old Curdsville Baptist Church history shows the Smock, McDonald and Denton families had been clerks, Deacons, Sunday School Superintendents etc. since the 1800s. In a small village, everyone knows each other.

On Dec 1, 1921 Monroe and Elizabeth tied the knot in Evansville IN with Rev. Rake officiating. Elizabeth Weldon and Homer McDonald stood up with them as witnesses. Elizabeth was Mother’s childhood chum and later in 1922 married Homer, Mother’s closest brother. The two Elizabeths were friends as well as sisters-in-law for almost 80 years.

The newlyweds moved to the little farm on Green River. Somehow farming didn’t hold them, although they had a daughter, Betty Jean, born in 1924 in Curdsville.

Texas

In 1927 Mother was pregnant again but Monroe and Elizabeth, with 3 year old Betty, packed up and moved to west Texas. Ranger TX was not too far west of Fort Worth but it was the beginning of the dry country. The oil fields promised good employment, plus a small house on site was provided to married men.

Living on a lease was dirty and very different from the green fields of Kentucky. The house was right out among the huge wooden rigs, unprotected from rambunctious kids. The wind blew continually and dust was everywhere, except it was often mixed with dark sticky stuff – black gold.

In early fall 1927 Daddy received an invitation to go to one of the prime Texas hunting spots for deer with a group of men. Mother wasn’t pleased, but somehow I politely waited for my daddy to come home before I put in my appearance. On October 14, 1927, I, Marjorie Ann Smock, was born.

Kentucky and Missouri

Apparently the oil boom turned bust and when I was still young Monroe took his three gals and went back to Kentucky. Perhaps he had been lured by invitations from Homer and Joe McDonald, Mother’s brothers. Homer and Joe had a towboat, the Sarah Mac (named for their mother), built for use on Green River in Kentucky. It probably was used in moving barges of coal around, or towing barges of coal to buyers in Evansville, IN. Daddy had the offer to master her so he and Mother followed his dream again.

Around 1930 Daddy got an offer to take the Sarah Mac to Missouri. I know nothing about the financial arrangement with Homer and Joe, but the idea challenged Monroe. There was Green River, the Ohio River, the mighty Mississippi River and briefly the Missouri River to navigate prior to finding the little Osage River that ran through the Ozarks. I don’t know if Daddy had been on any rivers other than the Green and the Ohio near Daviess and Henderson Counties in Kentucky until then.

So off Daddy went, hopefully to make a better life. Mother and her girls stayed in Kentucky, waiting for word. “First find the river” was a challenge to face Daddy throughout his life. When we would go to a new place, the byword always was, “first find the river.” That was our compass.

betty-marji-1931The depression was in full swing and, knowing my mother, she was concerned about the family’s future and how her two girls would fare. Would Elizabeth leave the comfort of being in Kentucky where many of her siblings and her mother lived? Monroe and Elizabeth had an exceptional love for each other. Would it stand this test? It wouldn’t be easy, as we shall see, but theirs was a tenacious bond. It lasted almost sixty years!

Next time: Elizabeth and the girls join Monroe Smock in Missouri.

Stephen Gallant

stephen gallant elizabeth-gaudet-stephenville-kevin-brake-youtube-aug-11-2007This St. John’s Evening Telegram article is about Stephen Gallant and his wife Elizabeth Gaudet of Stephenville, Bay St. George. From 1942, calculating from the month and day shown. That year also fits with the information in the article.

I found this better reproduction of the article’s photo of the Gallants on YouTube, posted by Kevin Brake. There’s lots of great old pictures of Stephenville, so enjoy looking back!

Stephenville’s Grand Old Man is Ninety-Five

Settlement is named after him
By S. E. N. Cox

Stephenville, April 30 – One of the grand old men of Newfoundland is Mr. Stephen Gallant, 95 years of age, who was the first one to be born in Stephenville, which is named for him. Mrs. Stephen Gallant, his second wife, is 85 years old.

He made a sea trip early in life, for he was taken to Cape Breton when he was only two months old, to be baptized.

Mr. Gallant has three sons and three daughters – the oldest son is 67 years of age. He has no idea of the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren he has.

He was married the first time when he was 22. His present wife does not speak English, only Cape Breton French. His father died at 68 years of age and his mother at 90.

After a lifetime spent as a farmer and a fisherman, Mr. Gallant does not wear glasses and still seems to be in good health. He lives in a well-kept house, which is clean and comfortable and where hospitality is warmly extended.

Mr. Gallant thinks airplanes are wonderful things, but has no desire to fly in one of them. He does not resent the intrusion of Americans or the American base.

stephen gallant 1942 Evening Telegram article

Stephen Gallant Family Tree

Like Mr. Gallant, I don’t know for sure how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren he had. A lot! Here is his family tree, from his children up through his parental lines, as best as I can make it. They go from Newfoundland back to what was Acadia, particularly Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.

Stephen Gallant ancestry chart dstewart
Click/tap for larger view of chart

His first wife was Flora Delaney. After she died, he married Elizabeth Gaudet. I found ancestry trees naming a seventh child from his second marriage. However, this article only mentions six children. I have included all seven – four daughters and three sons – but I don’t know if that’s accurate.

Amazon link Back of the Pond by Mercedes Benoit-PenneyIn her Back of the Pond, Mercedes Benoit-Penney tells the Acadian and Mi’kmaq history of Stephenville before the American base. Like Stephen Gallant, she is descended from Etienne Leblanc and Anne Marie Cormier. She also discusses the genetic condition known as Allerdice Syndrome found among their descendants. Tap image for Amazon.ca link.

Why watch Corrie?

It’s been just over a year since I stopped watching Coronation Street. I still record it, and read the on-screen synopses as I delete episodes.

why watch corrie delete episodes screen photo dstewartHave I been tempted to watch? Yes. Some days when I just feel like flopping on the couch and not checking on the Donald Trump Comedy/Horror Hour. Or when the two line synopsis makes me curious. What’s happening with Carla, I wonder. But I have not watched even one episode.

I do think about the show and why it’s now okay with me to let it go. After all, Coronation Street has been an important part of my life. Having no profound thoughts of my own, I thought google it. See if there’s any new critical or analytic insights into the show and/or viewership.

Ask Google: “Why watch Coronation Street”

Below is the best of what came up on the first page.

nan was so excited print carakansala.comThis delightful print is by Cara Kansala of Grumpy Goat Gallery in Newfoundland. Tap for a larger view of it or go to carakansala.com to see more of her work.

Why watch in Canada, British guy asks

why watch in Canada Reddit questionThe poster on Reddit is surprised that Coronation Street is on prime-time in Canada. Tap to enlarge the image and you’ll be able to read the whole exchange. In short, the answer says that Canada is part of the British diaspora and therefore reminders of “home” are popular. I have no stats on it, but I’d be surprised if it was the reason most Canadian fans watch, even long-time ones.

twitter watch from beginningWell, you could watch from the beginning if you wanted to. Box sets are available. I don’t think they include every episode. But you could get a good sense of the show. Even in condensed form, though, it would be a very big project. And it probably has been done.

yahoo answer what kind of audience and why watchThese Yahoo answers made me laugh out loud. Especially “the kind of people who have lost the remote.”

“A half hour of my life…”

facebook comment hard to give it up“Hard to give it up after 45-50 years!” Maybe that’s still the best insight of all. You know the people. So no matter how silly they’re being, or boring, you stick with them.

At the top of the search results  page was Milo the dog on YouTube. For good reason. He could quickly and easily answer that thorny question of why we watch. So he can sing along with the theme music.