Planting by the Signs Calendar - May 2017
Snow in May

The Smathers of Haywood County

John Smathers and Mary Agner Smathers Haywood County - Shook-Smathers House

Photo courtesy of The Shook Museum - Clyde, Haywood County NC

A few weeks back the girls and I attended the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School which was held in the Shook Museum in Clyde, NC. This is the second year we've been able to attend and we had a terrific time. We've been fortunate to get to know Quay's daughters, Liz and June, who we have much in common with.

We all come from musical families and The Deer Hunter grew up in the Dutch Cove area of Canton that Quay's family lived in and that June still lives in today.

During this year's singing school June pointed out the photo above and read the words below from a document that belongs to the museum.

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John Smathers b 17 Dec 1781 Pa d Feb 10 1825 Haywood Co NC 44y + Mary Agner May 10 1803 NC b Jan 1776 d Nov 28 1868 NC Haywood Co 92y

Mary Agner lived until her death at age 94 in the old Shook House, which still stands. She was there when the famous Methodist circuit rider Francis Asbury stayed as a guest. Her dress was exhibited until recently in the house which has become a museum.

John Smathers and his wife, Mary Agner Smathers, moved from Pennsylvania into Piedmont North Carolina, and, after the Revolution, found their way into what is now Haywood County. 

They selected a home spot somewhere in the neighborhood of the present site of Canton, or near Turnpike by 1815 to escape Rowan Co’s disease stricken community. Here they made their home and reared a family.

The children of John and Mary Agner Smathers were Isaac, Charlie, Mary, George, Jesse, and Levi. The children all grew to maturity in Haywood county and married there.

Among Mary Agner Smathers’ prized possessions was a book written in 1795 in German, containing songs, prayers, and sermons by Martin Luther. That book is in the possession of Janice Smathers and her bro Julian. “An inscription on the fly leaf of this old volume, with its brittle paper and ink faded almost beyond deciphering, has preserved the key which opens a door into past history of the Smathers family before its first members came across the Blue Ridge to the Pigeon River,” Patton wrote. “There in German script, appears the record, which translated reads: Johannes Smetter was born 17th Dec 1781 Pennsylvania.”

I had the front pages of the Smathers German book translated by a German Scientist I work with and is attached for your information and use as well as a photo.

Courtesy of 6x grandau Rebecca from her Smather’s family album collection.

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List of children:

Isaac (Eiseg) William 2/7/1804 Rowan died: 10/23/1835
George Fredrick (The Yorg) 9/9/1807 Rowan died: 6/24/1894
Jesse 12/19/1811 Rowan died: 2/20/1879
Mary ‘Loni’ Smathers 4/20/1816 Haywood died: 9/21/1855
Levi, 9/9/1817 Haywood died: 3/4/1896
Charles ‘Charley’ 7/21/1819 Haywood died: 12/8/1906

Added by Junior Ramsey 7/18/2016

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As June shared the story of John and Mary I felt goosebumps rise up on both my arms as I thought about the Smathers family who've called Haywood County home for over 200 years. Thinking about the longevity of the family line in the same general area and the heritage, music, and culture continuing to be passed down even until this day, made me wish I could send John and Mary a message and tell them they did good. 

If you ever get the chance drop by the Shook Museum for a visit. The old house is beautiful, especially the third floor chapel, and the folks who run the museum are very informative and friendly.

Tipper

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Comments

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In response to Ron Stephen's comment, yes the Smetters/Smathers immigrated from Germany and Dutch Cove was originally known as the German Cove, or Deutsch Cove.
More than likely we were Moravians.
Thanks for posting about my ancestors and telling our story Tipper!
June Smathers-Jolley

Your recent posts brought back great memories from my childhood of dinner-on-the-grounds at the little church in Dutch Cove where Quay Smathers led shape-noted singing. My great-uncle had married one of Quay's sisters, and we were always invited to their wonderful musical/dinner gatherings at Morning Star Methodist Church. Surely do miss those days!!

I respectively disagree with Miss Cindy. The vast majority of people are musically inclined. A few are talented at making music. The rest of us are talented at listening! I may not be able to make world class music but I am right up there at the top when it comes to listening.

They almost don't look real, so solemn! I remember their names from living in Canton but I never knew any of the Smathers. My family was not musically inclined.

Some random comments on the Smathers and the Shooks:

A great-grandson of John (or Johannes) and Mary, William Marion Smathers, was one of the group headed by Jim Stikeleather which acquired all the property on Hazel Creek which had been owned (and stripped) by Ritter Lumber Company. W.M. had a store on the east side of Hazel Creek at Proctor.

George Smathers, another great-grandson, was an attorney for Champion Fibre who helped clear up the mess involving Cherokee lands at the turn of the 20th century. Based on knowledge acquired from this effort, he wrote a book, The History of Land Titles in Western North Carolina which not only covers the lands but has good information on the peoples.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece for the Univ. of TN Great Smoky Mountains Colloquy, a quarterly newsletter by the UT Libraries (see link below). The subject was sort of a speculation - "Who were the First Settlers of the Smokies?" The reason I point toward this is that clearly among the earliest settlers on Oconaluftee (which was the first portion of the NC side of the Smokies to be settled) were John Hyde and his wife, Elizabeth Shook. Elizabeth was the daughter of Jacob Shook, who built part of the Shook-Smathers house which is now the museum.

http://www.lib.utk.edu/smokies/colloquy/colloquy.16.1.pdf

The Smathers family has cast a wide net over not just Haywood County, but much of western North Carolina.

Tipper: Your post makes me want to just go back to NC this weekend! We were over last weekend for Jim's favorite cousin's (BILL WIKE) funeral and burial in East Le Port. We will miss wonderful visits and great conversations and STORIES which we always had with Bill! I so wanted him and Jim to write their BOOK. But guess it will remain UNWRITTEN!

Eva

I wonder if the story of the Smetter/Smathers family is a case in point of localities being named "Dutch" because of German ("Deutsch") settlers. That claim is routinely encountered in genealogy work. For example, there is a Dutch Valley in each of Anderson, Knox and Grainger Counties, TN.

I also wonder if the Smetters were Moravian back in the 1700's because the Moravians had three settlements in the NC Piedmont in the Winston-Salem, NC area. My earliest-known ancestor on my Dad's side lived near "the Moravian town" in NC at the time he enlisted in 1780.

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