This site marries genealogical fact with narrative stories that are faithfully
rendered from known facts and accepted history. It flows through time, following our ancestors from the 16th Century Scottish Highlands through
devastating war years in America. The information on this page comes from repeated intimate research into the lives of these families. The individual pages are based on facts and these facts have (or need) documentation to facilitate further research. Where this documentation has been obtained, it is linked herein, as appropriate. Where documentation is absent, it should be assumed it is wanted and this effort will make it easily available.
The basic context and scope of this site is defined by the linage of the Smart Family it reflects. Other families
who's history crossed paths with these Smarts include:
Other parts of this site you might want to visit are:
- Histograph : The historical flow of our history, charted.
- Trails : Information on recent descendants.
- Maps : Geographical context.
- Scottish Highlands : Our family origins are thought to go back to Pictish
Research / Contributions
Information on this site has been collected, organization and presented by Randy C. Smart, free and available to any and all. Many others have contributed to this site--some in important ways. These cousins are interested in the information presented on this site as well as the visitors. I hope you'll introduce yourself.
I owe a great deal to my Mother who interested me
in family history. She opened my eyes to many things. Dad was a great deal of help in many ways. I've come to understand
him and appreciate the life he has lived through the experience of
studying our ancestors.
My second cousin, Ronnie
Smart, who grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle, opened my eyes to
see there existed the detail to write a story of this family. Many stories and important pictures came from Marion Pafford of Hardesty,
Oklahoma. His mother, Frances, was proud of her family and saved a
great deal of history that she and Marion have shared with all of
us. The stories Clara Smart Dew wrote about the weather, kids wondering
off, and all kinds of trivia really helped me feel like I was there.
The Internet and it's affect on history as well as the future are
astounding. I would have never met Ronnie if it wasn't for the Internet
but the advantages only start there. I appreciate those many other family
historians who selfishly provided glimpses into our family history..
chronicles one family's
trials, tribulations, struggles
and triumphs during an era unique in all of history. These
family stories are part of the bigger history of early American settlers.
lives were much the same as other pioneering farmers of their times.
struggles could even be called ordinary.
But it is because their lives were typical and because the times were
that these stories offer a tantalizing glimpse back
Their times were incredible
--the likes of which we may never see again. Never
has there been so much arable virgin land to farm. And there were many farmers
to farm it--farmers who's souls longed for
a chance to prosper, unencumbered
by the machinations of despots. An
entire continent was opening up and freedom reigned!
As farming people, they had
always gambled with their very existence, pitting their personal efforts
against the vagaries of nature. The burden they carried in the Old World
had been unbearable and
land reforms had only made matters worse.
stark contrast, America provided a
completely unique opportunity for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people
to own land.
for land, especially land that
had never been put to the plow,
brought them to New England from where they scrambled
ever-westward, taking advantage of the open land.
as land began to get harder to find, farmers could no longer move
good farm land was under the plow. That golden age of open land--an
age lasting over a hundred years--came to its inevitable end.
Today scientific farming
methods boost yields and minimize
land depletion. Irrigation Districts
provide water. Farmers continue to farm the same land.
Bank financing, crop prices and international price fluctuations became
the everyday worries of the modern farmer.
Those free and heady days
of "settling" virgin land were over. Simply turn over the soil and, if it rains, times were easy. But maybe...just maybe...they
won't be completely forgotten. We should remember the trials
they faced amid the joy they found. It was an important and exciting time
The slavery quandary seem to affected everyone deeply. Slavery, accepted
by the founders of the US in order to throw off the greater yoke of Colonialism,
only festered with time--an unacceptable part of our Union, flying in
the face of the fine words of the Declaration of Independence, where ALL
men were "created equal."
The struggle of the nation to throw off this yoke forced Americans to
reconcile their noble ideas with their economic realities. As Lincoln
realized, the issue was not divisible along the Mason-Dixon Line. If the
South broke away, it would only change the political boundaries--mills
in the North, as much a part of the slavery equation as the southern plantations,
would continue to reap profits from the labor of the slaves.
This real and pressing quandary prompted a great deal of soul-searching
in most circles as well as renewed metaphysical exploration. Great socio/economic
and moral rifts opened between citizens/states. The social upheaval in
Illinois was every bit as intense as it was anywhere. Heated discussions
erupted almost everywhere people gathered. Almost within earshot of our ancestors, Lincoln
and Douglass examined the arguments and defined important issues
as the entire World looked on. Religious zeal spawned many sects
during this period--some of them nearby.
Joseph Reed Smart and Mary Ann Stewart Darnall
both helped settle the Wabash River Valley of Illinois after moving from
Kentucky in the 1820s, when they were young. Joseph died there in 1845.
Mary went with her son James and his family to Texas where
she and her son would die.
James Moses Smart married Margaret Clapp in 1866 and moved
to Minnesota. They farmed there until 1879
when they traded their rich cultivated land for bad land, sight unseen,
in Plainview, Texas.
After the death of James Smart in 1895, the Oklahoma Territory was opening
up. His survivors moved to Oklahoma and homesteaded a quarter-section
on the Washita River, just west of Clinton.
Around 1909, when the Oklahoma Panhandle area opened to settlers, one of James sons, Charles
Chesterfield Smart, was with the first settlers in
the Hardesty area at the center of the Panhandle. Others in the Smart/Pafford
families were to have a substantial influence on the Hardesty area and descendants
still live there today.
for a time/place breakdown.
Mary and Joseph grew up in different parts of Kentucky. By the 1820s,
Kentucky and Tennessee had become "old" frontier. Farmland was
showing signs of overuse. Mary and Joseph's families, like so many others,
were caught up in the rush to be the first to farm the rich lands and
lush river valleys of this virgin land to the west. The farmers certainly appreciated
the value of verdant land, fallow since the Ice Age--much of it covered
with good trees, just begging to be plowed.
Land! Glorious land--opening up ahead of them as they went westward.
Life suddenly offered them renewed hopes and blessed them with idyllic
dreams. They saw a bright and serene future where hard work on rich land
could be rewarded. This was all a farmer could want.
In these times, families found prime land to settle in the
newly-opened Wabash River Valley. Illinois provided the answer to their
prayers. Their dreams of a new life were amply fulfilled by the rich affordable
farmland and the civilized community they found here in this beautiful
valley. They settled down to have children--content to grow old on the
farm surrounded by family and friends.
The Smarts, Darnalls, and Clapps teamed up with other families to raise
barns and clear fields, realizing the benefits of sharing backs, ideas
and information. By working together, they also benefited in other ways.
Harvest dances, country fairs, as well as political and religions get-togethers
provided plenty of stimulating social diversions.
Over the years, the farmers of the Wabash Valley grew very close. Held
together by their network of friends and family, the Smarts survived the
death of their patriarch, Joseph, at the young age of 46. Mary and the
children fell safely into the bosom of her mother, sisters, brothers uncles,
aunts and cousins who lived and farmed in the area.
But the world around them was convulsing with ever-increasing spasms
that would eventually destroy the peace. Mary's family (Darnall/Stewart)
were caught up on both sides of the Civil War and its social and economical
conflicts. Their large American family was of English origin with branches
in both southern-leaning Kentucky and in Maryland--which was put under
the strong arm of Lincoln due to its strategic location.
If Mary could not convince them otherwise, her sons would be fighting
with the Illinois Regiment of the Union Army against their Darnall and
Stewart cousins. Mary persuaded James to avoid the fighting. He married
Margaret Clapp, a local farm girl. He met her at one of the harvest dances
or a wedding of a friend. Her father was a farmer who's family immigrated
from Germany. When war broke out, James and Margaret moved to Minnesota
to farm and raise a family.
However, James's younger brother, Moses Jackson Smart was youthful, plucky
and all-too-anxious to serve. He was almost immediately wounded early
in the war and lived the rest of his life on a disability pension.
After the War and its subsequent aftermath, the West still beckoned.
James traded his cultivated Minnesota land for land in Plainview, Texas.
He left with his family on an incredible journey of many years, living
in covered wagons. Along the way, they took what farm work they could
get, developing skills they would need to dry farm in the West.
Years later, while still farming for others in Texas--still working their
way towards Plainview--James died. Margaret, with eleven children (five
older girls, four young boys, and a young set of boy-girl twins), realized
better land could be found in Oklahoma--men and women of means could homestead
on newly-opened land with water to irrigate with.
Although still greenhorns, Margaret sent the older boys off through the
Badlands of Northwest Texas on a long journey to trade their
land--the land they failed to reach--for horses. After the boys returned,
this 51 year old widow, together with the entire family, loaded up the
wagons and drove the livestock to land just west of Clinton, Oklahoma,
where they filed a patient on a quarter-section right on the Washita River.
They survived on the open plains by digging in, building shelters using
the red sod under their feet and whatever else they could obtain. Life
was hard for them at times. Over the years, they would face crop failures,
infestations, tornadoes, falling crop prices, inflation, epidemics, and
dust storms. Some managed to hold onto their land to try yet another year.
For others, it was West, always West.
As good land became scarce, their lives changed. The Great Depression,
the Dust Bowl , and two World Wars were to scatter the family to almost
every corner of the Western States. That glorious time when verdant sections
of affordable land were available for stout, enterprising people from
all around the globe, had eventually come to an inevitable end.
Long gone were those glorious days spent farming in the warm company
of family and friends. Gone were all those many wonderful years shared
with family and close friends in the Wabash Valley.
Geography / Maps
- The best family pictures, are reflected herein. If you have access
to or know of the existence of other pictures or memorabilia that might
be shared, please contact me by e-mail. Hi-resolution
pictures files are available, suitable for printing. E-mail your request,
including the filename if possible, to: email@example.com.
- Maps can add another level of understanding and texture to your
history experience. Maps come up in separate windows so you can toggle
back and forth (Alt - Tab) while reading stories. Click the Geography
link anytime to access the full map menu.
History [PDF] - Excerpts and pictures from previously published document
such as the Hardesty History book and other unknown resources.
A chronological listing of significant events in the Oklahoma Panhandle
Distribution of Smart Families in 1920 America.
Future descendants should challenge these details
in an effort to continue sorting out and expanding our shared history--I
have only roughed it in and organized it.
- Randy C. Smart
Port Angeles, Washington
( 360 ) 775-5079