James Moses Smart (1834 - 1895)


James Moses Smart was born on August 27, 1834 1 in Edgar (then Coles) county, Illinois to Joseph Reed Smart and Mary Ann Stuart (nee Darnall) Smart.
The George Clapp Family Record
Illinois birth certificates available only from 1916 onward

His father died when James, the second oldest son, was only eleven years old. At the start of the Civil War James was 27, unmarried, and had no children. He was probably a serious farmer like his father. He must have been more useful to the Union as a farmer raising produce than fighting because he was left to farm during the war. His mother was opposed--being from the South. Yet his younger brother would enlist and be disabled for life.--Randy

In 1850, the Census enumerator found James living with his mother, Mary, sisters: Rachel, Nancy, Susannah, brother Moses and Aquilla (unknown sex) (Jane?).

Marriage - Clapp

On Friday, February 16, 1866 James Smart married Margaret Clapp in Edgar (then Coles) county, Illinois. He was 31 and she was 22. Margaret would outlive James by many years. More about her life and the Clapp family.

Marriage Certification

Life In Minnesota

After they were married, James and Margaret moved to Beaver, Fillmore county, Minnesota, just across the state line from Iowa, along the upper Iowa River. As early as 1854 people began entering the area. Some names have changed since then. The town of Beaver no longer exists. The area is still Fillmore county and is in the southeast corner of Minnesota, forty to fifty miles west of the Mississippi.--Randy


On June 18th the 1870 Census enumerator found James living in Beaver, Fillmore co., Minnesota.

James 33, a farmer with $2620 in real estate
Margaret, 26 F

Mae [Mary] F 3
Rachel F 2
Martha F 8 MOS.

Around 1870-Mary's unknown disfigurement made her picture-shy.


On May 1st the 1875 Census enumerator found James still living in Beaver, Fillmore co., Minnesota.

James 40 - parents born in KY
Margaret 31 - father b. NC, mother b. SC

M. J. [Mary Jane] F 8
F. C. [Rachel Clarinda] F 1 (should be 7)
M. M. [Martha Mandana] M 5
R. A. [Rosy Almira] F 3
S. A. [Susan Amanda] F 1


More on her children. Birth dates below are in accord with the George Clapp Family Record.

  Mary Jane November 27, 1866 1 MN
1870 Census
- 1875 Census
August 25, 1927
Spring Lake, TX
  Rachel Clarinda January 8, 1868 1 MN
1870 Census - 1875 Census
October 1, 1943
Stafford, OK
  Martha Mandana August 13, 1869 1 MN
1870 Census - 1875 Census
May 18, 1956
Port, OK Funeral Card
  Ellen Florence
Died young
March 4, 1871 1 MN August 2, 1871 1
Fillmore Co., MN
Never Married
No results/listing at Find-A-Grave for either Ellen or Florence Smart in Minnesota.
  Rosella Almira February 13, 1872 1 MN
1870 Census - 1875 Census
April 16, 1963
Port, OK
Never Married
  Susan Amanda October 1, 1873 1 MN
1870 Census - 1875 Census
October 13, 1956
Port, OK
  George Joseph 1875 1 MN
His Page

1934 WA
His Page

His Page
  John William January 15, 1877 1 MN June 24, 1957
Port, OK
Never Married
  Charles Chesterfield February 21, 1879 1 MN June 6, 1957
Hardesty, OK
  Moses Bentley
Died young
February 16, 1882 1 TX November 24, 1882 1
Pilot Point, TX
Never Married


James Ota April 2, 1884 1 TX May 9, 1945
Port, OK
  Grover Cleveland November 27, 1887 1 TX July 26, 1926
Port, OK
Never Married
  Frances Folsom November 27, 1887 1 TX July 11, 1975
Guymon, OK

Land Swap & Move to Texas by Randy

  James traded, sight unseen, his land in Minnesota for land owned by two soldiers (probably Civil War vets) near Plainview in northwest Texas. The family traveled from 1879 until 1882, making their way from Minnesota to Texas, farming along the way. Not a lot is known of their journey but they never finished it as planned.

They stopped about five hundred miles short of Plainview, in Pilot Point, Denton county, Texas to farm until the older children were grown and had some "schooling." Pilot Point is a small community about 40-50 miles north of Dallas and about 50 miles south of Oklahoma. The family didn't have the desire or the funds (or both) to journey another five hundred miles westward nor did they homestead in Oklahoma then.

It is unknown when they got there but it seems they stayed there in the Denton county, Texas area and hung onto the land in Plainview. While the family sharecropped in Northern Texas, the biggest land give-aways of history took place just north of them, peaking in 1889-90. Having lived in Texas for about 13 years, they knew (everyone in Texas knew) what poor land existed all around Plainview. James knew it was near worthless...but it was the only asset he owned!--Randy

The Loss of a Second Child


Moses Bently lived nine months in 1882. This was the second child they lost (a five-month old daughter was lost in Minnesota. His father and grandmother would later be buried next to Moses in Belew Cemetery in Aubrey, Texas.

The original gravestone had barbed wire lettering (as does Mary's). A newer memorial for Moses was set back-to-back against the old one--possibly added when the family moved to Oklahoma.


James Buys A Piece of Texas


James Smart bought 20 (maybe 40) acres of land in the Isaac Walters Survey in Denton county, Texas from R. F. Hudgins for $600 on September 3, 1892. 

Purchase Documents

Title Documention - R. F Hudgins

James Passes On In Texas


James died of a heart attack in a cotton field in Pilot Point, Texas on October 14, 1895 at the age of 61. He is buried in Ballew Cemetery near Aubrey, Texas. Near him is the grave of his mother, Mary (d. 1892) and son, Moses (d. 1882).


After 13 years in Texas, James was suddenly gone. All those years of clearing, tilling, planting, irrigating, and otherwise improving land were hard on James--a guy who had to grow up too quickly when his father died young. It seems James never got over the unfavorable land deal he had made. He and Margaret gave up a life in the fertile lands of southern Minnesota for a future in this dry and dusty place. Eventually they all realized the sad truth: The land in Plainview--the land they owned--the land they never reached--was absolutely the worst land known in these parts. The wind of the "dust bowl" would devastate the area around Plainview--as bad as anywhere. It didn't seem compatible to their fertile farm in Minnesota!

When James died, Margaret decided to take an offer to trade the land for a herd of scraggly horses. This would free them up to move to Oklahoma where the entire family could homestead arable land, buy other land, and farm. The family would prosper as Margaret outlived her husband by almost 15 years. During this time, the family would again realize their dreams of owning good land...even if it wouldn't last very long.--Randy

Margaret and the Family Move On

Credits / Attributions

A lot of this information was from family records. Among these is an 11-paged typed document Titled "The Smart History Ancestry" which I believe was compiled by my mother from her Smart in-laws as well as her husband, Ralph. There are many errors in it, but it serves as a landmark of what they knew collectively--then.

Ronnie Smart, grandson of Charles C. Smart (son above), grew up in Hardesty in the Oklahoma Panhandle. A great deal of our family is still there, some of them named Pafford, Lebouc, Tharp, etc.. Ronnie helped me find my way around to collect scans of important family pictures. This site is dedicated to the memory of his efforts, recorded here.

My recollections, if not supported by other documentation, should be taken as my best guesses based on my reading of history and all I've learned about my ancestors including sifting through my father's disjointed notes, letters, etc.--Randy


  1 The George Clapp Family Record - A hand-written recap of the significant dates for the George Clapp and James Smart families. This was provided to my Dad, Ralph Smart in the 1960/70s by Frances (nee Smart) Pafford (1887-1975), who did the most research of these families of anyone in her generation and these dates are proving very accurate. She might have had access to bibles and other information not found since. Her records might have been passed on to Marion and Dorothy Pafford. In 2004, they had many of the original family pictures.--Randy