Hannah Smith – Part 3

Great Uncle George's grave marker in Utah

Great Uncle George’s grave marker in Utah

This much I know about Hannah Smith…two sisters, Vesta and  Parmelia, her daughter Fanny, and her mother Rachel all appear to have died with lung issues.  Hannah’s mother Rachel’s death certificate says she died of lung fever.  Hannah’s sister Parmelia died in a sanitorium in NY.  Although Vesta outlived her husband Benjamin Nichols who survived the Civil War, she eventually died of consumption.  Hannah’s daughter Ellen, my second great-grandmother (my paternal grandmother’s grandmother) died at age 42.  I am still searching for Ellen’s death certificate, but she had two of her 16 children a few years before her death.

Hannah Smith’s brother George travelled west settling in Woodruff, Rich County Utah.  The census does not identify his religion, but given Mormons settled this area and he apparently had several wives simultaneously, I think he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.  George seems to have acquired female household members with children.  Given they are in the generation that fought the Civil War, where so many men died, it almost seems that in the early days of this church, some men took widows with children as additional wives (like the Old Testament?).


Generally, social change arises from demographic and economic considerations.  When they could, family members took the widows and orphans under their wings.  There were many instances of this in my family.

 Before the government became big brother, families made arrangements for their own members.  And not just the orphaned children.  When George left for Utah, Rachel Smith, who had lived with her son, stayed in New Hampshire with daughter Vesta Smith Nichols until she died.  Vesta’s SIL Lois Jackson Nichols (Thomas’ wife) travelled back to New Hampshire from Wisconsin to live with her brother Warren Jackson and his wife Fanny Nichols Jackson (Thomas’ sister). When Warren died, Lois stayed on with Fanny and her son (Lois’ nephew Luvill) until she died. (This confuses me too, but writing about it helps me explain it to me.)

All these families identified as farm families in the censuses of agriculture, however, small industries, paper mills and the like were present from the gitgo.  Many people worked in these mills and maintained homes in farm communities.

All this disappeared in the twentieth century. In 1975, when I visited what was a town over 150 years ago, I found pine trees and road markers identifying the place.  Today this area is a nature preserve owned by businessmen from New York and Boston.  Its nice the land is green again, probably protected by the Nature Conservancy, but what became of the people?  The children scattered to the four winds, across the USA and overseas. Today, people don’t take in widows and orphans, the state does. Is this the progress we live with?

14 thoughts on “Hannah Smith – Part 3

  1. I am absolutely amazed with the research you’ve done and what you’ve discovered. It’s so fascinating. And yes, I’ve heard tons about Medicaid fraud. It’s a shame.


    • This isn’t a black or white situation. Generally, the idea of helping each other is a good one, it’s just a badly abused idea when too many people are takers and never were or become givers.

      When my SIL died leaving my daughter with four children, we did everything we could to help them, as did the other grandparents. Nevertheless, they were very dependent on Medicaid. The girls have all grown up to become contributing members of society who pay taxes.

      The problem isn’t the program. The problem is the corruption associated with the people who work with the program…corrupt medical staff and bureaucrats. Whenever someone tries to reform this program, they are tossed to the wolves…politically. So, the other problem is voters who are willfully ignorant.


      • I wasn’t thinking about the political aspects. It is the anniversary of my Mother’s cancer and death and my sister and I had been talking about taking care of her and how hard that was until Hospice stepped in, but even then, there had to be someone there all the time and there were pain meds and diapers and Medicaid was wonderful


      • Always a difficult situation. I am sure you have heard of people who have taken advantage of Medicaid…like Carol Mosley Braun. She lost her Congressional seat over the scandal involving her mother.

        After that a regulation stipulated that one had to have sold their house five years before applying for Medicaid. In my In-laws case, when my FIL died and MIL was in a nursing home, their house was sold to help reimburse Medicaid costs. All too often, that does not happen.


      • My Mother’s estate had no money to pay the county back even with her house which made us feel bad, but she had only been on Medicaid for last 2 years of her life


      • I am certain you did the best you could. I was thinking of Robert in my office who put his mother in a retirement home. He and his brother sold her house which fetched 1.5 million dollars. I know how much it went for because the house is five blocks from our house, and David sold real estate at the time. Robert told me the property was “his inheritance.” He said they wanted to sell the place before “mother” became impoverished and needed Medicaid. Meanwhile he and his wife retired on government pensions to their farm outside the Metro area where they run a prosperous cheese business.

        I could relay other stories but it’s all too disgusting. Your mother’s case is not the same. I know you did the best you could and I am happy Medicaid helped you.


      • Oh no, that isn’t right. We paid for her cremation and other things. When we consulted an attorney, he said that Medicare was first in line as a creditor, but there was no money at all…. It cost us all money.


  2. In a way it is sad that things are not like they were but it would be quite difficult nowadays to take in family members. Houses and apartments are much smaller, families have moved apart, there are divorces and patchwork families where no members are of the same bloodline, jobs take people far afield and men and women go out to work. Even fathers and mothers are parked in institutions when they are old.

    We live in uncaring times. Or maybe just in modern and different times. Besides, would you like to be dependent on the charity of family members who may care little for you? I don’t.


  3. Well, if a man has enough money to support several women and their children, go for it. But, these days with the high cost of living, it’s next to impossible to do that. For that reason, government assistance would be welcome.


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