Thursday, December 16, 2010

Russell Family of Cass, Arkansas

I've been using this blog site to talk about our Smith Family and have neglected the other half of my husband's relatives - the Russells. They are a big family centered in northwestern Arkansas, in the towns of Cass, Ozark, and surrounding areas but, like most families they've dispersed widely and younger Russells now live in far flung places. We live in eastern Colorado which is where Doyle J. Russell, my husband's father, came to live in the early 1930s, and stayed to raise his family. Doyle was one of twelve children born to Addie Jane Mahaffey Russell and Elias Russell, eight of whom were boys (see photo above - Doyle is second from the left). They were a healthy family and all those children reached adulthood and thrived. I know more about the boys than I do the girls simply because Doyle told me more stories about his brothers than his sisters. I plan to post additional information about this interesting branch of the family tree in the upcoming weeks - stay tuned.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rosie the Riveter - Smith Family Version

(photo - Betty Jo Barton and her mother Julia Ellen Smith Barton, circa 1944)
Cheryl Moore, genealogy line....{FRANK....JULIA....BETTY....CHERYL} has a wonderful family photograph of her mother, Betty, and Betty's mother, Julia, taken in 1944 when both worked as riveters on airplanes at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK. Cheryl has offered the photograph and letter written by her mother for publication here for the Smith clan to enjoy. By the way, this subject came up just the week before Halloween because Cheryl's granddaughter, Liza, has chosen a Rosie the Riveter costume for Halloween this year.

Here is Betty Jo Barton Gaston's letter of approx. 2005:

In May of 1943 I, Betty Jo Barton, graduated from Wilson Consolidated School #2. This was a country school 12-1/2 miles SW of Frederick, Okla. My father, TJ Barton, managed the country gin called Red River. That summer he accepted a job with the Coop Cotton Oil Mill at Okla. City and we moved there. We lived on 23rd St. which is a segment of old Highway 66. Traffic zoomed past our house 24 hrs. a day, but I don't remember it bothering anyone because you can and do get used to almost anything.

Now I had to decide what to do. My mother, Julia, and I went to work at Tinker AF Base. I was a clerk-typist and she drove for the civilian motor pool. After a year she became unhappy with her job there and wanted us to apply as riveters. I said, "Mother, are you crazy? We don't know how to rivet?" She said they'd teach us and we entered their 10 day training program. When we finished, they put us on the production line at the Douglas plant there at Okla. City. I think they said the bldg. was a mile long and there wasn't one window in it. That was so we could have worked during a black-out. We were put on the 2nd shift which was from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 but they wouldn't allow kin to work in the same dept. I worked on the tail section and she on the dorsal fin. All our work was with flush rivets. We were only allowed like maybe 40 min. for our noon time. That had to include eating--going to the restroom and smoking. I developed a terrible habit of eating too fast which has stayed with me through the years, and that was 60 yrs. ago!

The pay? My base rate was .75 an hour--but we felt liberated in that we were getting jobs that up to then had only been for men. My future husband, Gwen Gaston, was helping fight the war in France and his monthly pay was $20.00. It was very hard work and very noisy, but so what? WE WERE HELPING WIN A WAR! We worked 6 days a week until our boys hit the Battle of the Bulge and then it was 7 days a week until that crisis eased up.

Life was very hectic at our house. My aunt lived with us and she worked the "grave yard shift" which was from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Juanda, my sister, rode a bus to the downtown highschool. Rose, the younger sister, took a bus to the nearest Jr High school. My little brother walked two blocks to his grade school. He had this huge German Shepard dog that made the trip with him each morning and then returned to school at 3:00 to walk home with him. Part of the time my Dad was in the OKC office but through the week he was mostly on the road as the field representative, visiting the state gins to buy cotton seed.

I do not think the lights nor the stove were ever turned off! We also had to deal with the ration books that were issued to each family member. Certain stamps were designated for canned goods--coffee--sugar--shoes and gas. I don't remember meat or vegs being rationed but you had to go to the ration board and get down on your knees and beg for a permit to buy a tire. Mother and I drove an old 1930 something Ford that had serious fuel pump problems. As we struggled with it one night I told her I felt sure I had nearly pushed it as far as I had ever ridden in it!!

But in some ways the times were good--that people did have jobs. We weren't afraid to shop the stores at all hours of the night..and I hardly remember that we locked our doors. It's a different world today. We've lost so much that we had then. We did have some crime but it was not the "front page" "big time" issue that it is today. How I wish God would grant us some easier times in the coming years.

Betty Gaston

Monday, September 27, 2010

Post Reunion Comments

The second annual Smith Family Reunion in Oklahoma City was well attended and from what I hear enjoyed my many. Attendees came from across the country - Massachusetts to Northern California - and met in Oklahoma City to see one another again. Our Matriarch, Rosie Ellen Farrell, was there with copies of her autobiography and her children and grandchildren. The descendants of John Alvin Smith came out in force - it was wonderful for these two branches of the Julian Alvin Smith family to finally meet and share stories and photographs.

Next year's reunion is planned for Steamboat Springs, Colorado, sometime in June 2011. Preliminary plans call for making the trek from Steamboat Springs over to Moffat County, about ninety miles west of Craig to the homestead sites of James Wesley Smith (and his parents William Franklin and Sarah Frances Buckhanan Smith) and his brother Thomas Alvin Smith (two separate homesteads) in Bear Valley aka Bare Valley. There will also be visits to the cemeteries in Craig and Steamboat Springs.

June 2011 seems far in the future, long after Thanksgiving and Christmas 2010, but we all know how time has a way of excellerating and thrusting us into the future at an alarming rate so please make a mental note to mark your calendars in January for the Third Annual Smith Family Reunion in June 2011.

Any of you who took photographs at this most recent reunion in Oklahoma City - please send them to me, Pam Russell, at, or write me for a snail mail address, as I would like to incorporate them into a 2011 calendar.

For a preview of what you might see at the homestead sites, or at least what previous visitors found go here Homesteads in Bare Valley.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 OKC Smith Clan Reunion

You are invited----------

TO WHAT? The 2010 OKC Smith Clan Reunion!

WHERE? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the HomeTown Buffet located at 3900 NW 63rd Street, OKC. [See directions below]

WHEN? August 13-August 15, 2010

WHY? This reunion is dedicated to the memory of our most common ancestors:
William Franklin Smith and his only full brother, John Alvin Smith. Without Frank and John none of us would be here today.

GUEST LIST? All descendants of Tom Smith, Ernest Smith, Rosie Crain, Julia Barton, Dovie Reynolds, and Addie Auwen plus their friends and families are invited to attend.


Friday, August 13---6 pm---Supper in open dining area at HomeTown Buffet. [Attendance optional]

Saturday, August 14---11 am---Lunch in private dining room at HomeTown Buffet. [Main Event! ]

Saturday, August 14---3 pm---form caravan for drive to Noble OK for pilgrimage to homesteads and grave sites. Meet up at Frank Auwen’s home located at 107 North Fifth Street in Noble. Cousin Frank Auwen will direct us to sites. [See directions below]

Saturday, August 14---8 pm---Supper in open dining area at HomeTown Buffet. [Attendance optional]

Sunday, August 15---11 am---Lunch in private dining room at HomeTown Buffet [Main Event]

Sunday, August 15---7 pm---Supper in open dining area at HomeTown Buffet . [Attendance optional]

NOBLE PILGRIMAGE? On Saturday, August 15, after lunch---about 3 pm---we will caravan to Noble OK to visit John and Frank’s old homestead sites as well as the cemeteries where numerous ancestors are buried. [Attendance optional]

LODGING? The best lodging—for cost and location—found so far is at OKC Airport Motel 6.

FOOD? All scheduled meals are “Dutch Treat” at the HomeTown Buffet. For the Main Events we will have a private room at lunch on both Saturday and Sunday. Optional meals---everyone is welcome to join the Smith Group in the open dining area at HomeTown Buffet for supper on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—or you can eat elsewhere. Your choice.

WEATHER FORECAST? HOT!!! Wear cool, comfortable clothing and stay in air conditioned buildings or at least under a shade tree!

CLOTHING? Dress cool. Clothing should be cool, casual, and comfortable. Blue jeans, slacks, shorts, Tee-shirts, polo shirts, sports shirts, etc. No need for fancy or formal clothing.

QUESTIONS? Information will be posted on If you have questions, contact your personal Mini Host or Email the Reunion Coordinator at or phone 803-996-3567. We would love to hear from you!

PLEASE RSVP to your personal Mini Host so we can roll out the red carpet and welcome you with open arms!



Take Meridian Avenue north from Will Rogers Airport. Turn Right on NW 63rd Street. Go short distance on NW 63rd Street. HomeTown Buffet will be on your left.


Leave HomeTown Buffet and head EAST on NW 63rd Street to Interstate 235.
Go SOUTH on I-235.
Blend onto US 77 S.
Continue on US 77 S exit Noble.
Turn left on E Ash Street.
Turn Right onto N 5th Street.
107 N 5th Street is on the left—[Frank & Adele Auwen’s home]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alvin Smith of Cork Ireland

We have a relative who has gone missing. Yes, the trail is rather cold at this point but I still have hopes of finding traces of his life, and perhaps his burial place. Alvin Smith came to America from Cork, Ireland, probably in the early 1800s. Supposedly he took a Cherokee woman as his wife and they had a son, Julian Alvin Smith, born in Missouri in 1827. Next we find the son, Julian Alvin Smith, in Oklahoma Territory, married to Julia Addeline McConnell and the father of a son, William Franklin Smith, born November 15, 1865. Another son was born to this couple, John Alvin Smith, January 17, 1868, just three weeks before his father's death. From 1827 to 1865 I have no records showing where Alvin Smith or his son Julian Alvin Smith lived, worked, married, etc. Julian Alvin Smith died February 7, 1868, age 41, in a border clash between Indians and settlers, leaving a young wife and two small sons. But did he have another family before his marriage to Julia? And what became of his father and Indian mother? Did they have other children? What a mystery.

As for why Alvin Smith came to the U.S., there is a good website about Irish Immigration that explains it better than I can. I don't know how much time passed from when he arrived on the eastern seaboard until he fathered a son in Missouri in 1827 - maybe just a year, but I'm guessing it took five. That would have him setting sail from Cork about 1822. I'm assuming he was single since he married a Cherokee woman in the U.S. but did he travel here alone? Family legend says he and his wife and young son continued west out of Missouri to Indian country, later known as the Oklahoma Territory. My challenge is to find evidence of this in public records.

By the way, this young son I speak of, Julian Alvin Smith, is my husbands great-great grandpa. Of course this makes Alvin Smith of Cork, Ireland his gr-gr-gr-grandpa.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, How I Miss Frances in April

Spring has come slowly to northeastern Colorado but it has come. As I see the fresh green shoots of perennial plants pushing up through the hard, dry clay soil in my yard I'm reminded of my mother-in-law, Frances Russell, who passed away twenty years ago this month. Reminders of Frances abound in April. She always had chickens in the yard and loved those cantankerous setting hens who hid their eggs around the yard in old tires and buckets, hoping to raise a little family of chicks. But Frances would hunt them down and move their clutches of eggs into the chicken yard so the skunks and raccoons wouldn't eat the eggs and kill the vulnerable hens.

April was when Frances started her tomato seeds in little flats or styrofoam cups and set them on the windowsill of the west-facing window in her living room. They were spindly and pale but she coddled them and when she set them out in late May they thrived in her little garden on the south side of the house.

Frances' yard was unique and those of you who knew her remember it, I'm sure. She grew tulips and lilacs and other hardy flowers nestled in between the rocks, bicycles, tools, and car parts that littered the yard - Doyle's storage space for items he wanted to protect from theft. I miss the walk from her gate up to the front door of the house for I knew that I would always be warmly welcomed and fed her wonderful homemade meals once I got inside.

As I work in my yard today, moving the water hose from tree to tree, trying to keep alive the hardiest of my plants in this drought my thoughts are on Frances, that energetic, bright-eyed, lively woman with a hearty laugh that was a cackle, who could tell a joke with the best of them, and whose presence I miss in my life, especially in April.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Smith Family Calendar for 2010

Hi family,
The 2010 Smith Family Calendar is now available online. Click on the photo (above) of the cover to go to the calendar. Please check it over for your closest relatives to make sure I have their birthdays on the calendar and in the right place. Very soon I'll print out some copies of the calendar to mail. Please email me at if you find an error or have any comments about the photographs.