23 April 2009

Piecing together Richard Smith

Richard T. Smith was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather. I've had his birthdate as 2 January 1829 in GA1 and his death date as 24 October 1920, in Milstead, Rockdale, GA1,2. He was married to Eliza Unknown and their children were: Paulina or Priscilla, Lucresy, Delmus, Amanda, Richard, and Sarah3,4.

He married Rachel Garman on 18 August 1870 in Milton County, GA5, but she was already living with Richard in July 18704. Together Richard and Rachel's children were: William, Mary, James Henry, Aaron, Louise, Louisa (twins), Albert and Clarence2.

With the last name, Smith, Richard had been somewhat hard to track, especially since he seemed to move around quite a bit between Milton, Fulton and Rockdale Counties in Georgia. I was particularly interested in finding out about his service in the Civil War, but was being hampered by his popular name. I "knew" that he had served in the civil war from his listing in the 1910 census6, but had been unable to find any service records for him on Footnote.com and Ancestry.com.

I had more luck when Ancestry.com released their Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960. A quick search turned up only three Richard Smiths, two of whom had the middle initial 'T.' Now, I had to prove that this was my Richard T. Smith. This is where Richard's movements helped me identify him in the Pension records.

There were two sets of Pension files for Richard T. Smith, the first set for Fulton County8 and the second set for Rockale County7. It was easy to prove that these two files belonged to the same man, as the first document for the Rockdale County files stated that Richard had previously filed in Fulton County. This movement matched Richard's movement from 19009 in Fulton County to 1910 in Rockdale County6.

But, I wasn't sure if this was my Richard Smith, because the birth date didn't match. On the pension records, he had listed his birthday as 11 Feb 18307, not the January 1829 date that I already had. And with such a common name, I didn't want to assume anything. So, I decided to see if there were any other Richard Smith's living in Fulton County at the same time. There were quite a few, only one with a similar birth year. So I went back to look at my Richard Smith's 1900 census page - and there it was! In the 1900 census he gave his birth year as February 18309. There seems to be some confusion over Richard's birthdate, but in this instance, it helped prove his identity.

So, I'd found the Civil War Pension Records for my Great-Great-Great Grandfather! He was in Co. H, 2 Reg of the Georgia State Troops Cavalry for the Confederate Army. During the 1900s he was unemployed and owned no property. Also, I now have an alternative birthdate for him and know that he moved from Fulton County to Rockdale County in 1905.


  1. Certificate of Death for Richard T. Smith, 25 Oct 1920, File No. 29598, Georgia Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certified copy in possession of author.
  2. Louise Smith Family Bible, The Holy Bible. In possession of author.
  3. 1860 United State Census (Free Schedule), , Milton, Georgia; p. 66, family 7, dwelling 7, lines 16-21; 6 July 1860, National Archives Microfilm M653_131; Page: 0; Image: 67.
  4. 1870 United State Census (Free Schedule), District 150, Old First, Milton, Georgia; p. 93, family 805, dwelling 731, lines 3-19; 30 July 1870, National Archives Microfilm M593_165; Page: 489; Image: 519.
  5. Edna Strickland. “MILTON COUNTY, GA - VITALS MARRIAGES Alphabetical Groom.” http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/milton/vitals/marriages/groom.txt.
  6. 1910 United State Census (Free Schedule), Milstead, Rockdale, Georgia; p. 6A, family 101, dwelling 92, lines 47-50; 21 Apr 1910, National Archives Microfilm T624_207, Image 570.
  7. “Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 about Richard T Smith,” Rockdale County, 1906, GCP-406, Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office, RG 58-1-1, Georgia Archives.
  8. “Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 about Richard T Smith,” Fulton County, 1900. GCP-207, Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office, RG 58-1-1, Georgia Archives.
  9. 1900 United State Census (Free Schedule), Cooks, Fulton, Georgia; p. 26B, family 555, dwelling 510, lines 67-75; 19 June 1900, National Archives Microfilm T623_197.

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