November 28, 2014

100 Years Ago In West Plains Missouri

In the last two days I have thoroughly enjoyed the book “West Plains Missouri…As I Knew It” by Robert Neathery and told to Marideth Sisco (1994).  It was the first time I had ever really gotten a “feel” for the town in which so many of my families lived and originated.

Robert mostly describes his own life growing up in West Plains and his own family, but he did mention a few of my family members, one of which was Pauline Smith Pond.  As it turns out, she also wrote a book entitled “Teacher, You’re Almost a Lady”.  Pauline, along with my other cousins were some of the earliest of my family to join the Ozark Springs DAR Society in West Plains.

Robert Neathery was in the telephone and radio business (and several other endeavors) and he tells some interesting stories of bringing electricity to the city, life before the air conditioner and refrigeration, and power outages.  As time went by and new conveniences were introduced, it didn’t matter if you needed help in Brandsville or West Plains, Robert knew how everything worked and even how to fix it!

If you are at all interested in West Plains, Missouri history you might find Robert Neathery’s book very interesting.  He describes the West Plains dance hall explosion and what caused it; local characters like his uncle who would rather do yard work for the government than put in an actual day’s work at the radio station even though he was a partner; or why the peach trees down by Brandsville eventually failed.

 

West Plains as I knew it / by Bob Neathery ; as told to Marideth Sisco

Surnames of my families that lived in Howell County: MORRISON, YATES, PENTECOST, SMITH, BREEDLOVE, WRIGHT, KELSEY, DAWSON, and HOLMES.

Eli Thadeus Smith 1891 – 1913

Harvey L. Smith

The Harvey Lawson Smith Family circa 1914

It’s sad when anyone dies young, and quite often even after death their likeness can still be included in family photos as evidenced in the image above.  My grandmother Minnie Caroline Smith (young lady in the middle in white) was just nineteen when her next older brother Eli died of tuberculosis in 1914. Eli T. Smith had died the year before but a skilled photographer was able to insert his image into this family photo for posterity.

Harvey Lawson Smith 1855 – 1899

The father in this family, my Great Grandfather Harvey Lawson Smith, was also deceased, having died in 1899 of spinal meningitis after he spent time nursing a male friend who had been ill with that disease.

The Scourge That Was Tuberculosis

There was no prevention of the TB in those days, and it affected others in my Yates family too, but no others in this family at the time the picture was taken.  Eli had been working at the Pease flour mill in the West Plains, Missouri area when his condition worsened and he was confined to bed at the home of his mother and step-father James William Milburn Yates.  Jim Yates’ own younger sister Myra was a young victim of TB dying at age twenty-two in 1888.

Eli Thadeus Smith Death Certificate Found

Since I began my Yates genealogy the middle name of Eli Smith had just been the middle initial T.  While searching  the Missouri State Archives death records this weekend I was able to obtain a PDF copy of Eli’s death certificate.  The informant on the record was Eli’s mother Mary Elizabeth ( nee Pentecost, Smith) Yates which makes the documentation of his middle name to be accurate.  At last, I was able to fill in his middle name as Thadeus.

Eli Thadeus Smith death certificate (PDF)

Sources:

Missouri State Archives

Yates and Allied Family Tree on Ancestry (free to view)

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