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Smith, Benjamin Fort  ( 1799? 1796 Jan 2  -  1841 Jul 10 )

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SMITH, BENJAMIN FORT -- Born in Logan County, Kentucky in 1799. David Smith, his father, was born in North Carolina October 9, 1753 and died in Natchez, Mississippi, December 4, 1835. He, David, served two years as a Private and Lieutenant in the Revolutionary war and participated in the battle of King's Mountain and the siege of Augusta. He likewise participated in the war of 1812 as a Major of volunteer cavalry he had recruited in Kentucky. He was wounded in the battle of Tallushatchie in 1813.

Major David Smith was married to Obedience Fort in Kentucky, November 3, 1791. Mrs. Smith was born in North Carolina, January 31, 1771 and died in Harris County, Texas, March 1, 1847. Their children in order of birth were: Sally, Sarah D., John W. N. A., Benjamin Fort, Josiah C., Esther, Emeline Mabry, Jackson, Shelly, Obedience A., and Piety Lucretia Smith.

Benjamin Fort Smith fought under General Andrew Jackson in the battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. His home at that time was in Kentucky but he moved shortly afterward to Mississippi and settled near Jackson. His parents moved to Mississippi, in 1822 and located at Natchez. When Mississippi entered the Union in 1817, Mr. Smith represented Hinds County in the House of Representatives of the First Legislature. Shortly after the expiration of his term, he was appointed Indian Agent by President Jackson. He came to Texas and settled in what is now Brazoria County where he engaged extensively in the purchase and sale of slaves. In Headright Certificate No. 204 issued to him February 3, 1838 for one-third of land by the Board of Land Commissioner of Harrisburg County it is stated that he came to Texas in 1833.

At the outbreak of the war with Mexico Mr. Smith not only entered the army promptly, but as the records of the Consultation show, he on November 13, 1835, like Stephen F. Austin and James W. Fannin, offered to mortgage his land and other properties and place the funds thus derived at the disposal of the Provisional Government to help finance the impending war. On February 20, 1838 he was issued Bounty Certificate No. 2400 for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from September 13 to November 3, 1835. Although having served as Acting Quartermaster and Adjutant General of the Army, he fought in the ranks of Captain Henry W. Karnes' company at San Jacinto. He received Donation Certificate No. 205 for 640 acres of land, May 24, 1838 for having participated in the battle. On January 8, 1838 he was issued Bounty Certificate No. 1659 for 320 acres of land for his services from May 6 to August 6, 1836.

With Captain Henry Teal, Major Smith carried the treaty signed May 14, 1836 by President Santa Anna and members of the Cabinet of President Burnet to General Vicente Filisola, whom they overtook near Goliad.

Major Smith was living on his plantation at Chenango, Brazoria County, September 10, 1836 when he sold his plantation of 1300 acres and slaves to Monroe Edwards for $35,000. He moved to the new town of Houston just being founded, and is said to have opened the first hotel there. Francis W. Lubbock in his memoirs stated that he visited Houston in January, 1837 and saw "logs being hauled in from the forest for a hotel to be erected- by Colonel Benjamin Fort Smith." This was on the site of the old Hutchins House, north side of Franklin Avenue, between Main and Travis Streets. He sold the building June 8, 1837, to Elisha Floyd.

Major Smith's headright was surveyed in what is now Grimes County, about nine miles northwest of the present town of Anderson, by Uriah F. Case, deputy County Surveyor, Montgomery County. Early in the year 1838 he settled his headright. He was elected to the House of Representatives from Montgomery County for the Fifth Congress of the Republic, November 2, 1840, to February 5, 1841. He died at the home of his brother, Shelly Smith, in what is now Grimes County, July 10, 1841. He was never married.

As has been stated, the mother of Major Smith moved from Mississippi to Texas. Many, if not all, of his brothers and sisters also came to Texas.

Children of John W. A. Smith were: Sarah Obedience Smith, who was born April 8, 1826. Married Thomas S. Lubbock and died in Houston July 26, 1907; Anthony N. Smith, William Fort Smith, David B. Smith and John E. Smith.

Sarah D. Smith was married to Joseph R. Terry. Their children were: Benjamin Franklin Terry, David Smith Terry, Aurelius Josiah Terry and Clinton Terry. J. W. Terry of Galveston is a son of Clinton and Arie Cautier Terry.

Ester Smith was married to Jackson Crutchen.

Obedience A. Smith was born February 15, 1805 and died in Houston, Texas, December 10, 1883. She was married to Hiram G. Runnels, Governor of Mississippi from 1833 to 1835, and the man for whom Runnels County, Texas was named.

Piety Lucretia Smith was married to Thomas Benjamin Jefferson Hadley. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley moved to Houston, Texas in July, 1840. Mr. Hadley died in 1868. Mrs. Hadley died in 1898.

R W. Franklin who resides at 403 W. Alabama Street, Houston is the son of Thomas A. and Julia Hadley Franklin and a grandson of Piety L. Hadley. SMITH BENJAMIN FORT - Colonel Smith traded extensively in land and slaves. On March 10, 1837 he sold a large tract of land and seventeen slaves to the notorious Monroe Edwards. While living in Houston he was requested by friends to become a candidate for the Mayor's office shortly after the town was incorporated but he refused to do so. He ran one of the first, if not the first, hotel in Houston. This he sold on June 8, 1837 to Elisha Floyd.

Mr. Smith was never married but he adopted Josiah C. Smith as his son, being permitted to do so by an act of congress. He failed, however, to provide for him in his will which he made June 20, 1839 in the presence of Fielding Ruble, James Lott and Edward Jeffrey. (Vol. 1. pages 35, 36, 37 Probate Minutes of Grimes County). In it he made the following provision:

He appointed his sister Piety Lucretia Hadly of Hinds County, Mississippi administratrix of his estate. He stated that William Christy of New Orleans was indebted to him for some slaves sold to Christy at Galveston through his agent, James Love. He stated that his mother, Obedience, was indebted to him $300.00 and that he desired canceled.

To his nephew Henry Runnels he left the 640 acres of land granted to him for participating in the battle of San Jacinto. Henry was the son of former Governor Hiram G. Runnels of Mississippi who had married Obedience A. Smith, sister of Benjamin Fort Smith. Governor Runnels and family moved to Brazoria County, Texas, in 1842.

He willed the children of his sister Sarah D. Perry 500 acres of land situated in Brazoria County.

John N. A. Smith, a brother, was to receive the 320 acres of land granted Benjamin Fort Smith for military services and situated on the Navasota River "near the Bluff".

To his niece Esther O'fall, daughter of Ester Jackson Crutcher, he left fifty dollars.

His sister Evaline Mabry Smith was given the negro slave Rachel and her child.

To his brothers Shelly and Jackson, who were twins, he left fifty dollars each.

To the children of his half sisters, Sarah Humphries and Pelly Gibson he willed fifty dollars each.

He expressed a desire that on account of the faithful services of his negro man Maxim that he be freed if the laws of the Republic would allow it.

Benjamin Fort Smith died July 10, 1841 at the residence of his brother Shelly Smith in Montgomery County, now Grimes County.

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.


Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Private (Acting Quartermaster)
  • Company: Capt. William H. Smith? Capt. Henry W. Karnes?

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1799? 1796 Jan 2
  • Birthplace: Kentucky, Logan County
  • Origin: Mississippi
  • Came to Texas: 1833
  • Date of Death: 1841 Jul 10
  • Other Battles: Gonzales; Bexar
  • Comments: War of 1812; fought in Battle of New Orleans.
  • Donation Certificate: 205
  • Wife: none


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