A Lady Who Heartily Enjoyed Her One Hundred and First Birthday
Old age is honorable, as the old proverb proclaims, and Mrs. Smith of Ernesttown, is having a full share of the honors she can safely lay claim to. Though the committee of the recent Olde Folkes' Concerte, in its burlesque announcements, declared that ladies five score years and over should be admitted free, it would have been surprised had some one walked up briskly and claimed the privilege. Yet the lady we speak of could have done it and not have made herself ill over the exertion. She has very few contemporaries in the race for longevity, and it was, therefore, fitting that her birthday, Monday last, should be the occasion of a large family reunion and much congratulation. One of the WHIG staff became by invitation a caller upon the centenarian at the residence of her son-in-law, W.H. Benjamin, near Odessa. He found that a levee of the proportions of a Governor General's was in progress, and the venerable recipient of the attention was both happy in the thought that so many remembered her and grateful for being spared to enjoy her old age so heartily. Fully forty of the family dined with her, and it will be a memorable day in their harmonious circle.
THE LADY'S HISTORY
Mary Smith is widow of the late D.C. Smith, who died sixteen years ago at a ripe old age. She came from Schoharie county, New York, with her father, Andrew Leeman, about 1812, and settled near Wilton. Being United Empire Loyalists they found the republic a very warm country at that time of international trouble, and Canada was to them a land of refuge. They settled at Collinsby for a while in the early days of their sojourn in the province. Her father and mother were long-lived, living to be ninety and eighty years respectively, and her sister, Mrs. Dewitt, died last year near Wilton at the great age of 96 years. Mrs. Smith had nine children, of whom some seven survive, and there is a following of 40 grandchildren. Three of her daughters married three brothers, named Hartman, and have survived them. They, with Joseph Smith and widow Booth, and our hostess of Monday (Mrs. Benjamin), brother and sisters, live in that section. Mrs. Horning, of Dresden, Ont., is the only daughter away from the neighborhood of the family's first settlement. The youngest child, Mrs. Benjamin is 59 years old. Thus, for longevity, the family is remarkable. Andrew Leeman came over in company with Elisha Lewis, Matthew Dice and J. Dewitt, and their families, and they early became connected by marriage, and have lived as a happy circle since. D.C. Smith, husband of the centenarian, was engineer of the main road between Kingston and Napanee, and of many of the side roads. Later in life he was Superintendent of Lighthouses, a post he relinquished to his late son, Darius Smith, so well known and regarded by Kingstonians.
Mrs. Smith is able to move rapidly about the house, and to eat heartily three or four meals a day, her digestion being remarkable, a result of hardy pioneer life in her young days. Her hearing is not good, but her daughters are able to converse with her; while her eyesight enables her yet to do a little sewing. She still "keeps house" in her own room, and makes up the bed daily. She does not furnish a startling evidence of the ill effects of tobacco, as she has been for years a votary of its pleasures.
EARLY SCENES AND INCIDENTS
Mrs. Smith related to her visitors on Monday many incidents attending her arrival in Canada. The refugees came over in sleighs with horses, and were nearly drowned in crossing the ice at Kingston. A foot path traced out by blazed trees was the only route from Kingston to what is now Odessa. The only house on this latter spot was Booth's mill, to which the settlers carried their grain on horseback, not knowing enough (as she laughingly said) to divide the grain into two bags to balance it on the horse's back; they balanced it with a stone on one side. The next house to be erected in Mill Creek, the first name for Odessa, or within a mile of it, was Paul Somers' tavern, and a few years later every other house on the road to Kingston became a tavern or "canteen," as then styled. It used to be said that if a man took care to stop at every canteen on the road he might go to Kingston bareheaded and barehanded without suffering. Mrs. Smith still bitterly denounces the drunkenness of the old times. Booth's mill was owned by a grandfather of Philip Booth, of Odessa. It was a regular custom to go to church on horseback, and many a time Mr. and Mrs. Smith took their young family along, sitting them in front and behind on the animals.
IN A PORTSMOUTH ROMANCE
an uncle of Mrs. Smith figured, early in the days of American independence. He came to Kingston on a visit to friends and in the bay that now makes Portsmouth harbor, saw with the Indians two white girls named Rogers. One of them made known her desire to escape. They had been captured in New York state by the savages, their four grandparents being murdered as too old to take along. Families grouped in those days because of the danger to life in detached settlements, and their parents were both working in the bush, and knew nothing of the massacre and capture until they saw the flames of their house and hurried home. The visitor secured the girl's release by an offering of presents, and afterwards married her and lived very happily. Her sister could not be persuaded at first to leave the Indians but finally joined her sister in her home in N.Y. state.