Featured Article and Did You Know That?.....

November 2003

 CHARLES SOMERSET SMITH, HERO OF THE ALAMO

Linda Davis Reno

Charles Somerset Smith was born about 1806 at “Mt. Arundel”, Benedict, Charles County, Maryland.  He was the son of Charles Somerset Smith (1770-1831) and Ann Sothoron (daughter of Henry Greenfield Sothoron and Mary Bond of “The Plains”) of St. Mary’s County.

It is assumed that Charles decided to leave Maryland shortly after his father’s death in 1831.  He moved first to New Orleans but by 1835 he was in the territory of Texas.  On October 14, 1835, a land grant for 4,428 acres in Austin’s Colony was registered to him in the Texas Land Office.  The property was described as being on Walnut Creek, on the west side of the Colorado River. The date of this land grant is significant as it was made just two weeks after the beginning of what is now considered the most important time in Texas history--the beginning of the War for Independence from Mexico (September 30, 1835-April 21, 1836).

Before he could settle on his land, Charles Smith would have to first defend it. On October 10, 1835, just a few days before his land grant was formalized, he entered the service of Texas, participating in the Siege of Bexar (now San Antonio), the first major campaign for Texas independence from December 5 to December 9, 1835.  On December 14, 1835, he volunteered to serve four additional months.  At this time, he was still in Bexar but now as a member of Captain William R. Carey’s artillery company known as “The Invincibles” who were serving under the command of Col. James Clinton Neill.

Captain Carey and his 56 men, including Charles Smith, were sent to the Alamo to take charge while Col. Neill remained at Bexar.  On January 14, 1836, Col. Neill moved his entire force into the Alamo. During the siege and battle of the Alamo, Carey and his men commanded the fort's artillery.  As luck would have it, Col. Neill had left the Alamo in mid-February to care for his family, all of whom were seriously ill, leaving William B. Travis in temporary command. He was riding back when the fort fell.

The Texans were vastly outnumbered at the Alamo.  There were just 189 defenders against a force of almost 2,000 Mexicans, but yet they held their ground from February 23, 1836 until March 6, 1836.  It was on this date that Charles Somerset Smith was killed and his body, along with the other defenders, was burned at the orders of Santa Ana.

Col. Neill would later say of Charles Smith that he "served faithfully and fell in the Alamo.” Thomas Kenny, the administrator of Smith's estate, collected his pay account of $74.66 on October 12, 1837.

An article published in the Summer 1994 edition of the Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin by James Young claims that there were two Marylanders killed at the Alamo.  In addition to Charles Somerset Smith, he also lists Charles M. Haskell (Heiskill), son of George Heiskell and Elizabeth Fry who were married in Hagerstown on February 16, 1802.  Yes, George Heiskell was a Marylander, his son Charles was not.  George and Elizabeth (Fry) Heiskell moved their family first to Virginia, then Tennessee, and finally Kentucky.  None of their children were born in Maryland; therefore Charles Somerset Smith is the only native Marylander who fought at the Alamo.

A Brief Genealogical Sketch of the Smith Family

First Generation

Col. Richard Smith (d. 1714, St. Leonard’s Calvert Co.) married as his third wife, Maria Joanna Lowther, widow, in 1697 at Christ Church in Calvert County.  She was the daughter of Charles Somerset of Acton Park, County Middlesex, England.

2/27/1717:  Depositions taken re: the birth and lineage of Charles Somerset Smith of Calvert Co.  Sarah Clagett, age about 55 said she was acquainted with Capt. Richard Smith, late of Calvert Co., and Maria Johanna, his reputed wife, who went by the name and title of Madam Lowther.  Within a year of their marriage, she was present at the birth of Charles Somerset Smith, youngest child of Capt. Richard Smith and she was his godmother.  Deposition of Capt. Thomas Clagett, age about 40 that Capt. Richard Smith and Madam Lowther were reputed to be married at Christ Church in Calvert Co. by Mr. Hugh Jones, a clergyman of the Church of England.  Deposition of Patrick Hepburn, Gent., age about 55 stated that Josiah Wilson, late of Pr. Geo's Co., deceased, told him that he was present at the wedding of Capt. Richard Smith and Maria Johannah Lowther, relict of Col. Lowther (MD Chancery Records).

 

Second Generation

Charles Somerset Smith (1698-1738), son of Col. Richard Smith and Maria Joanna Somerset, married second, Margaret Smith (daughter of William and Priscilla Smith of Charles County). 

Will of Charles Somerset Smith, Charles Co., 11/17/1738-2/20/1738-9.  Wife: Exec., 1/3 personal estate.  Son: Richard, land on sw side of St. Nicholas' Creek. Son: Charles Somerset, land on n. side of sd. creek where dwelling plantation stands.  To: Francis Wilkinson, he having married daughter Elizabeth, the moiety of "Wiltshire Plains" and personalty.  Children: Richard, Charles Somerset, Ann, Dicandia, Mary, and Jane, residue of personal estate.  Overseer: Brother, Walter. Wit: Samuel Perrie, Theophilius Swift, Edward Burch. (Maryland Calendar of Wills).

There’s a very important family connection here.  Francis Wilkinson, the husband of Elizabeth Smith, was the son of Francis Wilkinson and Ann Smith (niece of Richard Smith, d. 1714).  Francis Wilkinson and Ann Smith were the great grandparents of Jane Herbert (Wilkinson) Long (1798-1880), “daughter of Maryland, wife of Mississippi, mother of Texas,” therefore, Charles Somerset Smith (1806-1836) and Jane Herbert (Wilkinson) Long were third cousins. 

Third Generation

Charles Somerset Smith (1733-1781) married Ann Hynes (daughter of Joseph Hynes of Charles County).

11/18/1768:  Marriage contract between Charles Somerset Smith of CC, Gent. and Ann Hynes of CC, dau. of Joseph Hynes (now dec'd), and John Perry of PG Co.  Sd. Smith moving, he granted to sd. Perry Lot #8 in Benedict Leonard Town in CC, at present occupied by Joseph Anderson, 0.75 ac., until the solemnization of sd. intended marriage, to be held for the use and benefit of Ann Hynes, in lieu of dower; she to receive the annual rent of a plantation sd. Smith holds by descent as heir to his brother, Richard Smith.  (Charles County Deeds).

 

Fourth Generation

Charles Somerset Smith (1770-1831).  As stated above, he married Ann Sothoron. 

"The family saw the British sail up the Patuxent River to Benedict, landing there before proceeding to the Nation's Capitol to burn it. The British officers landed and called on Charles Somerset Smith.  He received them and served them wine to which croton oil had been added.  The officers became ill which detained them at Benedict.  Meanwhile, Mr. Smith moved his family out of harm's way and he then proceeded to Washington to warn the city.  After the British had won the battle of Bladensburg, and burned the Capitol and the White House, they marched back to Benedict to their ships.  Before sailing, they set fire to 'Mt. Arundel', the lovely old home of Charles Somerset Smith."  Doctors of St. Mary's County, 1634-1900 by Margaret Fresco.

 

Fifth Generation

Children of Charles Somerset Smith and Ann Sothoron:

Sarah Mary Smith (1795-1834) married Dr. William Bruce Locke on October 2, 1810.  She and her husband are both buried in the Locke Cemetery located directly behind Mechanicsville Elementary School.

8/3/1834:  Died 7/1, after a severe and protracted illness, at the res. of George Thomas, St. Mary’s Co., Mrs. Mary Locke in her 41st year.  Her children have been deprived on an affectionate and devoted mother.  (National Intelligencer Newspaper Abstracts, 1834-1834).

Richard Smith.  No additional information available.  He was living at the time of his father’s will in 1830.

John Smith (1796-1825).   11/29/1825:  Died:  Mr. John Smith, age 29 years, on 11/19 at the res. of Henry Sothoron, nr. Benedict.  Parents, brothers, and sisters are bereft.  (National Intelligencer Newspaper Abstracts, 1824-1826).

Arundel Smith (1801-after 1850).  Arundel Smith moved to Bladensburg, Maryland.

7/28/1832:  Married on 7/24 by Rev. Mr. Gillis, Mr. Arundel Smith of Charles County to Miss Margaret, d/o Dr. John Wooton of Montgomery Co., MD.  (National Intelligencer Newspaper Abstracts, 1832-1833).

Charles Somerset  Smith (1806-1836).

Margaret Smith (ca1812-1844).  Margaret Smith married first, Thomas Gonsalvo Hodges, December 13, 1831.  Her second husband was John T. H. Sothoron, her first cousin (son of John Sothoron and Mary Elizabeth Attaway Briscoe) whom she married December 3, 1840.

Eleanor Sothoron Smith (died 1848).  Eleanor was the first wife of Dr. John Henry Turner of “Bachelor’s Hope”, Chaptico.  They were married December 17, 1844.

Mortimer S. Smith (1817-ca1855).  Mortimer Smith married Dorothy Ann Thomas (daughter of George Thomas and Mary Tubman) prior to 1840.  After his death, Dorothy married second, her brother-in-law, Dr. John Henry Turner about 1856.

Prepared by:  Linda D. Reno, July 24, 2003

This article was printed in fall edition of  “The Generator”, a quarterly publication of the St. Mary’s County Genealogical Society.  Their web page: http://www.smcgsi.org/.

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Copyright © 2002 Linda Reno, Charlotte Hall, Maryland and Marcella Jehl Dawson, Houston, Texas. All rights reserved.. No part of these pages may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without written permission of the author(s).

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