If tracing the SMITHEN line from present-day backwards, Ed Smithen may be the END OF THE LINE!
When I began researching the SMITHEN line back in the late 1970s, many of Edd’s children were still living and I was able to interview most of them. Other than anecdotal stories about Ed, NOT ONE of his offspring could tell me anything about his parents or siblings nor were they aware that any even existed.
Family legend has it that Ed Smithen was an orphan in Maury County Tennessee and was raised by the FITZGERALD family until he was old enough to make it on his own. In the 1880 census for Maury Co. TN there is a 12 year old Ed Smithson listed as a servant living with a family of FITZGERALDs that includes two unmarried sisters, Lizzie (age 40) and Louiza (age 35).
In my research investigation I kept hearing hints that Edd Smithen had had a mysterious benefactor named Louiza Fitzgerald who would occasionally visit him in Corsicana and bring gifts to the family. Several brave souls even shared with me the rumor that he might be the illegitimate son of Louiza’s. Then the rumor even got racier when I was told that his father was probably a Native American Indian. (This actually makes a little sense when one studies the bone structure of the Smithen males … i.e. the high pronounced cheek bones and the barrel chest … and the few photos show Ed to have dark skin.)
One lady researcher (who was the spouse of a distant cousin) very curtly told me that proper people did not discuss such matters (as illegitimate parentage) and I was never to phone her again … she passed away several years later. Several other SMITHEN researchers at the time told me that a lady named Florence Hogg, living in Claude, TX knew all the facts about the Ed Smithen family story. I wrote Ms. Hogg several times in 1979 and finally received a response postmarked 4 Dec 1979. Here is what she wrote,
“One of my cousins worked on the family history & I have it wrote down here so will send it to you. I knew Uncle Ed but I never knew any of his family. It seems that he was an orphan and was raised by a family. We came here in 1903 so I was kinda small & cant remember. If its convenient for you to come visit us in the spring when the weather gets better we could talk a lot. One of the Breedlove boys lives here in Claude. I just have a daughter that lives here. I have a few pictures but supposed that the folks had them too. I have been so busy I didn’t write much and my hand is kinda crippled.”
Unfortunately, with it being about a 6-hour drive halfway across Texas, I never made that visit to Claude. I did try to telephone Ms. Hogg several times only to find that phone conversation was almost impossible because she was almost deaf and she basically refused to let her daughter be the go-between communicator on the sensitive topic of Ed’s parentage when I tried to breach the subject.
According to the Social Security Death Index, Ms. Hogg died in 1986 in Claude, TX, so that possibly first-hand information source is gone. I will try to trace and contact her daughter (whose name I don’t know) and possibly someone from the Breedlove family. But, at this point in time, it is pretty unlikely that I will find anyone who has the closely guarded, missing information piece to a puzzle that is more than 140 years old!