Thursday, December 22, 2016

Clan William: The Family Farm of William Custer Smith & Mary Ann Munson

Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Samuel II Munson > Freeman Munson > Amos Munson > Mary Ann Munson m William Custer Smith
Jacob Smith > William Custer Smith m Mary Ann Munson
Butler County, Iowa Fremont Township Plat Map, 1895
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William Custer Smith, my 2nd great grandfather, hailed from Harrison County, Ohio. He was born 04 Oct 1831, the middle child of seven born to Jacob Smith and wife Mary Catherine Randolph. His family moved to Grant County, Wisconsin in 1846. William and his bride, Mary Ann Munson, whom he married 20 Jun 1853 in Grant County, moved to Iowa in fall of 1865. Mary Ann died in 1888 and WC married Mary Ann's cousin, Alice Simmons in about 1893, two years prior to his death. WC died in Plainfield, but the death was registered in Butler County.

WC Smith Obituary November 1895
Family lore reminds us he had a farm and that his family's social life revolved around Plainfield, Bremer County.  But, his land (120 acres) was actually in Butler County, right at the edge of the Bremer County border. The Plainfield post office served the farm. The farm reportedly had a horse race track because WC, his son Harland, and grandson William Lowell Smith were all avid horse racers.

It's such a thrill to make document discoveries after some serious sleuthing. One of my questions involved, "What became of the land?" In a note of remembrances authored by WC Smith granddaughter, Alyce Smith Rasmussen (daughter of WC Smith's son Harland), she had claimed that the widow Alice took the land, bounced Harland out, took all the personal effects, leaving the children with nothing. You can read about that claim here.

According to county deed documents, this was all patently untrue. WC Smith's widow sold the land of William C. Smith to the children of WC Smith after his death: Walter Smith, Dora Lichty, Harland Smith, Eva Bryce, Ella Cunningham, Edwin Smith, Parker Smith, and Mirt Smith for $2, 040 for the property described as: The East half of the Southeast quarter and the Southeast quarter of the Northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 93, N. Range 15 West. This deal was closed 22 Nov 1895, just days after WC's death.

WC Smith Widow Alice's sale to WC Smith Children, 1895
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But, wait, there's more.On 08 Mar 1897, WC Smith daughter Eva Bryce sold her share to her siblings for $600.

Finally, on 08 Dec 1898, the remaining siblings sold the property to Diedrich Deike for the sum of $5,040. Parker Smith had been managing the farm during the time from his father's death to the time of the sale. Diedrich and Minnie had seven kids and the family still owns this property.

Final Sale of Property to Diedrich Dieke
My thanks to the staff of the Butler County Recorder's office, particularly Roxann, for assisting me in my quest to solve the mystery.

You can read more on the Smith-Munson Family Farm here.

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