Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Achievement--Mildred Claudine Tate Smith

     Amy Johnson Crow has a 52 Ancestors Week blog challenge which I have decided to join.  I am hoping it may help me to pinpoint someone or something that I have researched and not blogged about on Flipside.  AND push me to blog about family each week in 2024.  Sometimes I get lazy. 😁  Let's see how well I keep up.

     Week # 11 (March 11-March 17) is Achievement

     Weeks ago I mentioned to Ted that I was stumped as to what to write concerning achievement.  I have covered this topic with numerous of my family and just couldn't think where to go with it.  

     Ted said his maternal grandmother, Mildred Claudine Tate Smith, widowed at age thirty-seven, with seven children in 1931 showed achievement through her courage in raising her children alone.  I never met  Grandma Smith, I have no personal insight and the stories I have heard may be somewhat acrophyll; however, .....here I go.

Mildred Claudine Tate
circa 1898
Courtesy of Jay Howard Smith

     Mildred was born on February 19, 1895 to Charles Henry Christian Tate and Ida Mae Hess, in Spencerville, Spencer Township, Allen County, Ohio.  There is a 1900 and 1910 Ohio census for the Tate Family in Spencerville.  

Circa 1905

1913 Tiffin City Directory


Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio

     By 1913, the Tate family removed to the city of Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio. The family lived at 24 Forest and Mildred is listed in the directory. Forest Street was renamed Oak Street. On the 1914 Sanford Fire Insurance map Oak and Forest run into each other. 

     At some time the city decided to just continue Oak Street up to West Davis and erase the name of Forest Street.  The house pictured above was built in 1913 and is located on the street in the same spot where the Tate house is located on the 1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

     I would like to note that the Webster Manufacturing Company was located to the west of the red circled area where the Tate Family lived.  It is likely that Charles Tate and his and older sons where employed at the plant.

     This lovely candy box was given to Mildred by Grover Cleveland Smith when they were dating and the bittersweet he picked in the fall for her as a gift.  It was in the possession of her daughter, my mother-in-law, Helena Mae Smith Hiser.
Mildred Claudine Tate
Circa 1918

Grover Cleveland Smith

     On June 5, 1919, at age twenty-four, Mildred married thirty-four year old Grover Cleveland Smith, son of John Andrew Smith and Helena Frederika Oster, in Seneca County, Ohio.  The marriage was performed by Reverend Charles Allen Pearce of The Church of Christ.  

     The 1920 Ohio census, taken on January 7 lists Grover and Mildred living on a farm with Grover's father, John Andrew Smith and one brother, Otto Lafayette Smith.  The Smith's were farmers growing and selling fruit and vegetables.

     On March 17, 1920 the Smith's welcomed their first child, a son, Howard Lewis Smith.  Six more children followed, Helena Mae Smith born on March 12, 1922, Mary Irene Smith born on July 7, 1923, Betty Lou Smith born on February 1, 1925, Arthur William Smith born on September 17, 1926, Gilbert Tate Smith born on October 3, 1928 and Martha Ann Smith born on February 24, 1931.  

Rerick Brothers Atlas and Art Portfolio
Seneca County, Clinton Township, Ohio

     The 1896 atlas shows the Smith properties side by side on South Greenfield Road/County Road 50.  Christina Smith is John Andrew Smith's mother and Grover Cleveland Smith' paternal grand mother.  There is a small square marking the school that my mother-in-law and her siblings attended before their move into the city in 1932.

     The 1930 Ohio census gives insight as to the location of the Smith home and farm on South Greenfield Road, Clinton Township, Seneca County, Ohio.  That area is just outside the city limits of Tiffin, Ohio.  Grover is the head of the family and his aged father is living in the house and is retired.  Grover is a truck farmer and is working the sizable family fruit farm.  

John Andrew Smith
Ohio Death Certificate

     One year later a double tragedy struck the family.  On March 2, 1931, John Andrew Smith, the family patriarch, died at the family farm from valvular heart disease at eighty years of age.  His burial was on March 5, 1931 in Greenlawn Cemetery, Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio.  The Find A Grave date of death is incorrect.

Grover Cleveland Smith
Ohio Death certificate

     On the day his father was to be buried, March 5, 1931, Grover Cleveland Smith died in his bed on the family farm, just fourteen days shy of his forty-sixth birthday. Cause of death was toxic goiter and myocarditis.  

     Mildred was in bed following the birth of a daughter, Martha Ann Smith, on February 24.  According to a family account of the day written by my mother-in-law, she was asked to carry the new born baby into her father's bedroom so he could see his new daughter.  She was told not to let her father know that his father had died.  Grover saw Helena come in with the baby and said, "Grandpa died, didn't he?" He died within a short time after.

     Grover Cleveland Smith was buried on March 7, 1931 in Greenlawn Cemetery, Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio.


     And now my stumbling block.  What came next?  Up until now I used research and family documents.  The nugget of my blog comes after Grover's death and how Mildred courageously picked up the pieces and moved on.  

     Distinguishing fact and acrophyll stories when doing family genealogy on my husband's side of the tree has been difficult.  The genealogist on the Smith side was Aunt Betty Smith Bowman.  She amassed a huge amount of documents, photos and knowledge over her ninety-seven years.  I married into the family fifty-five years ago and over the decades listened to the hardships of the Smith's early life, primarily from the my mother-in-law Helena Smith Hiser and Aunt Betty. 

      I had many "I think" ideas and memories of  the Smith stories rolling around in my head wanting to add some personality to this blog.  Then the light bulb went off --email Cousin Jay Howard Smith.  Jay's genealogical written pieces on the family are well researched.  He also has access to his father's, Howard Lewis Smith, family files.  Cousin Jay did not disappoint.  I now have the necessary information to complete the blog.  Surprisingly, two typed letters written by my mother-in-law that I had never seen, helped to provide a first person account.   

Life After the Death of Grover Cleveland Smith

     Mildred was still in bed following the birth of the baby and when her husband died.  There was a practical nurse coming to the farm to care for Grover, Mildred and the baby.  

     The time had come for Mildred to pick herself up by the proverbial bootstraps and forge ahead with a new life for herself and her seven children.  According to family stories the Smith farm was to pass to Grover and Mildred.  With the death of both John and Grover and no wills, the estate became intestate.  Over the years I had heard talk that family members swooped in, sold the land, took the money and left Mildred with nothing.


Mildred's hand written page of bills paid
following Grover's death
      According to the two newly found letters of my mother-in-law, the farm and land was sold and divided equally among the children of John Andrew and Helena Oster Smith.  Mildred did receive her deceased husband's share.  Also, Grover had some life insurance.  She was able to pay any debts and rent on the farm until she purchased a house in Tiffin.

     Mildred was paying the Estate of her father-in-law $10.00 monthly for rent to remain in the farm house.  The final one was dated January 1932; however, I have additional information that she continued to pay rent through March 1932.

131 Prospect Street
Tiffin, Ohio

     Mildred's financial dedication following Grover's death resulted in her ability to purchase a house at 131 Prospect Street in Tiffin.  Once again, my mother-in-law wrote a letter describing the move to the new house.  All of the children were excited to move into the city; however, once Helena saw the house she was extremely disappointed in the small size and shabbiness.  
     The car "stopped in front of a small grey house, old and in need of paint."

    "My heart sank.  No! No!  This could not be our new home. How can we be moving from the spacious, fairly new house in the country to this house so small and shabby in comparison."

     Mildred and the children had a large garden plot behind the house.  Vegetables were canned and Mildred baked bread weekly.  She was an excellent seamstress and was able to earn a living making clothes and doing alterations well into the 1950's.

1934 Tiffin City Directory

Mildred Claudine Tate Smith
Sitting beside her house

     Through courage and determination Mildred was able to raise her children, see them through high school and marriages.  131 Prospect was painted, enlarged and housed Mildred until her death in 1964.  Family still owns and lives in the house.  Her life following her husband's death is the embodiment of personal achievement.

Personal Note        

     I attended and graduated from Heidelberg College, now Heidelberg University.  The campus buildings are  located on Greenfield Road Street within the Tiffin City limits.  Once crossing the city line the street becomes County Road 50.    I married into the Hiser/Smith family.  I knew all of the "Smith kids" listed above and heard the family stories from the women.  Smith Family farms and remaining houses were pointed out and there were numerous visits to Greenlawn Cemetery to pay respect to those ancestors past.  All of Grover and Mildred's children are buried in Greenlawn Cemetery except, Arthur William Smith.     
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© 2024, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

1 comment:

  1. This was a fascinating story. Mildred certainly overcame a lot of tragedy and yet, persevered. Thank you for sharing her "achievement ".