Biography of Daniel P. Smith of Richland and Mexico, NY

By g-g-granddaughter Esther Rancier

 On 9 November 1827 Daniel P. Smith of East Oswego, NY received $200 from Mason Bowen in a mortgage agreement for one-third part of block no. 49.  By 9 November 1831 Daniel P. had paid off this debt and the mortgage was cancelled.  On 9 June 1828 Daniel P. sold to James Sloan the northerly end section of lot no. 12 in block no. 49 for $50.
 Daniel P. Smith was first recorded in Richland, Oswego co, NY on 6 June 1829 buying from Rudolph and Elizabeth Bunner part of lot 102 for $95.  This lot contained an estimated 100 acres.  Most transactions at this time were not accurate as to acreage as the surveyors had not yet come.
 Daniel P. had come into Oswego County from Vermont along with many others moving westward.  Most pushed on in their ox drawn wagons, but Daniel stayed.  Where his funds had come from is unclear.  East Oswego did not suit him for whatever reason.  He preferred Richland possibly because he found a wife there.  He married Nancy Soule sometime during 1828 or ’29.  She was the daughter of Constant and Lucena (Brace) Soule, who came from Cambridge, Washington Co., NY.  Nancy was born ca. 1809 in Washington Co.
 Daniel joined in the Richland community.  In 1830 he was made a pathmaster on beat 57.  He was expected to keep the road clear for passage of the public.  The road system was primitive, mostly a footpath begun by animals and worn in by Indians.  
 Daniel P. was a Baptist who was appointed one of the first deacons of the Richland Baptist Church.  He was considered a man of business talents, so he was named to help the church buy land for its building.
 In 1854 Daniel P. and Nancy Smith sold to Abner H. Waters lot no. 171 for $700.  Many early land records are missing.  It is impossible to get a complete listing of all his holdings.  It is clear, however, that he considered himself a man of some worth and he was determined to protect his property.
 Nancy and Daniel P. had five children:
1. Stephen J. Smith b. Richland ca. 1829; m. Fanny L. _____; d. 1892/1901. No issue.
2. George B. Smith b. Richland ca. 1832; d.y.
3. Lucena J. Smith b. Richland ca. 1839; m. (1) in Mexico, NY 10 April 1858 Theodore Henry Greene who died 8 December 1858; (2) June 1860 Samuel Clark Jeffery Greene of Mexico, NY who died 1917; d. February 1895.  Issue: Theodore Ray Greene & Florence Greene who d.y.
4. Jesse P. Smith b. Richland ca. 1842; m. Marietta Benedict; d. before 1867.  No issue.
5. Ezra G. Smith b. Richland ca. 1843; m. Marietta (Benedict) (Smith) as her 2nd husband; d. after 1906.  Issue: G. Franklin Smith.
The 1850 census for Richland showed Daniel P. at age 50, born in Vermont.  There was only one Daniel P. Smith recorded in the General Index to Vital Records born in 1800.  This child, born 31 May, was the son of Wyman and Mary (Polly) (Putnam) Smith of Newberry, Orange Co., VT.  To date there is no collaborating evidence the Daniel P. of Newberry matches the Daniel P. of Richland nor can this match be ruled out.  
 Sometime in the next decade Daniel P. and family became residents of Mexico.  The 1860 census put Daniel P.’s birth in New Hampshire.  This could be explained by the fact that if Daniel P. received any last letters from his father, they would have come from Piermont, NH where Wyman died in 1852 at age 82 selling tombstones to the end.
On 29 October 1860 Daniel P. made his last will and testament.  It turned out to be a most remarkable document. It controlled the lives of his wife and their children plus being in the courts for over 40 years. 
Daniel P. must have been ill and in fear of approaching death.  His will reflects his need to protect his sons who all were minors, save one.  He had the option to appoint his oldest son, Stephen as Executor, but he didn’t.  It suggests he trusted no judgment save fully mature men.  Samuel B. Larkin was named executor.  Further Larkin, John Becker, Jr. and Willis C. Johnson were made Trustees  “during the life of Nancy Smith, my wife and Stephen Smith, Jesse P, Smith & Ezra G. Smith, my sons.”
Nancy was allowed to live on the farm the rest of her life and her expenses were to be paid, but Nancy could “not sell, mortgage, change or otherwise dispose” of the farm.  The sons and their wives/widows had the same restrictions put on them also.  “Issues and profits of said real and personal  estate property  to Stephen Smith, Jesse P. Smith & Ezra G. Smith & their widows …  equally share and share alike during the lives of said sons and the longest lives of them & their wives.”
It was all to pass to unborn heirs intact, but if there was no issue then his daughter, Lucena Greene’s children could share.  He also gave $100 to Lucena outright.  In case of any legal action against the provisions of the will he appointed T. W. Skinner of Mexico the Testamentary Guardian of his sons.
   Daniel P. died 19 March 1861.  He was buried beneath a tombstone in the Willis Cemetery of South Richland.  His will was filed for probate on 27 March 1861.  Samuel B. Larkin was named Executor on 11 April 1861.
Daniel certainly felt the need to control the lives of his children and widow even from the grave.  The trustees would dole out every cent.  The widow Smith would have to specify and sign receipts for everything.
Luckily for Lucena Green as a married woman her father could not dictate her future.  He meant the $100 bequest to silence her forever.  She thought the matter finished, no doubt.
In effect Daniel P. had willed his estate to Samuel B. Larkin, John Becker, Jr. and Willis C. Johnson in trust to be used according to the directions of the will.  Executor Larkin on 11 May 1864 settled his accounts with the court and was discharged as executor.  He remained a trustee.
All the documents amassed over 40 years are still in the file of the Surrogate Court at the Oswego Court House.  These documents included dozens of small slips of papers containing the signatures of each of the heirs.  For example, Nancy wanted to buy cloth for a winter coat.  She wrote a specific request and then signed for money to get the cloth and the thread.  By the 1890’s the surviving heirs were receiving $8 annually paid semi-annually.  Each receipt was handwritten and individually signed by the heir.
On 26 March 1864 Nancy signed the document which helped to discharge the executor.  She died sometime before 1867.  She was probably buried in the Willis Cemetery, but there was no stone purchased.
Many widows were treated as Nancy was, but for competent adults to be so shackled was rare.  Contemporary witnesses indicated that the persons affected were fully intelligent and self-sufficient.  They did not need overseeing.  As the sons reached adulthood, they wanted to be free of the trustees.  Again and again they went to court without resolution.
Stephen married Fanny L. _____.  He died between 1892/1901.  His widow died 1 December 1898.  The executor of her estate wrote to the court assuring that no legal action would be undertaken against the Smith estate.
Ezra G. and his wife Marietta Smith had a son, G. Franklin Smith born 4 October 1867.  He was a medical doctor whose picture appeared on p. 45 of the “Grip’s” volume on Mexico.  On 8 May 1895 he married Lida May Raymond.  They had one child, Jesse Carlyle Smith.  Dr. Smith practiced in Mexico.  His cousin, Theodore Greene and his family were among his patients. 
On 3 September 1901 Trustee Willis C. Johnson wrote the court, reporting that Trustees Larkin and Becker were dead.  He wanted to be relieved of his duties as he was too ill to continue.  He indicated that Nancy Smith, Stephen J. Smith, Jesse P. Smith, Lucena J. Greene and Stephen’s widow Fanny were all dead.  He listed the remaining heirs as: G. Franklin Smith, Fernwood, NY; Theodore R. Greene, Mexico, NY; Ezra G. & Marietta Smith.    
Ezra G. Smith wrote on 18 September 1901 to the court in response to the Willis letter.  He drafted the letter because he was the last surviving son of Daniel P.  He agreed to the resignation of Willis.  He asked that G. Franklin Smith he appointed trustee.  All four heirs affixed their signatures.
G. Franklin was appointed to be the new trustee.  It was 1906 before he was able to petition the court to discharge the trust. He listed the assets of the estate as they stood in 1906.  The main asset was a farm of 52 and a half acres in Mexico, NY.  There also was about $500 in cash.  He argued that the trust was invalid because it “was intended to continue during the lives of at least four persons and possibly seven; clearly violating the law against the suspension of the power of alienation.”
He asked that there be a distribution of the assets of the estate.  He wanted also to be discharged from his duties as trustee.
On 12 November 1908 the estate was distributed.  Theodore R. Green received as his share of slightly over $800.  
G. Franklin moved his family afterwards to Georgetown, Delaware.  He was hoping to find a better climate to improve his health.  Because of his poor health he had been forced to give up his medical practice.  His father died, but the date is unknown.  The family later went to the South Glastonbury, CT area.  On 28 December 1928 G. Franklin died.  He was buried in the Old Church Cemetery.  His wife, Lida died 14 June 1930 and was buried near him.  On 2 April 1932 Marietta also died and was buried close by in the same cemetery.  
Jesse Carlyle Smith died later without any known issue.  He was the last male heir of Daniel P. Smith.  Daniel P. probably would care little to learn that he has dozens of descendants through his daughter, Lucena (Smith) Greene. To learn about Lucena’s line also read the biographies of Jeffery Greene and his brother, Henry Knowles Greene.


SOURCES:
Daughters of the American Revolution.  New York State Cemetery, Church and Town Records, v. 31, 1931/32.
G. Franklin Smith obituary, Mexico Independent.
“Grip’s” Historical Souvenir of Mexico, N.Y.  Syracuse: 1903.
Marriage Certificate of Lucena Smith & Theodore H. Greene dated 10 April 1858, Mexico, NY.
 Mrs. Lida (Raymond) Smith obituary, Mexico Independent.
Mrs. Lucena (Smith) Greene obituary, Mexico Independent.
NY.  Oswego Co.  Common Orders, 1856-1868, p. 42, 378, 798.
NY.  Oswego Co.  Deeds, liber G, p.222-223; v. 65, p. 478.
NY.  Oswego Co.  Mortgages, v. B, p. 249-250.
NY.  Oswego Co.  Probate Records, v. F, p. 445-450.
NY.  Oswego Co.  Surrogate Ct.  Minutes & Orders, v. 1, Pkg. 2s.
NY.  State Census, 1855 & 1865.
Notes of Mrs. Helen (Greene) Rancier, Carson, CA.
U.S. Census, Grafton Co., VT, 1850.
U.S. Census, Oswego Co., NY, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900.
VT.  General Index to Vital Records.  (LDS microfilm #0027688).
 


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