Smiths Celebrate 400 Years in The New World

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – In 1622, two ships from England landed north of Plymouth, carrying supplies and people. Since then, descendants of one of the passengers have spread across the country, including Clarion and Jefferson Counties.

(Pictured above: Gary Smith (right) accepts an award from Rep. Cris Dush. Photo provided by Gary Smith.)

According to Gary Smith, his ancestor William Smith was on either the Sparrow or the Cherokee, two of the very few ships that followed the Mayflower to the “New World” in the years immediately after the landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

“We’re right behind the Mayflower People,” Gary Smith said, 400 years after his ancestor disembarked. “We’re not sure which one we were on, the passenger manifests were not all complete. We have documentation of William Smith arriving north of Plymouth, because ships started landing up there in 1622.”

Smith said that his ancestor moved to Massachusetts and eventually Connecticut.

“We have detailed family history from there,” Smith said. “William Gilbert Travis did a book in the 1960s. One of his family branches was the Smiths. He put a ton of work into it.”

While the various branches of the William Smith line spread out, two Smiths came to Jefferson County, and the family continued to make history.

“Hulbett and Eunice Smith came to Jefferson County in 1816,” Smith said. “According to William McKnight and Kate Scott, Jefferson County Historians, they were the first permanent settlers in Beaver Township, Jefferson County. We’re pretty much a family that was always on the frontier.”

Smith said that modern Smiths in the area are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, salesmen, and more. Smith himself taught history at Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School for 20 years, which fed into his appreciation for family lore. The family was always diversified in its occupations, and that diversity will be represented at the 400th Anniversary Reunion in July.

(Pictured below: The Smith Family Reunion in 2015.)

Smith Family Reunion

Smith Family Reunion 2

“In the old days, most of our people were farmers in this area, lumbermen, miners, and merchants,” Smith said. “We still have a lot of farmers. John Smith is the owner of Faber Manor. Jeff Smith graduated from Clarion-Limestone in the late 1980s. Jeff today is the inventor and owner of the Trout Magnet, and he’s personal friends of the Robertsons of Duck Commander. He and his family will be there with a nice sampling of lures. Tom Smith, of Tom’s Meats in Brookville, is providing his famous hams.”

Smith hopes that the Smith family might get some national recognition for their connection to much of American life since before the United States was a country. He was thinking about asking Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson to give official recognition to the family like Representative Cris Dush did in 2016 on the family’s 200th anniversary in Jefferson County.

“I would imagine, just thinking the other day, that probably William Smith’s DNA is in every congressional district in the United States,” Smith said.

Modern DNA technology has helped expand the Smith Family Reunion thanks to some connections on Ancestry.com.

“We have people coming from California, Montana, Florida, Massachusetts, and everywhere in between,” Smith said. “We have people coming I’ve never met–we met on Ancestry.com through DNA. Kim Smith Demor is a walking genealogy dictionary, and she has put a ton of work in to invite these people. We’re looking for a big number of people this year.”

Smith Family Reunion

(Pictured above: The Smith Family Reunion in 2015 in the Sigel Community Center. That year, the Smiths had Jack Smith, John Smith, and John Ditty in attendance. Jack and John Smith lived to be 100 years old, and John Ditty passed away at 96. Photo submitted by Gary Smith.)

The Smith Family Reunion will be in Clarion on Saturday, July 16, beginning at 3:00 p.m. At 4:00 p.m., there will a special recognition by county, state, and federal officials; food is at 5:00 p.m., and then fireworks by Peak Pyro Productions by Kellners will be at 9:00 p.m.

Smith said that if any other Smiths are interested in joining, they can contact him at 814-715-0477.


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