Biography of William D. Smith

William D. Smith, a prominent business man and planter of Autauga county, Alabama, was born in Jones county, Georgia, January 26, 1809. His parents, John Scott and Sarah (Bush) Smith, were also natives of Georgia, where they were married, and whence they came in 1818 to Alabama, and located in Autauga county, being among the pioneer settlers, and improved a farm on Nolan’s creek. The family subsequently removed to Talladega county, and later to Jefferson county, where Mr. Smith ended his days. Mrs. Smith passed away in Autauga county, a member of the Baptist church. Levi Bush, the maternal grandfather of William D. Smith, a preacher, died before the date to which the memory of the latter reaches. William D. is the second born in a family of two boys and two girls, viz.: Rebecca, residing in Louisiana; William D., Eliza, who died in Louisiana; Sarah, who died in Florida; Harriet, whose death took place in Autauga county, and the youngest, Thomas, who settled in Louisiana before the beginning of the Civil war. William D. received a good English education, fitted himself for the practice of the law and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced. His marriage took place June 14, 1838, when he chose for his bride Miss Sarah McLain, who was probably a native of South Carolina, and who lived until September 7, 1892, when she passed away, strong in the Methodist faith. Her parents were John and Elizabeth McLain, who settled in Autauga county in the pioneer days. Mr. Smith has passed almost his entire life in Autauga, has always been a farmer, and is recognized as a progressive and honorable citizen and an excellent business man. In 1849, he and Malcolm Smith built a cotton factory, known as the “Planters’ Manufacturing Co.,” at Autaugaville, which they successfully operated until the close of the Civil war, when it passed from their hands and went down. Mr. Smith was also formerly connected with the Pilotville cotton mills. He is a self-made man and is now one of the wealthiest in the county. He grew up among the Indians and became familiar with their habits and customs; he endured the hardships and privations of pioneer life and has been a resident of the county nearly seventy-five years — having come when the settlers secured their supplies by poling boats up the river from Mobile. The country was a dense forest, teeming with bear, deer, turkeys and with the panthers and wolves. He is still remarkably well preserved, and, although nearly eighty-four years old, is as vigorous, robust, and active as a person twenty years his junior. He is a lifelong democrat, having voted for Jackson in 1832. was an early advocate of secession, and, although not subject to military duty during the late war, was anxious to join the army, but was dissuaded by his neighbors, who desired his presence and aid at home in supporting the wives and little ones of the absent soldiers, and in other ways assisting the Confederate cause. In religion he is a Methodist, and has been a member of that church for nearly half a century. He is the father of these children, viz.: William D., who died young; Calista, a graduate from Tuskegee Female college, and wife of Prof. C. W. Smith, of the Prattville schools; Colstanza, wife of Dr. D. A. McKeithen, and also educated at Tuskegee; James B., a graduate from Washington and Lee university; Thomas P., who died while attending the law department of Cumberland university; Morgan McL., of whom mention will again be made; Hattie, who was educated at the Martha Washington college, Virginia, and was married to D. W. McCarty; Mary Alice, who was educated at Ward’s seminary and married to J. T. Floyd, a druggist of Prattville; Norwood, educated at the Alabama state university and now residing in Prattville; Morgan McL. Smith, the sixth member of the above family, received a good English education at Autaugaville and Prattville, and graduated from the law department of the Cumberland university at Lebanon, Tenn., in 1872. He preferred an active business life, however, to a professional one, and engaged in merchandising at Autaugaville, which he still follows with success; he is also engaged in saw-milling, ginning, and extensive planting operations. Recently he has constructed a dam at Autaugaville, at a cost of $10,000, by means of which he operates his machinery; he is also the owner of the old cotton factory already spoken of and will make an effort to restore it to its former prosperity. He is enterprising and progressive and keeps well abreast of the times, being one of the foremost business men of the county. In January, 1875, he married Miss Fannie F., daughter of James and Sarah Nunn, natives respectively of Autauga county and Selma, Alabama. Mr. Nunn was a wealthy farmer and a prominent citizen and passed his entire life in Autauga county — he and his wife both dying in Autaugaville, where Mrs. Smith was born. This lady was educated at the Ward seminary, at Nashville, Tennessee, and with her husband is a member of the Methodist church.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

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