Jeremiah and Hannah Smith pioneers…

For the most part, when you are researching your ancestors, you don’t very often find much information about their personality or character. Sometimes it can be sussed out from certain types of court or probate records, or land deeds that have special dispensations, or if you are lucky a historical biography is found for them.

In the case of my Michigan Smiths it was a couple of newspaper articles in the paper that shined a sliver of light on their lives. The church history in the article below doesn’t actually say much about Jeremiah or Hannah Smith’s personality per se, but it does tell me about certain aspects of their lives that I would otherwise have to guess at, for example – their faith was important to them.

Jeremiah was born in 1790 in the state of New York. He was the descendant of German ‘Schmidt’ ancestors who emigrated to America in 1709 and Palantine Germans. The family was never well to do, so Jeremiah and his wife Hannah (Houghtaling) had to work hard to feed and cloth their family. At one time Jeremiah, unable to pay his bills, spent a few months in debtors prison when the family was living in Cayuga County, New York. Possibly in an attempt to avoid their debts, or just to try to make a better life for themselves, the Smiths packed up their trunks and headed to Michigan in the early 1840s. Their eldest son, Michael, had moved out there a year of so earlier.

The family seemed to be able to make a better go of it in their new home in Berrien County, Michigan. By 1844 they were meeting in a small log school about one mile west of Coloma, with other pioneers from the area, as the Mount Hope Methodist Society. Both Jeremiah and Hannah are mentioned as members of this first meeting in local historical records.


In the article below we find a fun little tidbit out about Jeremiah – when the local school in the 1990s celebrated Pioneer Day, Jeremiah Smith appeared as a trapper and teller of ‘tall tales’. Just those two words bring to mind all kinds of images and possibilities to the kind of life the family might have had.


Maybe a descendant, still living in the area, has passed this story of our grandfather down to each successive generation, or an old-timer remembered his grandfather talking about old man Smith and his crazy stories. I so would have loved to have been able to hear those tall tales.

Gertrude Cain John, sitting on the far right, Jeremiah and Hannah Smith’s great grand-daughter, at a deer hunting camp up in northern Wisconsin. She must have had some of that trapper blood.

I am always excited to find articles like these as they help to better visualize Jeremiah and Hannah’s, (and other ancestor’s) lives. They become more than just names on a page with birth and death dates. Something that is easy to forget in the data gathering of ancestors to ones family tree.



December 17, 1942 William Shepard to home…



Dear Mom and Pop:

Excuse the paper. Ill try to clear up everything. I was commissioned 12-9-42 and started for California the same day.

We traveled by pullman, cost me $110.75 for the trip. As an officer you get travel pay, so that will compensate for it.

Arrived here in Sacramento 12-14 or 15-42 Traveled thru Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

After I arrived here I found that I had been selected to attend the Army Engineer School here (providing I can pass the entrance exams.) I had to talk my way into it. My classmates are all graduate engineers, one a metalurgist, another an aeronautical engineer.

There are 15 men selected every 3 months I believe. The classes are very small and you really get the works.

Classes are about 15 hours a day , 6 days a week 5 hours in airplane mechanic work course per day 5 hours in aeronautical engineering per day 5 hours administrative engineering per day, full schedule isnt it?

It is a wonderful opportunity and I dont see how I ever made it. I must be good and dont realize it. Seriously, I am tickled to death.

It means that the government is giving me an education, then will put me in a real job.

I will get a field or maybe two fields to supervise the engineering work. I probably will be made an assistant engineering officer until I get the hang of it.

Tell Herman I will have to be a “Baird” it is an office job but I think that Ill like it.

The quarters here are swell. Officers have the best of everything. I had to bring some more clothes here.


Well I dont have much more so Ill close be sure to write me. Send all correspondence to

Lt. William A. Shepard Jr.
Engineering and Supply Officers Training School
McCelland Field, California

Keep the home fires burning. Love to all

Your son

P.S. I graduated 441 in the class of 3620 at OTS in Miami Beach.

Please don’t tell anyone outside the family anything about the school ??st[Just?] that I am going there.

December 8, 1942 William Shepard to home…



Dear Mom & Pop

You wont get any letters for a while so this is the last, probably before Xmas.

Graduation tomorrow, then I get shipped to my new post. I meant it when I said to ship all my Xmas packages to Lois’ Uncle Berts. Ill be within a stone-throw of his place.

If you mail them there, all in one big ^or small box. I can pick them up.

Everything is fine here, the weather is beautiful. I am taking a sun bath while writing this.


I dont suppose Lois will be able to come out until after a start in life, then perhaps you & her can come out. I can have a home ready by then.

I sent all my old army clothes home. Pack them away where the moths wont get them.

Ill tell you that I have a swell job in the army, I got an assignment that will probably keep me from active fighting duty. I will be pretty far back of the lines, so Lois can stop worrying.

Tell everyone hello & I love you all.

Your Son
Lt. Bill

November 12, 1942 William Shepard to home…



Dear Mom

Same old story here. everything is going OK so far, but keep you fingers crossed.

If and when I graduate,
It will be Dec 9.

Some facts:
You can not come to the hotel I. stay in because of military laws. contact me by calling the South Seas Hotel and they will get me.

I cannot get to to see anyone only on Saturday from 3:00 to 3:00 Sunday. Hope you are well. Give my love to all, no more time to write


October 27, 1942 William Shepard to home…


Dear Mother & Dad:

Received the candy and we (roomates have eaten it. Thanks a million. I am just finishing guard duty and have no news. Weather is find and I’m OK. Ill close & write some more this evening.

Well I just came of the last shift of guard duty. I will be an upperclassman tomorrow and will not be subject to guard and orderly duties. They take the guard business serious in the army and especially so along the coast.

I don’t know whether you know it or not, but I have bought my offer uniforms. They will cost about $200. There are so darn many expenses going to O.C.S. It isn’t like


being in the army as a private. We have orderly fees we pay the men who helps to hop up the hotel, and we pat about $10 a mo. laundry. Now they want us to put $25 apiece in a kitty to get class rings and throw a banquet but I don’t thin that I had better. The uniforms are really bit tailored to fit. One blouse, 4 shirts 2 pr. pants, overcoat, cap and etc. Its a good start towards an outfit.

I won’t be able to get a leave to come home. They have cut them out. I won’t get one until I have been in the army 3 mo as an officer.

I don’t know where I will be and won’t know.

If you can get gas you should come down for my graduation. It will be about Dec 5-10. Don’t bring the car unless you can get the gas because it is dry here.

Love to all, Ill write later, your son

A Patriot speaks…

Dillon Franklin Hatch, probably about the age he wrote his speech. His parents are in the next photo.

In 1867 at the age of 18 Dillon F. Hatch, my g-g-grandfather, wrote a patriotic speech which he possibly gave for a class. We are lucky enough that one of our Shaw cousins has this speech and made copies for others to enjoy. So, I thought that this would be a most appropriate post for the upcoming 4th of July celebration.

3395701408_c579d5e35e_oFirst a little background on Dillon. He was born in Grand Isle County, Vermont in 1849 to Oscar Hatch and Olive Robinson. His parents were decently well off members of society, so he received a very modern, thorough, education. He even kept a diary for a short time and practiced his writing in it, something for which he received high marks in school.

He probably apprenticed as a carpenter in his younger years, as he eventually went into the furniture making business. His repertoire included windows, and doors (one of his patented designs was in a previous post on my blog). Sometime in the 1880s he moved his wife, Almira (Brooks) and their children to Ohio, where Dillon managed a large furniture factory until he retired.

He never fought in any wars himself, his age, (too young, too old),  would always get in the way of any patriotic fervor he might have had.

The speech that we have here was written in honor of the soldiers who fought in two wars: the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, which had just ended two years earlier.

I am including a .pdf file of the complete speech in his own handwriting (albeit a photocopy). But below, for easier reading, I am giving you the transcribed version. He had many misspellings and poor punctuation, I tried to keep those errors in the transcription, however, sometimes autocorrect fixes those things, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the ‘errors’. Note: because of the time period in which he is writing this speech he does use the term ‘Negro’ when discussing the Civil War, I did not change it to a more appropriate or politically correct term, as that would be presumptive and just plain bad history. Just know that he is not using the term in a derogatory manner and is a reflection of the time period .

Dillon F. Hatch Oration, Delivered at Williston[?] May 9th, 1867 by Dillon F. Hatch

The Soldiers of the Republic
The present generation owes a debt of gratitude to all who have preceded us, but none, a greater debt than to the Soldiers of the Republic, those who fought and bled for their county’s cause who willingly sacrificed their lives in its defense. This of what our fathers endured to build up this great Republic when they were weighed down by the power of a tyrant whom they so bravely resisted and whose power they threw off , and thus became an independent nation. how staring are those memories of the Revolution, how precious the names of the actors on the theater of war, in the times that tried mans souls. With pride and gratitude we think of Warren, who, when offered the command of different parts of the field at the battle of Bunker Hill, refused, saying that he came out to fight as a common soldier, and not to command, and fighting as such he nobly fell. Warren Putmann, Pomeroy, Stark, glorious names that were not born to die. There were instances in our late war of the Rebellion of unselfish devotion to country such as is seldom seen. Such was the devotion of Ellsworth, assassinated in the very act of raising the Stars and Stripes and of trailing the Rebel flag in the dust.

We honor such as the true, noble, soldier of the Republic. But what do we owe to them. There are very few who really understand and appreciate this.

Look and behold the bright and peaceful homes scattered throughout the land, for their preservation the soldier willingly shed his blood on the field of battle. But let us compare our soldiers with those of other nations. When war was declared between Great Briton and the colonies the nations look upon it as merely an out-break of some inferior power and not requiring much force to put it down, but they are mistaken, they found a nation of soldiers though not, perhaps, as well drilled as some pf the old soldiers of the European armies but they are men that were used to hardships, and toil, and they fought fearless of danger, in defense of home and country, which they loved as life its self. In this they differed greatly from those of other nations. I do not mean to say that the people of other nations do not have this love for their county, for I do not think a nation could long exist were it not for that. But the great difference is this; our soldiers come from the people to defend their homes, instead of being those who fight for pay.

How the nation was moved by the fall of Fort Sumpter. The nation as one man, rose demanding retribution for the act, and they sought it by hurling thousands of men down upon them which crushed them out in a few year’s of war. But it was love of freedom that helped to do this more than any thing else, freedom that great boon which all men seem striving to attain. There is nothing like ones fighting for freedom and home, to bring out all the bravery and courage of the soul. A man hitherto thought to be very timid, will sometimes under the circumstances perform deed’s which seem almost incredible. No love is stronger than that for home and father-land, and it was because of this love of home that our citizen’s rose up in such numbers to defend heir altairs and their homes. (Switzerland in this respect, is most like our own nation. It stands surrounded by Empires and Kingdoms as a monument to freedom it cannot be conquered, nor can or own.) The American nation is alive at the heart and could not be destroyed by a war of centuries. The Rebell’s were actuated[sic] by an impulse to save their homes from destruction, they thought our northern soldiers would bring upon them. The lower class supposed for a time that our soldiers were bands of lawless robbers and murders, but they found their mistake after our army had passed through the country.

We have an illustration showing how love of freedom nerves the arm of the soldier in battle, in the use of negroes as soldiers in the late war. When they were first used by Fremont in Missoura, nearly all of the citizens of that state and of the other states answered him severly, because of it, and even the President refused to let him use them as such, but it was not long before they found that it was a very great mistake. Negroes became after a while some of the best and bravest soldiers in our army. The Rebells soon learned this and tried the same thing, but it did not succeed as well with them as with us, for the reason that they were fighting for their freedom when fighting with us, but when they were on the other side they were only fighting in defense of slavery that great evil they were trying to escape, and thus they fought with us for freedom and found it.

Honor to the soldier. Let his name be cherished let his children be nourished by the Republic let his lonely widow have no occasion to call in question the gratitude of the nation, let the sod  be green over his grave, and let the marble colum and granite shaft rise all over the land to perpetuate the name and the noble deed’s of the American Soldier.

1867 American Flag

Have a great 4th OF JULY!!