Benj L. Smith Sr.
                                    Autobiography     
         
         
         
                                                 West Point Miss 7/27/1921
 
              In writing this short and imperfect sketch of my Benjamin Lafayette Smith’s life,
         when the word about is used in giving dates, the time is not exact, but approximately so.
              In June 1835 my grandfather John Smith deeded to my father John M. L. Smith and
         his brother Frank Smith 480 acres of land in Sees 27 + 28 T18 R16 East Lowndes county
         Miss.; about half of this being timbered, and the other half open prairie. The Northwest
         corner of this land on the Gilmer road, reaching to within two miles of where the Artesia
         depot was afterward built in 1859 on the M&O R.R. This road was completed from Mobile
         Ala to Macon Miss in 1858, and to Artesia in 1859, and to Okolona in 1860. The gap in the
         road from Okolona to Jackson Tenn was completed in the early part of 1861, which finished
         the M&O R.R. now Mobile Ala to St Louis, Missouri. The prairie portion of the above
         mentioned land was on the east side of a large prairie of 4000 or more acres known as the
         Pitchland prairie, so called from an old Indian chief who owned it; About this time 1835,
         soon after my father graduated at Tuscaloosa Ala, at about the age of 23 years of age, he
         began to teach a school at Carolton Ala. He taught there two years, and afterwards taught
         five years in Lowndes county, Miss., at two places Prairie Hill and Sixteenth section. The
         latter was located two miles east of where the Artesia depot was located, and three miles
         northwest of his house on the sixteenth section T 18 R16 East Lowndes county Miss. The
         former was located near a postoffice two and a half miles southeast of his home. The school
         house at Prairie Hill was a log house 1 8X20 ft. with wooden chimney, one cheap sash
         window and batton door. The house at the Sixteenth section was a three room unceiled
         building with hall between the two front rooms. The third room adjoining the hall. The
         weather boards were dressed never painted. Two of these rooms were finished with brick
         chimneys, cheap sash windows and batton doors. To the other room no sash or door or
         chimney was ever added. About the year 1842, the Methodists built a frame church at
         Prairie Hill about 40X60 ft., weather boarded with dressed lumber, with large sash windows
         and panel doors, and plain cheap dressed seats, and cheap box pulpit. This church was
         never painted, nor was a heating stove ever put in it. There was preaching in it on good
         days in winter. This church was built between the log school house and the postoffice.
         Soon after this the members of the church prepared a camp ground near the church building
         for holding protracted meetings in the summer after laying by the crops. On this ground was
         built a large rough shelter about 200 ft square. Rough slabs were put on logs on the ground
         for seats. The ground under these seats and in the aisles was covered four inches deep in oat
         or wheat straw. Many put a handfull of straw on seats to sit on. Some brought buggy
         cushions along to sit on. Each camper made for himself and guests two rough low shelters
         ten feet apart, which formed a hail to sit in. The two rooms were used to sleep in. One for
         males and the other for females. The lower half of the sides of these rooms were boarded up
         with four ft boards nailed upright and hemp bagging was stretched around the upper half.
         The ground in the halls and rooms of was well covered with straw. The cooking was done
         in the open, at the rear of these under a shade tree, and nearby was a rough table made of
         wide plank placed on stakes driven in the ground. Twelve or fifteen of these tables were
 
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