Page 2 – Autobiography – Benjamin Lafayette Smith
made and used to feed the crowds at noon, and care for the few that remained at night.
About the year 1859, the Methodists sold this church at Prairie hill, and built a similar one at
Artesia on the M.&O. R.R. They worshiped in it unpainted until about the year 1876 before
ceiling or painting it.
About the year 1840 my father bought four Negroes, these were John, Henry and
Abram, and a woman the wife of Abram, Mandy. With these men, he built three cabins
made of small logs or round poles, without hewing or peeling them, with wooden chimney.
Ribs of small logs were put on top of these forming a frame to nail the oak boards to,
instead of rafters with sheathing. These cabins were built on the ground without floors and
cracks were filled and daubed with mud, which made them warm and comfortable. In a
similar manner a built a crib for corn and log stables. My father lived in one of these until
he could build him a better one. He fenced these and horse lot and garden with ten foot rails
split of oak. He also fenced his farm in same way.
These buildings were located near the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of
northeast quarter of Sec. 27 T18 Rl6 East about a half mile from the prairie in the woods.
In a seepy place near a branch or creek about 200 yards from these cabins he had a will dug
about twelve feet deep and curbed with wood. A long pole, with chain and bucket placed on
small end, was placed in a fork set deep in the ground, made a contrivance for drawing
water. This furnished all the drinking water. My father soon put in cultivation several small
patches of prairie.
In December 1841 my father and mother-Emily McGee were married. Wm Weir, a
Methodist preacher performed the ceremony in a large log church 500 yards northwest of
where Billups Gate, a flag station on the Montgomery branch of the M.&O. R.R., is now
located, three miles northwest of my fathers house, and ten miles west of Columbus. The
Rev. Wm Weir was the father of Rev. T. K. Weir, who was a member of the North Miss.
Methodist Conference, and died at his daughters in Okolona last year.
I was born October 11th 1842 in one of the above mentioned cabins which was
located about 100 yards southeast of where Saunders Wilburn and his wife Estelle Wilburn-
the only child of Charles R. Smith, now live. Soon after this my father quit teaching school,
and ever after this, and devoted his whole time to farming and stock raising. He soon built
for himself a double log house, of large hewn logs, with ten foot hall between floored with
rough plank. At each end of this hail was a small board shelter, which answered for a
porch, resting on two peeled poles set in the ground. There were no floors to these shelters.
The chimneys were of wood and the cracks in these as well as cracks in the house, were
filled with wood and daubed with mud in which hog hair was placed. The floors were of
dressed matched lumbers, with batton doors made of similar lumber. The rafters of this
house were made of small round poles peeled, and sheathing was of split laths, three inches
wide and three fourths of an inch thick, and covered with oak boards thirty inches long. The
furniture consisted of one cheap plain bedstead, in each room, fastened together with cotton
rope cords, and a trundle bed under my mothers bed, six unpainted plain split bottom chairs
and a similar rocker, which was known as my mothers, a cheap wardrobe, bookcase and
table. The two latter made by a neighbor carpenter, also two small hanging mirrors.
The timbered land was interspersed with small prairie spots from an acre to three or
four, in which grew wild strawberries, sometimes a good many. In the black flat land there
grew a good many wild plums, which were large and well tasted. There were a great many
acorns, as well as scaly barks and hickory nuts, and a few walnuts. All these were a great