Page 4 – Autobiography – Benjamin Lafayette Smith
were painted green, and mantles black.
About the year 1858 my father had a fifth room added to the south side of the
southwest room, and no other change was ever made in it during his lifetime.
Again, about the year 1853, Sherman, Penn and myself started to school at the
Sixteenth section, and went no where else after this to a country school. A. J. Swepston
taught the first year and a better part of the next year. Felix Wood, a brother of Joshua
Wood, a former teacher at Prairie Hill, taught the balance of Swepstons second year. J. H.
K. Smith taught a little while in the early part of 1855, then another Smith(”Bighead Smith”)
so called from his unusually large head taught a month of two, and he was followed by a
dressy good natured fellow Armstrong, who taught one month only. Swepston was a good
teacher and his pupils advanced rapidly under him. He kept good order but had to use the
switch a good deal. The others were failures as teachers though J. H. K. Smith had fair
success at other places after this.
Felix B. Turnipseed, a neighbor of ours, commenced to teach Feb.. 1st 1856 and
taught ten months that year, and a good part of the next year possibly ten months. He was a
good teacher. W. R. Thompson commenced to teach in Feb. 1858, and taught ten months in
each of the next two years, three years in all. He was a splendid teacher, and his pupils
advanced rapidly under him. He Whipped when unavoidable and would whip a large boy as
quick as a small one. My father stopped me from school the latter part of 1859, and
had me superintend his hands in gathering the crops. He made a fine crop, and weather
being fine all Fall, the whole was saved nicely and in time. The next year I went to school
to Thompson until September when I went to the University at Oxford Miss.
About this time my father and Beverly Matthews were elected to represent Lowndes
county Miss., in the house of Representatives. They were serving when the State seceded
from the Union. During the Presidential campaign of 1860, there was a good deal of
excitement. As soon as Lincoln was elected, a military company of University students was
organized, and Wm Lowny, 18 years old from my county, and a class mate in the Junior
class was elected captain, and they began drilling regularly between school hours. I was
frequenfly solicited to join the company, but refused, as I wanted to give my whole time and
attention to my studies. South Carolina seceded from the union early in 1861, then
Mississippi, and other states soon followed, By this time there was more excitement in the
college and not much application to study. As soon as war was declared, the company, the
University Grays, went to Virginia, and reveled in forming the 11th Miss. Regiment. When
this company assembled at the depot, and while waiting for a delayed train, S. Q. C. Laman
who was a professor at the University at that time, made a war speech to them, standing on
top of a box freight car. Very soon after this the University was closed, and the few
remaining students left for their homes. After reaching home a military company was
organized near Choctaw Agency in Oktibbeha County, with 1. H. Ware Captain, Dr. J. L.
Crigler 1st Lieut Wm Tabb 2nd Lieut. and Dr. W. D. Outlaw 3rd Lieut. It was called
Agency Rifles. The Company offered its services to the Confederate government, and was
soon ordered to Corinth Miss. II wanted to join it when organized, but my father and mother
were so much opposed to it that I did not. I tried to content myself for a while, but finally
about the 1st of June joined the company at Corinth. On the 3rd of June 1861 I was
mustered into the company. The Agency Rifles with nine other companies organized the
14th Miss regiment, and elected Wm Baldwin Colonel, M. E. Norris Lieut, Col. and W. L.
Doss Maj.. The 15th and 16th Miss regiments were organized at the same time, all were