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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
The Smith Family
Swanson Smith was born around 1819 in Virginia, specific birth place unknown. He immigrated to Warren County, Illinois, probably sometime after 1840. He would have been a young man then, but it is not known if he relocated there with his parents or alone. Nonetheless, he was doubtless a handsome man as was the norm with this Smith line and he attracted the attention of a Miss Rebecca Kenan. Rebecca was born about 1826 in Ohio. She and Swanson were married on November 21, 1844, there in Warren County. They subsequently moved to Knox County, Illinois. Here the first five of their children were born, including their son Fred who was born in 1856. He would be the last of the children to be born in Illinois. The Smith family moved to Hudson Township, Macon County, Missouri in 1859 where they were well known farmers. The oldest five of their children were all boys and became integral to the operation of the farm. The 1860 census of this township in Macon County indicates that their farm had a real value of $3000. Both Swanson and Rebecca died in Macon County and are buried there. Their offspring generally spent most of their lives in the same vicinity. All of the sons became farmers, except James who became a saloon owner in Ethel, Missouri.
Fred, like his father, was a handsome man. At the age of 24, he married Mattie Scrutchfield. This wedding occurred on November 28, 1880. To this union, three children (two daughters and a son) were born; Iola, Leonora (Laura) and Artie. It is believed that Mattie died sometime between 1888 and 1991, because on July 20, 1891, Fred was remarried to Sarah Emmer Herrin. They were married in Macon County, Missouri, and lived there for the remainder of their lives. To this union, four children were born; a daughter Chloe, born in 1892, a daughter Ethel, born on May 10, 1894, a son Charles Swanson, born in 1896, and another daughter Winifred, born in 1900. Winifred died at the age of four.
As was traditional for a Smith boy, Fred was a farmer. At least, all census records list him as a farmer. However, family remembrances indicate that he was a gentleman farmer; always surviving, but nobody remembers him working much. Nonetheless, Fred and Emmer were wonderful parents, raising kind and intelligent children to adulthood. Fred died on August 9, 1922, and Emmer died some thirteen years later on July 17, 1935. Both died in Elmer, Missouri, and are buried there. Chloe married John Rice, a local businessman in Elmer until around 1940 when he moved to South Bend, Indiana, and opened a five and dime drug store. Ethel married Paul Bailey (see Bailey family history) and lived in Elmer until around 1940, when they also moved to South Bend, Indiana, where Paul was employed by the city park district until his death. Two of their children, Gladys and Fern, remained in Elmer for most of their lives, being active members of the community. Charles Swanson remained in Elmer for his entire life, first opening the Smith Garage (located behind the MFA building) and later the Elmer Drug Store, where he was employed until his death.