By John L. Kiener,
Washington County Sessions Judge
The “City Directory” of Old Jonesboro in the 1850s contained in Reminiscences of an Old Timer is filled with information of use to genealogists. Because the book was not copyrighted and was privately printed in 1930, these articles represent the first “public” distribution of the narrative supplied by Captain Ross Smith.
He tells us about his family in the following paragraph: “In 1868, on November 5, I married Miss Virginia Patterson. Four children were born to us; two girls, Lauretta and Nellie; two sons; William, engineer, and Samuel Jaques, now train master, named after our old railroad official, both with the Southern Railway. You can tell by their lives the influence of a good mother. She was my best and truest friend. The loss of her in 1911 . . . “ There is then included a poem and inspirational narrative about Virginia.
To return to the “City Directory” portion of the book, we have just left Congressman John Blair’s residence used in 1930 as the Washington Hotel, we travel now back North to Main Street.
Dosser & McEwen, merchants: one-story brick, burned about the year 1855. Site now General Stewart and Herald & Tribune office.
County Courthouse; three-story brick, built by John Lyle, 1845. Now replaced by a modern one.
J.M. Brown, merchant; two-story frame. Only one son, J.M. Jr., that I remember. Site now of the C.L. Woods Grocery Store.
J.M. Brown, residence. Site now of the apartment house of J.D. Cox.
Dr. Kinney, office, a small one-story building.
Dr. Kinney’s residence and hotel in the fifties, where stages stopped for breakfast and changes of horses. Here I will mention Alf Irvin, one of the drivers (colored). Site now of the home of Mrs. J.K. Haire.
Writer’s note on the use of the word “colored.” I have retained the use of this word as in the original of the book Reminiscences of an Old Timer. There is no desire on my part to offend anyone with this term – nor do I think it was used in that context by Captain Ross Smith. The book was written in 1930. The word is used in the tenor of the times as it was when included in the organization of the NAACP, the National Association for the Colored People. A more appropriate term in modern writing would be “black” or “Afro-American.” The reader is asked to substitute black or Afro-American for colored in this directory while at the same time understanding the desire to quote from an original work.
To continue from the book:
On the back of a large lot stood the livery stable. Site now of the Second Presbyterian Church.
James Brown, saddler, two-story fame. Three sons: Thomas, Charles and William. Now the Scheell filing Station.
Now south to the Southern Railway.
Tom Burton’s Saloon, one-story frame.
A.G. Mason’s wagon and blacksmith shop. A long one-story frame. Site now of Ward’s Warehouse.
Honly sisters, seamstresses, one-story brick. Made their living by dressmaking.
J.D. Estes, shoemaker, two-story frame. Had a large family, but names forgotten. Site now of the William Lee warehouse.
W.C. Slemons, tanner, two-story frame. Two sons; Melvill and James. Melvill lives in Orlando, Fla.; James, who married a daughter of W.H. Maxwell, lives in California. Two daughters; Charlotte, deceased and Miss Alice, who still lives in the old home.