Week 6: #52 Ancestors – Surprise
By Eilene Lyon
My grandfather, Laurence M. Smith, wrote many stories about his life. I’ve already shared some on this blog. But there’s a big gap between the death of his beloved mother, Mary Lila Reams, and the beginning of his engineering career. All he said was, “It was a sad and tragic time for our family and not a time to be remembered in any great detail. It is enough to say that after this time the family fortunes went no where but down.” What happened during that time that he never spoke of?
In the 1930 census, I finally located Laurence’s father, Charles E. Smith, in North Moscow, Latah County, Idaho – along with a wife and his youngest son, Loren.1 Grandpa had a stepmother!
I asked my mom and aunt if they knew about this stepmother. They said they’d been aware their grandfather had remarried, but the consensus was that she was universally disliked by Charles’s children.
Who was Jennie E. Wallace?
So who was this mysterious second wife of Charles E. Smith? This is her story…
Jennie E. Wallace was born in Iowa in 1874, the last-born child of John Wallace III and his second wife, Rhetta Lawler.2 When she was about a year old, her family moved to Kansas, and in 1882, to Latah County, Idaho. John Wallace opened the first sawmill in Kendrick.3
Jennie had three half-siblings, including William Duffy (“W. D.”) Wallace, and six siblings. In 1893, Jennie married a Canadian-born man in Moscow, George A. Smith (no relation to my Smith family).4 George worked as a typesetter. The following year, Jennie gave birth to their daughter, Camille.5
About 1901, Jennie and George separated. George took a job with a newspaper in Grangeville, a hundred miles away.6 As a single mother, Jennie had to work to support herself and her daughter. She became a dressmaker and later ran a boarding house.7 This house was located at 934 W. 6th St. in Moscow.8 The house is long gone and the property was absorbed into the University.
Around 1912, Jennie’s aging parents came to live with her and she cared for them until 1915, when her father died. Her mother predicted she herself would not last another three days. Three days later, she died in a fit of “apoplexy” and a double funeral was held for the esteemed Wallaces, Latah County pioneers.9 A few years later, Jennie’s brother, W. D. Wallace and another man were killed in an auto accident in 1919.10
By 1920, Jennie and George had officially divorced. She claimed to be widowed in the census that year, but he said he was divorced.11,12 George was still living in Grangeville. Later, he moved to Kellogg and then Sandpoint, still working as a linotype operator and running a printing shop.13,14
A Second Marriage for Both
Jennie E. Smith and the widowed Charles E. Smith were married June 16, 1920.15 He was 52 and she was 45 years old. Shortly before her marriage to Charles, Jennie became a grandmother. Her daughter, Camille, had married in 1917, and gave birth to a daughter, Betty Rose, in May 1920.16,17
Charles’ two youngest children, Laurence and Loren (aged 12 and 9), were still living at home then. The three of them moved into Jennie’s home on 6th Street. It’s clear that Laurence and his siblings were still mourning the loss of their mother. Perhaps that was the root of their rancor towards Jennie, but we’ll never really know. Maybe they didn’t like the fact she was a divorcee.
Charles was a business owner in Moscow for many years. First he had a confectionary shop on Main Street which he sold after a few years. He then started a delivery business, first delivering groceries in horse-drawn wagons, then adding trucks.
Sometime after his marriage to Jennie, he went to work at the University, tending the boiler at the physical plant. He was employed there in 1930.18 By 1940, he was unemployed and he and Jennie were living in Clarkston, Washington, about 34 miles from Moscow. Jennie’s daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter also lived in Clarkston at the time.19
As Paul Harvey Would Say…
After 1940, Charles moved to Spokane to live with his son, Laurence, and family. His granddaughters remember him as a kind — and largely mute — presence in their lives. Soon he wound up in a nursing home where he died in 1946.20 His obituary mentions his second marriage, but does not name Jennie or list her as a survivor.21
Jennie’s first husband, George A. Smith, who had not remarried, moved into the house in Clarkston with Jennie, but exactly when isn’t certain.22 It appears they rekindled their relationship and remained together from then on.
Jennie died in 1962 and was buried in the Moscow Cemetery. George (d. 1965) was laid to rest by her side.23 Their daughter and granddaughter are no longer living, so it would be difficult to learn anything about Jennie’s personality, or about the 20 years she spent with my great-grandfather, Charles.
Jennie E. Wallace on Ancestry
- Smith, Charles E. and Jennie E. Year: 1930; Census Place: Moscow, Latah, Idaho; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 2340136 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Smith, Jennie E. Year: 1900; Census Place: Moscow Ward 2, Latah, Idaho; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 1240233 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Obituary for John and Rhetta Wallace. Oct. 21, 1915. Abstract from unnamed Moscow newspaper. Latah County Historical Society files. ↩
- George A. Smith and Jennie E. Wallace. Ancestry.com. Idaho, Marriage Records, 1863-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005. ↩
- George A. Smith. Year: 1900; Census Place: Moscow Ward 2, Latah, Idaho; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 1240233 ↩
- George A. Smith. Year: 1910; Census Place: Grangeville Ward 2, Idaho, Idaho; Roll: T624_224; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0154; FHL microfilm: 1374237 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Jennie Smith. Year: 1910; Census Place: Moscow, Latah, Idaho; Roll: T624_225; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0196; FHL microfilm: 1374238 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Mrs. Jennie E. Smith. Clearwater, Idaho, City Directory, 1914. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. ↩
- Wallace obit. ↩
- Obituary for W. D. Wallace in the Dayton, WA, Columbia Chronicle, cited in https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8140799 ↩
- Jennie E. Smith. Year: 1920; Census Place: Moscow, Latah, Idaho; Roll: T625_292; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 123 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- George A. Smith. Year: 1920; Census Place: Grangeville, Idaho, Idaho; Roll: T625_292; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 100 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- George A. Smith. Year: 1930; Census Place: Kellogg, Shoshone, Idaho; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0008; FHL microfilm: 2340138 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- George A. Smith. Year: 1940; Census Place: Sandpoint, Bonner, Idaho; Roll: m-t0627-00740; Page: 81A; Enumeration District: 9-23 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Jennie E. Smith (divorced) and C. E. Smith. Ancestry.com. Idaho, Select Marriages, 1878-1898; 1903-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2014. ↩
- Camille Smith and Philander Rawson. 1917. Ancestry.com. Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. ↩
- Betty Rose Rawson. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. ↩
- Charles E. Smith. Year: 1930; Census Place: Moscow, Latah, Idaho; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 2340136 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Year: 1940; Census Place: Clarkston, Asotin, Washington; Roll: m-t0627-04331; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 2-7 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Ancestry.com. Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. ↩
- “C. E. Smith, 78, Succumbs” 25 Oct. 1946 The Daily Idahonian, p. 2. ↩
- Smith, George A. (Jennie). 1959-60 Lewiston-Clarkston Directory p. 332. ↩
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23037448 ↩