Elizabeth Loving Smith: Love for 16 Children and Her Church

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is LOVE.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


I mostly research my father’s side of the family. But with this week’s prompt being LOVE, it’s time to show my maternal side some love and feature an ancestor with a name that perfectly fits the theme: Elizabeth Loving Smith.

My 3x great-grandmother Elizabeth Loving was born February 28, 1804,¹ to parents Bailey Loving and Nancy Cook,² likely in Georgia.³ She married Lot Smith on June 15, 1820, in Lawrence County, Mississippi.⁴

Researching female ancestors of this time period can be challenging, as their names appear on few records. Unless they are a head of household (typically indicating they are widowed), women aren’t even listed by name on federal censuses until 1850. I only have three records naming Elizabeth: her marriage certificate, obituary, and gravestone. Therefore, the best way to fill in details about her life is through records generated by her father and husband.

Elizabeth and Lot probably knew one another as neighbors. Their fathers owned land near one another west of Brookhaven, Mississippi, in what was then Lawrence County.⁵ Five years into their marriage, Lot purchased a parcel just north of Brookhaven in Copiah County.⁶ He continued to buy property through 1860, expanding his farming operations in the area.⁷ His properties were originally in Lawrence and Copiah counties, but all were emcompassed by Lincoln County when it formed in 1870.

Elizabeth and Lot had many children — up to 20 according to unsourced public trees at Ancestry and FamilySearch. I was skeptical, so I analyzed census data for the Lot Smith household. Analysis of pre-1850 censuses is especially tedious because only the head of household is named. Other household members are counted with tally marks by gender and age range — and these ranges aren’t even consistent among censuses. Census data for these years show the following household members:

1820 Census, Lawrence County, MS
Lot Smith Household⁸
Males (age 16-20): 1
Females (age 16-25): 1

1830 Census – Copiah County, MS
Lott Smith Household⁹
Males (age < 5): 1
Males (age 5-9): 1
Males (age 20-29): 1
Females (age < 5): 3
Females (age 20-29): 1

1840 Census – Copiah County, MS
Lott Smith Household¹⁰
Males (age < 5): 2
Males (age 5-9): 1
Males (age 10-14): 1
Males (age 15-19): 1
Males (age 30-39): 1
Females (age < 5): 2
Females (age 5-9): 1
Females (age 10-14): 1
Females (age 15-19): 1
Females (age 20-29): 1

Beginning in 1850, all household members’ names are listed. Although relationships aren’t stated, it is reasonable to interpret the Lot Smith household consisting of parents Lot and Elizabeth with children:¹¹

1850 Census – Copiah County, MS
Lot Smith, male, age 49
Elizabeth Smith, male, age 48
Isaac Smith, male, age 17
Barbary Smith, female, age 15
Elizabeth Smith, female, age 14
Nancy Smith, female, age 12
William M. Smith, male, age 9
Leonard Smith, male, age 7
Amanda J. Smith, female, age 4
Spencer Smith, male, age 1

(Census data for Lot continues through 1870 and Elizabeth through 1880, but add no other named children.)

Using genealogist J. Mark Lowe’s 1800-1840 census comparison form, I entered the above data and compared it to records for known children of Elizabeth and Lot. Adding the four children born after 1840 from the 1850 census (William, Leonard, Amanda, and Spencer), I calculate they had 16 children.

Lot-Smith-Census-Analysis-1820-40-2

And Elizabeth’s obituary agrees. I found the following newspaper transcription in Lincoln County, Mississippi: Its People, 1875-1895, Volume 1:¹²

Thursday, December 21, 1882

Died – On the evening of the 12th inst [sic] at her home in Lincoln county, Miss., [sic] Elizabeth Smith, in the 79th year of her age. She was struck with apoplexy and in a few hours died without a struggle. Aunt Betsy, as she was familiarly called by those who knew her, had for many years been a devoted member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and oh how we will miss her when we go up there to worship, for she never failed to fill her seat when her feeble health (?)… Sister Smith has a husband (Lott Smith) and six children who have trod the gloomy path of death before her, and leaves 10 children, and a large number of grand children to mourn her loss.

What a legacy of love — both for her family and her fellow church members. Not only did she have 16 children, she had scores of others who loved and cared about her.

Gravestone of Elizabeth Loving Smith (1804-1882), Lot Smith Cemetery, New Sight, Lincoln County, Mississippi; photograph by Leslie Pierce Royce

Elizabeth’s husband Lot died in 1873.¹³ She is buried next to him in the cemetery bearing his name: Lot Smith Cemetery in New Sight, Lincoln County, Mississippi.¹⁴


But that’s not the end of the story.

After I found Elizabeth’s obituary on Saturday, I searched for Mt. Zion Baptist Church. There were two in the general area of Lot’s land, but I knew the correct one when I saw Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Brookhaven was located at the intersection of Mt. Zion Road and Lott Smith Road! The website for the Southern Baptist Convention listed it as an active congregation since 1823. Although I couldn’t find a local website for the church, they had a Facebook page. I sent a message, and got a quick response from Pastor Zach Kilpatrick. He agreed to look for Elizabeth in their records.

Although church records are a key part of genealogy research, I haven’t had much success using with them for my family. Nearly all of my ancestors were some type of Baptist, mostly Primitive or Southern. Unlike mainline Protestant denominations and the Catholic church, each Baptist church is independent and autonomous and records are kept at the local level. Historical records are only available if the church kept them, if the records survived, if the church is still in existence or thought to donate records to a library, and if the church is willing to help locate them. That’s a lot of ifs, and they make Baptist church record research difficult.

As I was writing this blog post this morning, I received another message from Pastor Kilpatrick — he found Elizabeth! Not only was she a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, she and Lott donated land for the church. The church has a self-published history with information about Lot and Elizabeth, which Pastor Kilpatrick is sending by mail. In the meantime, he snapped a few quick photos with his phone. His information included the obituary I saw previously, but with a complete source citation. The document also included a transcription of the Bible record of William Martin Smith, son of Lot and Elizabeth. It includes the birth — and some death dates — of their 16 children. According to this transcription, the 16 children were¹⁵

  • Berry Smith – born 6 May 1821, died 3 July 1824
  • Elias Smith – born 3 June 1823, died 22 Jan 1846
  • Melissa Smith – born 13 Mar 1825
  • Parnissa Smith – born 27 Dec 1826
  • Elijah Smith – born 14 Feb 1828
  • Selena Smith – born 4 Jan 1830
  • Elisha Smith – born 21 Apr 1831, died 29 Aug 1834
  • Isaac Smith – born 3 Jan 1833
  • Bailey Smith – born 14 Oct 1834
  • Elizabeth Smith – born 29 Apr 1836
  • Nancy Smith – born 30 Mar 1838
  • Lot Smith – born 5 May 1840, died 14 Oct 1846
  • William Martin Smith – born 3 Aug 1841
  • Leonard Smith – born 4 Jul 1843
  • Amanda Jane Smith – born 5 Jun 1846
  • Spencer B. Smith – born 20 Dec 1848

The accuracy of Bible records are determined on several factors. Generally, these records are considered better evidence if the Bible’s copyright is before the event dates listed, if the entries appear to have been made near the time of the event (i.e. various inks/colors, different handwriting indicating time passing between entries), and by someone with direct knowledge of the events. I have not seen the original Bible, but I’m guessing this information was entered by William Martin Smith once he reached adulthood, well after the events occured. But this information is better than no information; therefore, I am trusting it more than tally marks on census sheets.

Finding this Bible transcription also gives me a unique opportunity to see how accurate I was with my census analysis. How did I stack up? About halfway, I think. I correctly identified Selena, Isaac, Elizabeth, and Nancy. However, the child identified as Elijah was really Elias, and Elijah is Unknown Male #1. I confused age categories for Pernecia and Malissa. The Bible records identified Unknown Male #2 as Bailey and Unknown Male #3 as Lot, Jr., and also introduced Berry and Elisha who died in infancy and never appeared on a census. I’m not sure who Barbary from the 1850 census was, and there was no Unknown Female #1. (Perhaps this is easier for a family with less than 16 children. Or with a family who doesn’t name three children Elias, Elijah, and Elisha!)

I’m eagerly awaiting more information from Pastor Kilpatrick. The church secretary is also a descendant of Lot and Elizabeth, and she has a photograph of Lott to share with me. Mt. Zion’s bicentennial is just a few years away — in 2023 — and the pastor encouraged me to come for this big event or one of their yearly homecomings. I definitely think a roadtrip to Brookhaven, Mississippi, is in my future!


¹ Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23196895/elizabeth-smith : accessed 10 Feb 2019), memorial 23196895, Elizabeth Loving Smith (1804-1882), Lot Smith Cemetery, New Sight, Lincoln County, Mississippi; gravestone photograph by Leslie Pierce Royce.

² Bailey Loving was most likely Elizabeth’s father, as he was the only Loving household in the state of Mississippi in 1820, the year of Elizabeth and Lot’s marriage, and was also located in Lawrence County.
1820 U.S. census, Lawrence County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 72 (penned), line 25, Bailey Loving; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7734/4433380_00082/606794 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M33, roll 57.

³ All four censuses on which Elizabeth is listed state her birthplace as Georgia:
1850 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, population schedule, Gallatin, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 192, family 192, Elizabeth Smith in Lot Smith household; image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8054/4200042_00033/3384722 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M432, roll 371.
1860 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 65 (penned), dwelling 433, family 445, Elizabeth Smith in Lott Smith household; image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4233363_00353/38650710 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M432, roll 353.
1870 U.S. census, Lincoln County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 6 (penned), dwelling 44, family 45, E Smith in Lott Smith household; image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4273791_00154/36193065 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M593, roll 737.
1880 U.S. census, Lincoln County, Mississippi, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 11 (penned), p. 44 (stamped), dwelling 5, family 5, Elizabeth Smith in Spencer Smith household; image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241784-00092 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication T9, roll 655.

⁴ “Mississippi Marriages to 1825,” database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2093&h=2846&ssrc=pt&tid=53112007&pid=13485651864&usePUB=true : accessed 9 Feb 2019), entry for Latt Smith and Elizabeth Loven, 15 Jun 1820, Lawrence County.

⁵ Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=0111-202&docClass=CV&sid=nzfgte0s.f4b : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Bailey Lovin, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 956.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=0112-220&docClass=CV&sid=bqjt3vwy.epp : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Isaac Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 220.

⁶ Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS0090__.105&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 618.

⁷ Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS0450__.047&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 5023.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS2070__.415&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 27153.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS2110__.324&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 29184.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS0540__.186&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 10083.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS2200__.160&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 33545.
Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database, General Land Office Records (https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=MS2190__.412&docClass=STA&sid=pxnenz0x.hhq : accessed 10 Feb 2019), entry for Lot Smith, Lincoln County, Mississippi, no. 31674A.

⁸ 1820 U.S. census, Lawrence County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 75 (penned), line 15, Lot Smith; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7734/4433380_00076/607134 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M33, roll 57.

⁹ 1830 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 119 (penned), line 13, Lott Smith; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8058/4410623_00235/1328850 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M19, roll 70.

¹⁰ 1840 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 4 (stamped), line 4, Lott Smith; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8057/4409533_00222/2248422 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M704.

¹¹ 1850 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, population schedule, Gallatin, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 192, family 192, Lot Smith household; image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8054/4200042_00033/3384722 : accessed 10 Feb 2019); citing NARA publication M432, roll 371.

¹² Yvonne M. McGlothing, Lincoln County, Mississippi: Its People 1875-1895. (Brookhaven, Mississippi, 1988), vol. 1:32-33.

¹³ Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23196888/lot-smith : accessed 10 Feb 2019), memorial 23196888 , Lot Smith (1803-1873), Lot Smith Cemetery, New Sight, Lincoln County, Mississippi; gravestone photograph by Leslie Pierce Royce.

¹⁴ Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23196895/elizabeth-smith : accessed 10 Feb 2019), memorial 23196895, Elizabeth Loving Smith (1804-1882), Lot Smith Cemetery, New Sight, Lincoln County, Mississippi; gravestone photograph by Leslie Pierce Royce.

¹⁵ Citation TBD when document received from Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

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