A Tale of Two Cemeteries

A Tale of Two Cemeteries

Frances Eugenia Thorne Smith

A month and half ago, I was contacted on FaceBook by a cousin from the SMITH branch of my THORNE line. She was interested in learning more about her Thorne ancestors.

My great-great grandfather, William Taylor THORNE (8 Nov 1829 – 26 May 1916) lived his entire life in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. He fought in the 2nd Battle of Manassas, where he lost an arm and left the Confederate Army as a Lieutenant. He was married to Mary Berry TURNER (9 Feb 1835 – 30 Jan 1915), also born and died in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

I am descended from their son, Durham Lee THORNE (1 Jun 1868 – 11 Dec 1943) who married Annie Caldwell FOSTER (29 Aug 1878 – 12 Jan 1947). The SMITHs are descended from Lee’s sister, Francis Eugenia THORNE (10 Oct 1860 – 27 Sep 1946) who married John McClellan SMITH (28 Feb 1845 – 13 Nov 1918).

I discovered among my papers a genealogy chart done by a member of the SMITH family many years ago. This paper was in my great Aunt Mary Sue THORNE’s papers. It may be the only copy left in existence.

As I added the SMITH cousins to my database, I began to research them. Frances and John M. SMITH and most of their children are buried in Cowpens, Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The obituaries I have been able to locate all state they are to be interred in Cowpens Cemetery. I could not find them on surveys for Cowpens Cemetery, also known as Cowpens City Cemetery. I did find most of them on a survey for Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens in Cowpens.

The survey states these burials are in an older part of the cemetery and that the cemetery has many burials from the 1800s, many unreadable stones, and many graves marked with only field stones.

This made me curious to find out more about the history of the cemetery. I wrote to a librarian in the Kennedy Room at the Spartanburg County Library. All she could find was a bit of info from a “History of Cowpens” book. According to this book, Cowpens Cemetery dates back to 1850, when large landowner, John Terrell Wilkins, set aside land for a community cemetery.

The information on the Daniel Morgan cemetery is not presented as clearly as it could be. It says Floyd’s Mortuary “assumed ownership” of the property in 1950. It goes on to say “Tip” Moseley is considered the “father of the new cemetery” because he wanted to develop property for a new cemetery and considered battlefield property but the ground proved unsuitable. In 1944 the town of Cowpens deeded seven acres to Moseley for a cemetery. It says the new cemetery became reality by the “middle 1950s.”

Cowpens Cemetery and Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens are adjacent to one another. Daniel Morgan Memorial is the newer section on the northern side of Cemetery Street. The Cowpens City Cemetery is on the southern side of Cemetery Street encompassed by Mr Cash Drive and Smith Street.

It is not possible that a cemetery that opened in the “middle 1950s” has graves dating back to the 1800s. It is possible that Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens annexed some sections of Cowpens Cemetery. If that is the case, why does no one have any information on this? I have spoken to the staff at Floyds and they have no history on the cemetery or on annexing portions of the cemetery.

Did the surveyor who transcribed the headstones in Daniel Stewart Memorial Gardens wander into some sections actually belonging to Cowpens Cemetery and index these burials in the wrong cemetery? I may never find an answer to these questions but I really would like to know which cemetery these cousins are really buried in.


Olive Bertha Smith

Missionary to China & Taiwan

Missionary and prayer center founder, Olive Bertha Smith (affectionately known as “Miss Bertha”), was born on November 16, 1888, near Cowpens, SC, to John McClellan and Frances Thorne Smith. She attended Linwood College in North Carolina for one year, then transferred to Winthrop College, where she graduated in 1913 with a bachelor of arts degree.  She worked as a teacher for one year after graduation in an elementary school in Blacksburg, South Carolina, but feeling the call to the mission field, enrolled in the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School in Louisville, Kentucky and graduated in 1916.  She served for one year as principal (and also as a teacher) in Spartanburg County, South Carolina at the Cooley Springs School.

On July 3, 1917, the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed Smith as a missionary to China. She spent much of her initial time in China learning the Chinese alphabet and language and teaching English classes to Chinese students. She also witnessed the roots of the Shantung Revival (a period of Christian spiritual awakening for Chinese people) during her lengthy career of mission service. For some of her time in China, she was in charge of a girl’s boarding school at the mission, where she taught Bible classes in both Chinese and English.

After being interned by the Japanese in 1941, Miss Bertha continued her work in China until 1948 when Communism forced her out. She then moved to Formosa (the main island of Taiwan), where she served until her retirement. She was the Southern Baptist Convention’s first missionary to Taiwan. After her retirement, Bertha Smith prayed for and ministered to pastors and other Christians up until her death in 1988.

She retired from mission service in 1958 at age 70 but traveled extensively telling about her mission work. Smith founded the Peniel Prayer Center in Cowpens, SC, in 1973. She also authored books about her experiences as a missionary, Go Home and Tell and How the Spirit Filled My Life and is the subject of a biography, Miss Bertha: Woman of Revival by Lewis Drummond.  Many of her oral sermons are still available, many online for free download.

Olive Bertha Smith was one of Southern Baptists’ most influential foreign missionaries. She was also a beloved educator, author, and administrator. Smith died on June 12, 1988, in SC, at age 99, just short of her 100th birthday.

Miss Bertha’s brother, Lester Berry Smith, became a minister in Newport News, Virginia. Rev. Smith married Rev. Intha DeLona McCraw, also an active minister in Newport News, Virginia.

Miss Bertha never married and spent her years after retirement with her sister, Jennie Elvira Smith, also never married, until Jennie’s death in 1976.

Miss Bertha’s Find a Grave Memorial is here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=83324412&rand=333

The Smith Branch of my Family

I may be a research junkie, but I am a terrible blogger.  My New Year’s resolution is to do a better job of reporting on what I am researching and why I am researching that topic.

I was contacted on FaceBook a month or so ago by a SMITH cousin, who wanted to know more about her THORNE ancestry.  For a research junkie, this wasn’t as simple a request as it sounds.  Before I could tell her about the THORNE family, I had to trace the SMITH link back to where it linked up with the THORNE line and go from there.

I have a very old printout from a very old genealogy program that was in my Aunt Mary Sue THORNE’s papers that gives the SMITH genealogy from the THORN marriage on.  The papers are hard to read and follow, but with some perseverance, I have muddled through part of it and gotten new names into my database.  I also have some old family group sheets from another THORNE cousin that contain SMITH family information and have been useful in this project.  The work isn’t complete, but it will be soon.

In the process of adding the SMITHs, I made a discovery that surprised me.  The most famous SMITH is Southern Baptist Missionary, Olive Bertha SMITH, who served in China and Taiwan for 47 years.  I went to Find a Grave and found there was no memorial there for her or for the other SMITHs buried in the same, Cowpens.. South Carolina cemetery.  Of course I had to fix that.

There is some confusion in my mind as to which of two Cowpens cemeteries the SMITHs are buried in.  I found them on a survey for Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens, but all of their obituaries list Cowpens Cemetery as their burial place.  I added 720 burials on Find a Grave to Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens, but have a suspicion that the surveyor wandered into an old section of the Cowpens Cemetery, right next to Daniel Morgan, and included these burials in the wrong cemetery.  More research will hopefully solve this question.

Meanwhile, I created a nice memorial for Miss Bertha, as she was affectionately known, and linked her with her parents and their parents, back to the THORNE connection.  William Taylor THORNE, Civil War Veteran,and his wife, Mary Berry TURNER, had a daughter, Frances Eugenia.  Frances married John McClellan SMITH and that is where the SMITH connection began. They had another daughter, Marie Rosalee, who married John SMITH’s brother, Columbus Daniel SMITH, Jr., so we actually have two, related SMITH lines descended from THORNEs.

My next post will be about my mission to find out the history of these two cemeteries and explain the difficulty in separating them.  I do want to honor Miss Bertha, so I am going to create a post right after this one that does that.