About Joseph Lee Smith
Joseph Lee Smith (1776-1846) was an American lawyer, soldier, and jurist. He was the father of Confederate States of America General Edmund Kirby Smith.
Born in Connecticut, Smith practiced law in that state until the War of 1812, when he became a lieutenant-colonel in the U.S. Army and served with distinction in combat. At the Battle of Stoney Creek in Ontario, Canada on June 7, 1813 quick thinking and action by Smith saved his 25th Infantry from capture.
After the war, Smith remained in the Army, rising to the position of colonel, when he was placed in command of the 3rd Infantry in 1818. Resigning from the Army shortly thereafter, he returned to his Connecticut law practice, but moved to Florida in 1821. From 1823 to 1832 he was a Territorial judge in that state. Subsequently, he practiced law in St. Augustine. He lived with his family at the Segui House for his entire residency in St. Augustine. After his death, the house served for a time as the St. Augustine Public Library. Today it serves as the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library.
His oldest son, Ephraim Kirby Smith, was born in Connecticut in 1807. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, he died in combat during the Mexican-American War in 1847.
His youngest son, Edmund Kirby Smith, was born in Florida in 1824, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1845, and served with his brother in the Mexican-American War. In 1861, he did not join the Confederate Army until his home state of Florida seceded.
Alexander Darnes the son of slave Violet Pinkney was born in Smith's house at 12 Aviles St. in St. Augustine. Darnes who would remain in servitude to the end of the Civil War would become a celebrated and successful physician.
Both Smith and his wife Frances are buried side by side in the Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine.