Maria Amanda Smith

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Maria Amanda Smith (Foscue)

Birthdate: (62)
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, United States
Death: March 24, 1885 (62)
Smithfield, Cache County, Utah Territory, United States
Place of Burial: Smithfield, Cache County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Rev Benjamin Foscue and Eliza Foscue
Wife of John Mitchell Smith and Preston F. Thomas
Mother of Lois Angeline Bushman; Rebecca Florence Ewing; Cordelia Melissa Smith; Omni Smith; Frederick Wickliff Smith and 2 others
Sister of Col. Frederick Forney Foscue; Eliza Ann Lee; Frances Adams Foscue; Freeman Anderson Foscue; Louisa Blankenship and 6 others

Managed by: Arthur Rexford Whittaker
Last Updated:

About Maria Amanda Smith

Daughter of Benjamin Frederick Foscue and Eliza Scurelock

Married John Mitchell Smith, 18 Apr 1839, Coosa, Alabama. Died 16 Jun 1850, Nr Florence, Douglas, Nebraska.

Children - Cordelia Melissa Smith, Rebecca Florence Smith, Lois Angeline Smith, Omni Smith, Frederick Wickliff Smith, Alice Foy Smith, John Freeman Smith

Married Preston Thomas, 17 Nov 1851, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Anna Maria Thomas, Benjamin Daniel Thomas, Marion Augusta Thomas

Life Story of Maria Amanda Foscue by Sarah S. Greaves

(The first page is missing.)

After coming to Alabama, Maria Foscue met a fine young gentleman, John M. Smith, who had attended college and graduated as a medical doctor. He was 30 years old and she a beautiful young girl of 17. They were married in Coosa County on 18 Apr 1839. They were both from notable leading families of the “Old South.”

Maria was reared in a home where most of the housework and cooking was done by Negro women servants. The ladies had more time for art, education and literary pursuits. They were also good horse women and participated in hunting trips as the country in those days abounded with wild game. At the time of her marriage, they were given three Negro slaves, a man and his wife and a big girl to help on the farm and in the house.

They lived near her father’s home which was a large mansion on a green hill and could be seen from their home. Their first two children were born here; Cordelia Melissa 16 Apr 1840 and Rebecca Florence on 12 Feb 1842.

In the summer of 1843 John Smith moved his family, slaves and stock westward, eventually to settle in Texas. They stopped in Arkansas some months and Lois Angeline was born near the town of Little Rock on 25 Jan 1844.

In the spring they went on to Texas and while living on the Guadalupe in 11 May 1846 their first son, Frederick Wickliffe, was born. Then while living at the little Colette, Alice Foy was born 9 Oct 1848. This was not far from Austin where the Smith relatives lived.

Rev. Benjamin Foscue was planning to move to Texas. Immigrants flowed into this state and wealth began to increase. It may have been 1847, 1848 or 1849 that he had bargained for or bought a large plantation near Jefferson. In 1848 he sent a construction builder to oversee the building of a fine home and Negro quarters.

Previously the three older daughters of Rev. Foscue had married. Sarah married Asa Meadows and later settled near her father’s home in Jefferson. Then Maria married; then Eliza, only 15 years old, married John Percival Lee in 1844 and they also moved to Texas.

While living at Colette in the spring of 1849, the message of the Gospel was brought to Maria and John by two Mormon missionaries, Elder Preston Thomas and Elder Byron Pace. They held meetings in the different homes.

On the evening of March 24, Elder Thomas preached on “The Kingdom of Heaven.” That evening Maria F. Smith expressed a desire to be baptized as she was believing. A meeting was appointed to be at her home the next day at 11 a.m.

According to appointment Elder Thomas baptized Mrs. Smith the morning of 25 Mar 1849 and confirming her at the water’s edge. Then he preached at the 11 o’clock meeting on the subject of “Salvation.” In the afternoon he preached again on the subject of “The Apostasy.”

A meeting again was appointed for the morrow at 11 a.m. at the home of Mr. Gow. On Monday he preached about the “Second Coming of the Messiah and Signs of the Times.” By invitation he preached again in the afternoon on the “Book of Mormon.”

After preaching two men came forward and were baptized, John Smith and Lorenzo Van Cleve. At night we had a prayer meeting at the home of Brother Smith. The above is partly taken from the diary of Elder Thomas.

Other relatives that joined the church were John’s sister, Margaret S. Van Cleve and Maria’s sister, Eliza, and her husband, John P. Lee. However, the writer could find no record of these couples in connection with the further travels of John and Maria.

John and Maria now prepared to leave Texas. They wished to gather with the Saints at Council Bluffs, Iowa to be ready the following spring and join the company that would leave for the Rocky Mountains. That fall they sold their property, exchanged livestock for commodities they would need on the trip and freed their slaves.

On hearing of their plans, Benjamin Foscue wrote to his daughter, Maria, asking her and John to come and see him before they left to go so far away as he had a portion to give her and Eliza. He regretted to see his daughter leave and go into a desert country as Texas was now becoming a rich state. He expected to be in his new home at Jefferson by the end of the year, 1849.

It was in December when they started on their way to Jefferson. Travel was slow. After going through a large forest, they camped a few days in a cabin by a sawmill. They camped here a few days because of their sick baby, Alice Foy, but she died 27 Dec 1849. Maria emptied a box of books to bury their dear little child in and sorrowfully left the little darling buried in the forest.

Upon arriving at Jefferson they found that Maria’s father, Rev. Benjamin, had died the week before on 6 Jan 1850 with cholera. Nothing had been arranged in regards to property as they had expected. They stayed at the Foscue home all winter and spring. Then they started on their dreary pilgrimage alone with teams and wagons.

Eliza and John P. Lee with three little children left in the early spring and took a southern route and went to San Bernardino, California and joined Saints there. They later moved to Beaver, Utah. The Van Cleves never moved to Utah. John and family finally arrived at St. Joseph, Missouri.

He bought supplies for the family use and enlarged his outfit. He purchased 10 cows, 25 sheep, 2 yoke of oxen and wagons and hired men to help drive the stock. He was a man of means and comfortable wealth for those days.

They journeyed to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where companies were organized. John Smith was a captain of 10 wagons, Warren Foote was captain over 105 wagons and under him, Byron Pace, a captain of 105 wagons in whose company the Smiths traveled.

In early June this large wagon train left Council Bluffs and after three days on the road came to the Sweetwater River and camped to wash and cook. While here many became stricken with the dreaded disease, cholera, and died. John Smith took the disease and died in 24 hours on 16 Jun 1850. His dying request was that his family journey on to Zion and live true to the faith.

Her dear life’s companion so suddenly gone and in frail health herself, Maria was left alone at the helm with four young children–Cordelia 10, Rebecca 8, Lois 6, and F. Wickliffe 4. With this large outfit to direct she relied on the Lord for comfort and guidance and with supreme faith and courage went forward. She showed good business ability and management in adjusting the hired help.

They arrived in Salt Lake Valley Sep 1850. The hired help left for California. Seth M. Blain took care of her sheep and on horseback she drove her cattle and horses through the shallow waters of the Great Salt Lake onto Antelope Island where the stock spent the winter. She was advised to locate at Tooele and had a lumber house built there, quite nice for those days.

On 1 Jan 1851 her son, John Freeman, was born. This event was esteemed by her as a special comfort and blessing. The death of the child’s father and the subsequent hardships of the long trek across the plains and establishing a home, had proved too much for the mother’s health and the frail baby died in March. They lived in Tooele nearly two years.

In Nov 1851 Maria married Preston Thomas as his second wife. He was the missionary that converted her and her husband to the Church. Preston Thomas was a lawyer from Tennessee. He and his wife were converted to the Church about the time persecution drove the Saints from Nauvoo. Therefore, they lived at Winter Quarters from which he went on two missions to Texas. It was the summer of 1851 when he and his family arrived in Utah and they made their home in Lehi.

Maria and her children moved to Lehi after her marriage to Mr. Thomas. They lived there two or three years; then moved to Cedar Fort for the sake of her stock and was there five years.

Preston Thomas was a school teacher in Lehi. He was a member of the Territorial Legislature during three terms. In Feb 1852 he was appointed judge of Utah County, being the first Probate Judge there. Later he went on another mission to Texas and helped two or three emigrating groups of Saints to Utah. He was busy in church and civic duties.

In 1860 the Church called him to Franklin, Idaho, to be the bishop there. He took his first family with him. He never lived in Lehi again. When he was 58 years old he was killed while cutting and hauling logs in Idaho.

After this, Maria began using her first husband’s name, Smith, but the four children by Thomas used his name. The four children were: Anna Maria b. Jan 1853 at Cedar Fort, died in infancy’ Benjamin Daniel b. 28 Nov 1854 at Cedar Fort; Nancy Eliza b. 25 Dec 1858 in Lehi; and Marian August b. 26 Feb 1861 at Lehi. Nancy Eliza was the only one that married and had a family.

Maria’s three oldest daughters by John M. Smith, all married and had large families. Cordelia married Preston Morehead and lived at Smithfield, Utah and she had 15 children. Rebecca married Samuel Ewing, lived at Smithfield and had 14 children. Lois married John Bushman, lived in Lehi and had 7 children there, then helped with her husband to build the community of St. Joseph, Arizona and had 5 more children there.

Maria’s oldest son, Frederick Wickliffe, never married because of ill health. He died at the age of 35 in 1881. There is a record of his helping with sealings in the Endowment House. He worked in the St. George Temple with his mother and Aunt Eliza F. Lee doing ordinance work. All the temple work done at this time was under his name as heir. After he died, they used his father’s name as heir.

Maria F. Smith’s last years were spent in Smithfield, Utah where her oldest daughters and their families lived. She died in Smithfield on the 24 Mar 1885 and was buried in the cemetery there.

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, James Pace Company (1850); Age at Departure: 27.

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Maria Amanda Smith's Timeline

September 13, 1822
Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, United States
February 25, 1842
Age 19
Selma, Dallas County, Alabama, United States
January 25, 1844
Age 21
Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas, USA
March 20, 1849
Age 26
March 4, 1879
Age 56
March 24, 1885
Age 62
Smithfield, Cache County, Utah Territory, United States
March 1885
Age 62
Smithfield, Cache County, Utah, United States
Coosa County, Alabama, USA