Friday, January 23, 2015

My Grandfather Walter Adelbert Smith

Walter Adelbert Smith

Walter's Parents and siblings:

Walter Adelbert Smith was born April 11, 1889, in Red Lake Falls, Red Lake, Minnesota.
Walter's Father was Walter Ireta Smith who was born July 8, 1855 in Mackford, Green Lake, Wisconsin. He passed away March 24, 1925 in Plymouth, Hennepin, Minnesota.  Walter's Mother was Angeline Elizabeth Reigle who was born Aug 28, 1861 in Fort Snelling, Hennepin, Minnesota.  Angeline passed away May 10, 1946 in Saco, Phillips, Montana.   Walter Ireta Smith and Angeline married on October 17, 1875.

Wedding photo of Walter Ireta and 
Angeline Elizabeth Reigle
Close up same day
Walter Ireta seated and possibly his brother Ellsworth Smith

About 1890 Ireta Walter on the far right, left is Angeline; middle is Albert and the baby is Walter Adelbert Smith

He had 4 sisters:

  • Alta who was born April 4, 1877, and died May 30, 1888, age 11.
  • Merta who was born March 22, 1879, and died May 23, 1888, age 9.
  • Jenna who was born October 3/8 1883, and died June 2, 1888.
  • Elizabeth who was born October 23, 1887, and died June 20, 1888.

They all died of diphtheria before Walter was born.
Walter's older brother, named Albert E. Smith was born June 7, 1881.
Albert died January 18, 1947 in San Francisco, California. He was the only one to survive the illness that took his sisters.

Angeline was really unconsoled at losing her four daughters all within two months time between May and June of 1888.

Angeline and Walter Ireta broke up sometime between that photo in 1890 and 1893.  She married Albert Nathaniel Collins in September 1893 and they had two boys together. Freddie born in 1895 and Frankie 1897.  Albert Collins already had a daughter from his first marriage Addie Collins, born 1884. Sadness for Angeline again when Frankie died on Oct 22, 1900 of pneumonia.
It must be horrible to lose 5 children!

Left back Walter Adelbert, Center back Step sister Addie Collins, right back Freddie Collins,  front is baby Frankie Collins who died after this photo was taken. Albert was age 19 in 1900 and was not in this photo but was living with the family in 1900.
I will do a more in depth story on Angeline Reigle Smith Collins soon!

Walter A Smith

Walter Adelbert Smith was about 6'2" tall and was 190 lbs.   He had dark brown hair, hazel eyes and a ruddy complexion.
He worked in Minnesota as a lumberjack and worked on the railroad "road gang" in Montana.  He had a very dark tan because of working outside all the time.
Later he became a farmer and had hundreds of acres of land in Saco, Montana.
Nellie Emeline Boone Smith in the 1940's

He married Nellie Emeline Boone on the 17 of March 1908, in Stockton, San Joaquin, California.
Nellie was born in Rockton, Illinois, April 28, 1891.
When she was about 16, her parents sent her to Montana on the train to visit a relative and to get her away from a young man who wanted to marry her.
She was dressed in white and when she tried to get off the train the ground was all muddy.

Nellie as a young girl

Walter was working on the railroad and he saw her and went over and picked her up and carried her to the wooden sidewalk. He told his friend that when she spied her that she was going to be the one he married.
They fell in love and were married in Stockton on March 17, 1908. He was 18 and she was 16.
They lived in Stockton and in Saco, Montana.
All their daughters were born in Montana and all their sons were born in Stockton, California, except the youngest girl who was born in San Francisco.

1936 photo Back row Walter, Margaret, John, Velma, Earl.
Left Grandpa Walter seated next to him is Martha, kids in front are Carolyn, Billie, Shirley and Warren, seated behind is Laura and then Grandma Nellie

Nellie didn't want to live in Montana and wanted to live in Stockton, California so they moved back and forth between the two places.

Years later Walter sold the land in Montana to his half brother Freddie Collins. Freddie became very wealthy and rode around the land in a helicopter herding his cattle.

John said his father was a farmer, a railroad worker, and took care of animals on the farm.
He worked as a lumberjack in Montana, and North Dakota and worked in a logging camp there.
He had to learn Swedish because the table waiter was Swedish.
The tables were 50 ft. long, and the long house dining hall held 300 men. Bread was called "brod and smear".

In Stockton, Walter learned how to do cementing and plastering from a friend, Knute Haggert of "Haggert & Jack Fonz", and later Smith was added.
Walter continued his plastering contractor business. He did beautiful work on walls and ceilings. He loved his work and took great pride in what he did.
Walter could build homes from the ground up.  John learned this from Walter.

John said: "In my Dads younger days he was an acrobat and he was an expert at juggling and balancing."
He was active into his older years.
Dad continues: "I remember him balancing the children in his hod carrier. (A hod carrier is a "V" shape box with a back and no front on it. It is on a long pole which is carried on your shoulder, you put plaster mud in it).  I saw him balance it on his chin with the children in it."
"He could run up and down ladders with it balance on his shoulder without holding on to it".

                             Hod carriers

Virginia says: "John did balancing, too and balanced the children in his hand and on his chin. He loved to balance things and I have a photo of him balancing a park bench on his chin."
[Sherry says: As soon as I find that photo,  I will add it.  My Dad would have me step on his hand barefoot and then he would lift me up high as his arm would be at his shoulder height.  He had me put my arms straight at my sides and told me to stay straight.  It was fun I remember this. He could do that until I got too big to fit my feet on his hand. Later he taught us Yoga positions and we practiced yoga on the weekends with him.]
John continues: "Dad was a kind loving man who would do anything for you. He was happy all the time."
During World War I, he stayed on the farm to work raising sheep, cows, barley, corn and wheat.
From the time he could remember John said his parents were very religious.
They went to revival tent meetings.
John says:  "Dad had smoked a pipe and drank alcohol until he got Tuberculosis. He had to have half of his stomach removed. He was told he was dying and was healed in a tent meeting with a healing blessing. Walter dedicated his life to Christ, using his time and talents in helping others. Dad became very active in the Pentecostal Church.
"He was very strict at the dinner table. We had prayer before every meal. At one meal when the prayer was over, everyone said Amen, I had to act smart and said "A-women."   I was sitting four or five people away from my Dad but he was able to reach me and knocked me out of my seat. I found myself across the room on the floor. That was the last time I acted 'smart' at the table."
"Dad did a lot of whittling, (carving objects from wood by shaving the wood down with a knife). He made a lot of beautiful objects. I remember seeing him whittle on a long piece of wood and it ended up like a cane with small balls free within the wood. Dad carved balls inside of balls and those inside other balls. I also saw animals he had carved. He was very good. We had one of the canes but someone stole it.
[Sherry says: I looked up about this type of carving and it is called " Hobo Carving" The next two photos from this page.

Progression of the carving of the chains and ends with the ball inside 
                           Close up of the ball inside

                           Ball in ball in a 'cage'
These websites have a great deal of information on this art form.  Also Hobo art is carving out parts of coins so only the relief area is left. They also carve figurines and other objects.

Virginia says: "John and all the boys and his Father would wrestle. They really enjoyed it. They were very loving and everyone kissed and hugged each other every time they met."
John said this Dad talked real nice to the children when they did something bad and the kids wished he would have hit them instead, because he made you feel so bad for doing what you did. But he would also praise you for doing good.
Later on John's Dad worked for the Work Projects Administration  [W.P.A. 1935 - 1943 Federal program]
during the depression and then after that he worked at United Grocers. He put up orders for the stores at the warehouse. John's Dad was order clerk and his brother Earl was foreman.
When times were tough his Dad would bring home the dented can goods at a reduced price.
John's Dad was in the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War lodge. He was the Commander of the California Pacific Region in 1947.  He made many beautiful speeches. More on this in John's Biography.
"I love my Dad and all of his achievements."

Walter and Nellie in the 1940's

Walter and Nellie in the back and in front is sons Walter in the Navy, John in the Air Force and Earl in the Army. 

 Walter Adelbert Smith as Commander of the California Pacific in 1947
Salute in February for Lincoln's Birthday by the SUVCW - L to R
 George A Ruple - Commander, George Boone [My Grandma Nellie's brother; Sidney Bachtel and my Grandpa Walter Adelbert Smith - all in full Civil War Uniforms.

Several years before his death about 1954, Walter was in a bad accident.  While driving his car to work a train hit the car. Walter was injured badly and had brain damage. The railroad insisted on Walter being examined over and over again. This was a way of putting off paying the damages.  The Drs. would pump air into his head between his brain and skull. This was so painful for him that he would beg them to stop.  I remember going with him and a member of the family when had one of these tests. I think these tests caused a lot of brain damage. I think this affected his mind until he hardly knew anyone. This went of for several years before he died.
Walter died July 15, 1956 in San Francisco, California of a heart attack.
At the time of his death there was a strike at the cemeteries and no one was buried. The funeral directors told us they would inform us when he could be buried so we could have a graveside service. By the time the strike was over they hurried and buried everyone and told us later.
Walter was buried at Cypress Lawn, Colma, California.
Walter Adelbert Smith Grave - Grandma was there with him when she passed in 1967 and John and Virginia ordered the gravestone

Walter's brother Albert:
Albert Smith, Walter's brother told Virginia that there was Blackfoot Indian in Walter's family. [Sherry: I am still looking proof of this information.]

Albert said that he had lost track of his father Walter Ireta Smith and had visited him and his second wife in Faribault, Minnesota in 1896.  We found the records that Walter Ireta Smith passed away the 24th of March 1925 in Plymouth Hennepin Minnesota.  His sister Emma Emily Smith Crandall signed the the death certificate. Emma was born April 28, 1853 in Watertown, Jefferson, Wisconsin. Emma Crandall passed away February 16, 1932 in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota.

left is Albert Smith 1881 - 1947 
Comparison to My Dad John on the right 

Virginia says: "I met Walter's brother Albert (Bert as he was called) in 1946 when he came to live with Walter and Nellie in San Francisco.
He was a very tall good looking man.
He was very nice. He had lived in Minnesota where he was a lumberjack.
The day he died he was helping Walter and John outside the house and had come in and ask me for a bowl of milk and cherries. I brought them to him at the table and he was just sitting there like he was asleep but he was not moving. I got John and he discovered Bert had passed away quietly.
I had learned to love him like an Uncle in that short time. He died of a heart attack.
Albert married May Wood Waller and had two daughters and later she divorced him. I met one of his daughters who lived on Castro St.  May also had five children [three daughters and two sons] from her first marriage to Thomas William Waller.

Data and photos from my parents John Everett Smith and Virginia Mae Mifflin Smith notes July 1994
Excerpts from writings of Nellie Boone Smith

                   Nellie Emeline Boone Smith in 1936
Sons of the Union Veterans 
of the Civil War or GAR Logo

Walter's half brother Frederick Augusta Collins

Fred Collins and Nance marriage photo 1924

Fred and Nance Ada Willmore married in 1924. They had two daughters and a son. 

As I find more photos I will add them. Later I will do a profile on each of the children and their families.