The Bedsteads of the Smith Family at Cedars

Upon entering the gate at Milton, North Carolina’s Cedars Cemetery, I was overwhelmed (in an excited way) at the number of older-looking graves. This row of markers caught my eye almost immediately and I started snapping photos. Initially I thought that the epitaphs had weathered away, but after taking the first few photos I realized that the inscriptions were etched on the side of the marker facing away from where the flowers would have been planted in the “bed” part. (D’oh!)

 In this photo there are three bedstead markers and one small box tomb. The bedsteads belong to Adeline Mildred Smith, Rosa Smith, and Delia Sterling Smith. The box tomb marks the grave of Munford Augustus Smith.

From the other side of the plot, weathering on the markers is more visible. The grave with lower curbing belongs to Major Thomas McGehee Smith, who died at age 30 on May 30, 1864 after being wounded near Bethesda Church, Virginia during the Civil War. (His middle name, which is his mother’s maiden name, is spelled “McGeehee” in some records.)

Maj. Thomas Smith’s footstone

 In the haste of trying to beat sundown, rain, and having dealt with a camera malfunction earlier I neglected to get Thomas Smith’s marker from the front. His memorial on Find A Grave has a better picture. Thomas’ last words are inscribed on his tombstone: “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like His.”

Thomas’ parents were George Alexander and Adeline McGehee Smith, the same Adeline mentioned earlier. Thomas had been a lawyer who attended the University of North Carolina prior to joining the military at the rank of Captain. (He was promoted to Major in 1863.) There was one family tree on Ancestry that reported Thomas being married to Julia Alexander, but there were no citations available and I couldn’t find anything to back that information up.  

Adeline Mildred McGehee was born in 1813 (some reports list 1814) to Thomas McGehee and Elizabeth Mildred Mitchell Jeffreys. She was the oldest of her siblings, with the youngest being Sarah, born the same year that Elizabeth died (1825). She married George Alexander Smith, a tobacco manufacturer and merchant (I wasn’t able to find the marriage date.) The 1850 census, taken when Adeline was about 36, lists the following children: Thomas (16), William (14), Delia (9), Ellen (5), George (3), and Murray (6 months). There was a Robert Scales (18) in the report as well, and he was reported as a “clerk.” He could have been a boarder. Murray, who is not buried in North Carolina, went to law school and embarked on a political career in Mississippi.

Of course we know from tombstone inscriptions that there were other children born to George and Adeline not reflected on that census, like Munford Augustus, who was born in 1842 and died in 1845. The inscription on his marker reads, “Son of Geo. A. & Adeline Smith. 2 yrs 7 mos & 1 day.”

I believe that Rosa Smith was another of George and Adeline’s children because she’s buried between her mother and another known Smith offspring. Other than her birth and death dates (Jan. 6, 1852-Feb. 5, 1855), the inscription reads, “Our Little Rosa”.

Delia Sterling’s marker is more detailed: “Daughter of Geo A & Madeline M Smith. Born 2nd May 1840, Died 16 June 1853 Aged 13 years 1 month & 14 days.”

George died on April 7, 1860, but there is nothing marking a grave at Cedars or information about his burial location. According to the 1860 Mortality Schedule, he died suddenly from heart disease. This site transcribed his death notice: “Mr. GEORGE A. SMITH of Milton, N.C. was sitting in his store reading a letter on the 7th. inst., when suddenly, without a groan, he expired.

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-population Census Schedules for North Carolina, 1850-1880: Mortality and Manufacturing (M1805); Archive Collection: M1805; Archive Roll Number: 2; Census Year: 1860; Census Location:  , Caswell, North Carolina; Line: 16.

The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi. Dept. of Archives and History, 1904.

2 thoughts on “The Bedsteads of the Smith Family at Cedars”

  1. What a wonderful find. I tend to get all excited and go 'snap happy' when discovering a wealth of old markers. It isn't until I get home and download the pictures that I notice things I should have paid more attention to,. Still it's an excuse to go back.

    It must have been very hard in those days to lose so many children. Great post.

    Thank you for linking up with Cemetery Sunday.

    Beneath Thy Feet


  2. I agree with you and Nicola — I also get excited when I see old markers! Sometimes, I cross my fingers about my photos, especially when it's really sunny out.

    This is a nice collection of photos, and a really interesting post! 🙂


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