Provided by Robert Hendrick
William C. Smith Obituary
Farmerville Gazette Circa Dec. 24, 1880**
Died- At his residence in Farmerville, LA, December 23, 1880, William Calloway Smith, aged 52 years, one month and 17 days. Bro. Smith was born in Perry County, Alabama, Nov. 6th, 1828, of respectable parents, who moved to Union Parish with their young son, when he was only nine years old, where he continued to reside until his death.
While his life was a very quite and an unostentatious one, it was in many respects a remarkable one, and it is highly proper that a retrospective view of it be taken, both in its exemplary effect upon the …. , and also as an encourage-ment …. to faithfulness in discharge …. duties incumbent on us as …. And custodians. In 1853 he was elected, on the Whig ticket, Recorder of Union Parish, which trust he held uninterruptedly, and through all the great political and social changes in our government and country, and under various and conflicting administrations, of antagonizing parties, until that office was abolished by the constitution of 1879 – a career in public service that is without a parallel in the history of the State. And it shows what a strong hold a man may get of public confidence by honest and faithful discharge of official duty. He joined the Baptist church in Farmerville in 1854 and in 1856 he married Miss Elizabeth A. Manning of this parish, and he lived to witness her death, (she having joined the church when he did) the conversion and baptism of his only two adult children, and the election of his oldest son to the office of Clerk of Court of District Court, in 1879, which … succeeding him in office.
William Smith’s civic virtues were always invested in the high positions he was called to occupy by the Masonic fraternity, for, by degrees he ascended to the highest positions that a Lodge of Master Masons, and a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons could confer, and at his death he had been for many years a Life Member of Union Fraternal Lodge, which distinction he could not acquire without an invariably good report, for fifteen consecutive years. He was both a Past Master of his Lodge and also Past High Priest of D. F. Reeder Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.
He was also several times elected Mayor of Farmerville and was Clerk of the Police Jury of the parish for more than twenty years.
About 1872 he became …. with Caries of the …. (this part missing, but he was known to have died of osteomyelitis of the hip) after treatment and operations that afforded but little relief, he visited …. mountains …. but derived no benefits.
The slow and steady progress of his malady forced him to take to the bed on the 23rd day of December 1876; exactly four years before his death. And who could tell the pains, the agonies, the fluctuations of hope and despair, during the long days and nights of those four years?
What pen so gifted, that it could trace the varying emotions of the heart that still throbbed with affection and anxiety for the loved ones that the long prostrated body could no longer assist.
What artist could paint that immortal soul, hallowed by consecrated life, striving to be released from the fetters that bound it to earth, and away from the blissful fruition reserved for the faithful in the Mansions of the Redeemer? Or, who could describe the conflict between the emotions that bond him to earth and the desire for that “rest” which he had such abundant hope of very soon realizing?
During this time – in 1878 – he was taken to the National Surgical Institute at Atlanta, GA, but the combined skill of the great men of science there congregated could not release the hold that the monster had upon his frame, and he returned home after six months treatment, resigned to his fate – to suffer and to wait.
And that suffering is beyond description – that waiting had its reward only in the hope that its termination would be endless joy and peace.
During this time, the gradual process of decay, so emaciated him that he became entirely helpless – his body wasted away so, that he was a “living skeleton” indeed, but it never lost its vitality nor its capacity to suffer, and while he could but endure, he retained to the last moment of life, the full and free exercise of his mental faculties, as well as the triumphant development of his Christian faith, and his life past out like the receding rays of the setting sun, without a struggle or … .
How truly the poet has said:
The beasts of heraldry, the pomp and power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
Await alike, the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Bro. Smith although dead, is still living among us in example and in his influence. No man can point to a single act of his life that was not prompted by the purest motive. He never had a lawsuit nor a church difficulty in his life – never had a charge against him of official dereliction – never fell short of the latest measure of public esteem that too, from all classes of people who knew him.
He was generous and forbearing with those who differed with him on all subjects, he was charitable to the poor, who often made appeal to his liberality, he gave freely to the church and spread of gospel, and was therefore a practical Missionary Baptist; he did what he could to build up schools in the country, and took great pride in the education of his two sons and daughters; and his general course in life tended greatly to the elevation of society, the dissemination of morality and the spread of religion. Combining great firmness of character with unassuming and unostentatious habits, he lived a life of piety that was radiant with meekness and amiability.
He was unaffected in his manner, genial and social in his intercourse, hospitable to a fault, just and upright in all his dealings with all, and deeply devoted to his cherished household … by them. … eulogy on the … the honor paid him … in no sense be compared to the grandeur of the rewards in the future and higher life, laid up for those who have been faithful in the use of those talents entrusted to them. Let us try to merit the rewards on earth that Brother Smith enjoyed, by being like he was, faithful, honest, and zealous in good works, and let us strive to merit the welcome that he received at the gate of New Jerusalem, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things and I will make the ruler over many.”
W. R. Rutland
** Taken from tattered original article, therefore could not be reproduced in its entirety
A Good Man Gone
The death of William C. Smith threw a deep gloom over our people. An old and honored citizen, a Mason of high standing, a bright shining ornament in the church, all contributed to the gathering of a large assembly at the Baptist Church at eleven o’clock on Christmas Day to pay the last tribute of respect that the living can pay the dead. Service was opened by singing “Asleep in Jesus.” Prayer was made by Eld. R. Parvin, a short discourse was preached by S. C. Lee, followed by singing “Sweet By and By.” The benediction was given, when kind friends took the body to the graveyard and interred it by the side of his companion, and his daughter, Mrs. Judge Kilgore, both of whom preceded him by about one year. They sleep side by side, until the resurrection morn, to arise clothed in the robes of a blessed immortality.
An extended notice of such a noble man should, and no doubt will be prepared by some member of the family for publication.