The Death of Armon Smith

Written by Lyle Smith
Contributed by Ike Futch

July 5, 1887 — Tuesday, October 31, 1933

Age Forty Six Years, Three Months and 25 Days

Armon Smith was born July 5, 1887, at Lapile, Union County, Arkansas, a twin brother of Harmon Smith. They were the sons of Woody K. Smith and Mahalia Elizabeth Head. Woody K. was born April 26, 1857, in Ouachita Township, Bradley County, Arkansas. Mahalia E. was born August 5, 1853, in Alabama. They were married September 2, 1880, in Union County, Arkansas.

Mahalia E. Head died March 20, 1895, in Union County, Arkansas, leaving behind 6 children and 2 step-children.

Woody K. Smith married his 3rd and final wife, Mary Rebecca Barron, July 18, 1895, in Union Parish, Louisiana. Mary Rebecca was born November 2, 1864, in Union Parish, Louisiana, during the Civil War.

Mary Rebecca was a 31 years old, “Old Maid”, having lived with her father, Henry Callaway Barron, and had her own crops on his farm, on Big Corney Creek, south of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana. Into the marriage she brought her life savings of $900.00. Mary purchased a team of mules and food and cloth with which she and Armon’s oldest sister, Lizzie, made much needed clothes for the entire family.

Mary Rebecca Barron had been raised by her father to have a place for everything, and everything put back in its place after it was used. She did all her chores on the exact same time each day, and always washed at the spring the same day each week, with no exceptions. She expected her new step-children to do no less. Their mother had been sickly for over 2 years and bedridden the last three months, so there had not been much discipline in the home. Mary was a hard worker and a stern task mistress, and she ran the house like that from the start. Each child was assigned duties to perform.

Armon and Harmon were 8 years old when the new lady of the house arrived. Mary would instruct one of the twins to fetch stove wood while she was cooking, but he would not do it, but sorta wondered off. When approached about it, Harmon or Armon would use the other twin to Mary. They would say, “You must have told my twin brother to get the wood.” Mary soon broke up their little scheme. She instructed both of the twins to fetch the stove wood.

Mary Rebecca said if one twin got sick. she knew to prepare the bed for the other one, because he too always came down with the same illness.

John Lee Smith, Armon’s youngest brother, and Delma Wall were married October 16, 1932. Her oldest brother Carl came to visit. Carl was on the porch at John Lee’s home when one of the Smith twins drove by in a wagon being pulled by a team of mules. Several minutes later the other twin walked by going in the same direction, and Carl not knowing about the twins, stated that he was the walkingest fellow he had ever seen.

In Union Parish during the early 1900’s, taxes were paid by working on the dirt and gravel roads of the parish by hand. A taxpayer would be notified as to what road they would be working on, and on what day he was expected to show up with shovel and hoe. On December 25, 1915, Uncle Harmon was scheduled to do road work. Uncle Armon reported in his place so Harmon could marry Mary Eva Rogers. The twins were 27 years old at the time.

When Harmon’s oldest daughter, Ruth La Nelle, was very young, she saw both Harmon and Armon approaching and exclaimed, “I’ve go two daddys.”

Armon Smith married Rosa Lee Ogden November 6, 1907. He was 20 years old at the time. Rosa Lee was born March 26, 1892, in Union County, Arkansas. They were married in Union Parish, Louisiana by J. W. Hunt, Justice of the Peace, as required by law, in the presence of 3 male witnesses. The witnesses were N. A. Graves, W. A. Mason, and Minor Ogden, brother of the bride. The Marriage Bond was signed by Armon Smith and H. T. Rockett. This marriage being duly filed and recorded in Book “11”, Page 594 of Union Parish Marriage Records.

Rosa Lee was a sister to Bob Ogden as well as Minor Ogden, who married the twins older sister, Nancy Jane (Nannie) Smith.

Armon and Rosa Lee were the parents of the following children:

  1. Harmon Loy Smith was born August 24, 1909 north of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana. He was born in a long cabin west of where Minor and Nannie lived their last years.
  2. Martha Marie Smith was born February 7, 1912, north of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana, in the same log cabin that Loy was born in.
  3. Woody Knighten (W. K.) Smith was born April 16, 1914, north of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana in a house directly across from where the present day William Ogden home stands.
  4. Robert Minor Smith was born December 3, 1916, north of Spearsville, Union, Louisiana, in a house between New Hope Primitive Baptist Church and where William Ogden’s home stands today.
  5. Curtis Armon Smith was born September 28, 1919, north of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana, in the same house Robert Minor was born in.
  6. Olive Larue Smith was born November 13, 1923, in a house on the Boone Breazeal farm. The exact location is where the present day John Lee Smith stands.

Rosa Lee Ogden Smith died February 20, 1929, a little less than 37 years old. She died in the same house that her daughter, Larue, was born in. She was buried in Spearsville Cemetery in Union Parish, Louisiana.

The exact date of the beginning of Rosa Lee’s Christian experience is not known, evidently it was while she was quite young. Her mother related that as a mere child, she would sit and churn, holding in her lap the old hymn book; and sang with joy the dear old hymns she always loved so well. Rosa united with New Hope Primitive Baptist Church at the Association September 27, 1914. She remained a true and faithful member until her death. (Written by her brother-in-law, John Lee Smith).

Armon Smith purchased 80 acres of land from S. R. Templeton for $300.00 in 1909.

Armon Smith purchased 10 acres from his brother-in-law, J. R. Ogden for $100.00 in 1909.

Armon Smith purchased 40 acres of land from his brother, Harmon Smith for $200.00 in 1916.

Armon Smith purchased 10 acres of land from H. T. Rockett for $50.00 in 1917.

Armon Smith sold 40 acres of land to this twin brother, Harmon, for $350.00 in 1918.

Armon Smith sold his mineral rights for $120.00 in 1919.

In 1923 Armon Smith sold the mineral rights on his land he had purchased from J. R. Ogden. The lease sold for $153.00 for 5 years.

In 1919, Harmon purchased 60 1/2 acres of land from his brother Armon for $900.00.

After Rosa’s death, Armon courted and planned to marry Eliza Ogden, the niece of his late wife, and the daughter of his brother-in-law Bob Ogden. Bob told Armon if he married his daughter, he would kill him.

On November 30, 1932, Armon Smith, age 45, married Eliza Ogden, age 34, in Union County, Arkansas. They were married by O. A. Miles, Justice of the Peace. Signing the Marriage Bond was Harmon Smith and H. T. Rockett. This marriage being duly filed and recorded in Book “14”, Page 38 of Union County, Marriage Records.

The points that must be remembered in considering Armon’s death are:

  1. Bob Ogden told Armon Smith that if he married his daughter, Eliza, he would kill him.
  2. Everyone involved and concerned firmly believed that after Armon married Eliza, Bob tried to poison Armon at Bob’s house. Armon was given food or drink that contained poison and immediately became deathly sick, causing him to throw up, and probably that saved his life at the time. John Lee Smith along with several of his brothers and sisters said Bob Ogden tried to poison Armon.
  3. Many in the community believed that Bob Ogden was insanely jealous over his daughter.
  4. When young Minor Ogden, Bob Ogden’s son was 21 years old he caught Bob Ogden beating his wife, who just happened to be Minor’s mother. He told his father if he ever touched his mother again, he would kill him.
  5. Miss Mollie Ogden, Bob Ogden’s wife was deathly afraid of him, and had to lock herself in her room many times to keep him away from her.

On October 31, 1933 Armon was cutting wood with his son-in-law J. R. (Bouy) Futch and Prentice Clark, a local black man. Bob Ogden had been hunting and came up to the log they were cutting, supposedly climbed through the fence carrying a loaded shotgun, stepped over the tree and shot Armon in the face and throat with a shotgun. He was killed instantly. Bob said he did it while having a fit.

The following column was found in the Gazette Weekly Newspaper. November 1, 1933.


Just as we get this issue of the paper made up, news reaches Farmerville that a man was killed at Spearsville Tuesday just before noon.

The indefinite news said a man named Ogden had shot and fatally wounded Armon Smith. both men were resident of the Spearsville community. Sheriff Pat Murphy and deputies had gone to the scene of the killing at 12:30 Tuesday, but had not returned when this is written. Rumor said the shooting was accidental.


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