Simon Smith born 26 August 1750

Simon Smith was born 26 August 1750, in Ipswich, MA, the son of Thomas Smith and Tryphena Russell.  He married Mary Shatswell on 20 November 1771. Simon’s occupation was “currier”, meaning one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease. He died 29 August 1815 in Ipswich.  His son Joseph lived to be 98, and was a celebrity in Ipswich.  At his death in 1881, a reporter published a small biography about Joseph, and it included a few pages of Joseph’s memories of his father.  The following paragraphs are excerpts from that book. 

Simon Smith followed the trade of his father. In his youth and early manhood he worked in his father’s shop. He was remarkable for his physical strength; whatever employed him, whether swinging a scythe or using the currier-knife, he outstripped his fellows. The story is yet told of him coming home one Saturday afternoon from Newburyport, where he had been working at his trade; he had received the pay for his work, and passed beyond the limits of the town, when suddenly he was confronted by a ruffian who demanded his money. Without a moment’s hesitation or confusion Simon grasped the villain and held the currier’s knife over him; the man begged pitifully to be released.

During the revolution he several times engaged in privateering. A League was formed in the High street neighborhood with the under-standing that if any member of it should be drafted each should contribute his share towards sending a substitute. Simon, one of the League (or Class as it was also called,) came under the draft; a substitute was promptly provided. This substitute served the required time, and was then asked to go a second time for another person; he assented and was enrolled, but before he was paid, he was invited to a down river party and never returned. Rumor said there was foul play at Plum Island that day.

When Simon Smith and Mary Shatswell were married they went to live at Red Gate, and there the children were born. We catch glimpses of that early home by what has been told us: One night when Simon was away the mother gathered all the children into her room to sleep — for it was a lonely place to be in without protection. She heard at night the tramping of many feet and cautiously lifting the curtain she saw a company of Hessians marching hastily by. Their skirted coats gave the idea that they were Indians, and whether friend or foe she could not tell. It was a night of fear to the lonely mother. This midnight march caused intense excitement in Ipswich.

At another time a woefully tattered beggar appeared at the gate. The terrified children ran to their uneasy mother, and she speaking to the dog, he barked so furiously that the old wanderer went down the road like Jehu’s horse.

When dinner was ready and the father was not on time, [Sir they called the father then] the children were sure if they called him in the great brick oven he would come; so the now aged Joseph, then a little tow-headed boy, took down the wooden door of the oven, and putting his head in. shouted, “Sir, Sir, the dinner is ready:” and then the impatient children ran to the door to see if Sir was in sight.

Life at Red Gate was too lonesome, and so Simon bought the little one story house which stood at the rear of the High st, school house. It “had diamond pane glass, a double front door, and a huge flat rock for the door stone. In this house the short story of the youngest boy’s life ended. His name was William; a winsome child he was. Every Sunday night the mother made a short cake of flour, just big enough for herself and husband. No child expected any portion of it, for a bowl of milk and rye bread was their usual supper; but the little petted William, because he was the youngest, the dearest and the best, was by common consent allowed to be worthy a little fragment of the cake, and more than that, he was permitted to eat it standing at the table, a privilege no other child of the family had, for the wooden trencher and bowl were taken from the table, and the child sat upon the doorstep in summer and before the fire in winter. Little William when six years old sickened and died of scarlet fever. Greatly was he mourned and never forgotten. They put him in his little black coffin, and four lads carried him over to the old burying ground, and there by the side of the grandparents the pleasant child was laid. His mother mourned to her latest day.

 Thanksgiving Day was the one day of all the year. Simon Smith always bought fourteen pounds of flour for this occasion, and Mary, his wife, made each of her children a little mince pie with a flour crust. It was the only time in the year that the children tasted flour, unless they were sick or had company; then a few crackers were allowed.  The Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of a pudding with raisins or dried huckleberries. This was served first. Then followed roast goose, and that there might be no lack, there was also a boiled dish.

 There were not many books in the Smith house: the children learned “Polly Gould’s Last Words,” and the “Majors only Son;” and now and the Major’s son wandered into town from Newbury, wailing his song and showing the gold ring of the rhyme.

The old family pew was the front gallery seat directly facing the minister. It was bought when the meeting house was finished, by Thomas Smith, 1750 for £35. is the link to the complete book.


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