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Below is a family biography included in The History of Smith County, Tennessee published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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S. M. Phelps, superintendent of the county poor, is a native of Davidson County, Tenn., born in 1831. His parents were Silas and Margret (Rigely) Phelps. The father was born in North Carolina in 1794, and immigrated to Tennessee after marriage, locating three miles from Nashville. His death occurred in 1869. His wife was born in Virginia, and died in 1860 at the age of sixty-five. They had thirteen children, our subject being the tenth. He remained with his parents until his eighteenth year. In 1849 he married Miss Martha, daughter of William Downs, who was born in Davidson County in 1831. To this union there is one child—Margret Jane, wife of G. T. Henry. After marriage Mr. Phelps hired to drive a milk wagon near Nashville, and worked four years. In 1857 he moved to Smith County and became an overseer, also driving a milk wagon. When the war broke out in 1861 he enlisted in Company B, Seventh Tennessee Infantry. After twelve months of faithful service he was discharged on account of disability. He was taken with the measles, and has since had poor health. In 1866 he was employed by the poor house committee to oversee the county poor, receiving $175 per annum, and board for himself and family. A year later he became the superintendent, his salary being $250. Twenty-one years he has held this position, giving the utmost satisfaction. When he first took charge the institution was situated on Peyton’s Creek. In 1871 the commissioners purchased a farm of 211 acres in the Twentieth District, and erected frame buildings at a cost of $3,500. In 1885 they built a large and commodious brick building with all modern improvements, heated by two hot air furnaces. The home is kept in first-class order, neat and comfortable. The inmates are treated with kindness and respect by our subject and his estimable Christian wife. The county has just cause for the pride she feels in possessing such an institution and superintendent for her homeless unfortunates. The largest number of inmates in twenty years, at one time in the home, was forty-seven. The average is seventeen. At present there are fourteen, only one male. Mr. Phelps has by industry and economy become the owner of 180 acres of valuable land two and a half miles from Carthage. He is a Royal Arch Mason, and his wife a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.

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This family biography is one of 62 biographies included in The History of Smith County, Tennessee published in 1887.  The History of Smith County was included within The History of Sumner, Smith, Macon & Trousdale Counties of Tennessee. View the complete description here: History of Sumner, Smith, Macon and Trousdale Counties of Tennessee

View additional Smith County, Tennessee family biographies here: Smith County, Tennessee

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