WT Block Jr -- Duncan Smith and Margaret "Peggy" Rhode Russell
By W. T. Block
Sarah Jane Sweeney's maternal grandparents were Duncan Smith (b. NC ca. 1809-d. San Marcos, TX December 12, 1886) and Margaret "Peggy" Rhode Russell (b. Charleston, SC May 9, 1817-d. Johnson Bayou, LA on November 5, 1891). Duncan, an uncompromising Abolitionist, and his sons Phineas and Jeremiah were the most active Union spies and sympathizers in Southwest Louisiana during the Civil War, and I have written much about them elsewhere. Peggy Smith’s parents were Rev. Jeremiah Russell (b. April 14, 1788-d. Brandon, MS February 1864) and Margaret "Polly" Rhode (b. May 10, 1799-d. Brandon, MS February 1864), of Charleston. Rev. Jerry Russell moved with his entire Methodist congregation from Charleston to Brandon, MS. in 1825, where he became the first Methodist missionary to the Choctaw tribe. (Note: Neither of Jane Block's grandmothers were too honest with the census taker about their respective ages, even though one census taker was her own son.)
Duncan and Peggy Smith lived near Brandon, MS for about 25 years, and all but one of their children was born there. Two children died and are buried there. Grandma Lou Ellen Sweeney's siblings included three sisters, Mary Ann Crain of Pecan Island, Caroline Pleasant of Grand Chenier, and Margaret "Aunt Mag" Irondorf of Sour Lake. Her brothers were Phineas "Uncle Dick" Smith, the first parish clerk of court at Cameron (also the Cameron Parish census enumerator in 1880); Jeremiah, later of Cisco, TX, but died and is buried in Dallas, 1932; and John and Austin Smith of Johnson Bayou and Port Arthur. A younger brother, Duncan Smith Jr., was age 18 in the 1880 census, but apparently died soon after. One of Grandma Sweeney's uncles that died in Mississippi was named Llewellyn, so apparently Grandma was given her dead uncle's name, but with a different spelling. One writer about Duncan Smith (Beaumont Enterprise, June 30, 1907) reported that Smith's Abolitionist enthusiasm put him "in bad odor" with his neighbors in Brandon, which caused him to move first in 1858 to Indian Bayou, Lafayette Parish, and in late 1860 to Leesburg (Cameron), LA. It was also ironic that some of Grandma Sweeney's Scots-Irish brothers named Smith also lived at Johnson's Bayou, LA, with Grandma Block's (German) brothers named Smith, but of course, they were no kin to each other.
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