Search billions of records on

You Are Here > Home > Indiana Bios > Fernando Smith

Fernando Smith

Submitted by: JP Smith
Madison County

Fernando (Pop), was a very religious man who regularly conversed with the Almighty. When we would gather the 'gang' of family around the kitchen table, we would wait expectantly for the blessing to be asked. He would begin in a head bowed manner, building in passion until his face would be raised to Heaven, with happiness radiating from it. He would end his blessing with the phrase, "And in Heaven own us, and crown us, in a world that shall never end, Amen."
As remembered by Mary Lou, 10/2001.

"Mom" and "Pop" were successful farmers and stockmen, building their "Brookside Farm" on route 128 south of Elwood, IN. The farm was worked with horses (Dick & Dan), by the men including: Pop, Howard, Eddie and Glendon. On harvest days, many would come to help their neighbor thresh wheat or pick corn. This group of neighbors was called a Harvest Ring. Planks and tables would be set up to feed the small army, and much socializing would be going on with the work. The grain would then be taken to Ralph Roger's grain elevator in Aroma. The corn would be put up in the crib and hay in the barn to be stored through the winter.
As remembered by Glendon Smith, 1998.

Fernando was born June 29th, 1863 at a time of war, the Civil War, but it is hard to imagine a more peaceful, gentle and compassionate man. He quietly embodied the attributes his Quaker forebears admired but without their adamant ideology. Simply put, he was a good man. He married Cyrena McWilliams in 1887 and they were the parents of four children, two of whom died young. Their marriage lasted for 67 devoted years. Little is known of her father and mother, Simon McWilliams and Elizabeth Dipboye, except that he was apparently of Scot-Irish derivation and she of French. Logic suggests that Elizabeth's father may have been Jonathon Dipboye but it cannot be confirmed. He is known to have had a daughter of that name and he died in her home area around Madison County, Indiana -- the only family there of that unusual name at that time. Also, the name Cyrena appears in three generations of the family -- a striking coincidence since that unique name occurs only those three times in the tens of thousands of names perused in preparing this history. For these reasons, a strong probability exists that Cyrena McWilliams' mother Elizabeth Dipboye traced back to a Frenchman named George Dipboye.

It has always been a matter of some curiosity to the writer, his grandson, how a farm family in Indiana came to bestow upon their son a Spanish name, Fernando. [Dan Smith believes the names Fernando and Wood may have come from the Mayor of New York, Fernando Wood. He was a heroic figure to the Friends due to his anti-slavery leadership in 1862 during the New York riots.] As noted above, Cyrena is a unique name as well.

Fernando, Cyrena and their two living children Vivien and Howard lived on a 105-acre farm four miles south of Elwood, Indiana. They earned a good living but never were well to do. But they were beloved by their grandchildren who enjoyed staying with them, playing scratchy records of opera singers on their old hand-cranked Edison phonograph and shuffling through the fascinating basket of sea shells they collected on their one trip to Florida.

Fernando was very active in the Aroma Methodist Church, serving in many lay capacities. He was usually called upon by the minister to give the closing prayer at the conclusion of Sunday services, a task which was performed with eloquence and feeling on every occasion.

In the early 1900's a modern convenience became available as a small independent telephone company brought service to their area. It was a party line and considerable eavesdropping by others on the line took place. But this practice occasionally had its benefits; if those listening in learned of an emergency, they often would show up immediately to help. The operator was located in the tiny village of Aroma, knew everyone on the line and often entered the conversation when someone was making a call. It was not unusual for her to say something like "They're not home now, I saw them drive by heading west only a couple of minutes ago".

This generation of the family lived to enjoy a ripe old age. Fernando died of a stroke while sitting in his favorite leather easy chair at 91; one sister lived to be 96 and his remaining siblings were in their upper 80's. Cyrena passed on at age 86. She had a sister, Eleanora, who reached 104, about whom the family joked that, to the end, she kept a hat on a hook by the door to be ready to go anywhere that someone was willing to take her.

Taken from A Family History: The Ancestors of Thomas Wilson Faust, by Don Faust, 1997.

"Fernando was born in a house west of Aroma that the Nadens live in now, at the east side of Basil Haworth's road. Jesse moved the family into the "Harvey" house on the east side of old Duck creek road, near 281st St., when Fernando was a boy. Jesse built the house. He & Rachel lived in the original (4 up, 4 down) house, Cyrus Harvey added a porch and addition and then Dayton (Date) Harvey lived there later. The original house was finished in black walnut with a beautiful stairway." From a Vivien Foust letter, date unknown.

Fernando's Calling- "He was superintendent of the Aroma church's Sunday Schools. He did this for 20 summers at Aroma in the forenoon, and Coon Valley in the afternoon. Aroma preachers held Revival Meetings there in the Fall. Many people were converted in that school house. After a few years the the Coon Valley people wanted their Sunday School in the forenoon and Fernando told Aroma to get another Supt. We would drive to Aroma to church after Sunday School at Coon Valley. Many of the people converted and joined Aroma church. Some went to Frankton and some to Elwood. The last few years of Sunday School there would be a long line of carriages and buggies going to Aroma and the preacher would never start his sermon until Coon Valley got there. Most of Coon Valley people joined Aroma church."

"One day he was plowing corn (the plow horses were named Dick & Dan), when he heard his name called. He stopped the team and got off the plow, thinking someone was there. He saw no one and got back on the plow and started the team when he heard his name called again. He stopped again and looked all around the field. The corn was little and he could see all over the field. Cyrena said he was white as a sheet when he came in at noon. That P.M. he saw two young men coming across the field. It was Joel Cox and Ernest Allen. They said they thought the community needed a Sunday School and had asked the Trustee if they could use the school house. Fernando knew what the voice meant. It was a pretty rough crowd at first, but he stuck it out. There should be many stars in his crown." From a letter by Vivien Foust, July 17, 1979.

The National Sanitarium, Martinsville, Ind., Sept.5, 1907-

Dear wife and children. I am not so well as I was the other time. I had the trots one night. I have got a soar throat this morning and had a cramp in my calf last night, but I am all OK yet. Tell Howard to keep the pigs tails all straight till I come home and I will bring him some chewing gum. Just got out of my bath. If Vivien is not getting along all right, you had better take her to the doctor and get her some medicine. I will close for this time. We are coming Saturday so you had better not send any mail after Thursday.
Yours truly, F. W. Smith.

Fernando was so delighted that Joseph Howard lived, he often carried him around and may have indulged the toddler as he was described as 'wild' in his younger years.