William Stephens Smith was born November 8th 1755 in New York City, the son of John Smith and Margaret Stephens Smith. He graduated from Princeton in 1774 and soon enlisted in the patriotic cause where he had a most brilliant military career, for which he received from General George Washington a letter of appreciation. After the Revolutionary War, William married Abigail Adams, daughter of John Adams and Abigail Smith Adams, in London, England on June 12th, 1786. Soon after the war, Col. Smith commissioned a friend to select for him a tract of the best land in the Chenango Twenty Townships. Smith retained the best lands of the tract—those bordering on the Chenango River and included the present sites of Smyrna and Sherburne. This region became known as Smith’s Valley and within its boundaries his three brothers and five sisters are known to have resided at one time. They were an educated family and one accustomed to wealth.
Col. Smith persuaded Abigail and their family to move to that part of New York State, where they built their log cabin in the township of Lebanon in 1807. Soon after, Abigail became sick and William engaged a friendly Indian to guide them to Boston, where her family, President John Adams and his wife resided. Col. Smith had worked in the forest, to enlarge their home in time for the return of his family. One day a rider stopped by and gave Col. Smith the sad news that his wife had died on August 31, 1813, and had been laid to rest in a cemetery at Braintree, Mass. Smith grew despondent after her death and died on June 10th, 1816. He was buried on Sherburne West Hill. There has been mistaken information about where Abigail was buried, as her name is on Col. Smith’s monument in the Sherburne West Hill Cemetery. However, she was buried in Mass.
MEMORIAL TABLET TO COL. SMITH UNVEILED
WITH FITTING CEREMONIES JUNE 21, 1929
“On Friday last, one of June’s fairest days, an event of more than local historical interest took
place near Hamilton, which gathered a goodly number from near and far. This event was the
unveiling of a tablet in commemoration of a man, Col. William Stephen Smith, whose name and
career had been, until recently, unknown to the majority of those present and to the public in
general, and yet who was a man, not only of local interest, but of national importance. After the
deaths of Col. William S. Smith and his wife, Abigail Adams Smith, their homestead was
purchased by Whipple Clark and for three generations was owned by his family. Millard Clark of
Hamilton, who was a grandson, sold it to A.C. Fay, from whom it was purchased by the
present owner, Thomas Babcock. The James Madison Chapter, Daughters of the
American Revolution, assisted by the State, sponsored a fitting memorial of Col. Smith, which
has been made a permanent point of interest in this region. Near the highway and on a
concrete foundation, in the center of a raised plot of ground, there rests a large, dark, oblong
stone which was the doorstep of Col. Smith’s home. To this is affixed a bronze tablet
suitably inscribed, and of exquisite workmanship, which throughout untold years passers-by will
pause to read, and their interest thereby become deepened in the region roundabout.
A paper on Col. Smith was then read by Miss Katherine Metcalf Root of New York, who is the
author of a book recently published, entitled “Col. William Smith and Lady”.
Another feature of the afternoon was the presence of four descendants of Col. Smith—Miss Lynch
of Utica, her two sisters and a nephew. The program closed with a fine rendition of “The Star
Spangled Banner” as a coronet solo by Albert Chester. The James Madison Chapter was deeply
grateful to those who contributed or assisted in various ways—especially to Mr. Babcock for his
gift of the stone doorstep and the plot on which the memorial rests; to Thomas Hall and Linn
Armstrong, both of Randallsville for their work. We are here today to place a marker. William
Stephens Smith was born November 8th 1755 in New York City, the son of John Smith and
Margaret Stephens Smith. He graduated from Princeton in 1774 and soon enlisted in the patriotic
cause where he had a most brilliant military career, for which he received from General George
Washington a letter of appreciation.”