FAMILY HISTORY: The Story of The Smiths and The Andersons

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In the early part of 1870, Richard Darden Smith was married to Millie Emmaline Fields in their home community in the Mississippi Delta, near Shelby, Mississippi. Millie was the daughter of Asa and Lue Fields. To this God-made happy union, seven sons were born, Willie Lafayette, Perry Monroe, George, Walter Davis, Moses Alexander, Richard and Chester Arthur. Millie and Richard were the parents of one girl, Lue who died in infancy during a smallpox epidemic. The parents spared no pains in training up their sons in the way they should go. Only Will, Perry, Moses and Arthur lived to adulthood. They were reared in an atmosphere of Christianity with their eyes focused on the light ahead and each one of them was possessed with that inherent desire to prove that black boys and girls could overcome the stigma and erase the scars of slavery. The family took an active part in all church activities. The boys were encouraged and were punctual in attendance to the available schools.

Richard and Millie’s son Perry Monroe was born on Doddsville Place near Deeson, Mississippi on July11, 1876. His early education was received in the Baptist Church, which his family attended. He walked miles through the woods to get to school and was taught from a Webster Blue and Black speller and a McGuffy Reader. His boyhood was spent working on the family owned farm, logging, swimming, boating and fishing. During a great flood, he and his brothers were amused when they fell out of their homemade boats. Routinely they would go long distances to haul home barrels of water, which was drawn from a well. It was always funny when a precariously situated barrel of water would topple from the horse drawn wagon onto their father, Richard or one of the other boys. Their father owned a general store, which had a party line telephone. Perry and his brothers would pick up and listen to various conversations until the operator picked up and yelled at them to “Get off the phone.” Perry and his brothers would hang up and quietly tiptoe out of the store.

Richard took his son Perry Monroe to meet Moses Dickson, the founder of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor. In the year 1893, Richard Darden Smith was elected Chief Grand Mentor of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, Mississippi Jurisdiction. He was only the second head of this flourishing fraternal organization since it was first organized in the state in 1888.

The Knights and Daughters of Tabor is the oldest purely Negro fraternal organization in America. Rev. Moses Dickson, the founder, was a man of great sagacity and foresight, who seized the opportunity, after the black race’s emancipation, to unite his people in a fraternal body for the advancement and uplifting of the race. Among the goals of the organization were; stressing Christianity and brotherhood of men; help for the poor and indigent among our people; encouragement and assistance to our children in the field of education and the urging of good citizenship among black Americans.

In the year 1906, Richard Darden Smith and his family moved from Shelby to Renova, Mississippi.

For 16 years, Richard wielded the gavel of leadership for the Knights and Daughters of Tabor in Mississippi until his death on July 31, 1909.

During his lifetime and labors, he was ably aided and encouraged by his ever-faithful companion, Millie E. Smith, in every possible way. She worked tirelessly by his side in their Church activities. In his activities as leader of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, she was no less efficient. She organized the first unit of the Maids and Pages of Honor in Renova, Mound Bayou and in other surrounding communities. She was always there when he needed her.

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