Monday, February 27, 2012

Maria Lee Palmer Smith 1931 Obituary - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another transcription of a document from the papers of Maria Lee Palmer Smith (1844-1931), my husband's great-grandmother. It is her obituary, a newspaper clipping with no date or newspaper title, though a date is handwritten on the clipping. 

               ______     [handwritten note: Feb 6th 1931]

Was Member of Prominent Virginia Family; Ill For Short Time

Mrs. Maria Lee Palmer Smith, wife of the late Dr. Francis Fenwick Smith, for many years an eminent physician of Western Maryland, died Sunday morning at 3 o'clock at the Frederick City hospital, where she was removed Friday evening, after suffering a stroke of paralysis. Of distinguished colonial ancestry, Mrs. Smith was born at the family seat, "Clifton," in Northumberland county, Virginia, on March 9, 1844. Her father was Col. James Armstead Palmer, a descendant of Nagethereza Palmer, Esq., a large Virginia landowner of colonial days. Her mother was Margaret Meredith from whose colonial ancestor the family had a grant of land in Virginia dating from 1655. Mrs. Smith's father, Col. Palmer, died while she and her brother were still children, and the family came to this city, and Mrs. Palmer entered her daughter in the Convent of the Visitation from which she was graduated in July 1861. From this time until her death, she was closely associated with and a devoted alumna of the convent and was emeritus for life of the Alumnae Association. While at school in Frederick the Palmer family always returned to their Virginia estate for the summer vacation and many were Mrs. Smith's experiences during the Civil War when her home place was one day in the hands of the Confederates and the next day occupied by Union soldiers. She had many thrilling adventures, one of the most interesting of which was when she ran the blockade.
Mrs. Smith married Dr. Francis Fenwick Smith and from this union five sons were born. They were Charles Leonard, Charles Francis, John Francis, William Meredith and Edward Joseph, of whom four grew to manhood. Dr. Smith, together with his brother, the late Dr. Charles Francis Smith, were exponents of the practice of medicine of a generation ago when the family physician was felt to be a true member of the family.
Her husband, Dr. F. F. Smith, died August 26, 1900, and after the marriage of her sons, Mrs. Smith sold the family home on East Second street and made her home with her son Dr. William M. Smith, College Park. Later she removed to No. 9, East Second street where she was stricken Friday night. She was a devoted member of St. John's Catholic church and an ardent member of Fitzhugh Lee Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy and one of the founders of the Frederick County Historical Society. She was historian for life of Fitzhugh Lee Chapter, U.D.C.
The funeral will take place from St. Johns' Catholic church Tuesday morning at 9:30 o'clock with interment in St. John's Catholic church cemetery. M. R. Etchison and Son, funeral directors.

The handwritten date may be in error. Maria Lee Palmer Smith died Sunday, February 1, 1931. Assuming she was buried the following Tuesday, the notice would have appeared in one of the Sunday afternoon or Monday (Feb. 2 or 3, 1931) newspapers in Frederick, MD.

She was indeed descended from Nargaltherezer Palmer, though I'm not certain I would describe him has a large landowner by Virginia plantation standards. While I have yet to identify which ancestor received the 1655 land grant referenced, several of her mother's family lines were established in Virginia at that point.

Source: Newspaper Obituary of Mrs. F.F. Smith, Feb 1931; privately held by [withheld for privacy] Frederick, MD. Transcribed with permission. 


  1. Did the name Nargaltherezer find a place in more than one generation?

    1. That was my first thought, too -- Nargaltherezer? Makes Hungarian names sound commonplace.

      For me there were so many contradictions -- devout Catholic and United Daughter of the Confederacy. I've never understood how the mores of the time were so easily accepted by many religions. Thanks for your ongoing accurate depictions of the times.

    2. Thanks, Kathy. It can be a challenge. I am so grateful to her because she was the family historian and archivist. Her papers are a treasure. But I cringe when I read some of them. She was an ardent, life long supporter of the Confederacy. Hard for me to deal with.

  2. What a gem of an obituary! So much rich detail here. It does sound like she had some "thrilling adventures" during the Civil War. Wouldn't you just love to be able to interview her?

    1. Shelley, We're blessed that she wrote down many of her Civil War experiences. I'm in the process of fact checking them.

  3. She sounds like such an interesting woman.I'm always amazed by the amount of wonderfully, rich detail in old obituaries. You can really get a sense of what the person was like.

  4. Maria Lee Palmer Smith (3/9/1824 - 2/1/1931) is buried in the St Johns cemetery in Frederick MD. Most of her children are there also. I am interested in Mary A M Smith who is my relative and is also buried in the same cemetery.


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