Taking a drive around the campus of Somerset Community College not only allows visitors to see college buildings, but it also provides a chance to visit history with a stop at the grave of Revolutionary War patriot Stephen Smith.
Smith, along with six other family members, is buried on the SCC campus, just over the hill from SCCs Stoner Hall. Recently, representatives from SCC joined the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Pulaski County Historical Society, Kentucky Historical Society, Smiths family and Eagle Scout candidate Nick Casada, BSA troop #82, to honor the memory and final resting place of Smith.
During the event, DAR members performed an official grave marking service, which concluded with a wreath laying by Casada and the playing of Taps by Dr. Dennis Lane. Plans are underway to place a permanent DAR Bronze Marker to mark Smith'sgrave.
The grave marking service came about after Casada took on cleaning the gravestones and area around them as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Kay Spillman suggested this cemetery as my Eagle Scout Project because of its history and because it was located on the property of SCC where my mother has worked for years, said Casada. I was honored to work on this cemetery and participate in the ceremony for Stephen Smith.
Dana Muse, a history professor at SCC and member of DAR, said that Smith was given a 100-acre land grant for the property by the State of Virginia in 1783. His initial land grant included what is now the SCC campus, the Center for Rural Development and surrounding areas.
The graves of Stephen Smith and his family are important parts of our history, said Muse. Many people may not even know they are located on our campus, but those who take the time to learn about Smith will find an intriguing story of patriotism, survival, family, service and more. The stories surrounding the people of the past are what makes history come to life. I was proud to be part of this grave marking ceremony and hope we can continue to learn more about Stephen Smith.
ABOUT STEPHEN SMITH*
Steven Smith Sr. moved to Pulaski County from Orange County, Va., sometime toward the end of the 18th century. According to his decedents, he was a veteran of the American War for Independence (revolutionary War). According to the pension applications filed with the federal government in 1841, Smith served in the American Army from 1777 to 1780. He was a 21-year-old private in Capt. Henry Quarles Virginia Artillery under the command of Colonels Thomas Marshall and Elias Edmonds.
Smith took part in all of his units engagements during the war. In return for his service to the new nation, Smith was given 100 acres of bounty land in 1783. The land was in Kentucky. The 100 acres became the Smith Farm. In 1811, Smith died at the farm. He and members of his family, including Smiths son Thomas, who died in 1863 during the War Between the States (Civil War), Thomass son William and others are buried on the campus of Somerset Community College, off Monticello Street in Somerset.
Smiths widow, Nancy Smith, applied for a pension in February 1841 and noted that the couple had seven children; the oldest was a son, born August 18, 1790. Later, three youngest children, Elizabeth, John and Stephen are mentioned, as well as Thomas.
According to records, Smith was granted the land in Kentucky by the state of Virginia on September 25, 1783. His will was signed the 28th day of October 1811 and less than two months later was probated in Pulaski County Courton December 23, 1811. His widow, Nancy, was residing in Pulaski County, Kentucky in 1848.
*Information taken from a May 23, 2003 article in the Commonwealth Journal and a document written by Lois G. Reid dated March 29, 1948 for entrance into the local DAR chapter. Reid is now deceased. She was a sixth generation descendent of Stephen Smith and also Patriot Jesse Richardson. John Smith married Emily Richardson thus connecting the families of the two Patriots. Reid was a member of the Somerset Chapter DAR and a sister of current member, Margaret Gottshall, ninety-five years old and residing in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.