|William Richard "Billy" Smith, Sr|
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|Birth: ||Mar. 13, 1923|
|Death: ||Mar. 3, 2012|
The Early Years
William R. Smith was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee on March 13th, in the year 1922. His mother's name was Harriet Elizabeth (Eaton) Smith and his father's was William Zechariah Smith. He was named for both his Father (William) & Grandfather (Richard) but never liking the name Richard, he just went by Billy. He was of Irish & English decent mixed with some Cherokee. His earliest memory was of moving into a new house with his mother and father beside a lake full of ducks and geese and then seeing one of the geese being chased into the barn by a cow. This was at age 5. In 1928, at the age of six, his father passed away and with his mother not able to take care of him, he was sent to the Tennessee Children's Home. In 1931, he was taken out of the home by Mr. & Mrs. John L. Brian and taken to their 100-acre farm in Cheatham County, Tennessee to live with them. He said this was one of his best memories.
The house they all lived in was white clapboard and two-stories tall. The farm grew corn, hay, & tobacco and also raised hogs, goats, & cattle. Of the land, 70-acres was put directly towards cultivation for crops, and the remaining 30-acres was timber woods. He enjoyed walking the hills and hollows of the countryside just to experience nature and he took much joy in that. He was taught responsibility at an early age when Uncle John gave him his first hand axe and overtime, he became highly skilled at hunting and trapping and was considered a "crack shot" at around 9 years old. He sold furs and pelts for extra money and used the game for food. Life was difficult in terms of finances, as the Great Depression had only struck 2 years earlier. There was little money, and what there was mostly went to taxes, but there were jobs for those willing to do the work (which most weren't) and he used every skill he had to survive and support himself and his family. "Did everything to get the coon" as he put it. His worst memory he noted occurred soon after, around the age of 9 when his foster father Mr. John L. Brian died. He was sad that his Uncle John had passed away and was afraid that he'd have to go back to the orphanage (similarly to when his father had first passed away) and that was a terrible thought, but Mrs. Brian came and told him that they'd have to make the best of it and that he'd have to be the man now. This made him feel good, as he loved the farm and the sense of freedom that he had from living there. This continued to instill in him a great sense of responsibility, hard work, and determination.
During his childhood he attended school regularly as education was extremely important to both him and his family. His favorite subjects were Geography, History, & Literature all of which he was good at. His least favorite subject was Math, but only because it took him longer than most, he never had any problem actually doing the work. Outside of school he mostly worked to keep up the farm. There were no household chores to speak of, but running a farm was a lot of work. This included, cutting & hauling wood, milking the cows, planting the crops, and feeding the livestock. Saturday's & Sunday's were the best days as there was no more work for the week until Monday (save for feeding the livestock) and he could walk to church (which he always enjoyed doing) 3 miles away. As far as entertainment went, there was a radio that he could listen too and enjoy some traditional church music and of course some ‘country & western' music (which is nothing like the country which plays now) on the Grand Old Opry. On the farm, the closest neighbors lived a few miles down the road; so most of his activities were solitary ones unless some of the boys he knew from school or church dropped by to go swimming or fishing. He would walk the hills learning about the local flora, look for bird nests, and practice with his rifle and bow, as hunting not only provided food, but fun and enjoyment as well.
In 1937, at the age of 15 he and Mrs. Viola Brian or "Mom Brian" as he called her, moved to Nashville to live with her sister "Mama Neighbors" & her husband "Grandie" where they stayed for 2 years before returning to the farm in 1939. He continued to live on the farm in Cheatham County until he was drafted into the army at which point "Mom Brian" moved back to live with the Neighbors in Nashville until he returned from the military.
John L Brian (1873 - 1934)
Viola Brian (1883 - 1973)
Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens
Created by: Tricia2111
Record added: Nov 19, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 100952093
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