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Henry Grattan Smith

  • Birth Jun 1807 Vernon, Tolland County, Connecticut, USA
  • Death 31 Dec 1878 Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
  • Burial Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
  • Plot Lot 183, Fowler
  • Memorial ID 101671771

Henry G. Smith was the son of Moses Smith Jr and Phebe L. Adams. was born on 23 JUN 1807 in Vernon, Tolland, CT, the son of Moses, Jr. Smith and Phebe L. Adams. His first wife was Caroline Elizabeth Hatch, who he married on 3 FEB 1833.
His second wife was the widow of Judge John Augustine Nooe, Harriet Crowdus, who he married in August 1868 in Nashville, Davidson, TN.

According to the Elmwood Burial records cause of death was a heart attack. I would be remiss in my research if I did not mention that in 1878 Memphis had one of it's major Yellow Fever outbreaks and it would not be surprising to learn that Yellow Fever was a contributing factor to his death.

The Milan Exchange, Jan 2 1879
Judge Henry G. Smith dropped dead at his residence in Memphis Tuesday night (Dec 31 1878). He was once Judge of the Supreme Court of this state, and was one of the best citizens of the state.

Standard History of Memphis, Tennessee from a Study of teh Original Sources, Edited by Judge J.P. Young

Henry G. Smith, one of the most profound of our attorneys and councillors, who came from Connecticut to North Carolina and thence to Memphis, and who ultimately served a term by appointment in 1868 on the Supremem Bench, and lived a long, useful and laborous life of 33 years in the city of his choice. Judge Henry G. Smith was more than a great lawyer; he possessed of the keenest wit and while sometimes wrapped in the most painful abstraction when struggling with a great thought, he would arouse to humor and abandon in the battle at the bar and while striking his heaviest blows and inflicting the most dangerous wound upon his opponent's case, would so entertain by his versatility and scintillating humor as to retain the good will even at the time of the man whom he was overwhelming with his clear logic and flood of eloquence. Away from the bar he was the most genial of companions, his polished manner and graceful courtesy winning one unconsciously to him. Judge Smith died suddenly, after intense argument to a meeting of citizens upon a matter of great civic importance, and Memphis in his death lost one of her greatest lawyers and ablest citizens.
Proceedings of the Annual session of the Bar Association, 1898
Henry G. Smith. One of tho lawyers that came earliest to Memphis was Henry Grattan Smith. Born in Connecticut, in 1807, he received a liberal and classical education, and removed in early manhood to North Carolina, and was there appointed to a professorship in Chapel Hill University. After a few years ho removed to Greeneville, Tenn., thence to Somerville, and thence to Memphis, about 1845. He was appointed to the Supreme bench of Tennessee in 1868, and occupied his seat there until 1870, when he resumed the practice in Memphis. He served one term in the State Senate. On the night of December 31, 1878, he attended a public meeting of citizens in Memphis, where he made an earnest speech of counsel and advice. On reaching home after the meeting, he fell to the floor and died with scarcely a struggle.

Such is the brief outline of his life. Such the cold chronicles would write and then end. Bat in this life of seventy-one years there was more of ardent, passionate youth, warm and vigorous manhood, dignified but graceful old age, more of ambition, labor, struggle, victory, honor, much more to be remembered and emulated than usually attend those years.

His life and character was full, round, and complete. A fine and graceful figure, good head, keen eyes, and a manner dignified yet pleasing, always commanding respect but never repelling. A temper sometimes cold in the intensity of thought and the earnestness of struggle, alternating, however, quickly and often with the best of humor, the liveliest of wit, and the utmost abandon of cheerfulness and good nature. See him in the arena of the forum or in the public debate, and his blade flashed as keenly as that of Saladin, while his arm struck with the vigor of a Richard. See him after the contest was over, in the circle of lawyers that loved to gather around him, and his fund of anecdote and reminiscence, his store of good humor made you forget the formidable foeman in the cheerful raconteur, while in the home circle and the salons of society he was at once polished and refined, graceful and gentle.

He devoted his time earnestly to his profession, and was a laborious and methodical worker. Here was the arena of his labors, his struggles, his honor, and happily for that profession, here will the deep impress of his character longest endure. He took an interest in everything that touched the dignity and honor of the profession. He was the father of the Memphis law library, for to him more than to any one else, do we owe the establishment of this invaluable library. Devoting his time earnestly to his profession, he yet found time to serve the State, not as a politician, looking to his own advancement, but as a citizen devoting his time, his energy, and his thoughts to the beet service of the people. He gave his time and talents as he paid his taxes as a duty he owed to the commonwealth to share the common burden. Of the firmest convictions of policy and right and duty, he was deaf to ridicule and regardless of public opinion when he felt that opinion was wrong. He moved in straight lines, with noble purpose, to exalted positions of thought and duty, having always "the sense of virtue, looking not to what is called a good name, for reward, but to itself, the highest sense of virtue."

His last public appearance was at a meeting of citizens called to take action upon a matter of vital importance to the city. He then earnestly warned against impending danger to the interests of bis city, and in a few moments thereafter was dead. This speech was his morituri salutamus.
"0 Caesar, we who are about to die, "Salute you, was the gladiator's cry; In the arena, standing face to face With death and the Roman

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  • Created by: Mary & Kent
  • Added: 3 Dec 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 101671771
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Henry Grattan Smith (Jun 1807–31 Dec 1878), Find A Grave Memorial no. 101671771, citing Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Mary & Kent (contributor 47170788) .