Thomas R. Smith:
On January 15, 1871, Catherine Kent Smith gave birth to Thomas R. Smith. Catherine was the widow of Nathaniel Smith. Both were slaves of the Kent family in Sunderlandville, Calvert County, Maryland. The two never took part in an official marriage ceremony, but began living as husband and wife around March 1857. On Febuary 13, 1864, Nathaniel mustered into Company B of the 30th United States Colored Troops Regiment, recruited out of Maryland. Five months later, on July 30, 1864, Nathaniel was killed in action during the Battle of the Crater during the seige of Petersburg, Va. Thomas R. Smith's death certificate records Nathaniel Smith as his father, but because Nathaniel died seven years before Thomas was born, Thomas' true father is unknown. One wonders why an African American who claimed as his father a man who was killed in action as a United States Colored Troops soldier would choose to support the Democratic party, which for decades had been highly sympathetic to Confederate veterans.
Thomas R. Smith had four half-siblings: Kate Bruce Smith (b. Febuary 20, 1858), Alice Lavanda Countee Smith (b. March 15, 1859) William Cornelius Smith (b. June 25, 1861) and Wallace Lee Smith. (b. December 25, 1864). Catharine's pension application records these children as entering the world without the aid of a physician. The family moved from Sunderlandville to Baltimore in time for the 1880 census. Catherine Kent Smith died November 12, 1904. Alex Hemsley was informant and undertaker.
From about 1903 to about 1912 Thomas R. Smith worked as a saloon manager on the 400 block of New Street. Then, from 1913 to his death, Smith owned and ran Smith's Hotel at 437 and 437 1/2 Druid Hill Avenue with the help of his brother, Wallace.
Thomas married Jessie Wilson (b. August 16, 1883), daughter of Charles and Lucy Wilson, on October 19, 1909. Rev. G.R. Waller wed the couple at Trinity Baptist Church. Jessie died May 23,1933 from intestinal problems. William L. Fitzgerald co-executed her will.Because he owed two mortgages totaling to $26,200 on the property, it is likely that Smith was a member of Providence Baptist Church at the corner of Fremont and Edmondson Avenues. At his death Smith held shares in The Monumental Lodge No. 3 Improved Benevolent Order of Elks of the World of Baltimore City which suggest that he was a member.
Thomas R. Smith died the night of August 12, 1938 from heart trouble and was buried in Mt. Auburn cemetery. His estimated personal wealth was $121,000, much of which was in Baltimore city real estate. William L. Fitzgerald and Gerald W. Hill executed his estate. Thomas R. Smith suceeded in going from rags to riches. Where did he get his first big breaks as a buisness-owner? What was Thomas R. Smith's political power and how did it relate to his buisness sucess?
Wallace co-managed Smith's Hotel. It is not suprising that Wallace chose not to go by his full middle name "Lee" but chose to abbreviate. Both brothers were saloon operators before going into the hotel buisness in 1913. Wallace lived much of his life at 504 W. Lafayette Street and inherited the hotel, which was put up for sale after Tom's death. Wallace L. Smith was murdered on a Saturday night, December 16, 1939, widowing Hazel Hughes Smith.
One of those shots landed in Wallace's abdomen and killed him.Was this a murder or an assassination? Wallace's funeral service was at a Masonic Temple.
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