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Bettie Smith


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At a Glance

Three Smith girls from Cumberland County, NC are listed in the Burwell School Catalogue of 1848-51 [1], but are otherwise unidentified. It seems likely they belonged to the prominent Smith family that settled in the early 18th century on the Upper Neuse River and then established itself along the Upper Cape Fear before the American Revolution [2].


Isabella Smith  and Bettie Smith are names found in the family of Farquhard C. Smith, [Sr.] of Lebanon Plantation, Harnett County, NC. His daughters Isabella and Elizabeth E. were of the right ages to have been Burwell students in the late 1840s and early 1850s, respectively, and Elizabeth did use the nickname  "Bettie."  It appears on her grave marker. These sisters had a cousin Julia J. Smith , eldest child of Farquhard's brother William Turner Smith, living in the same neighborhood and of the right age to be the third of the unidentified trio.

The probability that these Smith girls' were Burwell students is strengthened by the fact that Dr. Farquhard [II] Campbell Smith, one of Isabella Smith 's and Bettie Smith's nine brothers, married Sarah Elizabeth Sanders , another Burwell School student.

Isabella Smith  attended Floral College. An uncharacteristically terse notation in the Smith family archive reports that she  "died at graduation"  at age twenty-three. There is no portrait or photo of her. All she left were several inscribed books, one of which still has a flower pressed within it. She is buried in the family cemetery near the site of a ferry that was operated by the Smiths from colonial times until near the end of the 19th century.

In her late twenties Bettie Smith was living at Lebanon Plantation, Harnett County, NC with her three surviving sisters and their youngest brother, as the Battle of Averasboro raged through Smithville in March 1865. The house itself was used as a field hospital during the battle and later as the headquarters of Union Gen. Henry W. Slocum. Bettie Smith's sister Janie Smith, who was eighteen years at the time of the battle, wrote a famous account of the family's ordeal as Gen. William T. Sherman's army passed through Smithville.

In 1866,Bettie Smith married Raiford Robeson, a Bladen County, NC native who practiced medicine in Cumberland County, NC. They were married in Old Bluff Presbyterian Church, Wade, NC, which Bettie had attended from childhood, and made their home nearby. They had one child, Bessie Robeson, who died before age thirty unmarried. All three are buried at historic Old Bluff Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Wade, NC.

It is known that Julia J. Smith  was for a while a student at St. Mary's School, which does not preclude her having spent a year or more at the Burwell School during the course of her schooldays. At least two other Burwell School students also went to St. Mary's School---Eliza Palmer  and Mary Cameron Jones . (The latter returned to the Burwell Schooll after a year, reportedly having learned nothing.)

Julia J. Smith  married Isaac Henry Williams in 1857. They had no children. Widowed while still a young woman, Julia returned to her mother's home and again became part of the life of Smithville, helping to memorialize Confederate battle casualties buried on family land in Chicora Cemetery, Harnett County, NC, beside what is now N.C. Highway 82. Julia was co-founder of the group that acquired the property from her Uncle John. Julia herself is buried in the old family cemetery beside the Cape Fear.

Both Lebanon Plantation, Harnett County, NC and the William T. Smith House in Harnett County, NC still stand, as does Oak Grove Plantation in Cumberland County, NC (built about 1793), the birthplace of William Turner Smith and Farquhard C. Smith, [Sr.]. The William T. Smith House in Harnett County, NC, built in 1834, is now a state transportation museum. Only Lebanon Plantation, Harnett County, NC, built in 1825, remains in the Smith family. It is on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and because the Battle of Averasboro was fought there.

After Bettie Smith's death, Raiford Robeson married her sister Janie Smith. After Janie Smith's death, he married Julia J. Smith 's younger sister Sarah Smith [2].

Biographical Data

Important Dates

Bettie Smith was born in 1836. She died in 1875, and was buried in Old Bluff Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Wade, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended



  1. Burwell School Catalogue of 1848-51.
  2. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).
  3. Great Granddaughter of Farquard Campbell Smith