If I’m believing the information given in the Oscar Smith biography, John M. Smith was an early pioneer of Danville, Kentucky. The wording in the biography – “the pioneer of the family in Kentucky” – made me think of researching the first settlers in Kentucky in nearby Fort Harrod, but maybe that’s not quite right.
In the 1830 Russell County census for John M. Smith, the oldest male in the family is listed as being between 50 and 60 years old. Let’s say he was 60 years old, making his date of birth around 1770. The first land which would later become Danville was purchased around 1783 and the city was officially established in December of 1787. So I suppose that John could have settled in the area around this time at the age of 17 or so. I can stretch my thinking a bit to admit that the age given on the 1830 census was probably less than accurate, so maybe he was even older than 60.
The original pioneers of the Harrodsbug had arrived around 1775-6. Can I stretch my estimate to fit that time frame? I don’t know how old a young man would have to be to purchase land or obtain a land grant, but let’s say 17 years old. For John to be 17 in 1776, he would have been born around 1759. Let’s make it 1760 for easy math. This would have made him 70 years old for the 1830 census. Is that reasonable? I think it just might be.
On the other hand, John’s oldest known child was born around 1805. Would a man be having his first child at the age of 45? John did not have a will, so I cannot be sure that it WAS the oldest child. Perhaps John had other children who stayed behind when John moved to Russell County around 1825. That would make sense as a child born in 1805 would have been 20 years old at the time of the move.
Maybe the answer that I’m looking for can be found in land records. Perhaps I can find a John Smith who sold or passed land to a son before leaving the county.