This biography is also in the book Biographies of Notable and Not-So-Notable: Alabama Pioneers (Volume 1)
COL. JONATHAN NEWTON SMITH
BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
(b. 1814 – d. 1885)
Bibb County, Alabama
Colonel Jonathan Newton Smith was and early pioneer in Bibb County, Alabama. He was a native of Georgia and moved with his father and other brothers and sisters to Bibb County, Alabama when he was a young boy.
Jonathan married a Mary C. Woods Oct. 22, 1839. She died October 22, 1839 in Bibb County, Alabama. He married 2nd, Miss Matthews on November 12, 1844. Jonathan and Julie Ann Matthews, daughter of William Mathis/Matthews. They had one known son, John Smith (b. 1848). Julie died August 11, 1849. He last wife was Fanny Green and they had five children. She died July 8, 1881. She was the daughter of Joscelin B. Green and Elizabeth (Nichols) Green.
His known children were:
- Mary Mollie Smith (b. September 16, 1857-d. March 7, 1915) married Frank Fitch
- Albert William Smith (b. September 7, 1859- Oct. 6, 1859)
- Henry Hunter Smith (b. July 18, 1864-July 14, 1865)
- Sallie Smith (b. May 1861-d. Aft. 1910) married Dr. Oscar D. Whitfield- they had two known children, Francis and Newton R. Whitfield
- Charleston G. Smith (b. Dec. 29, 1867-d. ca. 1928) married Margaret Pearl Davidson– they had four known children; Dorothy, Newton, Francis and Margaret F.
- Ezekiel McLemore Smith (b. Feb. 17, 1870-d. Bef. 1885) married Hattie Timberlake of Virginia
Jonathan Newton Smith and Caswell Campbell Huckabee, a Greensboro planter, purchased land from Jesse Mahan near the Little Cahaba River, a tributary of the Cahaba to build one of the earliest iron forges in Bibb County. The endeavor was initially known as the Bibb County Iron Company, with Huckabee providing most of the capital and slave labor for construction. Early forges produced chunks of iron that local blacksmiths purchased and fashioned into farm implements and cooking utensils. Richard Fell was employed to build a 36-foot (11 m) high stone blast furnace and, in 1862, a rolling mill. The company produced cast iron initially, but soon changed over to the more lucrative production of wrought iron. The iron was used to produce farm implements.
Recognizing the high quality of iron produced at Brierfield, Confederate officials forced the men to sell the ironworks to the government for $600,000 in 1863, renaming it the Bibb Naval Furnace. A new 40-foot (12 m) high brick furnace was built and a railroad line was constructed to connect the furnace to the mainline of the Alabama and Tennessee Railroad. The output of the ironworks was then shipped to the Confederate arsenal at Selma. By 1864 the furnace was producing 25 tons of iron per day, much of which went into producing over 100 Brooke cannons, one of the South’s most important weapons, at Selma. This all ended on March 31, 1865, when the Bibb Naval Furnace was destroyed by the 10th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry during Wilson’s Raid.
“Col. Smith represented this county in the General Assembly of Alabama with honor to himself and his constituents one term – and was very prominently spoken of for that position during the last campaign, but positively refused the nomination. He has never sought office, but has always been a prominent private citizen of this county for more than half a century, showing a disposition at all times to add to the comfort and necessities of those who were needy and worthy, and to the pleasure of all who were associated with him.”
- Bibb Blade 28 January 1885 – obituary of Col. J. N. Smit