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John Smoak

John Smoak operated a ferry service across the Conasauga River near present-day Brown's Bridge in the late 1850s. Although the family actually lived on the Whitfield County side of the river, they are being included in this collection because of the ferry service they provided to those traveling between Spring Place and Cross Plains (Dalton).

The family was living in Orangeburg, South Carolina "between the River Road from Orangeburg Court House to Branchville and Four Hole Swamp," is how the 1850 Census defined their location. The 1850 Census listed the family as: Jno S. Smoak, age 39; Ann Smoak, age 40; Edmund Smoak, age 19; Jno Smoak, age 17; Anna Smoak, age 13; Meldrid Smoak, age 11; Marzi Smoak, age 9; Emma Smoak, age 7; Perry Smoak, age 5; and George Smoak, age 2. The Census indicated that all of the family members had been born in South Carolina.

Family records indicate that John S. Smoak (1811-1900) was the son of William G. Smoak (1784-1882) and Elizabeth (Griffin) Smoak (1785-1881).

John married Margaret Anna Dukes in 1831 in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Family records contain the following information about members of this family: Anna (Dukes) Smoak (1809-1863); Edmond Thomas Richard Smoak (1831-1893); John William Smoak (1833-1868); David Daniel Smoak (1835-1838); Anna Elizabeth Smoak (1837-1907); Mildred Sophia Smoak (1839-1914); Margaret Elizabeth Smoak (1839-1882); Mary Emma Smoak (1843-1928); Abraham Perry Smoak (1846-1889); George Washington Smoak (1848-1938); and Andrew Ashbury Hazelwood Smoak (1851-1941).

John's second marriage was to Alzena Harris Jordan (1830-1875) in June 1864. Their children were: Frances Ellen Smoak (1865-1916); Lonnie Tobelia Smoak (1867-1884); and Arnold Gerom Smoak (1869-1880).

In October 1876 John married Jackie Cox (1843-1904). Their children were: Wesley Jackson Smoak (1877-1934); Jackie Leola Smoak (1879-1962); Lydia Louvenia Smoak (1881-?); Elijah Lucian Smoak (1883-1969); and John Samuel Smoak (1885-1900).

When the 1860 Census was taken the family had relocated to a new home on the west side of the Conasauga River. This was before bridges existed across the river. There was a river crossing down-river from the present-day Brown's Bridge that was usually shallow enough that travelers could safely ride across the river in a horse-drawn wagon or buggy. It was beside the farm of a family named Zant, hence it was called Zant's Ford.

The Smoak family operated a ferry service just north of the present-day bridge.

Although the Census takers recorded the family name as Smoak in 1850 and Smoke in 1860, some descendants of this family insist that the family name was Smoat. In Murray County folks recalled their business as "Smokes Ferry."


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