Smithfield Township
Jefferson County, Ohio

This was one of the worst cemeteries in the entire county when we stepped foot in it for the first time. It was so overgrown that we couldn’t even stand upright and we could feel tombstones under our feet with every step. A major cleanup has occurred and an active restoration project is still ongoing to save this cemetery. It is located in a remote area, on a hillside and will need a lot of care.

The following photo is an example of the Preservation-Restoration Project going on at Piney Fork Cemetery.

Above – Sergeant Argentine {Buckie, in uniform}, left rear, John Borkowski right, {wearing a hat} along with five inmates from the Jefferson County jail resetting tombstones and digging up tree stumps at Piney Fork cemetery Apr. 2007.

Piney Fork Church History

(Taken from the Steubenville Herald Star, not dated) Piney Fork - The Hundredth Anniversary of Piney Fork U.P. Church, Smithfield Twp., Jefferson County, Ohio, August 29, 1900.  (Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. John Parkinson from Adena who sent a copy of the original program and newspaper clippings which include the following information.) Many of our ancestors that were buried in the Piney Fork graveyard migrated from Pennsylvania.  The Centennial Anniversary attracted a big crowd and included an interesting history of one of the Pioneer congregations of this area.
The first Centenary of Piney Fork United Presbyterian Church, located in Smithfield Twp. was celebrated on Wednesday, August 29, 1900. The choir was lead by Hugh M. Thompson, and Rev. W. L. Heiger, of Toronto led in prayer. Rev. White then made the welcome address proceeded by the historian, Rev. Wm. Roland Thompson, of Gradatim, Pennsylvania, one of the thirteen ministers of the gospel who went out from Piney Fork during the ministry of Dr. J.M. Jamison. Rev. Jos. Buchanan, the worthy scribe and historian of Steubenville Presbytery spoke and thanked Dr. Jamieson (who was the nephew of Hugh Thompson) who furnished information for his address. Rev. Thompson said, in part, “Piney Fork” was so called from its location near the branch of Short Creek, on which were found numerous spruce pines. The town Smithfield, then called Carr Town had no more than 175 families that built upon the original Indian trails. The following is a timeline for the building and expansion of this little church community.

  • 1799 – Piney Fork Church was known and deeded as The Piney Fork Associate Church.
  • 1821 – 98 families were recorded as members of the church. The church was a temporary structure located in a southeasterly direction from the old graveyard on land owned by Wm. Gillespie. Later a small building was used in the winter but it was soon inadequate for the growing congregation.
  • 1823 – Rev. Thomas Harna requested a larger building near the old site. Wm. Gillespie sold one acre, 34 perches for $35.00 to the church. A log building 70 x 30 feet was built adjoining the graveyard. The contractor was the late Thomas Hamilton, who resided near Adena.
  • 1835 – Plans to erect a new house of worship. Deed records show Hugh Thompson sold land to the church being an equal amount of land in another place, on the brow of the hill, which became the site where the old brick church stood.
  • 1888 – The present church building was erected on land given by James Henderson, the site of the old church not considered suitable, thus leaving behind the pioneer graveyard with its last burial in 1902.

The following is taken directly from the original  church program:  PROGRAMME Aug. 29, 1900

  • Devotional Exercises, a brief address by the pastor, Rev. D. J. White.
  • Historical Address, Rev. W. R. Thompson, Gradatim, Pa.
  • Address, “Odds & Ends” Rev. J.M. Jamieson, D. D., Hopedale, Ohio.
  • Brief Addresses by representatives of Harrisville & Bloomfield U.P. Churches, Steubenville Presbytery & neighboring.
  • Address, A Century of Mystery, Rev. J.R. May, Hopedale, Ohio.
  • The Evolution of the Last One Hundred Years, Rev. W. M. Butler, Cadiz, Ohio
  • Recitation, Miss Audra Hunt
  • Our Heritage of the Past, Rev. K.W. McFarland, New Wilmington, PA.
  • The Importance of Keeping up Churches in Rural districts, Rev. T. L. Jamieson, Pitcairn, Pa

{Source, Cadwell’s History of Jefferson County, Representative Citizens, pg. 511, compiled Flora L. VerStraten}

The first preaching at Piney Fork, resulting in what is now the United Presbyterian Church of that place, was by Rev. Alexander Calderhead, a Scotch minister of the Associate Reform Church, in 1800. It may be remarked here that at this period there were in existence two off shoots from the original Presbyterian body, the Associate Reform and Associate Presbyterian, the former being sometimes known under the title of Seceders. In 1858 these two bodies were reunited, under the name of the United Presbyterian Church, by which the body has since been known. This, of course, explains why the name United Presbyterian does not appear at an early date in local history. Mr. Calderhead preached here until his death in 1812, when Rev. John Walker succeeded him. In December 1821, Rev. Thomas Hanna took charge in connection with Cadiz. Rev. Joseph Cloky succeeded him in 1835, and in 1840 the charge was transferred to Steubenville Presbytery. Mr. Cloky resigning in 1842, there was no pastor until 1856, when Rev. William Lorimer took charge and remained until the spring of 1859. Rev. J.M. Jamison became pastor in 1860, May 20, and remained until September 11, 1888. Rev. K. McFarland served from Bloomfield in 1891-92; J.D. Oldham, 1895-96; D.J. White 1899-1902, and G.E. Henderson, 1906-08, the charge at present being vacant. 

The first preaching was in the woods, and then they made a tent between two trees and covered it with clapboards, while the congregation sat on logs and poles arranged for seats. They afterwards built a cabin for winter use. On October 29, 1819, the society was incorporated and the meeting being attended by William Hervey, Robert Milligan, James Carson, William Crawford, David Lindsey, Charles A. Lindsey, William Kyle, James Moore, James Leech, Joseph Boles, Robert Reed, David Hervey, James Hutcheson, Malcolm McNary, Robert McGaw, Charles Herrin, Samuel McNary, John Walker, Walter and George Crawford. Messrs. Kyle, Hutcheson and Malcolm McNary, McNary clerk.

A hewn log house was built in 1824, 60x30, Thomas Hamilton being the contractor. A brick building the same size in 1838, erected by John Lacy replaced it.

In 1888-89 it was decided to abandon the old church, and the following spring a neat frame structure was built on the Henderson, now Dorrance farm, a mile and a half from the old church, which was torn down, but the graveyard retained. The charge is now separate from Bloomfield.

Piney Fork Deed List tract:

  1. Deed Book H page 446, dated 13 May 1823, William Gillaspie to Piney Fork Cong. Trustees. NW 1.4. S-24, Twp 8, Range 3, 1 ½ acres.
  2. Deed Book H page 447, dated 17 Sept 1823, Hugh Thompson to Trustees of Piney Fork. NW ¼ South 24, Township 8, Range 3, 45 perches
  3. Deed Book S pages 210-211, Hugh Thompson to Cong. Piney Fork. Dated 5 Oct 1837. NW 1.4 South 24, Township 8, range 3, 1 acre.

Piney Fork Cemetery

In memory of Ray Amoroso, Smithfield Twp. Trustee

Mr. Ray Amoroso knew how to help township residents with their problems and was always on the telephone trying to get their concerns resolved. Ray died on September 3, 2006, before seeing the cemetery completely cleaned up and restored. He will be missed and was a great help to our chapter. When we work in the cemetery, we often think about Ray.

“Guys like Ray don’t come along often,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdella. "He was a genuine and caring public official and gave his best for the community and the people he served.”

 

      Bill Cermack, Ron Malin (Smithfield Twp. Trustees), Tammy Hosenfeld [Chapter, Vice President and presenter], and Mrs. Ray Amoroso far right), accepted an award on behalf of her husband, Ray, during our Christmas Banquet on December 9, 2006.

Flora L. VerStraten and the cleanup crew eating at the
Piney Fork Cemetery
Photos taken by chapter member, Rena Goss, who has ancestor's buried in  Piney Fork and surrounding areas.

Piney Fork Cemetery
Summer 2007
John Borkowski left, community service workers


Visit the following links to read more about this cemetery.

Piney Fork Deed

Piney Fork Visit With Mother

Piney Fork Cemetery - Epitaphs

Piney Fork Church and Cemetery History

A Little Interesting Story About Piney Fork

Piney Fork Work Day - May 2009


Revolutionary War Soldiers Known of Believed to be buried in Smithfield Township and/or Area

  1. Chambers, Joseph- believed to be buried in or near Smithfield, died 1841 in Jeff. Co. (UPDATE - Bronze Marker Installed by SAR at Rehoboth Cemetery, Spring of 2008.)
  2. Clark, Benjamin- His wife, Sarah is buried in the Adena Presby. Ch. Cemetery. No marker found for him.
  3. Jacob Clark - Bronze marker installed Spring of 2008 at Rehoboth Cemetery. (UPDATE - Graveside service May 17, 2008.)
  4. Rouse, Thomas Jr.- Died 17 Aug 1837 Jeff Co., no marker found apparently buried on his farm in Smithfield Twp. (UPDATE - Bronze Marker installed by SAR July of 2007 at Rehoboth Cemetery.)

 The above is merely a list of those known to be in Smithfield area.  More may be actually buried in Smithfield Township.


Picture taken by Ken Thomson taken in 1970's in the Northern Cemetery.kthomson23@zoomtown.com

 

Pictures taken of Piney Fork Cemetery in October 2012. There have been no attempts to maintain the cemetery after the Jefferson County Chapter, OGS and many volunteers cleaned it completely. The tombstones have been digitized and inscriptions have been recorded - but sadly, it only takes acouple years for the growth to take over, again.

Pictures taken by Ken Thomson during his trip into the cemetery.

Photo shared by Ken Thomson kthomson23@zoomtown.com October 2012.
Ken is a direct descendant of Hugh Thompson (land owners of the Piney Fork Cemetery and elder of the church) and wife Elizabeth.

Standing in the photo is ken's great-grandfather. He is standing by the tombstone of "his" great-grandparents, Hugh and Elizabeth Thompson.

The following is the experience that Ken had locating the Piney Fork Cemetery in October of 2012.

When I left the Francis cemetery, I drove up to the vicinity of the Piney Fork Cemetery.  I called Ron Malin, and I think I left him a message, but was losing my cell.  So, I drove in from the west and looked in some wrong places, and was about to give up for the day.  But taking a short walk into a hay field, I could see what looked like some stones through the trees on the other side.  So, I walked across the hayfield, and it did turn out to be the cemetery.  I did eventually find the Thompson monument after maybe an hour of working my way around in the heavy brush and tramping down the
raspberry canes.  The site is overgrown as you suspected, Flor.  And some smaller stones are lying flat.  I didn't see any damage other than that caused by nature.    I will attach some photos.

I can't thank you both enough!  (referring to Flora L. VerStraten Merrin and Tammy Hosenfeld) ...I would have never found either site in a hundred years without your help and your interest in preserving history. Just being there on the ground for a few hours is still sinking in to my brain.
Thanks again! - Ken Thomson


William and Elizabeth Francis

The original stock of Francis fled from Scotland to the north of Ireland during the twenty-seven years of persecution about the middle of the seventeenth century.  They were Presbyterians and William, our Great-grandfather, was a Presbyterian elder in Ireland. 

 William married Elisabeth Sharp and came to America in 1785*, landing in Philadelphia, having been nine weeks on the ocean.  Their voyage was a perilous one, followed by pirates, who tried to attract them by signals of distress.  They came to plant their children in the land of freedom and opportunity.  Their family of eight were all born in Ireland: John, Walter, Jane (Kerr), Elisabeth (Benwell), Margaret (Braden), James, Mary (Leech), and William, who died in Ireland. 

The James Francis Family

James Francis was born in 1775.  During the War of 1812 he went to the army, leaving his wife and three small children.  His wife and son John, only ten years of age, had to care for the family and stock in the dead of winter.  He settled on a farm in Smithfield Township, Jefferson County, Ohio.

He was married three times; first to Ann Gillespie, by whom he had eight children.  After her death, he married Elisabeth Chambers, who died in confinement.  He then married Nancy Boals.  His children were John, Mary (Boals), Elisabeth (Steen),  Sebulon,  William, Jane (Amspoker), Rachel (Thomson), Margaret Ann (Thomson), Alexander, and Esther (Findley).  He died Aug. 17, 1859, eighty-four years of age.  His first wife died July 16, 1828, forty-eight years of age.

(This is from a booklet printed in 1910 for a family reunion and titled, “The Genealogy of the Francis Family”, by Rev. Wm D. Richie and Hugh R. Thomson.  I have a Microsoft Word version, which is small enough to email to anyone who is interested.  )