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John Warren Smith Papers


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Administrative Information

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John Warren Smith Papers, 1836-2009 | SHSU Special Collections & University Archives

By Trent Shotwell

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Collection Overview

Title: John Warren Smith Papers, 1836-2009Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Extent: 13.0 Boxes

Arrangement: The collection contains documents, probate records, maps, pictures, articles, correspondence and the manuscript for the novel No Holier Spot of Ground: A Texas Story. Many of the items in this collection are the research materials collected in preparation for this book. The materials are arranged in the order previously assigned to them.

Subjects: Cincinnati (Tex.), Confederate States of America - Army - Texas Brigade, Ghost towns - Texas, Plantation life - Texas, Polk County (Tex.), Slavery - Texas, Smith, John Warren, 1928-, Steamboats - Texas, Trinity River (Tex.) - Description and travel, Walker County (Tex.), Yellow fever - Texas

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The John Warren Smith Collection (1836-2009; ten boxes) contains materials documenting the history of John Warren Smith and the Smith family of Walker County, Texas.  The Walker County probate and deed records include information that was used in the writing of John Warren Smith’s novel No Holier Spot of Ground published by Sam Houston State University’s Texas Review Press in 2004.  The original manuscript and author’s notes for No Holier Spot of Ground are part of the collection, which also includes materials pertaining to many early Walker County residents, businesses, and historically significant incidents.  Included are articles on the Trinity River and steamboat travel, early Huntsville newspaper clippings, early Texas and Walker County maps, information on Polk County, and material on the ghost town of Cincinnati, Texas.  The majority of the materials concern the Smith family of Walker County (Cincinnati) and includes information regarding Hood’s Texas Brigade, the yellow fever epidemic, slaves, the mentally ill, lawsuits, family wills, as well as photographs of family gravestones.  Also included in the collection are early Sam Houston Normal Institute and Sam Houston Teachers College certificates and diplomas for Boyce O. Smith and Mary Traylor.

Collection Historical Note

John Warren Smith was born in Huntsville, Texas in 1928.  His parents were Willie B. Smith and Mary Traylor Smith.  He grew up in Huntsville and attended Sam Houston State Teacher’s College in the late 1940s.  During his High School years, he was yearbook editor and while at Sam Houston, Smith had a poetry column in the school newspaper.  He was President of the National Honor Society and worked as literary editor for the SHSTC Alcalde.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Sam Houston State Teacher’s College and went on to earn his Master of Arts from Columbia University in New York.  Smith then attended the University of Texas in Austin where he was awarded his Ph.D. and worked as an instructor. Smith also spent a summer at the University of Michigan and the Sorbonne in Paris. Early in his life, John Warren Smith had the desire to write a family history that would include some of the stories and accounts he had always heard.

After receiving his education, John Warren Smith taught English and American Literature in Ft. Worth at Texas Christian University for fifteen years.  He was appointed Acting Dean of the College of Arts/Sciences and co-authored Patterns for Prose Writing while at Texas Christian University.  Smith went on to teach for 20 years at West Texas State University then moved to Houston where he continued to research his Walker County heritage.  As he discovered his unique and interesting family history, Smith began his decade long work on No Holier Spot of Ground.

In 2004 No Holier Spot of Ground was published by Sam Houston State University’s Texas Review Press.  The novel takes place on family land from the early 1830s to 1869 and concentrates largely on John Stephen Smith as well as his extended family at his plantation near Huntsville.  No Holier Spot of Ground gives a glimpse of the Civil War’s impact on early Texas settlers and of the Smith family land alongside the Trinity River near “Old Cincinnati”, now a ghost town.

John Warren Smith now lives in Houston, Texas close to his two sons and has published several other books.

Subject/Index Terms

Cincinnati (Tex.)
Confederate States of America - Army - Texas Brigade
Ghost towns - Texas
Plantation life - Texas
Polk County (Tex.)
Slavery - Texas
Smith, John Warren, 1928-
Steamboats - Texas
Trinity River (Tex.) - Description and travel
Walker County (Tex.)
Yellow fever - Texas

Administrative Information

Repository: SHSU Special Collections & University Archives

Access Restrictions: Some materials in this collection are restricted due to personal content. Restrictions are noted at the file level.

Use Restrictions:

The materials represented in this finding aid have been made available for research, teaching and private use. For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) these items without prior permission on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies.

Please contact the Newton Gresham Library's Special Collections and University Archives department to request permissions to reproduce materials for any other purpose, or to obtain information regarding the copyright status of a particular digital image, text, audio or video recording.

Preferred Citation: John Warren Smith Papers. SHSU Special Collections, Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas.

Box and Folder Listing

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Series 3Add to your cart.
Box 10Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Walker County Veterans Scrapbook, 1941-1945Add to your cart.
Scrapbook of Huntsville Item and Houston Chronicle articles regarding local veterans; compiled by Mary Traylor Smith.
Folder 2: Looking Back - Huntsville History Scrapbook, 1947-1993Add to your cart.
Scrapbook of newspaper articles, photos, and other items relating to Walker County history; compiled by Mary Traylor Smith

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