The Herald Bulletin

June 29, 2013

Kevin Smith, who do you think you are?

By Beth Oljace
Anderson Public Library

---- — This article is part of a limited series that will trace the genealogy of some of Madison County’s better-known citizens. The series is modeled on the popular NBC television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” The series is intended to show the value of researching genealogy by using the Anderson Public Library, 111 E. 12th St.

With the exception of a great-grandfather, Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith, his sister and brothers are the first members of his family to be born in Indiana.

Smith family

Kevin’s father, Carl Thurman Smith, was born in Hannibal, Mo. in 1915. His parents were Oley Milton Smith and Mary Ethel Penn Smith. The couple had moved at least twice before coming to Hannibal.

They started out by living across the Mississippi River in Pike County, Ill. and had moved to northeastern Oklahoma for several years before moving to Hannibal. Mary Ethel’s parents, William and Mary Penn, always lived in the same area, moving along with the young couple. In each of those places, Oley made his living as a carpenter. They would later move to Kansas City, Kan., where they lived for the rest of their lives. Oley worked in the real estate business and they raised seven children.

When we talked to Kevin Smith about his genealogy, he told us that he didn’t know who his grandfather’s parents were. While we were unable to find definite proof, we believe that Oley Milton Smith was born in Ralls County, Mo., a county south of Hannibal and northwest of St. Louis. His father and grandfather were Missouri pioneers, coming to northeast Missouri during the 1830s.

Oley’s grandfather, John Smith, was born in Kentucky in 1801. He and his wife, Martha, began migrating west by settling in southern Indiana in the late 1820s. In 1830, they had twin sons, Johnathan and Jeremiah, and another son, Milton, a year later. The family moved to Pike County, Mo., where they were farmers for several generations.

Although the Smiths lived in a slave-owning state, they were not slave owners. Oley, the son of Johnathan Smith and his second wife, Elizabeth Hawkins, grew up on a farm in Ralls County, Mo.His wife, Mary Ethel Penn, was born in Columbus, Ohio. Her parents, William Penn and Mary Conn, were both natives of Ohio and grew up in the counties surrounding the Ohio Capitol. Her grandfather, Elijah Conn, was a Civil War veteran. He served for seven months in the Ohio 194th Infantry. (As an older man he would live for a while in the Marion, Ind. Soldier’s Home.)

William Penn was descended from a James Penn from Maryland who settled in Licking County, Ohio. William and Mary Penn moved to western Illinois when their daughter was young and would continue to move west with their daughter’s family.


Althouse familyKevin’s mother, Hazel Althouse, was born in Toledo, Ohio, the daughter of Clarence and Leona Isbell Althouse. She was the oldest of seven children and her father worked for the railroads. Clarence’s Althouse ancestors had gone west to Illinois and Iowa and then returned to northern Ohio. Clarence’s mother, Catherine Rehm, was born in Unterbalzheim, in the province of Wuerttemberg in what is now southern Germany.

As a 9-year old, she and her family traveled to Le Havre in France and boarded a ship called the Cella. They arrived at Castle Garden, the immigration port in New York City, on June 17, 1867. The family must have had friends or family in northwestern Ohio, because they settled there soon after arrival.

Clarence Althouse married Leona Isbell, whose family had settled in Wood Couny, Ohio in the early 1800s. Her father, Hiram, was a freight car repairer for the C & O Railroad. The Isbell family had come to Ohio from New London, Conn. and her grandfather William was probably the grandson of Eleasor Isbell, who fought in the Revolutionary War and died in the battle of Stillwater in New York near Albany. Her grandfather William Isbell (called “Uncle Bill” in his adopted hometown of Pemberville) was married to Lovina Pember, the daughter of Ethan Allen Pember.

The Pember family (for whom Pemberville was name) can trace its ancestry to Thomas Pember of County Hereford in England and to his wife, Agnes Way, whose parents came to North America in 1630 on the William and Mary. The Pembers originally settled in Connecticut, then moved to Poultney, Vt.

Ethan Pember was named for Ethan Allen, the leader of Vermont’s Green Mountain boys during the Revolutionary War. His father and uncles served with the Vermont Militia and the family may have been distantly related to Allen. His great-grandfather, John Pember was rumored to be one of the men who bankrolled the arming of New England troops during the American Revolution. (The rumor has never been proved.) After the Revolution, the Pember family migrated to New York and then settled in Wood County, Ohio.

Both of Leona’s grandfathers served in the Civil War. Her grandfather, William Isbell, was a soldier in the 144th Ohio Infantry. His regiment did three months’ guard service at Wilmington, Del. and Washington, D. C. Her mother’s father, John Chamberlain, enlisted in the 100th Ohio Infantry in September, 1862. The regiment served in Kentucky and eastern Tennesse and then was moved to the Atlanta campaign in spring 1864, but John Chamberlain did not survive that long. He developed smallpox, died March 31, 1864 and is buried in Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville, Ky. His wife, Catherine Smith Chamberlain, was left with three small children to support. She applied for a pension and received government support of $8 a month. (By 1912, her widow’s pension payment had been raised to $12.)

Both of Kevin Smith’s parents, Carl Smith and Hazel Althouse, came to Indiana in the 1930s and married in 1939 in Delaware County. Kevin’s father, Carl Thurman Smith, was a Circuit Court judge in Madison County for 23 years.

Beth Oljace works in the Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library. She can be reached at