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Rufus M. Smith

Rufus M. Smith

Submitted by: Rose Millender

Live Honestly with Self is His Maxim of Life

Submitted by: Rose Millender

Live honestly with yourself and with others.
That is the most important maxim of life as gleaned by R. M. (Grandpap Smith) in a century of living.
Grandpap Smith reclined comfortably on a chair under a grape arbor at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. C. Bishop, 109 North McKinley avenue, and philosophized on life. His advise should be worth heeding for he has arrived at his hundredth birthday with his physical, mental aqnd spiritual facilities alertly alive. He looks at life as a panorama of pioneering from the oxen and cart days to the conquering of the air. He believes that honesty and integrity are the two characteristics which man should cherish most.
"Our goal of living?" Grandpap Smith parried and then quoted, "Religion is the chief concern of mortals here below."

Grandpap does not believe that money brings happiness, in fact, he points out, "The Bible says that it is the root of all Evil."
"Happiness," he says, 'rather is to be found in work well done, in kindliness to others and in a deep religious faith."
Grandpap Smith doesn't wear glasses and never has. He hears perfectly. He has only been using a cane for a few years. "I don't really need it," he explains. He walks from his home to town and back about 14 blocks. He waits on the members of his family when they are sick and does such things as insisting that he carry a tub of water for his granddaughter. He recently has been cutting another set of teeth.

Although attributing his long life to temperance and outdoor life, Grandpap hastens to declare, 'Oh, I was never an Angel boy, but I was always inclined to be sober and temperate in my eating, and rest habits." Mr. Smith has been a farmer practically all of his life, and he believes that the outdoor life he lived on the farms aided him in keeping his health. Then, too, there might be something in heredity, his mother lived to be 102.
When Grandpap gets started talking about the changes in transportation which he has observed he sighs audibly for the old order. he thinks that there is nothing finer than a fine horse and regrets that our fast age has put the fine saddle and buggy horses practically out of business.
This centenariar also laments the passing of the old camp arbor church meetings. He believes that more spirituality was to be found in them than in the handsome brick edifices of our present time.

Born July 11, 1834, on a farm in Rone county, Tenn, his earliest recollections were of great fields of cotton. The happening of his youth which he remembers most vividly was moving with his parents when he was 12 years olf from Tennessee to Prairie county, Ill.
"My parents and a group of their neighbors had heard about the new western country and a few of them banded together to go to Illinois and homestead property, "Smith describes. "There were 10 wagons in our procession, some of the wagons in our procession, some of the wagons were pulled by oxens and some by horses. I remember that it was on that trip that I saw my first match. We would try to keep a coal of fire alive in a pot as we traveled, but if it went out, we would not stop to camp until we came near a farm house where we could get a coal. One day we met a man horseback, and my father asked him how far it was to the nearest house, telling him that we would need a coal of fire. The man told him that he had some matches and that he would let my father have them for what he paid for them. They cost 25 cents and were in a small box."

Illinois, Smith describes as being a "paradise sure enough" for farmers. All of the folk in the part of the county in which Smith's family settled knew Abraham Lincoln well. Before he went into office the people of the district thought that he was the most terrible man in the world but before he was assassinated they had grown to admire and respect him. "But I'm here to tell you now," this observer related, "That Lincoln was the most wonderful statesman with the exception of Washington that we had had up to his time." Kindled admiration sparkled in Grandpap's eyes as he made the declaration.

His children are John D. Smith, Houston, Texas 70 years old; Mrs. Betsy Jane Blackburn, Electra, Texas; Mrs. Mary Rafferty, Guthrie; Willie Smith, Neosho, MO; Charles Smith, Durant; Mrs. Mercy Mitchell, Electra; Mrs. Rose Rosse, Fort Worth; Mrs. Bishop, Shawnee; Rufus Smith, Guthrie; George Smith, Guthrie; Mrs. Maud Hood, Edmond, and Bob Smith, Guthrie. Another son, Joe, died June 5, 1933, at the age of 43. He was the youngest of the children.
Thirty-seven grandchildren and about 20 great grandchildren are descendents of Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith and his daughter, Mrs. Bishop have been conducting morning prayer meetings at their home for the last three years. And it was the group that daily attends the meetings together with friends in the assembly of God church who filled their home with callers and tokens of good wishes when Grandpap recently celebrated his 100th birthday. He had five cakes, two of them bearing 100 candles each and he placed his hundred pennies in the birthday offering at the church. As another celebration the occasion, Grandpap sang over KGFF, the radio station over which his voice is frequently heard.

Guthrie, Oklahoma, Sunday, September 8, 1940

Guthrie Man, 106, Still Works in Yard, Claims to Be Oldest Resident of State

Centenarian Able To Read; Dislikes Jitterbug Music

"I was always healthy and always took care of myself."
This is the reason given by Rufus M. Smith, 106-year-old Guthrian, for his remarkable age.
The centenarian, who lives at 1001 W. Noble-av, with a grand-daughter, Mrs. Hazel Wanzer, is laying claim to the distinction of being the oldest person in Oklahoma.
If there is anyone older than I am, I certainly want to hear about it, he asserts.
Smith reads magazines and newspapers with the aid of glasses, and listens to the daily radio broadcast of news. He isn't very fond of the present day type of music, he says.

"Grandpa" Smith, as he is called by his children and grandchildren, never was bothered with sickness until he had reached the century mark.
During the past six years he has been bothered with "weak spells," as he puts it, but is looking eagerly toward his 107th birthday which comes next July 11.
"There isn't any reason why I shouldn't live that long, unless something sets in, " he says.
Two members of Smith's family, his mother and a sister, lived to be a 100 years old, so the aged Guthrian figures that living "to a ripe old age" isn't out of the ordinary as far as his family is concerned.

Smith was born July 11, 1834 in Roan county, Tennessee, and at the age of 14 went with his family to Illinois where he grew to manhood.
While traveling to Illinois, Smith and his brothers and sisters saw their first matches, the Guthrian humorously recalls.
Late one rainy afternoon, the travelers pulled up to camp for the night. The flint and steel which they were accustomed to using to start fires wasn't making much headway on the damp wood for the camp fire.
The Negro, evidently a stranger in the neighborhood, didn't know, but said he had some matches.
He pulled several out of his pocket and showed Smith's father how to strike them. Before the Negro left, the father secured the visitor's supply for 25 cents, Smith recalls.

When about 50 years of age "Grandpa" Smith and his family moved to Arkansas and then went on to Texas where he resumed his occupation of farming. When 75 years old, he came to Oklahoma and settled near Shawnee. Later he came to Guthrie to live with his children after he retired from the farm.
The aged Guthrian still takes keen interest in the activities of his family, and, when feeling well, helps Mrs. Wanzer in trimming the yard at their home.
I usually run the lawnmower, and Grandpa rakes the grass," she explained. "Of course, we don't let him overdo it, but he certainly likes the exercise."
About four years ago he sang several numbers during a program over the station at Shawnee. When a younger man, he took much delight in singing, it was explained, but throat trouble caused him to quit.

Of His Family of 12 children, only one child, a son, is not living. The son, Joe Smith, died five years ago.
John D. Smith, the oldest child, is 75 years old and lives at Goose Neck, Tex. He was born on the day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John WIlkes Booth in Ford's theater at Washington, D. C., his father recalled.
Smith's daughters include Mrs. Betty Blackburn and Mrs. Merce Mitchell, both of Electra, Tex.: Mrs. Mary Cafferty, Harrison, Mo; Mrs. Rosie Haines, Fort Worth, Tex., Mrs. Ida Bishop, Shawnee and Mrs. Maude Hood, Edmond.
The sons are Bob Smith and Rufus Smith, both of Guthrie; George Smith, west of Guthrie; and Charles Smith, Durant.
Smith was married twice, his second wife dying 14 years ago.

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