Narratives are personal stories that help enrich the reader’s understanding of a time period, person, place, or event. These are first-person views of history taken from personal recollections, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.


Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Narrative is entirely responsible for its content.


My father, Howard H. Smith, grew up on the Black River. He lived on the river in a small houseboat, with his father John, his mother Carrie, his sister until she passed at the ripe old age of 16, and his little brother Henry who passed at the age of 7. Not sure when he lost his father, but it had to be prior to 1930 I figure, because my father went to work in the CCC with his mother, also hired on as a cook.
His father made a living dragging the bottom of the Black River for mussel shells to sell to the button factory that was in the woods just below the town; they also sold fish. My father used to tell stories of his father's possibly working for the Pony Express before he got into some kind of trouble in Pennsylvania. He then relocated to Arkansas and made a living the best he could. He also practiced medicine my father recalled. My father always believed the middle name (Vananda) was their true last name since his father signed his name John V. He only used the name Smith during introductions.
Wish I had more history on the button factory and Black Rock during that era. His best friends were Wes and Onionhead Woodson, and Charlie.

John W. Smith
Evergreen Park, IL