Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1873, As Long As Memphis Lasts His Memory Will Live On

According to the Register of the Members, Both Graduate and non-graduate of Phi Delta Literary Society, Oberlin College, published in 1901, Charles Canning Smith was born "on the sea" in the month of August, 1830.  He began his career as a teacher in Memphis, 1857-1862.  He later became Assistant U.S. Assess. of Internal Revenue and Assistant U.S. District Attorney for West Tennessee,  He married F.M. Wood on August 1, 1860.  He died in Memphis Tennessee on October 12, 1873.  What the entry fails to mention is his valor during the 1873 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis.  He closed his office in order to nurse the sick.  In June of that year he was a pallbearer for another member of the Memphis Bar, Judge Haynes Emmons Hudson.  On October 12, 1873, like so many before him, Charles Canning Smith became a victim of yellow fever.
Register of the members both Graduate and Non-Graduate of the Phil Delta Literary Society
Oberlin College, published 1901

From the Memphis Daily Appeal, October 13, 1873:

C. Canning Smith, a lawyer of repute, a former public school teacher, and a gentleman of great personal refinement and culture, fell a martyr to the cause of humanity, a victim of yellow fever, and will be buried to-day.  When the fever first made its appearance he volunteered as a nurse, and told the writer of this he intended to close his office and give himself altogether to the good work.  He did so, and the result, after nursing several cases, severe cases, is his own death.  Memphis has, happily for her reputation, many such men as Mr. Smith, but not so many that she could spare him.  A willing and cheerful worker; a man of a high degree of intelligence, he brought to all the work given him in life the most pains-taking and laborious investigation, and a will of iron.  He knew nothing but duty.  As a United States commissioner he was found to be judge without passion or prejudice and as deputy auditor and State's attorney he was known to be a faithful, discreet and conscientious officer, doing exact justice between the government and those whom he was called upon to prosecute or oppose.  He was a ripe scholar and an earnest student, and had collected, perhaps the finest library in the city.  A Republican in politics, he had earned the confidence of her fellow-men of all parties, and goes to his grave deeply sorrowed for by a large circle of friends.  To his widow, one of the best women in Memphis, we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences, and assurances that as long as Memphis lasts her husband's memory will live in the heart's of our people.

In addition to the Memphis Daily Appeal his death was mentioned in at least two other state newspapers, the Knoxville Weekly Chronicle and the Bolivar Bulletin.   The bells at Elmwood Cemetery tolled for Charles Canning Smith on October 13, 1873.

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