Dec. 15th 1826,
Oct. 6th, 1897
Photo Credit: Rosa G. Gonzales
From left to right: Peyton Smythe and Sam Fritzsimmons
Provenance: Corpus Christi Public Libraries
Provenance: Corpus Christi Public Libraries
The pillar of stone that marks the final resting place of the remains of Peyton Smythe testifies that he was born on December 15, 1826 in Tennessee. Genealogical records report that he was the son of John F. Smythe and Lucinda Peyton. His stone and early death records of Corpus Christi (page 102 #1525) state that he died on 6 October 1897 at 70 years of age from apoplexy (stroke). His website shows a photo of his son, Peyton Grant Smythe, and the announcement of this son's wedding to Donia Dove. Peyton the elder first settled near San Antonio when he came to Texas in the 1850s. He married Otelia Buchnar of Prussia (her name is sometimes given as "Othelia") on 17 May 1856 in Bexar County (volume D1, page 81) and initially settled down to farming (1860 Bexar County census, pages 486B and 487A). In the 1860 census he is already doing rather well as his real estate is valued at $3000 and his personal wealth is given as a further $2000. Also by 1850 Peyton and Otelia have their first two daughters, La (usually called "Alice" or "Ella") and Ma (M. A., often called "Emma"). The Civil War may have impacted the family as Peyton is no longer a farmer by the 1870 census (Bexar County, page 195A). However, he is still prosperous. He is a merchant with wife and six children and has real estate valued at $14,000, but a personal estate of only $600. By 1875 he had already traveled to Corpus Christi with the intent of moving his family to the city by the coast (Gazette of 24 July 1875 as quoted in C. C. Caller of 25 July 1922, page 5 col. 3-4). The paper of the following week speaks of how he is already working in Corpus Christi as it reports how "Capt. Peyton Smythe" moved the new large county safe from the Central Wharf to its prepared position in the county courthouse (Gazette of 31 July 1875). A note by E. T. Merriman in the later issue of the Caller quoting the old Gazette article notes that the safe was later sold to the Weil brothers when the new 1914 Nueces County courthouse was built (C. C. Caller of 28 July 1922, page 6 col. 5-6). Peyton is listed in the 1880 census of Nueces County (E. D. 116, page 2D/sheet 4) as now practicing also the work of a wheelwright (someone who builds and repairs wheels for carts and wagons of transportation in the 1800s). He and his wife have 8 children, and young son Peyton who is 16 years old is serving as a clerk in the dry goods store. Elder Peyton Smythe also was active in civil life. In 1876 when Mr. Chambers from the Roberts Rifles is found drowned, an inquest was held by "Justice Smythe", and in 1886 a Mr. Smythe takes an oath of office as the Deputy City Marshall of Corpus Christi (see website document). Meanwhile his children married and became active in the life of the city also. Alice "Ella" (b. c. 1857) married Walter Woessner. Emma (b. c. 1859) remained single. Younger Peyton (b. c. 1865) married in 1886 to Ladonia Dove (whose brother Walter Dove was killed by young Martin Woessner). J. Herff Smythe (b. c. 1867) settled later in Fort Worth. Mary Smythe (born July 16, 1861) married Cheston L. Heath (November 1, 1858 to August 8, 1918). Some of the Heath family members were initially buried in Old Bayview, but were later transferred to Rose Hill Cemetery where Mary Smythe Heath was buried after her death on 8 January 1943. Gertrude Symthe (b. c. 1871) married Dr. King R. Cutler and later C. C. Moore. Regina Symthe married a Mr. Walter Pestel and like Gertrude was living in Houston at the time of their mother's death in October of 1925. Mrs. Othelia P. Smythe died in Houston 12 October 1925 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery there rather than brought back to Old Bayview Cemetery. However, near her husband are the remains of two sons who died tragically. Rey (b. c. 1875) was only 20 years old when he was killed in an accident on 20 March 1896 (prior to the death of his father), and Thomas Stribbing Smythe (b. c. 1870) died in Lake Charles on 30 March 1902 of an accidental gunshot wound. His body was returned to Corpus Christi to be placed next to his father and younger brother in Old Bayview Cemetery. Probably for our local history, the most important child of Peyton and Othelia was their daughter Mary (July 16, 1861 to January 8, 1943) who married Cheston L. Heath. Mary's obituary states that she came with her family to Corpus Christi when she was only 12 years old in the mid-1870s. She married Heath, a sea captain who later operated a hardware business. He was a member of the city council and also the school board. The early school that served the Hispanic community in Corpus Christi was named for him in recognition of his generosity to the Mexican American students of the city. Rose Dunne Shaw became principal of that school in 1926. At one point in the 1930s there were over 400 children in the fourth grade class alone. The school, which had stood at the site of the present Nueces County Courthouse, closed in 1968. At the time of her death on January 8, 1943 Mary still had her sister Regina (Mrs. Walter Pestel) and her brother Howard living, both in Houston. She was also survived by two sons who lived out of state, a daughter Mrs. L. V. Donnan of Galveston, and daughter Mrs. Camilla Haywood of Corpus Christi. Mary was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, and her husband and some of her children who had died young were transferred from Old Bayview to rest along with Mary in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell
Marriage of Peyton Smythe
Smythe-Dove – At the residence of the bride's father by the Rev. J. Thos. Murrish, on Thursday evening, October, 7th 1886, Peyton Smithy, Fr. To Miss Donia Dove, only daughter of Andrew Dove of this city. The presents received by the happy couple were numerous and handsome. The Caller extends congratulations.
Peyton Smythe was married to Donia Dove Oct. 7, 1886. Vol. F, page 19, Nueces County Marriage records.
Source: From the scrapbook of Bertha Halsey Wright, El Carro Ranch, Alice, TX
Transcription by: Geraldine D. McGloin, Nueces County Historical Commission