Errata for Charles R. Stith Book

From Lee S. Stith 14 February 2000:

Back to Stith Page, Back to Charles R. Stith book, Back to Stith Valley front page

Now a correction. Carroll H. Stith was the son of William Lee. Carroll and I both have been to Kentucky several times to reunions. William Lee had only one brother, Johnny, and three sisters. The girls all completed their lives in Hardinsburg and I met them on occasion. Clara was the last one to go. A story: Once when I left Hardinsburg, I remarked to Clara "I will be back" and said good bye. 16 years later I knocked on her door, unannounced, she opened it, smiled and said "You did come back" She was 80 plus then. A most remarkable person. The old homes are gone now (belonging to the girls) but the original home of William Lee is still standing in Hardinsburg.

This Charles Stith of Tuscaloosa is a relative of ours also. He came from the same lineage as I did, the William Bathus and they married into a family by the name of Cofer who I presume lived in Kentucky. Charles was a retired Lt. Col. when I met him via a letter some 35-40 years ago. He lost his mind some years ago and died. His wife, Mickey, bundled up all that he had done and sent it to Iris Reed in Winston-Salem, N.C. Now the story.

Charles apparently decided to write some history of the family about the same time that I did and neither were getting very far. It was all pencil and paper at that time and very slow and tedious to do. In desperation, Charles wrote a letter to all the Stith name that he could find and literally said "I am going to write a history and you can help if you wish". I think that I was about the only person to reply so a friendship started and continued until his death.

We reached the point that we had a sheet of paper some 4 feet square filled with names--more than 400 and thought that we were doing good. Then along comes the computer age. Charles decided that he wanted to go computer and I agreed to supply information and he would put it on computer to facilitate tracing. We did great and the 50 pages which you read grew until we had some 350 pages and then Charles lost his memory, became institutionalized, and he had the computer.

Charles and I had made close friends with Iris Stith Reed of Winston-Salem and descendant of Frank Stith who at one time owned the Stith Men's Store. It was the tops of North Carolina and you can go to WS today, meet someone who recognizes the name and invariably they will say "this suit came from Mr. Stith's".

Since Mickey and Charles lived more closely together (distance wise) than I did, Mickey just took all the records she had and gave them to Iris. Iris sent the typed pages to me which I xeroxed and returned hers--making two copies. I xeroxed mine and sent to Kenneth--making three.

I suppose that I could make a 4th copy for you if you are so inclined after reading some of this disconnected discourse. We were proud of our treatise and it satisfied us. Of course, now you and Kenneth have gone beyond us. I visited Charles and Mickey and they are typically lovely people.

Now, Iris. She is from the George Washington Stith lineage and a most lovely person. She is the sole survivor of the family and is now in a care center. She enjoys receiving correspondence but does not answer. She has a most beautiful set of family history complementing what Charles and I have. In fact the records are enmeshed. Incidentally, of the four names listed, I am the only one left.

A bit about Estie Crabbe. I too thought her records were lost however, Carrie tells me that is not true. The complete writings of Estie are on file in the library in San Francisco, I presume, as Carrie tells me that she has used them. So, Estie did not publish hers just as Charles and I have never published ours. As a jest, I have said that, "If I took all my genealogy records plus a dollar bill to McDonalds I could buy a cup of coffee". Well, unless my daughter takes more interest in the future than she has in the past, I suppose my Stith history will get dumped by the time I get through the Pearly Gates.

Yes, I think that Carrie has pursued the story of Jesse and Lucinda Stith. When I was last in Stith Valley, Thomas J. gave me a picture of the headstone of Jesse and Lucinda which someone found under an old oak (well at least a tree) tree. Carrie sent me some dope on them.

Now a bit of history that may tickle your palate some:

1. This history of the caterpillar tractor can be traced to the Stith family. A family in Chanute, KS had at least until recently a bicycle equipped with a track rear wheel which was shown in the San Francisco exposition in 1905. A Mr. Post (the story goes) wanted to buy the idea and offered Mr. Stith some money. Mr. Stith said the amount was not enough but Mr. Post found that the idea had not been patented so proceeded to develop it for himself. The name Caterpillar came from a comment that some one made when they saw it move in a field in California--It crawls like a caterpillar. While in Iona, KS recently I went by to visit the family but they had moved and I did not return to their present home. Incidentally, in Atlanta GA, the Caterpillar tractor dealership was owned by a Hammond Stith who retired recently. His hobby now is raising $400,000 for his favorite charity there.

2. Stith Gun Mount Co., of San Antonio, TX. This Mr. Stith was a teacher in Kansas but needed to supplement his income so started manufacturing gun mounts in San Antonio, TX. This is the only family for which I was completely rebuffed when talking with them. They wanted to say nothing and probably for good reason which I did not know at the time. Stith, Weaver, and Lyman made the Norden Bombsights for the US bombers during the WWII. After the war, they were sued by our government for price fixing and paid a dear price.

3. Coca Cola too traces to a Stith pharmacist. He too was not a good business man for like the Caterpillar Stith, he sold the patent for some $1500 to the founders of Coke. In the founders family there is a Jack Stith W---- (can't at the moment remember his name.

4. Walden Stith, whose name you mentioned in your letter, is deceased. His father owned a string of hardware stores in New Mexico and a great gentlemen. Walden's wife and daughter still operate one in Tucumcari, NM. The remainder of the family are scattered throughout CA. The Hamilton Clay Stith you mentioned was the son of a hardware merchant in Montana. I believe that Kenneth is related to them.

5. Harry Pearl Stith, now of Tucson (note the correct spelling), lived in the same town in Montana as did Hamilton Clay. Both moved to Tucson where Harry became the dominating florist of the city. His son, Jim follows in his foot steps. The three of us did at one time live within a few block of each other. Hamilton is dead but Harry plays gold every day.

6. Of course there are the Kincheloes and Moormans but you know all about them. They were a part of the sister of William Lee.

7. There is a family in Maze, KS which I cannot connect to us and neither can Carrie.

Oh yes, I met a most interesting one, in fact two Forest Stiths. One Forest Stith (called Lee) was a car dealer in Bacaville, CA until his death and the agency was closed when a freeway went through the place and I lost track of the kids. A lovely family. The other Forest was a black Baptist preacher in Lincoln, Nebrask. He was a most captivating person and his son compiled the present Methodist church hymnal. He is a bishop in New York State. Forest, Sr. was a chaplain in WWII in the South Pacific and was a leader in the ecumenical movement in the armed forces. I asked Forest, Sr. where he got the name Stith. His answer "You know from slavery. My relatives worked for the Stith of Kentucky". There is a Don Stith in Lincoln who is the white descendent of the Stith family that Forest is the black slave descendent. Don did not reply but Forest did.

Lee S. Stith