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Erie Cemetery History Project

William Smith (1849-1925)
Sarah (Castle) Smith (1852-1918)
Albroe Castle (1815-1885)
Eunice M. Castle (1817-1897)

William Smith was born in Scotland in March of 1849 and came to Erie about 1870.

Sarah Castle was born in April, 1852, in Parkville, MI, the daughter of Albroe and Eunice M. Castle.

Albroe Castle was born in Pennsylvania and died on Oct. 19, 1885, at the age of 70 years and 7 months. His wife was born Dec. 25, 1817, in Connecticut, and died March 2, 1897. The 1860 census for Park Township, St. Joseph County, MI, shows the Castles were a farm family. Sarah had two older brothers, George and John, and a younger brother, Wallace.

William Smith and Sarah Castle were married and settled in Erie, where Mr. Smith operated a blacksmith shop near what is now the back room of the former Seger market. The 1900 census shows two children for this family, a daughter, Daisy E., age 17, and a son, Robert J., age 14. The 1910 census lists both the father, William Smith, and the son, Robert Smith, as blacksmiths.

The 1920 census shows that the widowed Mr. Smith resided alone with a housekeeper, a 55-year-old woman named Jennie Collins, who was born in Iowa.

In 1925 Mr. Smith left Erie to live with his daughter. The following article was published in the Erie Independent giving tribute to Mr. Smith.

"An Old Resident Leaves Erie

"Wm Smith, after a residence of fifty-five years in Erie, left Tuesday for Clinton, Ia., to make his future home with his daughter, Mrs. Wm Burns and family. Mr. Smith for fifty years was the village blacksmith in Erie, until about three years ago, when he retired from business. His shop for the past 40 years has been in its present location opposite the Independent Office.

"During this long period Mr. Smith has seen Erie grow from a few residences and business places into its present prosperous condition. He has also seen many old friends pass away, and being himself bereft of a wife and son.

"He has been identified with the growth of Erie, having served as a member of the city council. He has also been prominently identified with the growth and activities of the Masonic Lodge, the Kinghts of Pythias and Mystic Workers. For the past dozen years he has also been an active worker in the M.E. church.

"As a testimonial of his worh as a citizen and neighbor, a farewell was tendered him at the close of the revival meeting at the M.E. Church, Monday evening, when on behalf of the bretheren of the Masonic lodge, the M.E. Church Sunday school, and some freiends, he was presented with a fine overcoat and a pair of gloves."
Erie Independent, November 23, 1924.

In his book, "Rembering Erie," Clifford Reisenbigler gives a description of William Smith's blacksmith shop:

"...a long frame one story building painted red many years before. The inside walls were of a smoky black appearance showing the effects of the continuous fire in the two forges that were manned by Bill and his son, Bob, doing all sorts of work with iron, heating it white hot and forming it into whatever the demand might be..."

"The shop had a plank floor, except the concrete base under the one cylinder gas engine that furnished power to operate the various machines, that shook and vibrated when the machinery was in operation."

Mr. Reisenbigler also tells us that William Smith's son, Robert, "a husky and seemingly healthy man," died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Robert does not appear to be buried in Erie, according to cemetery records. Mrs. Smith also died in 1918 during the time associated with the epidemic.

Sources: Census records, Erie Independent, "Remembering Erie."

Be sure to read Mr. Reisenbigler's book "Remembering Erie" for his wonderful memories of William Smith's blacksmith shop.