Indiana 84th

For about as long as I can remember, the diary of Samuel B. Smith has been a cherished asset to the family. The first time I laid eyes on the relic was sometime in the early 1960’s and the manuscript was falling apart then. The last I saw of it, the heirloom was in the hands of Wanda Murphey, Jim’s wife. Jim Murphey was Lorraine’s brother. Lorraine was my Grandmother. Samuel B. Smith was Lorraine and Jim’s Grandfather. The scope of the diary is the days while Samuel served in the 84th Regiment Indiana Infantry during the American Civil War. His enlistment was for a 3 year term. Copies of the original diary were made in the 1970’s for all immediate family members. I have had 2 in my possession through the years and have read it so many times that I practically know it verbatim. At the back of the diary is a family tree which is fairly modern, the manuscript was actually penned many years after the events from Samuel’s notes.


Being an avid Civil War buff, I’ve compared incidents, dates and details from Samuel’s records to what is documented in the History texts and other letters and writings. The accuracy is impeccable. Samuel had beautiful penmanship as well, though the style of English used seems awkward by today’s standards. While digging into genealogical data in the Dallas Public Library, I found extensive land records on microfiche. I never made it to The National Archives in Fort Worth which would have more extensive records, however; I was amazed at the level of detail regarding Indiana counties, and all states for that matter, that DPL had in their catalog.

Samuel B. Smith

Samuel B. Smith was born on June 21, 1841 in Jay County, Indiana. His Father Matthew A. Smith, and Mother Elizabeth (Hagler) Smith, moved to Jay county from Greene County, Ohio, that same year to share-crop on a large farm. They lived on a plat of land on that farm. After the war, Samuel became Postmaster in nearby Albany, Indiana which is in Delaware county ([ref]Muncie, Indiana[/ref]). Albany is where my Grandmother, Lorraine was born (the house is still there) and is buried (Strong Cemetery). Also in that cemetery is Samuel and my Step Grandfather (Lorraine’s husband), Gilbert “Gib” Peckinpaugh.

According to Jay county archives, both Samuel B. and Matthew A. were fairly prominent in local politics. Many of my previous resources have become unavailable so I continue to seek additional research sources.

Steve D.

Note: I intend to reproduce the diary in its entirety for sharing. Particulars on Samuel B. Smith and Matthew A. Smith will be appearing in the near future on this weblog in separate posts.

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