Virginia A. (Brown) Smith

Erin Hollaway Palmer

Ever since this headstone was uncovered a few years back, we’ve wondered who “Wife of Cpt. J. G. Smith” might be. We’d come up empty online (the name Smith didn’t give us much to go on)—until April 2018. For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to us to search the Richmond Planet by date, but there on the front page of the 4 June 1910 edition was an obituary for Mrs. V. A. Smith, née Virginia A. Brown ca. 1861. She married John G. Smith, born in Central America (possibly in what is now Belize), in October 1886. The couple lived for many years at 1301 E. Leigh St., where Mr. Smith kept a grocery store (“captain” appears to have been his rank in the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization, not in the military). The building burned down in 1895, the Planet reported: “A disastrous fire swept away the fine frame-store and dwelling of Mr. John G. Smith…and himself and wife barely escaped with their lives. We visited the scene, and there gazed upon the ruination the flames had wrought” (26 Jan 1895). This was the first of at least three fires, and yet Mr. Smith “has always been far-seeing enough to have his place insured, and repairs will be quickly made and business resumed” (6 Mar 1897). Indeed, more than a decade later, he was still in business. He died in 1919 and was buried at East End alongside his wife. We’ve not found a headstone, but “J. G. Smith” is spelled in white mosaic tiles on the entrance to their plot.

Virginia A. (Brown) Smith
  • Born: 22 February 1863
  • Died: 24 May 1910
  • Birth Place:
  • Death Place:
  • Spouse: John G. Smith
  • Parents: Lucy Brown
  • Children:
  • Other Family:
  • Occupation:
  • Church:
  • Affiliations:
  • Address:
  • Documents:
  • Military Service:

Contributors to this Record:
Brian Palmer
Erin Hollaway Palmer