|Near Smith's Corner, 1921|
As luck would have it, not long after publishing this post I was contacted by someone who may have solved this little mystery for us. I hope to have much more information from and about her at a later date, but it turns out she is the granddaughter of Powell M. Ford. She emailed me after running across the post about her grandfather, and I had to ask her about Smith's Corner, since her family lived in the area at the time. She recalled hearing something from her mother that may solve the Smith mystery (Smithtery?).
It was before her time, but she remembered her mother telling her about "Old Man Smith", who ran a "one pump, ramshackle gas station" that sat on the corner in the 1920's and 30's. She's certain she saw a photograph of it once, and if she finds it she'll forward it along for us. As she recalls, the gas station was a two-story clapboard building, with stairs on the outside. Mr. Smith lived in the upstairs room, with the gas station and a small market downstairs. She wasn't sure, but she thought that before installing the gas pump, it might have just been his house.
This story also seems to be at least partially verified by another source, this one uncovered by the Lower Red Clay Valley Blog's Denis Hehman. Denis had stopped in one day about a month ago to talk to the owner of a house on Old Capital Trail that was about to be torn down. You can find the story and some nice pictures here. The house was just around the bend from Smith's Corner (in fact, it probably is just behind the trees behind the car in the picture above), and the owner, an older woman, was born in the house. She didn't remember the name Smith, but did remember an old gas station down at the corner. This was probably "Old Man Smith's" place.
She did remember it as being Michener's Corner, for the car lot that was later there. This was a bit before my time, but Denis (not an old man) remembers it, so it must have been there for a while. I still haven't found the right Smith in any census yet, but I see 33 year old Harry Michener in the 1930 census, listed with the occupation "Owner & Mechanic -- Garage". There's no Smith listed around him, so maybe he was "gone" by then. If I'm able to find out anything more, I'll be sure to pass it along.