Martha Louiza Smith daughter of William Levi Smith and Martha Elizabeth Benson Smith born October 9, 1900 in Henderson County on our farm near Shady Hill, Reagan. Tennessee. I was one of eight children with six sisters and one brother. I attended Reagan Elementary School which was a one room one teacher school. My first and second grade teacher was Mr. Hugh Powers.

Our 150 acre farm was sold and this 750 acre farm in Chester County near Jacks Creek was bought in 1908.1 attended Jacks Creek Elementary which was a one room, one teacher school. My teacher from third to sixth grades was Mrs. Lessie Bartow. Seventh and eighth grades were spent in a two room and two teacher school. My teachers for the seventh and eighth grade were Miss Mabel Terry and Mr. Andy Travillian. Ninth and tenth grades were at Jacks Creek Junior High School. This was a three room school, with Mr. Oliver Jones teaching. The eleventh and twelfth grades I attended Chester County High School in Henderson. Tennessee. My teachers were Miss Florise Armour and principal Mr. W. Ethel Montgomery.

During my grade school days, 1915-1918. Chester County was selected to be a Pilot County and a Farm Supervisor, Mr. R. C. Regganm and a Home Supervisor, Miss Hettie Riddings. They came and organized clubs for men and boys - women and girls. The ages for the boys and girls club was from 10 to 18. The Jacks Creek community was the first to organize and I was the first girl member. Club projects included canning, sewing, cooking, room improvements and public speaking. My project was finished in 1918. I received an award of the first club pin which I still have. A 12 jar exhibit of fruits and vegetables won at fairs and I still have a 4 jar collection (73 years). They are still in good condition and I have many of the sewing items also. Ground work was laid for my future career. 4-H Clubs organized in 1924.

I was the only girl to enroll in Agricultural classes in high school. I was the only girl to be threatened to be whipped with a belt by Principal Montgomery for refusing to tell him who took the cookies made by Home Economics class for his first PTA meeting.

After graduation I attended Memphis Normal and received a permanent Teacher’s Certificate. I taught 2 terms - one through 5 grades at Jacks Creek Elementary which was then a two room school.

I entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the fall of 1923 and enrolled in College of Home Economics Smith-Hughes Education Foundation. Portion of salary would be paid by Federal Government.

Expenses for college education was earned the old fashioned way "I earned it". I worked in the kitchen and dining room serving. I also did washing and mending for the other girls. I did babysitting, cleaning Home Economics and Chemistry labs, ran errands for Dean Grieve, and checked gym lockers.

I played on varsity basketball, baseball, dodge ball and tennis teams. I earned my athletic letter ushering at games on wooden bleachers. I was a member of the Home Economics, Agriculture, English, Athletic Clubs and Kappa Delta Sorority.

I was the manager and one of the eight girls who occupied the First Practice House College of Home Economics required by the Smith-Hughes Education Program. I was also one of the ten member team to climb Mt. LeConte and spend the night. Acuff was our guide.

My class work was finished at the end of the semester December 1927. I started teaching Home Economics at Messiak High School in Memphis. Tennessee on January 2, 1928 and in June Dr. H. A. Morgan conferred my degree along with the Doctors, Dentists and Pharmacists and UT Medical College in Memphis. First Home Economics student to even receive this honor. I spent that summer doing graduate studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York on a scholarship from Merrill-Palmer Foundation Nursery and Preschool Children.

My roommate Alida Shinn was the niece of General Smith Head of the Military Academy at West Point. We were invited to be guest for lunch at West Point and to watch the cadets in training. We were then escorted to the boat ferry which carried us across the Hudson River back to Vassar Campus.

I returned to Memphis and was transferred to Germantown High School as head of Home Economics Department and Girls Basketball coach. At the end of the school year I accepted a position as Home Demonstration Agent with the State Extension Department of Agriculture and Home Demonstration. I worked in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County to organize Home Demonstrations and 4-H Clubs. I then transferred to Robertson County, Springfield. Tennessee and substituted for my district agent Mrs. Helen Cullens on John McDonald’s radio show. It was a 15 minute talk show. It was on the air at 9:00 am on Saturday mornings. (It was the longest 15 minutes of my life!). After six years there I went to Greenville, Green County and organized that county for extension work and 4-H clubs.

I then accepted an appointment as Regional Home Economist (North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky) with the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Security Administration. Their headquarters were in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was working with low-income families in all phases of family life. Later I was promoted to assist Chief of Home Management with more duties and traveled in the same areas. I was loaned to the Military Camp at North Carolina State College for Men as Supervisor for the food for 3600 men in 4 groups of service, a position never before or since held by a woman. The camp closed when the men were shipped overseas and other bases.

I was assigned as Supervisor to organize the school lunch program in the fifteen city school cafeterias in Raleigh, North Carolina At the end of the school year I resigned and returned to Tennessee to our family farm in Chester County near Jacks Creek to be operator and co-owner. I wanted to start practicing what I had been teaching others, and compile all the material researched over many years for this history about this farm and its people.

Through the years experiencing the hardships all farmers endure by trial and error, the success and failures, gain and loss, battling the elements (drought, storms, hail and floods, unwanted weeds and insects) the farm has reached the top with good management and maintenance, with highest crop yields and best quality products strict middling cotton.

The old Homestead earned a place on the State and National Register for Historical Sites.


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