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Peter was born on December 24, 1786. He was most likely born in New York, and probably in Orange County. He married Abigail Archer on January 7, 1807, again most likely in Orange County. They had a daughter named Lucinda, who was born in Orange County on March 15, 1808. Soon after her birth, the couple and their infant daughter moved to western New York, to the area that would eventually become Ulysses Township, Tompkins County. It was located in Cayuga County at that time, and was a wilderness when they arrived. They settled on a farm of 50 acres, Lot 30, part of what was known as the Military Tract, that they bought from Francis Hammer. They built their log home in the center of the lot, near a creek, and did their baking in outdoor ovens.

On February 8, 1810, they had another daughter, who they named Angeline Burlingame. Peter enlisted in the war of 1812, and when he returned, they paid for their land, $200, and received a deed. Ulysses was in Seneca County at that time, and the deed was recorded in Seneca Falls. By 1826, the Smiths had completed their family at nine children, eight having been born in their log cabin in the woods. That year a new home was built, on the same site as the log cabin. It was now in the new county of Tompkins and the builder was Joseph Genung. 

Abby died in 1859, and Peter passed away on March 7, 1864. Both are buried in Hayts Cemetery on Hayts Road near Seneca. Peter’s headstone reads “Peter H. Smith 1786-1864”. Peter willed the farm to all his children, and son Cortland bought the others’ shares. Courtland married and had three children, all born on the farm. His son Philo bought their share of the farm from his sisters, married and had five children of his own. Thus, four generations of Smiths lived on the farm in Ulysses Township. The house that was built in 1826 burned in 1922, and a new house was built, but it was located near the highway.

Sources for this biography: Cemeteries of Tompkins County, on Tompkins County Rootsweb; The History of Schuyler County, an article about the Beardsley family; The will and probate of Peter’s estate; Peter’s pension application from the War of 1812 and an article apparently written in the 1920’s, author unknown, titled “History of Peter H. Smith, Native of Orange County” which claims to have used information from the family Bible; 1850 US Census and 1855 New York Census of Tompkins County; The Transcript, October 25, 1926; NYGBR 1955:162

Thanks to Kenneth Smith for sending us this biography. If you have questions, please contact him.

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