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Remembering Dr. W.W. Smith of Clyo
Dr. W. W Smith and
Above is Dr. W. W. Smith of Clyo with his second wife Rachael. - photo by Photo provided

Oswell Eve Smith was a cousin to Dr. A. P. Longstreet from last week’s column. He purchased the Longstreet Place on the Effingham-Screven county line in 1873 from his cousin’s estate. He deemed the soil rich and more productive for planting.

Oswell Eve Smith was married to Myra Susannah (Hall) Smith. They had eight children and moved to Effingham about 1858, purchasing the large plantation of Dr. Peter Stokesbury named "The Pines" on the Old Augusta Road and renaming it "Forrest Hall."

One of their children was Dr. William Wyberg Smith (1862-1931), born in Richmond County prior to the move. He was known as "Willie" and lived at Forest Hall until attending North Georgia Agricultural School in Dahlonega. Deciding to pursue a degree in medicine, he lived with his mother’s family in Augusta while studying at the Medical College of Georgia. He received his degree and became licensed to practice medicine and surgery in 1884.

Dr. Smith set up practice in Edgefield County, S.C. There he met and married Mary Adeline "Addie" Miller. They moved to Clyo in 1900 and opened his new office in his home. A small two-room structure next door served as his waiting room and dispensary.

Dr. Willie, as he was affectionately known, and Addie reared nine children in Clyo including: Oswell E. Smith, Ellie Miller Smith (Cheney), Addie Hall Smith (Futrell), William W. Smith Jr., Lawrence Miller Smith, Benjamin Hall Smith, Joseph Bean Smith, Susan Myra Smith (Bolin) and John Wesley Smith.

He was a member of the Clyo Methodist Church, International Order of Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World and Free and Accepted Masons. He made house calls by horse and buggy and later in an automobile in Effingham and Screven counties, with his medicine satchel always at his side. Many recall that he dispensed his own prescription medications in thin paper folded a certain way to secure them. His treatment success of rattlesnake bites was legendary.

After the death of his first wife, Dr. Smith married Margaret Rachael Groover, a nurse from Savannah. They had no children. On one of their trips to Florida, with his daughter and her husband, they were involved in a tragic head-on automobile accident near Yulee, Fla., on Nov. 29, 1931, and Dr. Smith was killed. The accident was blamed on a heavy cover of smoke that had made the road hazardous for days.

His home in Clyo burned some years later, and the Clyo Homemakers Club House is now located in that location.

W. W. Smith Jr., one of the sons of Addie and Dr. Willie, was a World War I veteran, blacksmith, storekeeper and farmer. After the war he went to North Carolina, where he worked including construction of bridges. There he met his wife, Helen Masters, originally of New York.

They settled in Clyo and reared their family of five children: Grace Smith (Elkins), Mildred Smith (Metzger), Billy (W.W. Jr.) Smith, Shirley Sue Smith (Bevill) and Wilena Smith (Loper). Mrs. Helen was well-known for helping many with genealogy and she loved to read. Many of her books of historical value were donated to Effingham Museum after she died. The couple is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery near Laurel Hill Lutheran Church in the Clyo area.

The Smith home and store, still standing in Clyo on Marion Avenue along the railroad, is now owned by daughter Wilena and husband Richard Loper who have a home in the next block.

Health conditions began to improve in the 20th century with the introduction of artesian wells, sanitary sewage systems, vaccines, malaria control and wonder drugs like sulpha and penicillin. Dr. Smith contributed greatly to medical care in the county and many of his descendants still live and work in our area.

Please note: Not all photographs submitted for the 2013 HES calendar were chosen due to your generous submission of pictures but they will be filed for future use.

Information for this story came from The History of Medicine in Effingham County and Wilena and Richard Loper. This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: