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Smith-Whitfield Family photograph album and ephemera

Identifier: RHC-153

Scope and Contents

1. Photograph album, 185 x 280 mm. 25 leaves; black cloth covered boards. Contains 31 cyanotypes and 71 black-and-white photographs glued or attached with corner mounts, some with captions in black ink or pencil. Assembled by Eliza (Lila) E. Whitfield Smith from ca. 1919 to 1923. Besides family, friends, and neighbors, subjects include scenes in Detroit, Michigan: Detroit River, Water Works Park, and Belle Isle; Hudson, Morenci, Medina, Ames Mill dam, Prospect and Catholic Hills, the Wheatland cyclone damage, farm views, cemeteries in Morenci, Hudson, and Pittsford; other than the Detroit photos, the rest were taken in both Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties, Michigan. Photographs of individuals include Earl Bennett (born ca. 1910), Thomas Franklin Combs (1857-1936), Mark, Miley, Eliza, and Mahlon Smith, the farm of Arlo Clement and the T.B. Thurlby’s woods; other individuals are identified only by first names: Mary, Elery, and Donald. There is also provisional identification of Miley’s father, Mark Smith, and his sister, Alice Maud Smith Roos.

2. Smith correspondence and ephemera. 4 letters addressed to Mark and Ellen Smith in Morenci from relatives in Marden, Kent, England, 1882, 1883, and 1885; 2 invoices to Mark Smith from Morenci businesses, 1894; unused pocket calendar for April-September 1893 belonging to Ellen Smith.

3. Morenci schools. Commencement program for seventh annual graduation, 1890; Catalogue of Morenci Union Schools, 1896-1897 (Morenci, 1896; 32 pages) belonging to Miley Smith, seventh grade.

4. Chromolithographed advertising bookmark for A[delbert] Corey, purveyor of pianos and organs in Hillsdale, Michigan.


  • 1882 - 1923


Access to the Materials

Collection is open for research use. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Publication Rights

The collection is the physical property of Grand Valley State University, but all literary rights are retained by the original creators of materials, their estates, heirs, or third parties. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure appropriate permissions for publication beyond the bounds of fair use.

Biographical Notes

Mark Smith was born in Kent, England on 13 October 1847 and moved to Fulton County, Ohio in 1851. There he married fellow British immigrant Ellen Chantler (1846-1919) and by 1885 had relocated to Seneca Township, Lenawee County, Michigan where he worked as a day laborer. They had three children: Charles William Smith (1875-1898), Alice Maud Smith Roos (1878-1964), and Miley John Smith (1881-1946) all of whom were born in Ohio. By 1916 the family owned an eight-acre farm in Seneca Township. Mark died on 17 June 1930 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Morenci, Michigan with his wife and children.

Miley J. Smith attended the Morenci Union Schools in the 1890s and married Eliza (later Lila) E. Whitfield in Pittsford, Hillsdale County, Michigan on 15 November 1906. They lived with her parents, Edward (1832-1916) and Mary Minerva Andrews Whitfield (1841-1913) on the latter’s 80-acre farm in the northern part of section 4, Pittsford Township. Upon the death of Edward in 1916, the farm passed into Miley and Eliza’s ownership. They had one child, Mahlon Vaughn Smith who was born on 27 July 1917. By 1930 the family had moved to Toledo, Ohio where Miley worked in an auto parts factory, and by 1940 all had moved to Winter Haven, Florida where Miley and Mahlon worked as fruit pickers and eventually in a fruit cannery. Mahlon enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 1942 and married fellow fruit industry worker, Claudia Crosby (1906-1994) in July 1943.

Eliza (Lila) Whitfield Smith died in 1956 and Miley Smith died on 26 July 1946; they are buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Winter Haven, Florida. Mahlon died on 27 December 2006 in Winter Haven.


0.8 Linear feet (1 flat box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The photograph album and ephemera were purchased on an eBay auction from Katherine Touchtone (Winter Haven, Florida) on 21 April 2018.
Smith-Whitfield Family photograph album and ephemera
Robert Beasecker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States