Humboldt’s oldest birthday girl celebrates 103 years

Margaret Elizabeth Chatham Smith aka Granny Smith

Margaret Elizabeth Chatham Smith aka Granny Smith


An old popular gospel hymn starts out:

“I come to the garden along, while the dew is still on the roses… and he walks with me and he talks with me.”

Now, since I have moved to Chattanooga, I get lonesome sometimes, and when I let the 24-hour news media get me down, I phone my forever young friend and sob, “Sing me a song, Granny.”

As we talk, I picture her there in her favorite chair, near the telephone table, in her sweet home on 22nd Avenue. Her beautiful black cat named “Little Bit” sleeps peacefully cuddled in her lap. After soothing my soul by singing her favorite hymn “In the Garden,” she says to me, “Hang in their kid!” and we both laugh.

Oh, by the way…Margaret Elizabeth Chatham Smith walked into the history of Humboldt last Tuesday, August 9, when she turned 103 years.

Smith is not certain, but she guesses her claim to fame is being the oldest living citizen of her hometown.

Everyone knows Granny Smith. She is the mother of Alecia and Linda. Suzanne Craig and Stephanie Hawks (maiden names) are her beloved granddaughters.

Also, I wrote her story a while back, but it’s worth repeating, I think.

Just one year before the start of WWI, Margaret Elizabeth Chatham was born to Fannie Prince Chatham and William Penn Chatham, in a small tenant house, on a hill, just a few miles south of Humboldt, in what now is the city of Three Way.

It was there that the little girl had her first remembrance of life:

Now, picture this:

“A little girl stands in her momma and daddy’s front yard, with nothing on but a diaper…a young neighbor boy sweeps her onto his shoulder. As he rode her around and around like a pony her brother Russel and sister Mary fall to the ground laughing.

Oh, for goodness sakes, imagine my surprise when Granny told me the young boy’s name was Webb Bond, who in later years happened to be a farmer friend of my Daddy.

I think one of the blessings of reaching old age is recalling life’s memories that stick in your mind and won’t go away. Heck, why not share them for others to enjoy?

You might remember this one from a previous article:

When Elizabeth was five or six years old, her family moved to town. Their city life began in a rented apartment upstairs over Gibson’s Hardware Store on 14th Avenue.

It was during that time that she first laid eyes on her future husband, but she was too young to know it at the time.

A long story short: Irby Bryan Smith, born also in 1913, and Elizabeth Chatham were married in the home of Rev. J. E. James of Trenton, Tenn. The dated was September 22, 1933. Not too many years later, Irby reminded his wife of something she had almost forgotten. “Honey,” he said, “Do you remember all those years ago, walking down the stairs at Gibson Hardware Store and a little boy asked you What’s your name little girl? You hurled around and stumbled back upstairs.” “Was that you?” Elizabeth asked.

Irby said that he never forgot that little girl. He always said to himself, “I’m going to marry that little dark hair girl someday!” And he did.

Granny thought real hard before telling me, “It’s no sin to turn 103, but it sure is unhandy!”

(More family history and town talk next week)

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