from 1866 through  (at least) 1887
Submitted August 20, 2001 by Joy King
from: Goodspeed, History of Tennessee- Sumner, Smith, Macon and Trousdale Counties
         (1887; reprint, Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1979), 959-60.

SMITH CO., TN - S.M. PHELPS, superintendent of the county poor, is a native of Davidson County, Tenn., born in 1831.  His parents were Silas and Margret [sic jk]  (RIGELY) PHELPS.  The father was born in North Carolina in 1794, and immigrated to Tennessee after marriage, locating three miles from Nashville.  His death occurred in 1869.  His wife was born in Virginia, and died in 1860 at the age of sixty-five.  They had thirteen children, our subject being the tenth.  He remained with his parents until his eighteenth year.  In 1849 he married Miss Martha, daughter of William DOWNS, who was born in Davidson County in 1831.  To this union there is one child-Margret Jane, wife of G.T. HENRY.  After marriage Mr. PHELPS hired to drive a milk wagon near Nashville, and worked four years.  In 1857 he moved to Smith County and became an overseer, also driving a milk wagon.  When the war broke out in 1861 he enlisted in Company B, Seventh Tennessee Infantry.  After twelve months of faithful service he was discharged on account of disability.  He was taken with the measles, and has since had poor health.  In 1866 he was employed by the poor house committee to oversee the county poor, receiving $175 per annum, and board for himself and family.  A year later he became the superintendent, his salary being $250.  Twenty-one years he held this position, giving the utmost satisfaction.  When he first took charge the institution was situated on Peyton's Creek.  In 1871 the commissioners purchased a farm on 211 acres in the Twentieth District, and erected frame buildings at a cost of $3,500.  In 1885 they built a large and commodious brick building with all modern improvements, heated by two hot air furnaces.  The home is kept in first-class order, neat and comfortable.  The inmates are treated with kindness and respect by our subject and his estimable Christian wife.  The county has just cause for the pride she feels in possessing such an institution and superintendent for her homeless unfortunates.  The largest number of inmates in twenty years, at one time in the home, was forty-seven.  The average is seventeen.  At present there are fourteen, only one male.  Mr. PHELPS has by industry and economy become the owner of 180 acres of valuable land two and a half miles from Carthage.  He is a Royal Arch Mason, and his wife a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.

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