By Cora Humphries
For The Salisbury Post
Frances Ruth VonCannon Smith was born in Star, N.C., on June 22, 1904, to Milton F. VonCannon and Cora King VonCannon. She had one sister, Annie Grace and two brothers, Paul and Milton.
Six months before Ruth was born, Orville Wright took his famous flight of 12 seconds. It was at this time that Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company, and when Ruth was 4 the first Model T Ford rolled off the newly invented assembly line. When Ruth turned 8, our country came of age, with Arizona and New Mexico becoming our 47th and 48th states to join the Union. When Ruth was 10, Thomas Edison invented talking motion pictures ó the modern age was here.
Ruth’s father worked as a manger of the Star branch of Southern Timber and Lumber Company based in Fayetteville. When Ruth was 16, her family moved to Sardis, Ga., where Milton was asked to supervise the cutting of 1,000 acres the company had purchased. Ruth, being the oldest child, was placed in a boarding school in Fayetteville, where she lived less than a year. Just two years earlier, World War I had ended and better days seemed to be ahead. For Ruth, however, her dad had died from complications of “minor” surgery when she was 16.Her mother and siblings moved to Seagrove from Georgia, and Ruth rented a house in Asheboro where she finished her high school years. She graduated from Asheboro High School in 1922. Her mother, Cora, accepted an offer to work in the kitchen at the Methodist-Protestant Children’s Home in High Point. Cora and Ruth’s siblings moved to the orphanage (her dad had been good friends with the manager).
Ruth applied and was accepted as a freshman at Elon College in 1923. The following year, High Point College opened to welcome the first freshman ad sophomore classes; Ruth left Elon after one year and became a student in the first sophomore class in High Point College.
Having meager income, Ruth had to leave after her sophomore year at High Point College and was offered the position to teach fourth grade at the orphanage.
After teaching there one year, Ruth accepted an offer to teach in a county school system between Burlington and Greensboro. She taught fourth grade at Pleasant Grove School for three years.
In the summer, after her third year, she met a wealthy lady from Linwood by the name of Mrs. Finch, who encouraged Ruth to come and live in her home and teach fifth grade at the Linwood School. She accepted.
At Linwood, on the “celebration night” of introducing new teachers and returning teachers, Charlie Smith was appointed to escort Ruth to the party. Charlie and Ruth must have believed in love at first sight; they were married within the year. They wed in the first Methodist Church of High Point, where Ruth had joined the choir during her college days in High Point.
Ruth taught at Linwood School as a full-time teacher just one year. Charlie was a farmer and life on the farm was fulfilling and challenging, especially as Ruth was trying to balance teaching with starting a family. She had nine children with Charlie and they raised eight of them.
After her first year of teaching, Ruth worked as a part-time teacher and full-time wife and mother.
Believing that the family should go to church together, Ruth moved her affiliation from the Methodist church to Jersey Baptist Church in Linwood, where she served faithfully as a member and teacher of youth and adults; she played the organ for more than 42 years. Her children were raised to be at church every time the doors were open. Charlie served as trustee and sexton for many years.
Charlie died in 1990 and is buried in the church cemetery.
Ruth remains active in her church. She enjoys being able to eat most anything, takes very little medicine, keeps an active lifestyle and still has a fertile and clear mind though she is confined to a wheelchair.She still keeps up with the Atlanta Braves and watches them regularly on television except when they are playing poorly, when she has been known to say, “Turn that TV off; I’m going to bed!” Wake Forest basketball is her other sports love.
It is amazing to see someone of her age so involved, not only in sports but also in current events whether political, economic, social or religious.
Charlie and Ruth’s eight children are Frances Ann Koonts, Mildred Louise Smith, Alice Von Hedrick, Cora Esther Humphires, Charlie Alexander Smith Jr. William (Bill) Milton Smith, John (Pudge) Lindsey Smith and Patricia Mae Hedrick. Seven are living; Alice died of cancer at 32.
As of June 22, “Mrs. Ruth” has 20 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
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