From  South Gibson Star-Times

  August 9, 1994---


Elsie Smith to be 100-years-old    


Elsie Smith, a resident of the Owensville

Convalescent Center, will celebrate her 100th

birthday on Saturday, Aug. 13. Due to her health

in the last few weeks, an open house at the Center

has been canceled. The celebration had been

planned by her niece and nephew, Gladys

Cunningham, Fort Branch, and Gerald L. Spore,


         Smith has always been a resident of

    Owensville, except for the years she was married

    to her first husband Grover C. Woods from

    19l4 to 1952. During this time they first lived in

    Mt. Carmel and then at Eldorado, Ill, where

    Grover was a signal man on the railroad.

      Following Grover's death in a tragic auto acci-

dent in 1952, in which Smith was a passenger,

along with Grover's sister and her husband, she

remained at her little country home north of

Eldorado. She tried keeping active in her church,

Calvary Baptist in Eldorado, and with her host of

friends. Her family and roots were still at

Owensville, so it was not surprising when her

childhood friend, Earl Smith, who had also lost

his spouse, convinced her to return to Owensville

as his wife in 1953.

     Back in Owensville, she lived for awhile at

Earl's country home, but later she and Earl re-

tired to the pretty brick home on North First

Street, just a block or so south of where she lived

with her parents following their retirement to the

edge of town in 1911.

     In Owensville, she became active in the Gen-

eral Baptist Church, where she sang in the choir

and was active in the Philathea Class. Her inter-

ests extended to her clubs, the county Home Eco-

nomics Chorus, Eastern Star and painting. She

has always been an avid artist, exhibiting at the

Owensville Watermelon Festival and the county

fair. One of her paintings hangs over her bed at

the Convalescent Center.

     While Smith did not like leaving her home

and her cats. in 1989, following a broken hip,

she has adjusted reasonably well to life at the

Center. Not too long before, she frequently visited

the Center and led singing for the residents.

One hundred years is a long time since Smith

was bom in the new two-story home her parents

had just built four miles north of Owensville. Her

older six brothers and sisters had all been bom

in the old log house next to the new house. Her

parents were Andrew J. (Jack) and Alice (Fravel)

Spore. Smith grew up on this farm, which was

first purchased by her great grandparents, Jacob

and Mary Magdelina (Trisler) Spore in 1832,

and then in time lived on by her grandparents,

David and Lucinda (Mauck) Spore.

Smith never had children of her own, but was

well-blessed with other relatives. According to

her nephew, she had 32 first cousins on her fa-

ther's side, and 26 on her mother's side. She is

the last of this large group of cousins.

Her childhood from 1894 through her gradua-

tion from Owensville High School in 1913 must

have been very special, as is reflected in an auto-

biography that she wrote for her English Class

     three weeks before graduation. This autobiogra-

    phy has been preserved in her original hand-

    writing, and so well provides an insight into the

    first 18 years of her life, that it is included word-

    for-word below.

Autobiography of

Elsie Olive Spore

April 1913

                  History of Elsie Spore

     I was born one sultry August evening in the

year 1894 near Owensville, Indiana, on a day of

the month believed by many to be very unlucky,

namely, the 13th.

     Perhaps the great misfortune is yet to enter my

life, signified by that date, but, having passed

several rather happy birthdays on Friday the

13th, two unlucky dates combined, I do not

greatly fear or believe in my destined unlucky


     From all reports and records of my extremely

early life, it was spent in a rather selfish pursuit

of attracting all attention to myself by a continual

uproar carried on in a rather lamenting and ag-

grieved tone. I occasionally hear of my unenvi-

able reputation of being a terrible knocker on all

things in general, in my early existence.

     When I grew old enough to venture out of the

house on childish voyages, I derived great plea-

sure from constructing play houses and dressing

small chickens or kittens for my pets. I distinctly

remember at one time to have owned twenty cats

of all sizes, colors and descriptions and to loy-

ally defend them from assaults and teasings

from my older brothers.

     One brother, five years older than myself and

whom I loyally followed anywhere, delighted in

teasing my precious pets and .caused many small

spats between us which then to me seemed terri-

ble. I could not then understand his hard heart-

edness and when at. last he disposed of them by

giving some away and sending some of them off,

I was heartbroken. (Note-This was brother

Orville, who would die of Typhoid Fever in

August of 1913.)

     In my early school life I was considered very

bright and almost always was in good standing

in my class although I do not ever remember of


     My brothers, sisters and I suppose everyone

else, considered me very tom-boyish and often

insulted me very much by calling me Tom, but it

is a fact that the pleasures and sports of boys al-

ways interested me much more than mere girlish

pleasures. Although I enjoyed furnishing a play

house and keeping it neat, I never cared for dolls

and always enjoyed a game of ball with boys or

some game with a great deal of exercise and ex-

citement in it.

     In the summer time it was my delight to ac-

company my brother on a fishing trip to a small

creek which wound through my father's pasture

land and often would I sit whole afternoons pa-

tiently on the bank waiting for the fish to get hun-

gry enough to bite.

     Again, I was at home on a horse and could

ride almost any horse we owned and never was I

happier than when allowed to ride with my

brother after the cattle and herd them.

Although I was so thoroughly an outdoor girl,

I loved to read and could become so absorbed in

a book of almost any description that I would be

     lost to the world. I read every story in books,

     magazines and journals that I could find. I sup-

     pose I read more books and stories in childhood

     then any child was ever known to do.

     My ambition was to become an author and

reading so many books made me almost a

dreamer. Everything was planned in the future

and I could almost hear my fame sounded forth

and could see myself honored everywhere.

     I wrote several short stories and illustrated

them with pictures drawn by myself and for

awhile truly believed myself to be an undiscov-

ered author of genius, but this stage changed and

I decided that the life of an author must be stren-


     I enjoyed my school life very much, attending

a country school almost a mile from my home,

and was always very sorry when school closed.

Toward the close of my common school career, I

looked forward to becoming a high school stu-

dent of Owensville and planned ahead what good

times I should have. I did not dread the work

since I had always found it easy in the common

school and thought it would be easy to win all

kinds of laurels, accordingly when I entered high

school. I went in for all the fun going and did not

exert myself in studying. The first high school

year was very short and I certainly enjoyed it, but

the second year was not so easy, since I had ne-

glected my preparation in the first year, but I

again enjoyed a good time and was very sorry

when school closed.

     One of the graduates, my cousin and a very

jolly girl, lived with us during that summer, my

father being her guardian, and we did all sorts of

pranks and enjoyed every moment of our com-

panionship. We usually drove in town once a

week and saw our girl friends and became very

close friends, exchanging confidences with each

other and becoming in sympathy in every way. I

never had a chum whose company I enjoyed and

who was more in sympathy with me in all moods

than this jolly girl. (Note-this was Versa Fravel,

who later married Roy D. Short.)

     The third year of my high school life found

me living in Owensville. My brother married and

continued living on the home place and we

moved to town, greatly to my delight.

__     With great reluctance I must close this history

   of my past life, now on the threshold of real life.

   In three more weeks the last year at OHS will

   close and commencement night will close the pe-

   riod of four happy years just passed and open the

   doors to the commencement of real life, of which

   the eighteen years chronicled here are only a



   Submitted by Gerald L. Spore, Bloomington IN


The following are by Elsie Olive (Spore) Woods Smith