Smith and Geary Families
The Smith family of Junkins can trace its lineage to Cudjo (Kudjo), an African man who was kidnapped in the early 1800s and shipped to the United States to be sold as a slave. In America, he was given a wife, with whom he had a child, Jackson, in 1822.
Captain Smith, an Arkansas plantation owner living in Pulaski County near Little Rock, bought Jackson, now a young man, as a husband for his illegitimate, half-Black child, Mary. Mary and Jackson had three children: Thomas in 1854, Rufus Saddler in 1856, and William in 1858. In 1862, during the American Civil War, Thomas, Rufus, and Jackson were kidnapped. Thomas was killed by the kidnappers, and Rufus and William were separated. In 1874, Rufus found his way back to the Smith farm, where he married Drewcilla Threat in 1887. The couple had two children: Ella and Rufus Warren.
Trying to stay ahead of segregationist and discriminatory laws being passed in Congress, Rufus Saddler Smith and his wife Drewcilla moved their family from town to town in the United States. They moved west and, eventually, to the “Indian Territories” of Oklahoma. Then, in 1910, following Benjamin Howard, they brought their 12 children north to Regina, Saskatchewan.
Benjamin fled to Canada after shooting a White man in self-defense. At that time, he changed his name to James Mack. This explains the reason, when he later married Ella Smith, the couple's eight children bore the surname Mack.
The eldest child of Rufus and Drewcilla Smith, Rufus Warren Smith (Rufus Jr.), would play an important religious role in several Alberta communities. He initially went to North Battleford, Saskatchewan to work in the service of the First Baptist Church, but Reverend Price rejected him, saying that his church didn’t want Black members. When Reverend Jessup from England took over the church, he apologized to Rufus for the incident and invited him to help with a prayer service but allowed him to lead only one prayer.
Wanting more to do, Rufus started working for North Battleford’s non-denominational Apostolic Church while retaining his membership in the First Baptist Church. Rufus started preaching at the Apostolic Church. In 1929, the congregation of Edmonton's Shiloh Baptist Church invited him to come and preach. He was persuaded to stay on at the church, where he preached from 1929 to 1933.
In 1933, he became pastor for the Union Baptist Church in Amber Valley. Then in 1938, he moved to Junkins and started a series of revival meetings. In 1942, Rufus quit being a reverend to move to Winnipeg, where he worked on the railroad and then for a sugarbeet factory. Upon his retirement, Rufus preached in the United States in Tulsa and Bristow, Oklahoma and in various churches in Los Angeles.
In 1924, after Benjamin Howard (James Mack) was run over by a bus in Regina and killed, Ella married William Almo Marshall Geary. Before relocating the family to Edmonton and then to Junkins in 1942, William had worked in meat packing plants in the cities of Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Regina. Ella and William Geary had nine children, including amateur boxer Benny Geary.
Benny Geary worked for Morin’s Barber Shop in Edmonton while pursuing his boxing career. At 18, he fought in the lightweight division, and later in the welterweight division. He became the Western Canada Welterweight Champion.
He married Alice Thompson and had several children. In 1949, Benny started farming in Junkins. Unsuccessful at farming, he went to work as a porter for Canadian National Railroad and then as a caretaker for some Edmonton schools. Benny retired in 1983.