Johann Ludwig Josef Seidel was born on March 30, 1837 in Rennerod, Germany. Rennerod is a small town between Cologne and Frankfurt in west-central Germany. Ludwig’s four siblings all died in infancy, with the last taking his mother with him during childbirth. Just eighteen months later, Johannes Seidel, Ludwig’s father, remarried and the new step-mother was no fan of Ludwig’s. At seven years of age, Ludwig ran away from home and changed his name to Louis Sidel.

In 1854, Louis travelled to the United States onboard the ship the “Queen of the West.”  After arriving in New York, he moved to Detroit where he worked as a tinner. In 1858 he joined the army in Philadelphia and was assigned to the 10thInfantry Regiment, Company G. This company was part of the reinforcements sent to Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston at Fort Bridger to help quell the “Mormon Rebellion” (also known as the “Utah War” and “Johnston’s War”).

Mary Ann Richards was born in Bishop’s Castle, England, not far from the border with Wales. Bishop’s Castle is a small market town with a current population of less than 2000.  The rest of Mary Ann’s childhood, including her travels to America and subsequently to Utah, is a mystery.  It is explained in one source that in 1858, during the “Utah War,” Mary Ann was working as a housekeeper for Brigham Young.  This can’t be verified by other sources.

Private Sidel caught a glimpse of Miss Richards somewhere on the streets of Salt Lake City and was reported to have told a friend, “I am going to marry that young lady someday.” He was discharged from the Army at Camp Douglas on March 11, 1863 and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on June 21, 1863.  It is also of note that sometime before he was baptized, Louis made another name change and Anglicized his name to Louis William Smith.  It was with this name that Louis and Mary Ann were married on July 8, 1863 in Salt Lake City.

Louis and Mary Ann Smith

Louis and Mary Ann moved to the Kamas Valley around 1869. The Smiths purchased at least part of the Thomas Rhoades homestead and engaged in general farming and stock raising. They were very successful, and it is said that they owned the largest cattle ranch in Kamas Valley.  

Along with cattle, the Smiths raised their family in the valley. One boy, Louis William (Louie) Smith Jr., and three girls, Mary Jane, Rosanna, and Mary Ann were born to the couple. Rosanna died at a little less than one year old, but the other three children grew to adulthood and moved away from the Valley. Louie would eventually inherit the Smith homestead and was the person who sold it to the Fitzgeralds.

Mary Ann Smith Bates

Louis and Mary Ann set aside a plot of land on the large ranch, just on the bench where the land starts to rise to what we know today as the SS Hill. This plot was meant for a family cemetery. Only three people have been buried in this section of ground, Louis and Mary Ann as well as a John Randell. In the 1880 U.S. census, John is listed as a servant for the family. It is likely that he passed away while working for the Smiths and had no family to claim his body. It may say something about the friendly relationship the couple had with this gentleman, for they buried him in their family plot. Mary Ann passed away in 1903 and Louis in 1909. They get to rest peacefully on the ranch they loved.

The Smith Cemetery in 2021
Louis Sidel Smith’s headstone in the Smith Cemetery

In the later years of his life, Louis took an interest in mining. This may have been spurred on by the stories of Thomas Rhoades’ mining adventures and a supposed cache of gold that Rhoades may or may not have buried on the ranch. There is a story (one of the many that accompanies the Rhoades mine mythology) that suggests Smith found this buried cache of gold. Not wanting to flash large amounts of gold around town, Smith buried the gold on his ranch once more. In order to allow only his family to dig up the gold as needed, Louis dedicated the area where the cache was hidden as a family cemetery. 

No one is crass enough to dig for gold nuggets amongst the remains of those buried and gone, are they?