- 'The Town of Hempstead had a large quota of Smith families from it's earliest days, probably none of these related to one another originally. Among the town's proprietors and those who paid toward the patent were no less than six John Smiths. Very naturally, they were often distinguished by an added appellation. ... John Smith "Rock" (one of these six men) and his family became known as the "Rock" Smiths. This word might be spelled Rock, Roc, Rox, R or r; it might appear instead of a first name, as a middle name, as a word or symbol following the surname, and even between surname and Junior or its symbol J. This diverse usage shows it was not an alias or second surname or mother's maiden name, but merely an identifying term.' (Bailey).
Other early Long Island Smith families had similar appellations, therefore "Tangier" Smith (of Mastic and Manor of St. George), "Bull" Smith (of Smithtown,) "Black" Smith (of Merrick,) and "Blue" Smith (of Hempstead.) As to be expected, these early Smith families often intermarried, making research complicated. The origin of the appellation is uncertain, engendering much speculation among various commentators.
Much of the lineage recorded here, showing the descendancy from John "Rock" Smith to the Brookhaven Hamlet Smiths derives from a "Smith" Cedar Grove cemetery monument, Patchogue, NY. This eccentric monument, erected in 1909, purports to show the "complete" genealogy of the "Rock" Smiths from early Colonial days to Mrs. Ruth Newey Smith, who erected the monument. Hundreds of names are inscribed on the monument. This monument was transcribed by Mrs. Caleb M. Edwards, and appeared in the Long Island newspaper, Newsday, 16 Sep 1993. However, I believe this record inscribed on this monument to be fundamentally flawed -- see John Smith "Rock," Jr.