Effie Waller Smith (January 6, 1879 – January 2, 1960) was an African-American poet of the early twentieth century. Her published output consisted of three volumes of poetry: Songs Of the Month (1904), Rhymes From the Cumberland (1904), and Rosemary and Pansies (1909). Her poetry also appeared in the publication, Harper's Weekly, as well as in various regional newspapers.
Effie Waller was born to former slaves in the rural mountain community of Chloe Creek in Pike County, Kentucky. Her father, Frank Waller, migrated to the East Kentucky mountains sometime after the Civil War, having spent most of his early life as a laborer on a Virginia plantation. Her mother, Sibbie Ratliff, was born and raised in East Kentucky and met the former Virginia slave in the early 1870s.
Frank Waller established himself as both a blacksmith and a real estate speculator soon after his arrival in the Chloe Creek community. This mountain community was unique in comparison to other communities of the time in that it was racially integrated. This condition, coupled with Waller's early training as a blacksmith while still a slave, helped him to become financially successful and to win the respect of his neighbors, both white and black. The Wallers, realizing the hardships caused by their own limited education, decided that their children would receive the best quality education available to them at the time.
Effie Smith stopped publishing her work in 1917 at the age of 38. Her husband, Deputy Sheriff Charles Smith, had been killed in 1911 while serving a warrant; they had been married two years. Effie Smith left Kentucky for Wisconsin in 1918 and is buried in the city of Neenah.
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