Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Meredith Smith”
Season 7, Episode 8
#210 in Series
Air date October 31, 1965
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Lois Hire
Directed by John Florea
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Found Child
Next Episode:
Mighty is the Word
External links
The Meredith Smith on IMDb



Dying miser Jake Smith asks Ben to deliver his estate to his next-of-kin: Meredith Smith.

It is six months later and Ben hasn't been able to find this person. On the day before Jake's estate must be given to the rightful heir, six Meredith Smiths arrive in Virginia City.

Ben now must sort through the phonies to find the real one.

Ben is having lunch on the veranda with an elderly gentleman called Jake he tells him he’s not eating as much steak as he used to. Ben is obviously buttering him up as he needs to renew the contract on the water rights. He tells Jake to look over the contract and Jake tells Ben that lawyers are expensive these days and hopes Ben pays the bills. Joe and Hoss arrive at the Ponderosa and Jake prepares to leave, Jake tells Ben he wants to make a will, and Hoss asks if he’s not feeling well. Jake tells Hoss he’s 92 years old and should have a will and he was well until he arrived at the Ponderosa and now he’s going to be talked to death. Jake asks Ben for advice but Ben tells Jake to see a lawyer and since he’s going to see Ira Mitten about the water contract he’s drawn up he might as well ask him about writing a will. Jake thinks it’s a good idea and tells Ben he’ll add it to the bill, since Ben desperately needs the contract he agrees. Jake suffers from the heat and mops his brow, Ben attempts to help Jake but Jake tells Ben he’s fine. Upon standing on his buggy Jake tumbles backwards off it and falls to the ground, Ben, Joe and Hoss run to his side. Ben cradles Jake and Joe tells Jake he’s suffering from the heat, but Jake tells him that it’s not that and it feels like his head has been split wide open. Jake appeals to Ben that everything he owns goes to his next of kin. Jake seems to fade, Ben asks Jake who his next of kin is and Jake tells Ben it’s someone called Meredith Smith and then passes. Joe picks up the water rights contract.

Ben is at the Ponderosa with Ira looking over Jake’s estate worth and is in shock. Ira tells Ben that his estate is worth a whopping $160,000. Jake owned acres in Texas, owned a mine in Montana and co-owner of a freight line in New Mexico. Ira is about to leave when Ben asks who takes care of the papers, Ira tells Ben he’s the executor of the estate. Ben asks why he’s the executor of the estate, and Ira tells him that Jake appointed him with his dying breath and with his son’s as witnesses that makes him the executor whether he likes it or not. Ben doesn’t like it, but Ira tells him it’s the law and his first job is to find Jake’s heir(s) and asks Ben if he had one. Ben tells him he did and it’s someone called Meredith Smith so Ira tells Ben to find them, but Ben doesn’t know how to do that. Ira tells Ben to use the obvious method by advertising in the legal columns of the papers and he has six months to do it in. Ben asks why there’s a deadline and Ira tells Ben it’s the law and protects the estate from any false claims made by possible debtors, before leaving he tells Ben he’ll charge him for everything he’s done.

Six months later in Virginia City Joe is waiting for Ben outside the Territorial Enterprise. Ben comes out and tells Joe that there’s been nothing, no one has made a claim in the estate. Joe wonders why no one has come forward for the estate and Ben has been wondering the same thing for six months. They still have one more day before the estate is handed over to the territory of Nevada including the water rights which the Ponderosa needs. Joe asks about other neighbours but Ben tells him there’s not enough water to go around, Joe hopes that Meredith Smith will show up before the deadline. Ben tells Joe it’s a hopeless thought.


A cowboy introduces himself to Ben as Meredith Smith, Ben is ecstatic that he’s able to finally meet him and confirms if he’s here to claim the estate. Meredith tells them that he’s his Nephew. Ben tells Meredith that he can’t claim the estate until the deadline since there may be more creditor claims and there’s only one more day to wait. Since Ben needs the water rights contract from the heir he butters up Mr Smith and tells him to stay at the hotel at his expense.


The stagecoach arrives into town and a young lady steps out, she immediately asks where Ben Cartwright is, luckily for her he’s just crossing the street with Joe towards her. She introduces herself to Ben as Meredith Smith (Miss), Ben repeats her name as he’s stunned and she acknowledges. Joe tells Ben that at least she’s an improvement. Ben takes her case and escorts her to the hotel and tells Joe to wait for him at the saloon.

At the hotel Ben asks for a room from Mr Potts the clerk, with the room booked and Ben paying the expenses he leaves.


At the saloon Joe and Ben are eating and Joe is wondering about the two Smiths at the hotel and Ben tells him that obviously one of them is a fraud but he doesn’t know which one, Joe hopes it’s not the girl as she’s better looking. A man enters into the saloon (Bret Maverick lookalike) and Joe spots him, Ben asks him what’s the matter and Joe tells Ben that he’s got a hunch about the man who just walked in. Ben tells Joe not to say it because he knows Joe is right. The man walks over to Ben to introduce himself but Ben is one step ahead and greets Meredith Smith, the man wonders how he knew who he was and Ben tells him that he was expected. Ben tells him that the estate won’t be settled until tomorrow and tells him to go to the hotel and tell the clerk that he’s his guest.


Joe and Ben settle down for their meal and before the first bite is swallowed Joe has noticed something at the entrance to the saloon and pokes his Pa for attention and motions towards it. Hoss walks in with a big smile on his face followed by a man in a suit and he tells Ben he’ll never guess who he’s found. Ben announces Meredith Smith and Hoss is surprised Ben could recognise the man even though he’s never met him. Ben takes Mr Smith to the hotel and Hoss doesn’t understand what’s going on, Joe tells him that he wouldn’t believe him if he told him.


At the hotel Mr Potts is confused about what’s going on and asks Ben what’s going on, Ben tells him he’s giving him a boom in the hotel business all by himself. Mr Smith books in and Ben is about to leave when Joe enters the hotel with Mrs Smith who’s just come off the stage from California.

Ben asks Joe where Hoss is, and Joe tells him he went back to the Ponderosa since someone has to run the ranch. Ben asks Mr Potts to register his guest at the hotel.

At the saloon Joe asks what difference it would make if the land is handed over to the territory of Nevada since they can get the water rights directly from them. Ben tells him that once the land goes to them the land is put up for auction, but since it’s prime land due to the water rights the price would rocket so Ben needs to find the right heir before the deadline.


Joe wonders why Hoss has just walked into the saloon, Hoss tells Ben that on his way back home he bumped into someone looking for him and that his name is Meredith Smith. Joe moans and Ben is exasperated and asks where he is, Hoss tells him he’s a bit bashful and is waiting outside. Hoss opens the flap to the saloon to be greeted by a young Chinese boy who introduces himself as Meredith Smith.

The next day Ben is in town to check on the hotel, the cowboy is complaining to Potts so Ben asks what the trouble is. The cowboy wants a barbershop service and wants to put it on his bill, so Ben says that he is his guest. Mr Potts doesn’t like the shenanigans going on but is interrupted by Miss Smith entering the hotel with a pile of parcels in her possession. She’s charged her items to the hotel bill and asks Ben if this is ok to which he says it is. Mr Potts looks on amused. Mrs Smith enters the hotel and tells Ben she’s been buying a few things while she was out and since she doesn’t have much money until the estate is settled she’s charged a few things to the hotel bill. She tells Ben she didn’t spend much but then goes into detail about what she bought and the cost of it, Ben mouths the cost and looks at the bemused Potts. Finally the Chinese boy enters the hotel with two large grocery bags, Mr Potts tells Ben to prepare himself. The boy presents a receipt to Ben but Mr Potts intercepts the note and tells Ben what he’s bought and then files it away with the rest of the bills.

Miss Smith leaves her room and bumps into ‘Maverick’ Smith, he immediately recognises her and calls her Cally. She tells him not to call her that and that she doesn’t want him to speak to her, he asks what she’s doing here but she tells him it’s none of his business. He told her to stay in Abilene and that he would have money for them to get married and wonders why she didn’t wait. She tells him she grew tired of waiting.

Suited Mr Smith walks into Mrs Smiths room by accident and he apologies but she tells him to come in and sit down. Suited Smith is feeling unwell and has a headache to which Mrs Smith tells him he’s come to the right place since she’s got some tonic. He’s a bit apprehensive about taking it so she takes a swig with him, they start talking. He feels lonely at times and she knows how he feels being a widow.

Cally leaves her room and Maverick Smith intercepts her and tells her why she’s here. She counters by saying he’s trying to get rid of everyone so he can have the money all to himself. He believes that she’s going to be in trouble for what she’s doing but she sees this as scare tactics to get her out of the picture so he has a better chance at the money.


Ben has lined up the Smith’s in the hotel lobby and is speaking to cowboy Smith, Ben tells them that he visited Sheriff Coffee that morning and they noticed a poster in his office and Ben wants to know why his picture is on it and his name is John ‘Snake Oil’ Swanson the slickest con man in the West. Swanson tells Ben that the poster doesn’t say wanted, it just says warning however Ben tells him with a charge of attempted fraud can change the wording. Swanson tells Ben it was an error in judgement and to forget the whole matter, Ben agrees as long as Swanson leaves town immediately. Ben then goes on to tell the Smith’s left that fraud of any kind is punishable by law and asks if anyone else wants to confess any errors of judgement, no one says anything. Ben then asks what kin they all were to Jake and provide evidence. He starts with the Suited Smith who gives Ben a family bible which includes his birth date, Ben asks what relationship he had with Jake but he doesn’t know since he lived so far from Jake. Ben then asks Miss Smith, she responds to tell Ben Jake was her grandfather and she never expected to have her word doubted. Ben then asks ‘Maverick’ Smith who replies that he was Jake’s grandson but the only evidence he has is his word. Ben then goes to Mrs Smith who presents Ben with a marriage certificate and she starts to cry. Ben finally approaches Chinese Smith and he replies that he’s Jake’s son. Ben is shocked, Chinese Smith tells Ben he was adopted and hands him some papers. Ben can’t read it because it’s all in Chinese and he’s holding it upside down. Ben thanks everyone and tells them that he’ll deliberate all the information he’s been given and will be in touch as soon as he can. ‘Maverick’ Smith gets up and tells everyone they should talk it over, but Cassy won’t budge and neither will Mrs Smith, suited Smith has nothing to lose and Chinese Smith agrees.

Ben visits Chen Liu who works at the launderette. Ben asks him if he can read Chinese and passes over the scroll to Chen, however as soon as Ben tells him it’s a legal document Chen throws it back at Ben asking him what did he do. Ben tells him nothing and he just wants him to read it to which Chen tells Ben that’s ok then. He opens the scroll and Ben has to turn the scroll around for him because again it’s upside down. Chen proclaims he needs his glasses but he can’t find them, Ben helps him look but they’re not in sight. Chen blames the wife for cleaning all the time hiding his glasses and shouts at her, she yells back and suddenly Chen finds his glasses in his pocket. He tells Ben the scroll is a legal and official document. He tells Ben what’s on the scroll.

Ben visits Cal at the Territorial Enterprise and hands over Mrs Smith’s marriage certificate for him to look at, however Cal needs his magnifying glass or he can’t read it. He starts looking for it under a lot of papers on his desk and can’t find it, Ben has a brainwave, he tells Cal to look in his pocket and Cal wonders how he knew it was there, Ben tells him he figured. He looks at the certificate and tells Ben the watermark tells him that the paper company was not yet in business 20 years ago at the alleged time the marriage certificate was produced. Ben then asks him to look at the bible he was given. Cal tells Ben it looks authentic; however, the only way he can tell is to compare the paper pages to another bible he has at home. Ben thanks Cal and leaves.

Back at the hotel, Mrs Smith and suited Smith are getting very friendly. Mr Smith tells her that Jake was a lucky husband, but Mrs Smith doesn’t know who he’s talking about and tells him she hasn’t got a husband. Mr Smith is confused. He asks her if she’s a widow and she confirms that she is and that widowing is her business. She goes on to tell him that when she hears someone is looking for an heir she shows up as the widow. If no one else contests the will then she gets the bootle and believes it helps others as there’s no more worrying about it. She tells them that she gives the proceeds to worthwhile caus. Mr Smith tells her she’s the most thoughtful and wonderful person he’s ever met in his whole life.

Ben is in the lobby of the hotel and Jake’s son comes down the stairs, Ben takes him over to a quiet spot for a chat. Ben asks him what his name is but he wants to know his real name, his Chinese name. He tells Ben it’s Ah Chow. Ben tells Ah Chow that he got someone to translate the scroll for him and he won’t be inheriting anything from Jake’s estate. Ben asks why he’s not disappointed to which Ah Chow replies Confucius says win some, lose some. Ah Chow asks if Ben has a wife and Ben doesn’t know why that’s got anything to do with the current situation. Ah Chow tells Ben he’s a #1 house boy, but Ben tells him he doesn’t need one. Ah Chow tells him how would he know unless he tries him out and hands Ben some references which again are all in Chinese.

Later Ben comes to the hotel with another man, he asks to see Miss Smith, but she’s coming down the stairs anyway. Ben tells the man he’s with to look at her and tell him if he recognizes her. Miss Smith is about to leave the hotel when Ben shouts her over; she’s with ‘Maverick’ Smith. Ben introduces her to the man; his name is Ozzie Flint from Abilene where she’s from. Ozzie recognises Miss Smith as Cally Martin, a singer at the Red Dog Saloon. Cally hits him in the face with her purse and ‘Maverick’ Smith holds her back. Ozzie then goes on to tell Ben that the man she’s with is a gambler called Ace in the Hole Jones. Cally struggles with Jones and she stamps on his foot and then swings her purse again. Ben ducks and the purse hits Ozzie in the face. Ozzie tells Ben if he doesn’t need him anymore he’d like to leave while he’s still able to; before he leaves he tells Ben from now on he knows nobody.

Ben sees Ah Chow coming down the stairs with cases in his hand and asks him what he’s doing. Ah Chow tells Ben that he now has a job as a bell boy and Pott’s tells Ben that since the hotel was a lot more busier he’s had to hire more help. Mrs Smith and suited Smith come down from their rooms, she tells Ben she’s leaving and Ben asks her if she’s relinquishing her claim to the estate and she confirms she is. She also tells Ben that she and suited Smith have gotten married and she has no intention of working on her honeymoon. Ben congratulates them both and suited Smith tells Ben he’s also relinquishing his claim. Ben tells him that his bible is authentic however suited Smith confirms that he knew he was never related to Jake and now he can retire while his wife brings in the money from the bootle.

Ben laughs, but he’s still left with Cally and Jones. Jones tells Ben that Jake really was his grandfather, and tells him where Jake’s ranch was situated at Willow Creek. He tells Ben about a copper mine in Montana, and when he was a little boy he took a ride on freight line that Jake was a part owner in and when he saw him last he was about to buy some land in Texas to put some cattle on he also tells Ben that Jake could eat more steak than any man he met. This sells it for Ben and he congratulates him and tells him he’s going to turn over the estate to him immediately. Cally’s real name is Betsy Hackenbush and he tells her his real name is Jake Smith and he was named after his grandfather, his middle name is Meredith. He asks Cally to come with him to the ranch.

Back at the Ponderosa, Cally and Meredith along with the Cartwright’s are having lunch on the veranda. Ben has drawn up a water rights contract for Meredith to sign. Cally believes that Ben is taking him for a ride since he needs the water desperately. She wants to charge Ben a 25% increase on top of what he already pays for twelve months. Ben tells her that Mr Crawford a neighbour was passing by the other day and he’s got water gushing from his land and offered to supply Ben with all the water he wants and snatches the contract off Cally. Meredith grabs the contract back and tells Ben not to be too hasty and signs it immediately and then leaves with Cally. Hoss and Joe question their Pa about the bubbling gushing stream on Mr Crawford’s land is as dry as a bone. Ben tells his boys that if you play poker with a gambler and his wife sometimes a bluff comes in handy.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights[]



  • Anne Helm: Meredith Smith/Callie Martin
  • Burt Mustin: Jake Smith
  • Howard Wright: Cal
  • Guy Lee: Meredith Smith/Ah Chow
  • Kam Tong: Ching
  • Owen Bush: Ira Minton
  • Robert Colbert: Meredith Smith/Ace Jones
  • Robert Sorrells: Meredith Smith/John Swanson
  • Strother Martin: Little Meredith Smith
  • Winnie Collins: Widow
  • Wynn Pearce: Ozzie Flynn


Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Sechsmal Meredith Smith", meaning "Six Times Meredith Smith".
  • This story was based on a real person, named Meredith Smith. While on a flight, David Dortort was speaking with him, after hearing a stewardess call his name, and asked about his background and name.
  • Eddie Firestone makes a second hilarious appearance as the hotel desk clerk. His character is exasperated by everything that is going on and one year after his first appearance he is still complaining about Horace Greely.




See also[]