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Benton County, IAGenWeb Project
The IAGenWeb Project

History of Benton County, Iowa
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910; Luther B. Hill, Ed.

Pages 492-493

SPENCER SMITH, the retired farmer and leading citizen of Van Horne, is of an old New York family, which, through his line, has been identified with the agricultural interests of the Empire state, of Illinois and Iowa. His parents were A. J. and Ann (Mabie) Smith, both natives of New York state, born in the year 1813. Five children were born to them, of whom Spencer was the first, the other four being as follows: Charles, who now resides in Kansas; Sarah Alger, of Kingsley, Iowa; Theodore, a resident of Denver, Colorado; and Mrs. Ellen Hart, of Boone, Iowa. Soon after their marriage in New York the young couple started for the new western country, in 1837 locating in Ogle county, Illinois. The farm there purchased became the birthplace of their first born, Spencer, on January 14, 1839, and it remained the family homestead until 1845, when the father sold his property, drove through to Clinton county, Iowa, and established another homestead in that locality. Later he moved to Adair county, and died in 1886, as a retired citizen of Boone, in his seventy-sixth year. He had been bereft of the earthly counsel and assistance of his good wife for twenty years.

Six years of age when his parents moved from Illinois to Iowa, Spencer Smith received a common school education in Clinton county, and was one of the thousands of hardy young farmers who composed the backbone of the Union armies of the west. On August 12, 1861, he enlisted at Dewitt in Company A, Eighth Iowa Infantry, and served within three months of five years, being honorably discharged May 7, 1866. Mr. Smith was a favored soldier of the Civil war; for, although he was a participant in the battles of Shiloh and Jackson and in the campaigns before Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Spanish Fort, Alabama; was with Price in all his Missouri operations, and exposed himself to all the dangers of battle and the hardships of the camp and march, he passed through the four years and nine months with only a slight wound and no serious sickness. Mr. Smith enlisted as a private soldier and was promoted to corporal and sergeant. In 1863, at Vicksburg he was commissioned second lieutenant, and at Spanish Fort, Alabama, he was breveted first lieutenant, for meritorious service in the capture of Mobile, Alabama, and its defense, as his commission reads. Later he was commissioned first lieutenant, which rank he held at the time of his discharge. He enlisted for the second time after the expiration of his first term of service. After Lee's surrender Lieutenant Smith was detailed for service in the Freedman's Bureau at Opelika and Tuskegee, Alabama, and was with the Freedman's Bureau at the time of discharge. He was mustered out of the service April 20, 1866, formally discharged on the 7th of the following month, and returned to the home of his parents in Clinton county. In 1868 he purchased ninety acres of land in section 2, Union township, this county, which he improved, but did not occupy until his marriage two years later. This was the commencement and the basis of his agricultural operations, in which he met with uniform success. In 1901 Mr. Smith retired from the field as an active farmer and located in Van Horne, in whose city council he has served, being considered a representative member of that body. He had previously served for two terms as township trustee; had been an officer of the school board and acted as United States census enumerator in 1880. He was a Republican until 1884, but the vital importance of Prohibition had been growing in his mind and in that year he joined the party which held to that issue as its only plank. A quarter of a century of observation and thought has made him firmer than ever in his political faith.

On January 19, 1870, Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Lottie P. Rutledge, who was born in Canada, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Foster) Rutledge. The father was a native of New York and the mother of Ireland, moving to the Dominion not long after their marriage. In 1854 they located at Oregon, Illinois, where they both died. Mrs. Spencer Smith died in Van Horne on October 4, 1908, aged sixty-three years. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Smith became the parents of the following: Winnie, now the wife of J. L. Jenkins, of Hartley, Iowa; Paul R., a farmer of Union township; and Edith, Mrs. H. F. Schlarbaum, a resident of Van Horne.

Note from Charles Smith:
Spencer Smith and the 8th Iowa were not "with Price in all his Missouri operations." Instead, Smith and the 8th Iowa Infantry were, in the fall of 1861, part of Union defenses against Price's operations in Missouri (Byers, Iowa in War Times, 496). In later years Price twice tried again to conquer Missouri for the Confederacy, but was soundly defeated each time (McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 304, 786-788). Smith and the 8th Iowa, however, played no part in frustrating Price's later Missouri operations, being instead engaged in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.

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