Richard A. Smith (1828-1919)
Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 4/1/2022 at 23:44:04
Richard Anson Smith
(May 10, 1828 – February 24, 1919)
The story of the sufferings and bravery of those who wore the blue and fought nobly for the preservation of the Union, now so great and prosperous as a direct result of their heroism and devotion to principle and country, cannot be told too often. It is especially well that those of the younger generations should have impressed upon their minds that the liberty and happiness which they enjoy freely was purchased for them at an awful price, and though naught but actual civil war in which they were participants
could give the picture in its entirety, a faint idea may be gained in the perusal of the history of those who, as in the case of Richard A. Smith, experienced the horrors of war in many of its worst phases. Captain Smith
was born in Chenango County, New York, in the town of German, May 10, 1828, and represents old New England families. His father, John Smith, was a native of Vermont, born November 14, 1782, while his mother, who bore the maiden name of Lvdia Sawtell, was born in Massachusetts, June 19, 1792. They were married in the old Bay state, October 10, 1819, and at an early day removed to Chenango County, New York. The ancestry of the family, however, can be traced further back, for history says that John Smith, a soldier of the Revolutionary war, was the grandfather of our subject. It is certain that there is no taint of cowardice in the family for John Smith Jr., the father of our subject, fought for the cause of his country in the war of 1812. Captain Smith was one of a family of seven children, namely : Albert V. L., and
Charles O., both of whom are deceased : Susan B., who is the widow of Isaac Gandy, of Wheeling, Missouri ; Philander, who has also passed away; Richard A., of this review; Aleman J., deceased; and Mary L., the widow of Luther Wood, of Franklin Grove, Illinois. The father of these children was called to his final rest December 15, 1843.
In the schools of his native town Captain Smith obtained his early education and when a youth of fourteen he was bound out until he should have attained his majority. Twice he ran away and enlisted for service in the Mexican War, but on account of his youth his mother succeeded in obtaining his release —
much to his displeasure. In 1848 he began learning the stone-cutting and mason's trade, following that pursuit for three years. Believing that farming would be more congenial, in 1852 he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, which he followed until 1856, in which year he removed to Cortland, Illinois, where he engaged in buying grain until after the inauguration of the Civil war. The smoke from Fort Sumter's guns had hardly cleared away, however, when he offered his services to the government, enlisting on the 18th of April, 1861. He was mustered into the United States service May 24, 1861, for a term of three months, becoming a member of Company F, Thirteenth Illinois Infantry. When it was found that the war was to be no mere holiday affair, but would be a long and serious struggle, the entire regiment offered its services for three years and was accepted for that period. It left Dixon, Illinois, in June, and our subject was under command of Captain Mayo and Colonel J. B. Wyman. With his regiment he was sent to Missouri and joined the command of General Fremont. He participated in the battles of West Glaze, Pea Ridge and Salem, and made a march of eighteen miles from Raleigh, Missouri, to Helena, Arkansas. In December, 1862, he participated in the battle of Vicksburg, under General Sherman, until his right arm was shot off by a musket ball. He also sustained other serious wounds which occasioned his discharge in August, 1863. On the 1st of June, 1861, he had been commissioned second lieutenant of Company F, Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, and on the 8th of August of the same year he was commissioned first lieutenant. On the 20th of October, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of captain in recognition of meritorious service at Pea Ridge. He was also offered a position as major in a Missouri regiment but declined to accept. Twice was he detailed to act as judge advocate of court martials in Helena, Arkansas, and Raleigh, Missouri. His promotion was well merited and his bravery and devotion inspired his men to deeds of valor. He remained at the front until his injuries made field service impossible and then returned to the north. In the fall of 1863 Captain Smith was elected county treasurer of DeKalb County and three times was he re-elected to that position, serving in all for eight consecutive years. In 1872 he embarked in the furniture business in Sycamore, Illinois, where he remained for three years and during his residence in that place he served as mayor of the town for two years, leaving the office as he had entered it — with the confidence and good will of the entire public. Upon abandoning his store he took up farming, which he followed successfully until 1884, and then came to Calhoun County, Iowa. Here he purchased a farm but, renting his land, established his own home in Lake City. Here he acted as an insurance agent, writing considerable business in that line. He was also justice of the peace from 1887 until February 15, 1890, when he was appointed postmaster by President Harrison and continued in that office for four years. He has since served as county supervisor for six years, and the fact that he has been so long continued in a position of public trust in the various communities in which he has resided is an indication of his sterlng worth and his absolute fidelity to duty.
On the 1st of May, 1851, Captain Smith was united in marriage to Roxanna A. Gault, who was born June 1, 1830, a daughter of Thomas and Maria (Andrews) Gault, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of Massachusetts. They became early settlers of Chenango County. New York, and two sons of the family are still living: Edward A., who resides in Chenango County: and John Nelson, who makes his home in Chicago, Illinois. Another brother, Carlton Gault, died in the service of his country while defending the Union, at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The marriage of Captain and Mrs. Smith has been blessed with three children: Charles P., who was born in Chenango County, New York, on February 27, 1852, is now in Chicago, where for twenty years he has been employed in the auditor's office of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company; Richard S.. born in Cortland, DeKalb County, Illinois, June 3, 1856, died September 12, 1881 ; and Carl G., born in Sycamore, Illinois, February 10, 1872, is now living in Homer, Cortland County, New York, where he is engaged in the jewelry business. The parents hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and the Captain is a leading representative of the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1867 this organization was formed through the agency of Doctor Stevenson, of Decatur, who spoke in many places in favor of the movement and called a meeting which convened in Springfield, Illinois, resulting in the organization of the society of old soldiers which has grown so strong in numbers and influence. The Captain has served as representative to the national meetings and has held all the offices of Potter Post, No. 11 , at Sycamore. Twice he has been commander of Lander Post, No. 156, G. A. R.. of Lake City, and at present is serving his third term, the honor coming to him in recognition of his ability and worth. In politics he has been a stalwart Republican since the war days. His wife is a member of the Woman's Relief Corps, in which she has filled all of the offices and for two years has been its president. She has also been department president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. The life record of Captain Smith is in many respects well worthy of emulation. In business he has been trustworthy and reliable, and in citizenship loyal and faithful. His name is synonymous with all that is honorable in his relations between his fellow men and himself and in an unusual degree he enjoys the esteem and respect of all with whom he has been associated. [Source – Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S. J. Clarke, 1902, p.279]
Calhoun Biographies maintained by Karon S. Valeu.
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