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Wililam T. Smith (1845-1904)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 4/5/2022 at 13:06:42

William Thomas Smith
(April 15, 1845 September 12, 1904)

Almost every state in the Union and nearly every country upon the face of the globe has sent its representatives to Iowa. Its citizenship is of a cosmopolitan character, but while varied were the natures of the pioneers, and differing in marked degree their educational advancement as well as financial conditions, the recognition of their common perils, the sense of their comparative isolation and loneliness and the yearning of nature for companionship, drew them together and fostered feelings of fraternity and good fellowship. They soon learned to see and appreciate the good traits of their neighbors and the remembrance of pioneer pleasures and privations has made the term "old settler" a hallowed one. Warm friendships were formed which only death severed. But thirty years or more form a material factor in the lives of men and the upbuilding of a county and within that time great changes occur. Perhaps comparatively few of the men who came to Iowa with the hope of winning fortune here have fully realized their ambition and comparatively few have become known to fame, but Calhoun County became, nevertheless, settled by a law-abiding, honorable class of citizens who have acted well their part, and have contributed their full share to the advancement of this great state.
Honored and respected as one of the earliest settlers, winning success by energy in business and straightforward dealing and gaining political prominence as the result of his loyalty in citizenship, and his fitness for leadership, W. T. Smith has left the impress of his individuality upon the records of Calhoun County and upon the annals of Iowa, and the history of this portion of the state would be incomplete without his life record. Although he now makes his home in Texas he yet retains a deep and abiding interest in the county which was so long his place of abode and in which he yet has many friends. Mr. Smith is a native of Pennsylvania, his birth having occurred near the town of Saltsburg, Indiana County, April 15, 1845. When about twelve years of age he became a resident of Port Byron, Illinois. His educational privileges were somewhat limited, he attending the district school for about three or four months each winter. Through the remainder of the year the duties of the farm claimed his attention, and thus his life was quietly passed until the 11th of February, 1864, when at the age of eighteen years he enlisted for service in the Union army, at Rock Island, Illinois, becoming a member of Company G, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry, with which he served until mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, about the 1st of August, 1865. Loyalty and valor marked his army experience and he returned to his home with a most creditable military record.
On the 22d of March, 1866 Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Amelia
Jack, a sister of A. N. Jack. Mrs. A. F. Stonebraker, Mrs. W. T. Condron and Mrs. James Van Home, all of whom are mentioned in the biographical record of the county. In October following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Smith came to Calhoun County, but spent the succeeding fall and winter in Fort Dodge, Iowa, returning to this county in the spring of 1867. Mr. Smith rented and occupied the frame house of James Van Home on section 22, Lincoln Township, and Mrs. Smith, who had been a successful school teacher prior to their marriage, taught the first school, a private one, in Mr. Van Home's home during the summer of 1867. Many of the young men now prominent in the affairs of the county today received their first instruction from her.
In 1868 Mr. Smith and his family removed to their homestead on section 20, Lincoln Township, and there he spent the summers in farming and the winters in teaching school until the fall of 1870, when he was elected to the office of county treasurer of Calhoun County. His fellow townsmen, recognizing his capability and realizing him to be a man of unimpeachable honor, conferred upon him this public trust, and he removed to Lake City, then the county seat, where he filled the position for four years, having been almost unanimously elected for a second term, and having the unique distinction of having no competitor for the office. Elected county recorder, he entered upon the duties of that position January 1, 1877, and was re-elected and served for four years in that capacity, retiring from the office as he had entered it with the unqualified confidence and good will of the public. In 1877 he removed to Rockwell City, the new county seat, and erected the first residence there. In his political views he is a stalwart Republican, his support of the party arising from a firm belief in its principles. He has not only served in the county offices, but was also elected by the state legislature to the position of a trustee of the Iowa State Normal, at Cedar Falls, for a term of six years, and his deep interest in the cause of education and his just realization of its value in the practical affairs of life, led him to give effective service to the institution. Mr. Smith was associated with the Hon. S. T. Hutchinson, of Lake City, in the real estate and abstract business for many years, and later with A. N. Jack and J. H. Bradt in the same line. In partnership with Mr. Jack he also conducted a hardware store for a number of years and enjoyed a liberal patronage in that line, but at length he disposed of his interest and removed to Texas, on account of ill health. He is now the owner and proprietor of the Blanket town site and his real-estate operations there are contributing in large measure to the substantial improvement and upbuilding of his locality, as well as proving of financial benefit to himself.
By his first marriage Mr. Smith had six children who are still living: Eugene H., a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, residing in Colorado; Merle N., a professor in the Drew Theological Seminary, in Madison, New Jersey; Wilmot T., a merchant in Blanket, Brown County, Texas; Roy L. and Clarence J., who are attending school in Forth Worth, Texas; and Aleck A., who is a student in the home school. The mother. Mrs. Amelia Smith, died in Rockwell City, August 25, 1890, and Mr. Smith was again married September 30. 1891, his second union being with Miss Eliza J. Garnett, of Port Byron. Illinois, their home being now in Blanket, Brown County, Texas. Mr. Smith has also lost two children: Thomas C, aged ten years; and Lillie B., about five years of age, her death occurring in December, 1879. They were laid to rest in Rose Hill cemetery, in Rockwell City, where sleeps their mother.
In his religious faith Mr. Smith is a Methodist and has long been a devoted
member of the church. He was honored by the northwest Iowa conference by being sent as a lay delegate to the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal church held in Philadelphia, in 1884. His devotion to his church is quiet and unostentatious but unfaltering, and his influence is ever on the side of the right, the true and beautiful. In business he has ever been found reliable, energetic and trustworthy; in office loyal and progressive; and in every relation of life his actions have been guided by manly principles and devotion to the general good. Calhoun County still feels that she has a claim upon him and his friends here are legion. His work in her behalf has certainly been of great benefit and high on the roll of her honored pioneers is his name inscribed. [Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S. J. Clarke, 1902, p.289]


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