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Michael M. Smith (1823-1905)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 11/27/2022 at 13:15:34

Michael M. Smith
(August 23, 1823 September 1905)

In the front ranks of the columns that have advanced the civilization of Iowa Mr, Smith stands, being numbered among those who have led the way to the substantial development, progress and upbuilding of western Iowa, being particularly active in the growth of Calhoun County, where he still makes his home. He is numbered among the pioneers here, his memory going back to the time when this entire region was but sparsely settled, when the Indians were still seen in the locality and the land had not been reclaimed for the uses of the white man, but remained in the primitive condition in which it came from the hand of nature. Because he is an honored pioneer and because he has labored so indefatigably for the substantial development of the county, Mr. Smith well deserves mention in its history. A native of Lamoille County, Vermont, he was born August 23, 1823, a son of Alfred and Sarah (Hatch) Smith, the former a native of Connecticut and the latter of the Green Mountain state, where their marriage occurred. Mr. Smith engaged in farming, but died when our subject was only five years of age. He was a Whig in his political affiliations and was a Universalist in his religious faith. His widow became the wife of Edward B. Walsh, a native of Wales, who was also a farmer by occupation and followed that pursuit in Vermont. By her first marriage the mother of our subject had five children, while seven were born of the second marriage, three of the number are still living. In the district schools of Williamstown, Vermont, M. M. Smith acquired his education, putting aside his text books at the age of twenty, in order to become an active factor in business life. He first engaged in farming, and in March, 1852, started for California, attracted by the discovery of gold in that state. There he engaged in mining, enduring all the hardships incident to that period when so many men flocked to the Pacific Coast, which was almost entirely destitute of the comforts of the east. In his work there, however, Mr. Smith was quite successful and in March 1855, he returned to Vermont.
On the 6th of December, of the same year, at Wolcott, Vermont, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Martha J. Bliss, a native of Fairly, Vermont. They began their domestic life upon a farm in the Green Mountain state, but eventually Mr. Smith sold his farm there, and in the spring of 1864 made his way westward to Wisconsin, settling in Rock County, where he rented a farm and remained for six years. In 1870 he brought his family to Calhoun County, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of wild prairie land in Center Township. He immediately fenced it, broke a part of it with ox teams and built a frame house, sixteen by twenty feet, which is still standing on the old farm. Manson at that time contained two stores, which were then conducted by James Glover and B. F. Freeburg. Fort Dodge was the market where Mr. Smith purchased his supplies, which was distant from his home about twenty miles by wagon road, while Lake City, then the county seat, was twenty-four miles away. There was not a single settlement between his home and Lake City, which then contained three business houses. Wolves were frequently seen and oft times made depredations upon the farm yards. Deer were so numerous that venison was by no means an uncommon dish upon the pioneer's table and all kinds of wild fowls were to be had in abundance. The greatest danger came from the prairie fires, which were a menace to civilization. When a fire started it was almost impossible to stop it and the flames would often leap fifty feet high. In early morning Mr. Smith would take his place in the field and until nightfall would continue the task of improving his land. Through frugality, industry and diligence he added to his property until he now owns three hundred acres, constituting one of the finest farms in the county. It is splendily equipped with an excellent set of buildings, including a comfortable residence, large barns and cattle sheds. His residence is located on section 1, Calhoun Township. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith was born but one child, George C, who married Lorana Churchill, by whom he has a son, Roy. He is now engaged in the creamery business in Somers. In his political belief Mr. Smith is a Republican and has held all the township offices. For twenty-four years he was school treasurer a fact which indicates that he was most faithful to his duty. He belongs to both the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternities, and attends the Congregational church. He is thoroughly familiar with pioneer history and with the beginning of many things which have contributed to the upbuilding of the county. Center Township was a part of Lincoln Township when he first located within its borders. He organized a committee that petitioned to have the township set off, which was done, and he was one of the committee that located the county seat. He circulated the petition for the removal of the county seat from Lake City to Rockwell City, working hard and spending much time in the accomplishment of that work. He was also instrumental in organizing school districts and having schoolhouses built, and has been an active factor in promoting educational interests. He also labored to secure good roads, in fact there is no movement of importance to the county of a public nature which he has not endorsed and to many has given his active aid and influence. His life has therefore been of benefit to the community and when the full history of Calhoun County is written, his name will figure conspicuously on many of its pages.
[Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S.J. Clarke, 1902, p.476]


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