SMITH, VOKE, SHEPHERD
Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 13:34:22
From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Delazon Smith was born October 5, 1816, in New Berlin Chenango County New York. His parents were of that medium class of society from which many honored names have sprung. Early bereft of a mother’s care (she died when he was in his ninth year), he was thrown upon his own resources, and from that period until his decease he struggled forward in the stern conflicts of life; sometimes successful, sometimes defeated; but never despairing. At the age of fifteen, with all his worldly possessions tied in a small bundle, he started on that westward path which he pursued through life until he reached its farthest limits and found a grave upon the shores of the Pacific. He stopped in Rochester New York, about three years, with a near relative, assiduously laboring to acquire an education, and thus laying its foundation, he has ever since continued striving to expand and improve his mind, and to better quality himself for the duties and responsibilities of life. From western New York he journeyed to the manual labor school of Oberlin Ohio where he spent two years. Thence he went into a law office at Cleveland Ohio as a law student. While there he commenced to write for the public press. His inclinations and talents pointing out such a course, and an opportunity soon offering, he assumed the editorship of a paper called the Watchman, published in Rochester New York. In this position he employed himself for two years, still devoting what attention he was able to his law studies. In 1840 he was the editor of a political paper called the Jeffersonian. Afterward, in the same year, he succeeded to the editorial conduct of the Western Herald. In 1842 he established the paper at Dayton, Ohio, called the Dayton Empire. In 1843 he established the Miamian in the same place. During the years 1840-1844, in addition to his editorial labors, he made electioneering campaigns in the States of New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 1844 he was appointed a special commissioner of the United States to the Republic of Ecuador, in South America. He was clothed with full powers, but finding himself unable from the convulsed and disorganized condition of the country to accomplish his mission he returned in 1846, after an absence of less than a year, and settled himself in Keosauqua Iowa. He here occupied himself considerably in political affairs. In 1848, during the Presidential canvass he edited the Iowa Democrat, published by James Shepherd.
In 1837 Mr. Smith was married to Miss Eliza Voke, in Rochester, New York. Of this union, which continued about nine years, only a son survives. In 1848 he was married to Miss Mary Shepherd daughter of James Shepherd, at Keosauqua. Of this union, which was broken by his death ten years and six months later, five children were born, all of whom, except one son, Delavan, now residing in Oregon, have passed to the beyond, the mother also dying January 1, 1871.
In the spring of 1852, true to his westward instincts, Mr. Smith, with his family, started across the plains for Oregon. He arrived at Portland late in the season, wearied, poor and destitute, but by no means dismayed. He established a home in Linn County, where he continued to live until his death, which occurred November 18, 1860.
Until April, 1851, Mr. Smith was irreligious. In that year, 1851, under the labors of Henry Clay Dean, he sought and obtained religion at Keosauqua Iowa; his conversion being thorough, he immediately began laboring for Christ, and a great revival resulted. AS soon as the case would permit he became a preacher of the Gospel, and was a power in the pulpit. He maintained his Christianity to the end, but on entering public life again in Oregon, he abandoned the pulpit for the rostrum and became the leader of his party, as well as at the head of the profession of law in Oregon. He was three times elected to the Legislature, and elected Speaker of the Lower House, which he filled with marked ability; he was an honored member of the Constitutional Convention, and at the first session of the Legislature after the adoption of the constitution and the admission of Oregon into the Union, he was chosen one of the United States Senators. He was a natural orator, and a powerful speaker on the stump. He also, in connection with his brother-in-law, J.M. Shepherd, published the Oregon Democrat at Albany. While in Iowa he joined the Masons, and was a worthy member of the fraternity until his death, beloved by his brothers, and received their care and attention during his fatal sickness and death, which occurred at Portland Oregon, and his remains were taken to Albany, his home, where they were laid to await the general resurrection.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.
Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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