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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 676~


James Smith

James Smith, one of the pioneer settlers of Smithfield Township, came to this county from Ohio in 1854 and locating upon the wild and uncultivated prairies has been a witness of almost the entire development of the county. He has also been instrumental in the promotion of many of its leading enterprises and the township in which he resides is named in his honor. He was born in New Jersey in February, 1816, and is the youngest of four children whose parents are Hector and Sophia (Clark) Smith both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. The Smith family is of Holland origin, was founded in America during the Colonial days and several of its members served in the Revolutionary War. The Clark family also took a prominent part in Colonial history and Abraham Clark, the great-grandfather of our subject, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. By trade Hector Smith was a blacksmith and in New Jersey he followed that occupation until his death which occurred in 1817; his wife survived him many years. She came to this county in 1854 and died on the 25th of January, 1865. Two children of their family are yet living - Maria, wife of William Ross who resides near Yorktown, Dak., and James.


In the county of his nativity our subject was reared to manhood and in the schools of his neighborhood acquired his education. At the age of eighteen he started westward and locating in Carroll County, Ohio, engaged in farming, developing a farm from land hitherto uncultivated. In that county in 1837 he was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary Jane Morrison, a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of John and Jane (Montgomery) Morrison. Her parents were natives of Ireland and in 1819 crossed the Atlantic to America, locating in Pennsylvania, whence in the spring of 1821 they removed to Carroll County, Ohio. Her father was a farmer and followed that pursuit in Carroll County until his death in January 1842. His wife died in the same county sixteen years previous.


Upon his marriage Mr. Smith began preparations for the development of a farm. Clearing the land of trees and stumps, plowing and planting, he soon had quite a tract under cultivation, but in 1854 severed his business connections in the Buckeye State and came westward. He chose Iowa as the scene of his future labors and settled in what was Westfield Precinct, Fayette County, which contained the land now constituting four townships. Little then had been done toward development of the prairie and almost the entire county was yet in its primitive condition. Mr. Smith had to haul the lumber for his house a great distance and it was no easy task in those days to go to market. He kept a tavern which was the landmark for the emigrants traveling toward the north and northwest. For the third time he performed the arduous task of transforming wild prairie land into a tract of rich fertility. He obtained eleven hundred and sixty acres of land and by industry, perseverance, economy and faithfulness to his chosen vocation of farming he has acquired a handsome competence. Although much of his land he has since disposed of, he now owns four hundred and fifty acres in Smithfield Township, supplied with all the modern improvements and conveniences.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born nine children, five of whom are yet living: William died in Carroll County, Ohio, March 4, 1838; Jane born May 13, 1839, is at home; Sophia Z. is now Mrs. Shirley, of Winnebago County, Ill.; John M., born July 4, 1843, died March 10, 1887, leaving a widow and one child; Rose, born May 5, 1845, is now Mrs. Evanson, of Fairfield Township; Mary died July 28, 1850; Harriet, born July 22, 1851, died in 1854, in Franklin County, Ohio; James H., born June 11, 1855, resides at home, and Charles F. was born August 25, 1858.


The two last named constitute the firm of Smith Bros., who in partnership carry on the farm and engage extensively in raising fine stock. In cattle they are making a specialty of the Durham breed and their horses are high grades of Englishshire, Hambletonian, and Clydesdale. They have a six-months colt of the Englishshire breed weighing eight hundred pounds and are owners of a fine team which for the past two years has taken first money at the District Fair. The Smith farm is noted for the excellent grade of stock found thereon and the members of the firm have gained a wide reputation. Both are leading business men and representative citizens of the community. Both are members and supporters of the Republican party and Charles is Chairman of the Republican Committee in Smithfield Township.


James Smith, Sr., whose name heads this sketch, well deserves a place in the history of his adopted county among its worthy citizens and time-honored pioneers, for probably no man in the community has done more for the upbuilding of town and county than he, or felt a deeper interest in its advancement and progress. He is one of the organizers of Smithfield Township, which as before stated was named in his honor and every enterprise calculated to advance the general welfare has received his hearty support and cooperation."






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