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1907 Past and Present Biographies

Henry H. Smith

Henry H. Smith
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H. Smith is a retired grain dealer of Paton, having through the successful control of business interests in former years won a measure of prosperity that now enables him to enjoy life’s comforts and some of its luxuries without recourse to further labor. A native of Lockport, New York, he was born on the 7th of October, 1842. His father, Adam Smith, was a native of Germany and when a young man came to the United States. He worked at the blacksmith’s trade in the east and when his son, H. H. Smith, was about two and a half years old removed with the family to Cook county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming. In 1882 he arrived in Boone county, Iowa, where his remaining days were passed. He attained his eighty-first year and died in the faith of the Evangelical church, of which he had long been a consistent member. His wife bore the maiden name of Katherine Berner and was also born in Germany, whence she came to the new world with her parents at the age of fourteen years and in New York gave her hand in marriage to Mr. Smith. She died at Ogden, Boone county, Iowa, when eighty-five years of age. In their family were the following children: Maria, the deceased wife of Henry Kiest, who is living in Chicago; Charles J ., now deceased, who was engaged in the grain business at Pilot Mound, Iowa; H. H., ofthis review; Philip, a capitalist, whose home is in Prophetstown, Illinois; Edward, engaged in merchandising in Ottawa, Illinois; Sarah, deceased; and George, who is living in South Dakota.

H. H. Smith spent his boyhood and youth in Cook county, Illinois, to the age of eighteen years, after which he began working on a farm belonging to his brother-in-law in Du Page county, Illinois. There he continued for three years, after which he purchased a farm in Yorktown township, Henry county, Illinois, which he owned and cultivated for nine years. Then abandoning general agricultural pursuits, he was for eight years engaged in the grain and lumber business at Prophetstown, Illinois, and also bought and shipped stock there. Thinking to find a more advantageous opening in Paton, he located in this village in 1880 and embarked in the grain and lumber trade, employing five or six men to erect corn cribs. He formed a partnership with J. A. Rowles and by paying better prices than were given elsewhere they soon found that the farmers were coming to Paton in large numbers with their grain and the first year they bought two hundred thousand bushels. This had a very beneficial effect on the growth of the town and different mercantile enterprises were established in order to care for the trade that was brought to the place as the direct result of their operations in the grain business. There were only ten houses in the town, including business and residence property, when Mr. Smith arrived here. The first year the population was doubled. Perhaps no man has contributed so largely toward the advancement, growth and substantial building of Paton as has Mr. Smith, whose labors have been directly beneficial to the village, while at the same time they have contributed in substantial measure to his own prosperity. At first he had only cribs in which the corn was stored and from which it was shoveled out. His business proved profitable from the beginning and he bought thousands.of bushels at twenty-two and a half and twenty-five cents per bushel, the most of which he sold for forty-five and fifty-five cents per bushel, while some brought as high as sixty-three cents per bushel. He was also interested in merchandising but through the careless management of a partner he lost several thousand dollars in this way. Being at all times thoroughly honest and reliable, he assumed the indebtedness of the firm and paid up every cent of it. It worked a great hardship for him, however, for the money that he thus had to expend was needed in carrying on the grain business and he often had to pay as high as twenty per cent interest in borrowing money. However, he persevered, paid off all of his financial obligations and in the course of years met with a goodly prosperity. After twenty years’ connection with the grain trade he was able to sell out and retire to private life. He erected and still owns elevators at Boxholm and Lanyon, Iowa, and owns a section of good farm land in North Dakota.

Mr. Smith was married November 25, 1868, to Miss Sarah Shook, who was born in Royalton, Niagara county, New York. They are still traveling life’s journey together, Mrs. Smith presiding over one of the most beautiful homes of Paton. Their marriage has been blessed with four children: Myrtie, the wife of Alfred Brown, who was reared in Jefferson, Iowa, and is now superintendent of the schools at Wenatchee, Washington; Clarence E., Mabel J. and Glenn L., all at home.

In his political views Mr. Smith is an earnest republican, having supported the party since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. He has served on the village council and as township assessor and for twenty years has been a member of the school board, doing effective work in behalf of the cause of education. For many years he has been a worthy follower of the Odd Fellows society. No man is better informed concerning the growth and development of Paton nor has done more for its substantial progress and improvement. He has made an excellent record in this regard and in his business career. He has been watchful of all opportunities pointing to success, has utilized his advantages in the best way and is now enjoying a well earned rest as the result of his activity in former years. Naught has ever been said against his commercial integrity and probity and without invidious distinction he may well be termed one of the foremost resi dents of Paton and of Greene county.

Transcribed from "Past and Present of Greene County, Iowa Together With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead,"
by E. B. Stillman assisted by an Advisory Board consisting of Paul E. Stillman, Gillum S. Toliver,
Benjamin F. Osborn, Mahlon Head, P. A. Smith and Lee B. Kinsey, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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