IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Fred Smith
Family Album


Frederick Smith, usually referred to as Fred Smith, was born to George and Katharina in Kippenheim, Germany on August 19, 1832. He came to America as a small child in 1834. “Smith” was originally some form of “Schmit” but was changed supposedly because they were tired of getting their mail mixed up with others of the same name.

Frederick 'Fred' Smith
Frederick 'Fred' Smith
Harriet Eliza Torrey
Harriet Eliza Torrey

On March 9, 1858 Fred Smith married Harriet Eliza Torrey. Harriet was a stately attractive woman with a dark complexion, expressive brown eyes and high cheek bones. The Torrey family had been in America since Harriet’s fourth Great-grandfather, William Torrey, had come across in the mid 1600’s. (More can be found on Fred & Harriet in the 1882 Biographies and Obituaries on this website.)

Soon after Fred and Harriet were married, they begin their life together on what would become the family farm near Elkader. The country was still fairly wild when Fred and Harriet were homesteading. Wild animals abounded. If a horse died, it was dragged to a sinkhole in the back of the farm. At night, the wolves howled as they fought for the food. The land contained a strong spring around which many arrow heads were found. Fred built the house and surrounding outbuildings as time and money would permit.

Smith home, built by Fred Smith
The home that Fred built

He was a small man in stature, but mighty in strength and energy. The first section of the house was two story brick with no stairway. A trapdoor and ladder were used to go upstairs, as well as to the cellar. Then he built an addition of two parlors and three bedrooms upstairs. The exterior was sided and painted a pale yellow. Light forest green window shutters were added to protect the beautiful arched windows. At some point, an existing summer kitchen was drawn up and attached to the back of the home. A newspaper clipping from May 30, 1878 states:

“Fred Smith is putting on an addition to his beautiful residence which is situated a few miles from Elkader. A few months ago he built a nice barn.”

I would guess the addition mentioned here is the parlors and bedrooms. The barn lasted until the mid 1990’s. It collapsed less than one week after my parents had been moving stuff out of it one weekend! It is thought that when he hauled wheat to Clayton he brought back building supplies by horse and wagon. It is also believed the foundation stones for all of the buildings were hauled from the Elkader area - possibly from the hill behind St. Joseph’s church.

Fred’s farm had an idyllic appearance. A fantastic orchard grew behind the house. A white picket fence and a long line of peony bushes ran from the house to the road along the lane. Many tramps and gypsies stopped at the Smith home to beg for food. Marks were carved in a slat of the picket fence which evidently indicated soft-hearted people.

One time, a team of driving horses were stolen from the Smith barn - harness and all. The watchdog had been poisoned only days before. A clipping from August 19, 1886:

“The team of Fred Smith stolen last week has not been recovered, although it is believed the thieves are hidden in the timber along the Wapsipinicon River, they having been traced that far.”

Imagine how much of a loss that would have been! Those horses were their farm equipment, their transportation, and part of the family as well.

Harriet passed away August 22, 1900. The charcoal drawing in a curved glass frame (right) is strongly  believed to be of Harriet (Torrey) Smith.

After her death Fred remained on the farm with his son LeRoy’s family. Fred spent many hours sitting on the front porch of the farmhouse, playing with the farm cats by dangling pieces of string. LeRoy’s oldest child, Clyde, was greatly entertained by the stories Fred told him about the land and the animals on it in the early days.

Fred passed away on February 6, 1917.

The following will open in new windows:
Fred's obituary
Fred's 1882 biography
Obit of Malinda Smith Torrey, Fred's sister

Harriet (Torrey) Smith



Fred & Harriet’s oldest child was Melinda, born April 30, 1859. I don’t know how much of this is fact, but my mother had heard the story that Melinda was an excellent horsewoman and one day she was out riding and was raped by one of the tramps that traversed the countryside around the Smith farm. She often suffered from seizures after that and perhaps that is what led to her death at age 26 on December 31, 1885.

Kate Ella

Kate Ella Smith Powell Kate Ella Smith was born June 29, 1861. She married John Charles Powell on May 29, 1879 in a small family ceremony held at the Smith farm.

They had one son, Sidney - who weighed 9 1/2 lbs! One of Sidney’s sons, Harry Powell, spent many hours sifting through years of newspaper to find clippings about the Smith family. He was kind enough to share them with my mother in the early 1980’s.

Kate looks like she was such a determined young woman. She enjoyed travelling and visiting.

My grandfather Clyde often spoke about his Aunt Kate and how kind she was. Kate passed away January 13, 1918.


Freddie Smith In March 1868, a son was born and named after his father. They called him Freddie.

This would be the first “Freddie” but unfortunately he wasn’t to be around long. He died March 27, 1873.

The photo below is one of the family mysteries.  The photo is labeled "Fred & Mae".   Freddie is on the same rocking horse as the photo on the left, but  we don't know if Mae was his sister, or a perhaps a cousin?

Fred & Mae

Freddie likely  passed away not long after these photographs were taken.


According to her father's 1882 biography, she was born May 31, 1871.

Frederick 'Fred' JR
Less than a year after Freddie’s death, another son was born on February 8, 1874 and also christened Frederick. This son became known as Fred Smith, Jr. He grew up to marry Freda Feldman and they had one daughter, Helen. Fred passed away March 22, 1935.

Fred Smith SR and four of his children
Fred Smith SR and four of his children

L-R: Fred Smith Jr., Hattie (Smith) Davis, George Alvin Smith and Kate (Smith) Powell

LeRoy Dwight

Linna (Walther) Smith, son Clyde, and L.D. Smith
Linna (Walther) Smith, son Clyde, and L.D. Smith
LeRoy Dwight Smith was born October 19, 1875. LeRoy was better known as L.D. Smith.

He stayed on the family farm and took over after Fred Sr. retired. L.D. married Linna Christina Walther on Christmas day 1900 in Dubuque.

My grandfather Clyde was the oldest of their three children. He and his youngest sister L’Dean both grew up and lived to old age in the Elkader area. Their sister Luyre died of appendicitis at the age of five. An emergency operation was attempted on the kitchen table but it was of no help.

(See photos of the L.D. Smith children farther down on the page)

George Alvin

George Alvin Smith

George Alvin Smith

The photo above is of George on one of his travels out  west.

George Alvin Smith came along on April 7, 1880. George had an artistic side - he drew cartoons and pen & ink drawings. He later lived in places like New York, NY and Denver, Colorado, creating window displays for large department stores, and designing a logo for at least one company. He and his wife Consuelo Richards had one son, Bruce. George lived until 1949.

George Alvin Smith pen & ink cartoon
Pen & ink cartoon by George A. Smith


Kate (Smith) Powell and sister Hattie (Smith) Davis
Hattie's daughter Dorothy Davis (middle)

Hattie was the youngest of the Smith children, born on June 3, 1883. Hattie was only 17 when her mother passed away and I get the sense that older sister Kate became a kind of surrogate mother to her. (Kate’s own son was slightly older than Hattie.) Hattie married Fred Davis, a farmer from Strawberry Point, on September 12, 1906 on the Smith farm. They had one daughter, Dorothy Davis. Hattie passed away on March 19, 1957.


Children of LeRoy & Linna Smith

Clyde Smith, 1913
Clyde Smith, age 4, 1913

Fred Smith & grandson Clyde Smith, ca1913
Fred Smith with his grandson Clyde Smith

Children of LeRoy & Linna Smith, ca1918
Children of LeRoy & Linna Smith of Elkader
ca 1918

L-R: L'Dean Smith Dinan, 1916-December 30, 2008; Luyre Smith, 1914 -1919, died of appendicitis; and Clyde, February 28, 1909-May 23, 1994

The photo was taken at a house which still stands today in Elkader


~the photos & information on this page was contributed by Ann Marie Rock, granddaughter of Clyde Smith. Ann's email address can be found in the Surname Registry for 'Smith'. Ann writes: "Interested people can contact me.  I have quite a bit of information on some of the siblings. There's not much family left  on our line, so I would be happy to be in contact with anyone who's even distantly related."


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