J. Frank Smith, postmaster and for twenty-two years editor of the "Observer," Pleasanton, Kan., is a lifelong resident of that locality, having been born in Scott township, Linn county, Sept. 15, 1866. His parents, Silas and Mary (Vermillion) Smith, were both natives of Marion county, Illinois. They came to Kansas in 1865 and took up a homestead in Scott township, Linn county, where the father engaged in farming and stock raising until about 1890. During those twenty-five years he had prospered and had added to the original homestead until he owned a fine landed estate of 640 acres. His children having grown up in the meantime, he decided to sell his realty holdings and remove to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he made investments in city property. He continued to reside at Colorado Springs until 1899, when his wife died, and since then he has made his home among his children, all of whom grew to maturity and are now living: Charles, who lives at Walsenburg, Colo.; Clara, wife of G. W. Kuhn of Danbury, Tex.; Minnie, wife of E. F. Grandon of Greeley, Kan.; J. Frank, the immediate subject of this review; Walter, who resides at Pueblo, Colo.; Cora, wife of Frank Preston of Wellington, Kan.; and Jessie, wife of Dr. H. P. Dooley of Iowa Park, Tex. One son, George W., died at his home near LaCygne, Kan., in 1899, leaving a wife and three children.
J. Frank Smith was educated in the public schools of his native county and at the Kansas Normal College at Fort Scott. He taught school for two years in Linn county, and in 1889 entered the law office of R. W. Blue as a student. About six months later Mr. Blue's son, Clarence, the local editor of the Pleasanton "Observer," fell ill and went to Colorado to recuperate his health. This left a vacancy in the editorial staff which Mr. Smith was called upon to fill. However, he continued to read law until the death of Clarence Blue, when he purchased a half interest in the paper, the other partners being Kenea and Lane of LaCygne. About a year later Mr. Smith organized a local company composed of Pleasanton men, known as the Observer Publishing Company, which purchased the interests of Kenea and Lane. Mr. Smith then became editor and manager of the paper, which during the next four years prospered to such an extent that it was decided to erect the three-story office building adjoining the Bank of Pleasanton, the "Observer's" new home being upon the second floor. In 1901 Mr. Smith bought out his partners and became sole editor and proprietor of the paper. The "Observer" was the first paper published in Pleasanton, having been established on Aug. 24, 1871, by L. K. Zook. It was an eight-page weekly and always advocated the principles and policies of the Republican party. The "Observer" was consolidated with the "Enterprise" Aug. 1, 1911, and Mr. Smith is one of the leading stockholders. The present home of the paper is in the Observer Block, an attractive one-story brick structure with a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 100 feet. It was erected by Mr. Smith in 1903 and he is still the owner. It is located on Main street and is also occupied by the United States postoffice and a drug store. In 1901 Mr. Smith was elected county printer, but after serving for a little over a year he resigned his position and in July, 1903, was appointed postmaster of Pleasanton by President Roosevelt. He has given such general satisfaction in that position that he was reappointed in 1907 and again in 1911 and is now serving his third term. In 1903 he attended the meeting of the Kansas Postmasters' Association at Kansas City and in 1904 he was elected secretary at the annual meeting at Lawrence. The following year he was elected president of the association and held that office until 1910. He was one of the promoters of the Southwest Postal Association, which is recognized to be the largest and most influential organization of postal employees in the United States. Mr. Smith is a prominent figure in fraternal circles, being a member of the Masonic order and its auxiliary, the Eastern Star, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Modern Woodmen of America. Politically he has always been a Republican, and his religious affiliations are with the Christian church. In 1900 he was united in marriage to Miss Garrah Marsh of Mound City, Kan., a daughter of E. L. Marsh, deceased, a pioneer of Iola, where she was born. Her mother died when she was a child, and her father died in 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have three children: Marsh, and Ruth and Rebecca, twins.Pages 1128-1129 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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