Thomas Gilbert Smith, a prominent contractor of Topeka, Kan., and a member of the well known firm of Leeper & Smith, general contractors of that city, is a native of Doddridge county, West Virginia, where he was born March 28, 1850. He comes of stanch ancestry, who were numbered among the early American pioneers. His father, Kenner B. Smith, was a native of Waynesburg, Greene county, Pennsylvania, and the son of Gilbert and Jane (Boreman) Smith, both of whom were also natives of Greene county, Pennsylvania. They became the parents of four sons and four daughters, of whom Kenner B. was the third in order of birth. Gilbert Smith followed agricultural pursuits and, believing that Tyler county, West Virginia, afforded superior advantages to the pioneer, he removed his family to that state and founded a home, where Kenner B. was reared to manhood and where his parents continued to reside until their respective deaths. Gilbert Smith was one of his country's brave defenders in the war of 1812, and members of this branch of the Smith family have fought valiantly in every war since the Revolution. Kenner B. Smith was reared on the home farm in Tyler county, West Virginia, and about 1844 he met and married Emily J. Bond. They removed to Doddridge county, West Virginia, where they were pioneers and developed a home from the stump. They became the parents of five children: Mary Elizabeth; Thomas Gilbert of this review; Margaret L.; David R. and Anna B., of whom Thomas G. is the only one now living. The parents continued to reside on the old homestead until their respective deaths. Both were lifelong members of the Methodist Episcopal church, while he was first a Whig and then a Republican on all national issues.
Thomas G. Smith spent his boyhood and youth on the home farm, securing what education he could in the local schools. At the age of twenty-three he left the farm and learned the carpenter's trade, which he successfully followed in West Virginia until 1882, when ill health compelled him to seek a home far removed from the damp air of the mountains of his native state. He decided on Rossville, Shawnee county, Kansas, and there successfully followed his trade until the fall of 1888, when he removed to Topeka and accepted the position of foreman with Fellows & Vansant, general contractors. After ten years with that firm he resigned and accepted a similar position with Henry Bennett of Topeka and was associated with him until 1907, when he formed a partnership with J. M. Leeper, under the firm name of Leeper & Smith. The firm at once equipped itself for the successful handling of every phase of building construction that an up-to-date architect could devise, and has met with merited success from the beginning. Among the many fine public buildings, business properties and residences they have constructed are the following: the Manual Training State Normal School building at Pittsburg, Kan., and the following buildings at Topeka: the Aetna Building & Loan Association building, the Independent Telephone warehouse, the Brown Flats on West Sixth avenue, the Rigby building, the Anderson produce and commission building, the Warren M. Crosby building, the Young Women's Christian Association building, and the State Memorial building. This is an enviable record and speaks for itself as to the popularity of this firm in the contracting line. Mr. Smith's long experience in the business, coupled with a close and clear conception of every part of it, especially the details incident to construction, enables him to safely submit an estimate on which his firm can realize a fair profit and the owner value received in material and workmanship.
On June 24, 1874, Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Malozena I. Joseph, an estimable young lady of West Virginia, born in Doddridge county, Dec. 7, 1856, the daughter of Norvill A. and Jacintha (Keys) Joseph, old and respected residents, of Doddridge county, West Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have but one child, Luther Clay, born in Doddridge county, West Virginia, March 13, 1875. He was educated in Topeka and is associated with his father in the marble and building tile business. Mr. Smith is a Republican in politics, and fraternally he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and is probably the oldest Woodman in point of membership in Topeka. Mr. and Mrs. Smith reside in their new modern home at 1316 Harrison street, and expect to end their days in the capital city.Pages 1545-1546 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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