William H. Smith, a Civil war veteran, who has been conspicuous in the affairs of Kansas for nearly fifty years, is a native of the Keystone State. He was born at West Lebanon, Indiana county, December 3, 1841, a son of Robert and Sarah (Wray) Smith, both natives of Pennsylvania. The father was a farmer, and both he and his wife spent their lives in their native State.
William H. Smith spent his boyhood days on his father's farm and attended the public schools. He later was a student at Elder Ridge Academy. In the spring of 1860 he went to Virginia, where he was engaged in drilling wells on the Little Kanawha river near Elizabeth, and remained there until the Civil war broke out. He then returned to Pennsylvania and enlisted in Company D, Sixty-second Pennsylvania infantry, under Col. Samuel W. Black. His regiment participated in many of the hard-fought battles of the war. He was wounded at Gaines's Mill and again at Malvern Hill. He was then sent to the hospital on Bedloe Island, New York, and later transferred to the hospital at Fort Schuyler, where he remained until the draft riots of 1863, when he and other convalescents volunteered to assist in quelling the trouble, which they did effectively. They were known as Company G, Tenth Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps, one platoon of which was under the command of Sergeant Smith, and from that time until the raid on Washington they remained on provost duty in New York City. At the time he was wounded he ranked as sergeant of his company. Later he was sent to Washington, where they remained in defense of the city until he was mustered out, in 1864. He then returned to his Pennsylvania home, where he remained until September 3, 1865, when he started for Kansas, arriving September 13. He came by rail as far as the Missouri river and crossed at Atchison, walking from there to Marshall county. He settled on a farm near Barrett, the first town in the county. He had a brother living here who had been an overland freighter, and, therefore, had a great many cattle. Mr. Smith was still disabled from his wounds and unable to do any hard work, but in a short time managed to drive oxen and began breaking prairie with ox teams.
In 1866 he entered the employ of T. S. Vail and traveled through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Indian Territory, establishing star mail routes, but returned to Kansas in less than a year, and in the fall of 1868 was elected to the legislature from Marshall county, serving in the session of 1869. He was the author of the bill, approved March 2, 1869, which was the first move to compel the railroads to pay taxes in the State and which authorized the treasurer to issue his warrant and sell rolling stock for delinquent taxes. In 1870 he was appointed deputy United States marshal under Col. Houston, and in that capacity took the census of the southern half of Marshall county. He was again elected to the legislature in 1870, and during this session introduced the herd law, which was enacted February 28, 1871. In 1871 he was appointed postmaster at Marysville, serving in that capacity fourteen years, and at the same time was engaged in the mercantile business at Marysville as a member of the firm of Smith & Libbey, grocery, grain and implement dealers. In 1885 he was elected county treasurer, being reëlected and serving two terms, and in 1890 received the appointment of supervisor of the census of the Fifth Congressional district. He served as secretary of the State board which built the Kansas building at the World's Fair at Chicago and was secretary of the State Railroad Commission with headquarters at Topeka from 1902 till 1904. Since coming to Kansas he has been interested in farming and stock raising in Marshall county. He was one of the organizers of the Citizens State Bank, of Marysville, an institution which was established in 1907, and for several years served as its president, resigning that position January 1, 1913, when he retired from active business life. He is still a member of the board of directors of that bank and is also a member of the board of directors of the Bigelow State Bank, the Winifred State Bank and the Bremen State Bank.
Mr. Smith was united in marriage, October 30, 1871, to Miss Mary E., daughter of Ora C. and Joan Allen, who were natives of Illinois and came to Kansas in 1864, locating near Barrett, Marshall county. To Mr. and Mrs. Smith was born one child, Robert Allen, born August 29, 1872, and died August 27, 1875. Mrs. Smith departed this life December 9, 1910.
Mr. Smith is a member of Lyons Post, No. 9, Grand Army of the Republic, and is a member of the council of administration of that order for the Department of Kansas. He has been an active member of the Kansas State Historical Society, has served as a member of the directorate for many years, and president in 1902.Pages 506-507 from a supplemental volume 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 October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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