Emery E. Smith

EMERY E. SMITH. While the average size of farms in Rice County is considerably larger than in eastern counties, there are few even of the larger farms which have been go completely developed on the diversified plan as that of Emery E. Smith. Mr. Smith's holdings aggregate upwards of 1,000 acres, and he has given the best years of his life to the development of this splendid ranch and farm, which is situated two and a half miles southeast of Little River.

Mr. Smith belongs to the pioneer element of Rice County and has lived there since he was ten or eleven years of age. This branch of the Smith family goes back to Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry of colonial times. The family came to Kansas from Knox County, Illinois, where his grandfather, John Smith, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1806 and was a pioneer farmer. John Smith died in Knox County in 1891. He married Mary Ginrich, also a native of Pennsylvania, and she died in Knox County.

Emery E. Smith was born in Knox County, Illinois, August 30, 1868. His father, Phillip Smith, was born in the same county in 1834, a date which indicates the very early settlement of the Smiths in that peculiarly rich and fertile section of Northern Illinois. Phillip Smith was a farmer in Knox County, grew up and married there, and in 1879 joined the pioneers of Rice County, Kansas. He bought railroad land, developed a farm three miles southeast of Little River, and kept and managed that place of 160 acres until his death in 1901. He had a military record, having enlisted in 1862 in the Eighty-third Illinois Infantry, and was in active service as a Union soldier until the close of the war. Politically, in spite of his army service, he was an active democrat until the close of Cleveland's first term when he joined the republican organization and voted with it on every occasion. He was affiliated with Cornerstone Lodge No. 219, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and with Little River Lodge No. 112 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Phillip Smith married Melissa Ebright, who was born in Knox County, Illinois, in 1835. She died at Little River, Kansas, in 1912. Of their seven children Emery E. is the second. The oldest, Addie, died unmarried at the age of twenty-one. Delta O., the third child, is a farmer 3 1/2 miles south of Little River. Lettie is unmarried and lives at Little River. Ira F. is a farmer three miles east of Little River. S. E. and A. J. Smith are partners in a farming enterprise three miles south of Little River.

Emery E. Smith from the age of eleven years finished his education in the rural schools of Rice County. He remained a factor on the homestead farm, assisting his father, until he was twenty-seven years of age. In the meantime he had bought 160 acres 2 1/2 miles southeast of Little River and that is the nucleus of his present large ranch and farm of 960 acres. Mr. Smith has invested a large amount of money in modern buildings and facilities and operates his farm on thoroughly business principles, raising a magnificent aggregate of field crops and livestock. He also owns some real estate in Little River. In politics Mr. Smith is an old-line republican.

In 1895, in Rice County, he married Miss Ota DeFord, daughter of W. H. and Rosa (Cox) DeFord, the latter now deceased. Her father lives on his farm of 640 acres in McPherson County, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have two children. Ina, a graduate of the Little River High School, is now a successful teacher in Little River, and Vern is still at home assisting his father on the farm.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 28, 2000.

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