H. H. Smith

H. H. SMITH. Republic County has its share of men who have stepped aside from the path of labor to let the younger generation, with their clear-cut hopes and unrealized ambitious and to whom life is still a vast and unexplored country, pass on. This turning aside may mean much or little to the individual whose business tasks are finished, but if he has come from a small beginning and has worked his own way to independence and position there will always be those who would exchange with him success, as represented by a mere aggregation of wealth. H. H. Smith, of Republic, now retired but still the owner of a large and valuable farming property, is one of the few pioneers of this county who are now living. From his arrival here, in 1871, he has had a hand in the development of Republic County, and has experienced the vicissitudes incident to the life of the agriculturists during this era. From a moderate start he worked his way steadily upward, overcoming obstacles and living down disappointments, and in his rise helping his community to grow and progress.

Mr. Smith was born in 1850, in Columbiana County, Ohio, and is a son of William M. and Sarah (Thompson) Smith. When he was still a lad his parents moved to Iowa, in which state he was reared and educated. As his father was a farmer, he was brought up in connection with that vocation and it was but natural that when he arrived at man's estate he too should adopt the pursuits of the soil as his life work. Mr. Smith remained in Iowa until he attained his majority, and at that time came to Kansas, the reports of which state had been alluring enough to attract any young man of ambition and energy. In 1871, at the time of his arrival, he was possessed of a country school education, little or no capital, some small household and farming effects and a little stock. That is as far as his material possessions went. In addition he owned a large amount of inherent ability, in inexhaustible stock of ambition and determination, and a willingness to work that placed him at once in the class of men who were to build this part of Kansas into one of the most fertile regions of the state.

On his arrival Mr. Smith took up a homestead in Republic County, about one-half mile from his present home at Republic City. His progress at first was slow, as was that of other early settlers who paved the way for those that followed and made it possible for the development of the present Kansas. He had just gotten nicely started when the great grasshopper plague of 1874 came on, this being one of the most discouraging features in the experience of the early settlers of this state. After the myriads of these insects had passed there was nothing left in the whole country that had been in their path either for man or beast. Mr. Smith survived this calamity well, as he did other discouragements, worked hard and faithfully, and eventually began to see his efforts rewarded. He became the owner of a good farm, to which he added from time to time until he now owns 280 acres of number one land. His property is well improved and has substantial buildings and the best of equipment, an air of prosperity testifying to the good management and thrift of its owner. While Mr. Smith is living at Republic and is retired from the actual work of the farm, he still continues to superintend its operation, as well as to look after his numerous other business interests. His principal products are corn and wheat, and he also is engaged extensively in hog raising. Many changes have taken place since the days of the open country, when the principal meat used on the tables of the pioneers was buffalo, there being an abundance of these animals on the prairies before they were destroyed by hunters for their hides.

Two years after his arrival in Kansas Mr. Smith was married to Miss Nora Mahagin, of Ohio, and to this union five children were born, of whom two are now living, namely: Glenn H., who resides on the farm as his father's manager; and Mrs. Ella West, the wife of a Kansas bank inspector. Mr. Smith has been frequently honored by his fellow-citizens by election to public offices of trust. After serving in all the township and minor county offices he was eventually elected a county commissioner of Republic County, the duties of which position he discharged with ability and fidelity. His fraternal connections are with the Masons and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Amy Vineyard, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1, 1999.

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