John Quincy Smith

JOHN QUINCY SMITH. The career of J. Quincy Smith, of Fredonia, has been an expression of well directed and diversified industry and in its development has invaded various fields of human activity, in each of which J. Q. Smith has won a full measure of material success and satisfying reputation. He has had experience in both professional and business labors, and while he is now retired from the activities of life, having approached the Psalmist's three-score-and-ten years, is still an influence for good in his community and a citizen whose help and support continue to be factors for the development of the city's interests.

J. Q. Smith was born at Lebanon, Ohio, September 20, 1848, and is a son of Jacob H. and Martha (Steddom) Smith. Christian Smith, the grandfather of John Quincy Smith, was born in Germany, and was a young man when he decided to try his fortunes in business life in the United States. On coming to this country he located in Pennsylvania, and in that state spent his entire life residing at various places and being engaged in manufacturing operations. He not alone rose to a high position in business circles, but was also widely and favorably known in public matters and at one time was the candidate of the republican party for governor of Pennsylvania, but lost the election owing to political conditions in the country at that time. His death occurred at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in which the greater part of his life in America had been passed.

Jacob H. Smith, father of John Q. Smith, was born in 1803, at Strassburg, Pennsylvania, and died at Lebanon, Ohio, in 1875. He was reared at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he received a public school education, and was married at that place, but in 1828 removed to Lebanon, Ohio, and became a pioneer. Mr. Smith there engaged in agricultural pursuits, cleared a farm, established a comfortable home and developed a valuable property, and continued to be engaged as a tiller of the soil during the remainder of his life. In addition to his agricultural operations he was also the owner of lumber, stave, heading and lathe mills, which he operated at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and traveled back and forth between the cities of Lebanon and Fort Wayne to a great extent, but in his later years devoted the most part of his time at the latter city, his business having grown to an extent that it needed his personal supervision. He was an honorable man of business who conducted his activities along lines that made his name a synonym for integrity and fair dealing. In political affairs he was a sturdy republican. A strong churchman, he belonged to the Methodist Episcopal faith throughout his life, and for a long period of years was a trustee of his church. Mr. Smith married (first) Miss Elizbeth Barr, who died at Lebanon, Ohio, having been the mother of five children, all of whom are now deceased, as follows: Christian, Franklin, Susanna, Mary Ann and Newton. Jacob H. Smith was again married to Martha Steddom, who was born near Lebanon, Ohio, in 1821, and died at Lebanon in 1881, and to this union there were born children as follows: Grandville M., who was engaged in agricultural pursuits throughtout his life and died at Lebanon; Jacob H., who was long a merchant at Lebanon, where he died; John Quincy; Horace D., who is engaged in farming in the vicinity of Boise City, Idaho; Foster, who left home at an early age and of whose whereabouts at this time nothing is known; and Anna, who is the wife of Edwin Mote, a farmer in the vicinity of Waynesville, Ohio

John Quincy Smith received a good educational training in his youth, first being sent to the public schools of Lebanon, Ohio, where he was graduated from the high school in the class of 1867, and then entering Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he completed his course and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He began practice at Connersville City, Indiana, where he remained for two years, being in partnership at that place with Dr. E. C. Thompson. Following this he went to Monroe, Ohio, for one year, and then to Boise City, Idaho, where he was engaged in a successful practice for eleven years. In the meantime he had become interested in mercantile affairs. While he had been successful as a physician and surgeon and had a genuine liking for the calling of his youth, he felt that he could accomplish more in a business way and accordantly, in 1883, when he came to Fredonia, gave up his medical practice and settled down to commercial pursuits, buying in with Mr. Meadows, under the firm style of Meadows & Smith. This partnership continued to exist for one year, at the end of which time J. Q. Smith embarked in the wholesale produce business, a line in which he continued for twenty-four years. In 1908 he established a piano business, which he built up to large proportions, and which he turned over to his son at the time of his retirement in 1914. J. Q. Smith is of too energetic a nature, both in body and mind, to totally retire from business affairs, and so uses up some of his surplus energy in taking care of the interests of a retail produce business at Fredonia. He is well and favorably known in business circles of the city, and has been connected with numerous enterprises which have assisted in the making of local business history. As a property owner he has shown his faith in the future development of the city, and at the present time is the owner of a business block at No. 623 Monroe Street, the first floor being devoted to the piano establishment and the second to offices and a suite of rooms in which he makes his residence. He was formerly the owner of a valuable farm, but this he has sold.

In political matters, Mr. Smith is a republican, and cherished progressive tendencies. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he has been a trustee, and socially is connected with the leading clubs of the city, while in a business way he holds membership in the Commercial Club. In the past he has been identified with a number of important business enterprises. His was the first name on the list in the development of the Fredonia Development Company, oil and gas producers, and he was chairman of the soliciting committee for the same, which was organized with a capital of $25,000, and piped the town for gas. In various other ways he has been connected with innovations and improvements, and his services have materially contributed to the welfare of his adopted community.

In 1872 Doctor Smith was united in marriage with Miss Minerva C. Van Harlingen, of Lebanon, Ohio, a daughter of Robert L. and Emeline (Corwin) Van Harlingen, both of whom are now deceased. Mrs. Smith's father was a physician by profession, practiced for many years at Lebanon, and during the Civil war served in the army of the Union as a regimental surgeon. Mrs. Van Harlingen was a niece of the famous American statesman and orator, Thomas ("Tom") Corwin, who was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, July 29, 1794. He was a member of Congress in l831; governor of Ohio, 1840-42; United States senator, 1845-50, secretary of the treasury, 1850-53; member of Congress, 1859-61, and United States minister to Mexico, 1861. He died at Washington, District of Columbia, December 18, 1865. Two children have been born to Doctor and Mrs. Smith: Marie ("Mattie"), who is the wife of T. C. Babb, of Fredonia, cashier of the Wilson County Bank; and Robert L., who is in charge of the music and piano business founded at Fredonia by his father.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by students from Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 7, 2000.

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