Tom D. Smith

TOM D. SMITH, lawyer at Hiawatha, has for a number of years been regarded as one of the most forceful orators and leaders in the republican party of Kansas. Because of his unusual resources as a speaker and reasoner, he was given some of the most important assignments during the national republican campaign of 1916. Much of his work was done in the far East. He spoke at President Wilson's home and at Long Branch, and spoke with Charles E. Hughes and William Taft during the Union Square meeting in New York City. He stumped all over New Jersey, Connecticut and New York State. The press frequently quoted his speeches and his arguments, and they undoubtedly contained the most logical arraignment of the opposition and the most forceful presentation of the republican platform of that year. His explanation of the tariff was said to be the most logical and scholarly presentation of that difficult subject ever made. Mr. Smith's gift has been used chiefly for the benefit of his party and his friends and not for himself in matters of politics. Recently, however, a well defined current of opinion has set in favoring his candidacy for attorney-general of the State of Kansas in 1918.

Mr. Smith is a native of Brown County, Kansas, and represents a pioneer family there. He was born March 1, 1874. In the paternal line he is a direct descendant of that James Smith, the Irishman, who signed the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather, Isaac Newton Smith, was born near Bolivar, Virginia, in 1808, lived near Harper's Ferry in that state, and at DeGraff, Ohio, and died at the latter place in 1867. He was an attorney by profession. During the Mexican war he served with Gen. Zac Taylor and fought at the battle of Buena Vista. His son Harrison was killed at the battle of Shiloh as a Union soldier and his son Thomas was wounded three times during the war. He had only three sons who grew to maturity, and the other was Isaac Newton Smith, father of the Hiawatha lawyer. Grandfather Smith married a Miss Jenkins, a native of Virginia.

Isaac Newton Smith was born at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in 1847, but grew up in Ohio, near Bellefontaine, where he married. In 1863 he enlisted in the Fifty-seventh Ohio Infantry, being then only sixteen years of age. He was with Sherman's army during the Atlanta campaign, and in one of the many battles around that city was captured, was sent as a prisoner of war to Andersonville, Georgia, and later to the prison at Florence, Alabama. He was finally exchanged at Charleston, and was granted his honorable discharge after the war closed in 1865.

In 1867 he removed with his family west to Brown County, Kansas, and bought a homestead right of 160 acres. This homestead is still the property of his widow and is situated one mile east of Baker, Kansas. Isaac N. Smith cultivated his farm and kept his influence and activities restricted somewhat to one locality until 1879, when he was appointed sheriff of Brown County. He served one term of two years. After that he entered railroading and was a freight and passenger conductor on the Missouri Pacific Railway until 1900. In that year he was again elected sheriff, and served five years, being reelected in 1902, and during the second term his period of service was for three years. In 1905 he retired and his death occurred in Brown County in November, 1908. For many years he served as a member of the school board, and while a resident of Hiawatha represented the Second Ward in the City Council and was president of the Council for a number of years. During the session of 1906 and the session of 1908 he was sergeant at arms in the House of Representatives at Topeka. He was commander of Hiawatha Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, was widely known as a member of the Brotherhood of Railway conductors, and was past noble grand of the Hiawatha Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

He married Isabelle Wolf, who was born in Logan County, Ohio, in 1852 and is now living at Hiawatha. Her parents came from Rockbridge County, Virginia. Three children were born to Isaac Newton Smith and wife, Lizzie, Tom D. and Minor Blaine. Lizzie, who was burned to death in 1893 at Hiawatha as a result of a gasoline stove explosion, was the wife of W. F. Richardson, who died in 1903. Mr. Richardson was a railway conductor and during the great flood that devastated Kansas City in 1903 he was on continuous duty for eighty-four hours and finally, exhausted, went to sleep while standing on the tracks and was struck by an engine, both legs being cut off and his death following soon afterwards. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson had one child, Newton Lee, who is now connected with the Santa Fe Railway Company and lives at Topeka. Minor Blaine Smith has been in the paymaster's department of the Santa Fe Railway for the past fifteen years and lives at 1122 Monroe Street in Topeka.

Tom D. Smith acquired his early education partly in the rural schools of Brown County, also in the Hiawatha High School and Hiawatha Academy, where he did the work of the senior class. In 1895 he entered the University of Kansas at Lawrence and remained until graduating from the law department LL. B. in 1899. During his university career Mr. Smith evinced many of those brilliant qualities which have borne fruit in his professional and public career. For five years he played on the noted football team of Kansas University and in 1899 he made a record which has never been surpassed in Kansas University and perhaps not elsewhere. That was for kicking forty-five goals after touchdown and one field goal. His team that year was victorious in every game played.

In 1898 Mr. Smith represented the University of Kansas at the Kansas State Banquet, an honor conferred upon him by election among the students of the University. He responded to the toast on the subject "Prodigal inviting the prodigals backs to the republican ranks." The prodigals were the populists. Twenty years later Mr. Smith was inviting the progressives back at the Kansas State Banquet in a toast along similar lines.

In 1899 he was admitted to the Kansas bar and to the Supreme Court in the same year. In 1913 he was admitted to practice in the United States courts. For the past eighteen years Mr. Smith has been steadily engaged in general civil and criminal practice and his reputation is one that now is hardly bounded by state lines. It is noteworthy that his success has been attained in his home town, where he grew up and where the people have known him since childhood. His offices are on Oregon Street, over the Stevens drug store. Mr. Smith owns a residence at 406 Shawnee Street, next to his mother's home, and his investments have chiefly taken the form of farm lands. He owns more than 2,000 acres divided into seventeen farms. Four hundred acres of this land lies in Brown County and the rest in Central and Western Kansas.

Mr. Smith had his first public experience as undersheriff to his father. In 1916 he was elected a delegate at large to the Republican State Convention, where he defeated Senator Bristow and Governor Bailey. Mr. Smith responded to the call for volunteers in the spring of 1898 for the Spanish-American war and served as sergeant-major in the Twenty-second Kansas Regiment. This regiment went to Washington, District of Columbia, at Camp Alger, but never got beyond the borders of the country. Mr. Smith has made application for the Second Officers Training School in the present war with Germany. Mr. Smith is a member of the Brown County and the State Bar associations.

In 1902, at the City of Hiawatha, he married Miss Dola M. Elliott, daughter of John and Mary (Tirpin) Elliott, both of whom are now deceased. Her father was a Union soldier, came to Kansas at the time of the war, and was for many years actively engaged in farming in Brown County. He came to this state from Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have three children: Zillah Belle, born September 20, 1903; Isaac Newton, born October 3, 1905; and Aleta Mary, born May 20, 1907.

In the following paragraphs Mr. Smith's facile pen has told of "The Bloodless Battle of Padonia," and the article may well be reproduced here:

"Historic Brown county, made famous by the residence of General J. H. Lane, who organized and established the Town Company of Padonia, located four and one-half miles north and a mile west of Hiawatha, the 'underground' railroad, the creation of John Brown, and the home and residence of the famous Free-Stater, 'Nigger' Jones, was the scene of the bloodless battle, known as the 'Battle of Padonia.' In the immediate neighborhood was afterwards to be written that beautiful Kansas poem 'Walls of the Corn,' by the late Ellen P. Allerton.

"Brown county, up to the time of the war, had been quite evenly divided as to its Pro Slavery and Free State proclivities. Brown county for several years had slaves upon her soil. Before and after the war was declared, Kansas 'Jayhawkers' had been going over into Missouri and taking horses and bringing them back into Kansas. It seems that there lived a man by the name of Cleveland, and a co-partner, west of Padonia, who made 'Jayhawking' horses a business.

"There was for years a notorious Missouri Border Ruffian by the name of Richardson, who had been coming over in Brown county, stealing horses, cattle and whatever he could lay his hands on, and taking them across the Missouri river between Rulo and White Cloud into Missouri, which kept the early settlers in constant dread and fear lest they would lose their property and lives.

"After Cleveland and his co-associates began to do counter effective work by stealing horses from Missouri and bringing them back into Kansas, there was a notice received by the people of Padonia that the Missouri Border Ruffians intended to come to the town of Padonia, sack the stores, and take all the horses and cattle in the immediate neighborhood back to Missouri with them.

"There was a vigilance committee, headed by Orville Root, a former partner of the late Gen. Jim Lane, who had a reputation as a fighter. He was the store keeper and postmaster at Padonia. There were stacks of prairie hay on a high point of ground near the town of Padonia and in case the Missouri raiders were seen coming, these stacks were to be set on fire. This was to be a signal for the Free State men to hurry to Padonia.

"It was on the 4th day of October, 1861, when the Missouri Guerrilla Raiders, headed for Padonia, Kansas, and Salem, Nebraska, with a force of one hundred and fifty men, crossed the Missouri river near Rulo, going westward to Falls City, they split their force up at Falls City, seventy-five going west to Salem and seventy-five coming south toward Padonia. The settlers received notice by one of the Free State men riding to the nearest house south of Falls City, giving the alarm. All that night Free State men rode on horseback, notifying the settlers along Walnut Creek that the Missouri Border Ruffians were coming. The stacks of prairie hay on the hill were set ablaze as a warning. Minute men rode as far as Hiawatha and notified the Hiawatha militia. About thirty men went from Hiawatha to Padonia's defense on foot, among whom were our fellow-townsmen, John Barnum and Gregory Amann. Trouble was anticipated and it is said that the captain of the Hiawatha militia company refused to go, claiming that he was indisposed (preferring to remain where the biscuits were the thickest instead of the bullets). When early morning came, about one hundred settlers, armed with every conceivable weapon, from pitchforks to rifles and shotguns, met in the storeroom at Padonia of Orville Root. They waited for dawn to break. In the meantime the Missouri Guerrilla Raiders had arrived at the homestead of the Free Stater, James G. Leavitt, the farm known as the South West quarter of 31-1-17, which he had pre-empted June 4th, 1857, and was known as one of the early Free State settlers. The Raiders had ridden in, seventy five strong, armed to the teeth, dismounted, put up their horses, compelled Mr. Leavitt and his good wife to kill a hog and prepare a meal for them. In the morning before dawn the Free State men had taken up a position on the north side of the Leavitt homestead. They were soon discovered by the bandit sentinel, who immediately notified the bandits of the presence of Orville Root and his Free State men, Mr. Root having been elected to the command. The Missouri Border Ruffians leaving their breakfast posthaste, and running out of the house to their horses, took up a position behind them for protection. There seemed to be moments of hesitancy on the part of the Missouri Guerrillas to start the attack, Root's men having them practically surrounded and they realizing their critical situation. For some cause or other, they seemed fearful to start the fight, knowing that they were outnumbered and surrounded, Captain Orville Root having placed his men at every advantageous point around the Leavitt home. It was then that Captain Root showed his special ability as a commander. He sent in two of his best men with a flag of truce, who gave the bandits to understand that they were surrounded, and that they must surrender or that they would all be annihilated. They consented to the terms as laid down by Root's men, rather than to meet certain death. They tied their horses, and marched in a body around in front of Captain Root's minute men and laid down their arms, in true military style, seventy-five strong. After Root's men had possession of their arms, the bandits were compelled to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, a bitter pill for them to swallow. The Ruffians supposed that Root's men would allow them their horses to ride back home, but in this they were sadly disappointed. Seventy-five as good thoroughbred Missouri riding horses, as one could wish to find in a day, were turned over to Root's company. It was also discovered that eight of the Missouri raiders were Confederate Rebel soldiers. They were held as prisoners of war, and turned over to the militia, who took them to Hiawatha then to St. Joseph and turned them over to the United States authorities as prisoners of war. The remainder was then ordered by Root to leave Brown county and the State of Kansas on foot. They were escorted out of the county and state to the Missouri river by a detail, some of the bandits being compelled to swim the Missouri, and others crossed on logs. The Hiawatha contingent that had 'hoofed-it' to Padonia, all rode back, the proud possessors of fine Southern steeds.

"The bandits afterwards gave out that they were going to return to Padonia and clean things up proper. For several months a vigilant watch was kept by day and night, but the sentries watched in vain. John Barnum says that he was on sentry duty many-a-night, waiting and watching for the expected Missouri raiders.

"The contingent of Border Ruffians that went to Salem took everything they wanted from the Lincoln & Holt store, then ransacked the town, and hastily left, and not until they returned home did they learn the fate of the Southern division of their little army.

"It may be of interest to many to know that our fellow townsman and ex-sheriff, Steve Hunter, was one of the Jayhawkers who participated in the 'Battle of Padonia,' and got a fine rifle from the Missouri ruffians as his souvenir. His brother, William Hunter, who rode all night notifying the settlers, received as his memento, a shotgun. Also, our fellow towns-man, John Barnum, who with his brother and about thirty others, was in the Hiawatha contingent that went to Padonia's defense, his reward being a fine Missouri riding horse. Mr. Barnum says that there were about sixty of the captured horses turned over to the United States government, including the horse that he rode home.

"Gregory Amann was also with the Hiawatha boys. He had just returned from being discharged as a prisoner from Lexington, Missouri. He recognized one of the Rebel prisoners as a fellow who had cursed he and John Barnum's brother while they were prisoners of war. Mr. Amann, with a great deal of pleasure, took possession of the fellow's horse and side arms. The horse was afterwards turned over to the government at St. Joseph.

"The scenes of these Border Ruffian days have passed forever. One would little suspect, viewing the tranquil homestead and farm scenery that surrounds the residence of the late James G. Leavitt, that it was ever the scene of the bloodless 'Battle of Padonia.' Nothing but 'Walls of Corn' greet one's eye and you are impressed by these extracts from that famous poem:

No sentinel guard these walls of corn,
Never is sounded the bandit warder's horn;
Yet the pillars are hung with gleaming gold,
Left all unbarred though thieves are bold.

Who would have dared, with brush or pen,
As this land is now, to paint it then?
And how would the wise ones have laughed in scorn,
Had prophets foretold these walls of corn,
Whose banners wave in the breeze of morn!
Upon the battlefield of the bloodless "Battle of Padonia."


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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