EUGENE L. SMITH is editor and proprietor of the Tri-State News of Elkhart, and is one of the veteran newspaper men of the Seventh Congressional District.
Mr. Smith has spent most of his life in Kansas, having come to the state in the summer of 1878, when a boy of eleven years. His parents settled near Spearville in Ford County. He was born in Chenango County, New York, August 12, 1867. His father, Henry D. Smith, a native of Steuben County, New York, grew to manhood with a common school education, and early in the Civil war enlisted as a Union soldier in Company G of the Eighty-ninth New York Infantry. He was in active service with the Army of the Potomac from the battle of Bull Run to the end of the war. Altogether he was present in some thirty engagements and was in some of the hardest fighting in Virginia. He was present at the final scene at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered to General Grant. For many years he took an active part in Lincoln Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Topeka.
After coming to Kansas Henry D. Smith was an active farmer, entered land in Hodgeman County, proved up his claim, afterwards living at Spearville, and from there moved to Topeka, where for a number of years he was identified with the Capital City police department. He also served as deputy sheriff, but for the last fifteen years of service was a member of the Topeka police force. His death occurred at the Soldiers Home at Dodge City in July, 1913. In politics he was a rabid republican, and having fought for the principles of that party in the war he was ever afterwards ready to fight in their behalf in time of peace. It is said that he could never find any excuse for the existence of democrats.
Henry D. Smith married Vesta Savage. She was a native of New York, and grew up in Chenango County. She and her husband were members of Rev. Charles Sheldon's church at Topeka. Their children were: Eugene L.; Clifford A., of Pueblo, Colorado; and Celia May, wife of Frank Phipps, of Denver, Colorado.
Eugene L. Smith after being brought to Kansas continued his education in the public schools of Spearville, finishing the high school course, and then spent one year at Washburn College at Topeka. It was at Topeka that he acquired his first knowledge of newspaper work, as an employee of the Topeka State Journal, then under the management of Frank P. McLennan. He did work as a reporter and later joined the staff of the Saturday Evening Lance under Harry Frost. Two years later he leased the paper, and managed it in association with Cora Belle Zook, then society editor, and now the wife of Mr. Smith. He left the Lance after about a year, worked for a time on the Leavenworth Times, and for about ten years was employed on various other papers and in working at his trade as a printer in Topeka.
In 1902 Mr. Smith went to Strong City, Kansas, bought the Derrick changing the name to the Herald, and was its proprietor two years. In his itinerant career as a newspaper man he then came back to the scenes of his boyhood, bought the Spearville News, and conducted it practically in the dooryard of the place where he had grown to manhood and where he had learned his first lessons in printing. He continued as publisher of the Spearville News for six years. Then for two years he conducted the Leader at Ellinwood, and following that came a brief experience in the land business.
In April, 1915, Mr. Smith came into Morton County, bought the Richfield Monitor and moved the plant from the old county seat to Elkhart, changing the name to the Elkhart News. When it was consolidated with the Elkhart Enterprise the name Tri State News was adopted. For a time it had exclusive rights in Morton County as the only paper published here. The Tri State News is republican in politics.
As a matter of history it is not out of place here to refer to the various journals which preceded and which are part of the history of the Tri-State News. It is in effect a continuation of the following: Richfield Republican, founded in 1886 by Wardrip and Baker, editors and publishers; consolidated in 1890 with the Morton County Monitor of Morton, founded in 1888 by Van Gundy brothers, with Glen S. Van Gundy as editor, and run as the Monitor-Republican; name changed in 1895 to Monitor-Republic, Ernest C. Wilson, editor and publisher; name later shortened to the Monitor. Still another constituent paper was the Taloga Star, founded in 1887 by H. M. Gilbert; moved to Richfield in 1890 and name changed to Morton County Star, with H. M. Worthington as editor and publisher; purchased by the Monitor-Republican in October, 1893. The Monitor moved to the new Town of Elkhart in 1915 and in the same year was consolidated with the Elkhart Enterprise.
Mr. Smith has always been an interested witness and frequently an active participant in republican politics in the various sections of the state where he lived. He cast his first vote for Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and soon afterwards began attending conventions and has been present at most of them within the last twenty-five years. The conventions of the Seventh Congressional District have always counted him as one of the most familiar figures, and in Ford County he was a member and secretary of the County Central Committee for several years and for one term filled the office of surveyor of that county. In 1916 he was republican candidate for the Legislature in Morton County, but the honors of the election went to a professional campaigner. Mr. Smith was active in the Sons of Veterans while that organization flourished in Kansas. He is affiliated with the Masonic Order, is a past noble grand of Spearville Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security.
At Topeka, December 21, 1892, Mr. Smith married Miss Cora Belle Zook. Her family came to Kansas from Indiana, locating at Osage City. Her father served as a soldier from this state. Her mother was Mrs. Martha Zook. Mrs. Smith was one of two children to grow up, her sister being Zella May Zook. Mrs. Smith finished her education in the Emporia High School and did her first newspaper work on the Emporia News and also worked on the Republican there. She has been an active factor in the office of her husband's paper for many years. They are the parents of four sturdy sons. Theodore was foreman in the plant of the Tri-State News but is now taking special training at Kansas University Training Detachment.
The Tri-State News plant is one of the best equipped of any country paper in Western Kansas, having a power press and folder, and the paper has the appearance and quality of a metropolitan journal. It has a steadily growing influence and circulation all over Morton and adjoining counties. The second child of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is Cecil, now a student in Kansas University, while the two youngest boys, Harold and Donald, are attending school at Elkhart.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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