EDWARD L. SMITH, president of the Citizens State Bank of Ellinwood, has been a Kansas banker for thirty years, and has found in this state not only improved health, which was the primary object of his search, but also those wider opportunities of business and community service which it is the ambition of every worthy citizen to improve.
Mr. Smith is a native of one of the old and historic communities of Southern Illinois. He was born at Edwardsville, county seat of Madison County, February 5, 1864. His grandfather was Phillip Schmidt, who came from Germany when past middle age and established his home on a farm near Edwardsville. Christian P. Smith, father of the Ellinwood banker, was born at Marienhagen, Kreis Vohl, in Germany, and his early years were spent in rather humble circumstances. The home of the family in Illinois was in a rural district, and at one time the house had no floor. In those years the Smith family depended upon manual labor day in and day out to give them bread and clothing. Christian P. Smith therefore reached his majority with only meager results of his labor and savings, his capital being $80 in money and a blind horse. He invested the money in timber land and removed the timber and sold it for building plank roads through the swamps. This was the first of a long series of profitable transactions which illustrated his keen business judgment. He placed a saw mill upon his land, cleared away the timber and opened up a farm. His energy in farming brought him rapidly accumulating wealth, and he became one of the extensive land owners of Madison County. As a money lender he had numerous borrowers, and it is said that in only one case did he resort to foreclosure of a mortgage, and that was because the borrower ran away from his debt.
Christian P. Smith, associated with a number of friends, was the man chiefly instrumental in establishing the Citizens Bank in Ellinwood, Kansas. Ten years later the institution was reorganized as the Citizens State Bank, the men interested in this being Christian P., Edward L., M. S. and H. P. S. Smith and G. H. Kaiser. The State Bank was capitalized at $15,000, and later was increased to $25,000. In 1893 the bank erected its two-story brick home.
Christian P. Smith, who died March 20, 1908, married at Edwardsville, Illinois, Frances Kaiser. She was born at Lehr, Hanover, Germany, in 1844, and was brought to the United States in 1850. Her father, Harm Kaiser, brought his family across the Atlantic on a sailing vessel to New Orleans, went up the Mississippi by steamboat to Alton and settled in the rural districts around Edwardsville. For many years he was a farmer at Moro, Illinois. Mrs. Christian P. Smith is still living at the old home near Edwardsville. Her oldest child is Henry P. S. Smith of Edwardsville. The second is Edward L. Emma C. is the wife of William H. Bohm, of Edwardsville. Clara F. C. is the wife of William C. Kriege, a merchant and vice president of the Edwardsville National Bank. Ida C. W. married Otto Mueller, who at one time was first violinist in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. He attended the World Musical Congress in Italy in 1914, and on returning through Germany to visit relatives, his American citizenship not having been completed, he was interned and impressed into the German military service, and remained there throughout the war. Louis A. Smith, youngest of the children of Christian P. Smith, is a talented pianist and is connected with screen work among the moving picture interests of New York.
Edward L. Smith, though reared in the country districts around Edwardsville, had a liberal education. He attended the Central Wesleyan College at Warrenton, Missouri, where he graduated A. B. in 1884, and after two years of teaching was given the degree Master of Arts. Two years before he came to Kansas he taught the same school he had attended as a child, and one of his pupils was his youngest brother. His early business training was under his father, on the farm, and constituted a good part of his equipment when he started his career in Kansas, and to this has been added a wide experience and accumulating wisdom in the care and handling of various interests committed to his care.
Mr. Smith came to Kansas in 1889, in ill health, and he located in Barton County partly because of its superior climatic conditions and also because of the interests which his father had already established at Ellinwood. He became assistant cashier of the Citizens Bank, which had recently been organized. His salary at first was $40 a month, and for a long time the institution was a "one man bank," all details of technical administration being referred to Mr. Smith. For many years he has been president of the bank. The business policy of the Citizens State Bank was an encouragement to borrowers with approved security to take advantage of its loan facilities, and a large part of the deposits are represented by loans for the better development of the region and the advancement of its best interests. Financiers everywhere recognize the difficulty of maintaining an exact equilibrium between good commercial service and perfect security to resources. The crisis in the affairs of the Citizens State Bank resulted from the continued crop failures prior to 1914. The bank had outstanding a large amount of "slow securities," and it was practically impossible to realize as needed on this past-due paper. In this situation the State Banking Department intervened and closed the doors of the bank for a period of a few months until its affairs could he readjusted and a reorganization effected. When the bank did resume business it was under the same president, whose optimism had led to the difficulties. This is a rare instance of a reorganization without a change of officers. The losses sustained by the closing fell upon President Smith, who has always stood between his customers and the misfortunes of loss, and today he enjoys the supreme confidence of his community and has given his bank its former reputation as one of the healthy and strong concerns of the county.
Mr. Smith is treasurer of the Ellinwood Grain and Supply Company, the Ellinwood Mill and Elevator Company, and the owner of the E. L. Smith Hardware Company. He is treasurer of the Ellinwood School Board and has served as mayor of the town. He is affiliated with the Masons, Odd Fellows, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, of which he is treasurer, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at Great Bend.
November 5, 1891, Mr. Smith married in Barton County, Miss Mattie S. Harrison. Her parents, Benjamin L. and Catherine J. (Garth) Harrison, were natives of Virginia, her father having fought as a Confederate soldier. The Harrison family came to Kansas about 1884 and settled at Ellinwood, where Mrs. Harrison died. Mr. Harrison is now living in Comanche County. Of his children four daughters and two sons survive.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have two sons, Edward Aubrey and Elbert Francis. The older son after graduating from the Ellinwood High School engaged in the drug business, managing his store for three years, and then took a course in Rhea's Automobile School in Kansas City, where he graduated. In December, 1917, he enlisted in the navy, was called to service in March, 1918, at San Francisco, and after leaving the detention camp was put in the Hospital Training School on Goat Island and finally transferred to Mare Island, where he was stationed at the signing of the armistice. Elbert Francis, the younger son, is also a graduate of the Ellinwood High School, then took post-graduate work, and is now in his third year at Kansas University. He was a member of the Students Army Training Corps there. He is studying law and is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
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.
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