HIRAM NEWTON SMITH. Into Stevens County some thirty or more years ago came singly and in groups eager, enterprising settlers. Although many were almost without capital, they brought with them a fund of sturdy courage that never failed them and strong determination to succeed that served them well when seemingly insurmountable ill fortune faced them. These are the people of the present day in this county who own the best farms, the finest cattle, the most bank stock and are liberal supporters of schools and churches. Others,loitering travelers, drifters, traders and speculators,have come and gone, but the real people still remain, and it is with them that the readers of this history are concerned. No better examples of these worthy pioneers could be found than Hiram Newton Smith and his estimable wife, truly representative people of Stevens County and prominent and highly esteemed residents of Hugoton. Their story teems with interest.
Hiram Newton Smith was born in Sangamon County, Illinois, January 6, 1855. His parents were William Cartwright and Rebecca (Walker) Smith, and his grandfather was John Smith, a pioneer settler in Sangamon county. The latter migrated to Illinois from Kentucky, perhaps about the same time as did his friend, the eccentric Rev. Peter Cartwright, a noted minister and patriot of that day. John Smith named one of his sons for his friend. He was twice married, the children born to his first union being: William Cartright, Thomas, Mrs. Caroline Poor, Mrs. Lucy Barbre and Richard C. The children of the second marriage were: Mrs. Jennie Miller and Mrs. Martha Drennen. John Smith died on his Illinois homestead, where he had followed farming and stockraising.
William Cartwright Smith was born in Sangamon County and spent his life there as a farmer, although somewhat hampered by a crippled limb. In politics he was a democrat and occasionally served in township offices. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He married Rebecca Walker, who was born in Illinois and died at Springfield in that state. They had the following children: John D., of Springfield; William J., of Sangamon County, Illinois; Richard P., who died in the City of Washington, D. C.; Hiram Newton; Joseph F., of Auburn, Illinois; Martha J., wife of William J. Kirkpatrick, of Carthage, Illinois; Mary C., wife of Wilmot Waite, died at Springfield, Illinois; and Thomas Edward, who died at Springfield.
Hiram N. Smith attended the country schools in Sangamon County in boyhood, and later spent one year in the Wesleyan University at Bloomington, Illinois, returning then to the farm where he remained until he came to Kansas. He was married in Illinois, September 20, 1877, to Miss Christiana Clark, and in 1884 they moved to Sumner County, Kansas, and spent two years near Oxford. In March, 1886, Mr. and Mrs. Smith each drove a covered wagon from Sumner County across the country into Stevens County, bringing with them their two children, in fact, Mrs. Smith had an infant on her lap at the time. They were accompanied by a group of other settlers, all seeking locations for permanent homes. Their initial weather welcome was unfriendly, as a fierce blizzard raged and the cold became so intense that some of their pigs and chickens that they had brought along as a beginning for the new home were frozen. It is not likely that Mrs. Smith or others will ever forget the first night passed in Stevens County. In the hospitable dugout of Joseph Gaston, where they were welcomed to the number of fifteen or more. Mrs. Smith proved her housewifely ability by cooking a fine supper for friends and strangers, although she may have been a little hampered as to space, as the dugout's dimensions measured but 12 by 14 feet. At this point they were fortunate enough to meet with an old acquaintance, Charles Converse, and together they pitched their tent and lived under its shelter until Mr. Smith had located his claim. His entry was a pre-emption upon the northeast quarter of section 23, township 33, range 37, which apparently was being smuggled for another party, but Mr. Smith received it lawfully and no person ever appeared as a contestant for it.
Upon their claim the Smiths immediately dug a hole in the ground, about two feet deep and over this they stretched their tent, chose a place to stand the bed, the stove, a cupboard and a few boxes, and, lo, they had a home. This sufficed nicely for six weeks. Mr. Smith in the meanwhile spending the most of their capital of $60 at Hartland for a breaking-plow and for lumber with which to fix up a shack for a better place to live in, and when it was ready for occupancy Mrs. Smtih says she was very happy and proud of her nice home. Mr. Smith immediately broke seventeen acres for himself in order to get in a crop as soon as possible, and the crop of millet raised that year on sod ground was as fine as ever grew and the Indian corn and garden stuff yielded in abundance.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith had brought some cows with them, and as soon as water was plentiful they proved satisfactory stock. At first, however, the only well in the entire community was at Hugoton, and all water had to be hauled from there until they had their own well in operation. This well was bored by two men with lever, windlass and auger, penetrating to a considerable depth. Like many of the other settlers, Mr. Smith found it almost necessary to do some work in addition to the attention he gave his own property in order to give his family a comfortable living. He found work at breaking on tree claims, for which he was paid $1.50 an acre, and plowed many of these, and whenever chance came he accepted freighting from Hartland or Lakin, in fact, made it a rule to drop everything and respond when notified that freight was to be hauled, as this kind of labor was profitable.
In the fall of 1886, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were able to build a comfortable frame house, money having been advanced from friends in Illinois, and this house was, at that time, one of the most complete in the entire county. They not only took pleasure in its comforts but they determined also that it should not altogether lack the attractive appearance of their old eastern homes, therefore they laid out a driveway around the house and planted castor beans beside it in the way of decoration. Mr. Smith proved up his claim and afterward homesteaded the southwest quarter of section 14, township 33, range 37, and to this they moved their buildings and added to them in the way of enlargement and conveniences. Mr. Smith proved up this homestead but continued freighting and miscellaneous work until the building of the Santa Fe to Hugoton. Upon this homestead the family made its permanent home and here Mr. Smith achieved success in the stock business. Horses and cattle were raised, high grade Herefords and Shorthorns being mainly handled, and finally Mr. Smith became a shipper and annually sent out two or three cars of cattle to the Kansas City markets. He continued to acquire land until he owned a ranch of five quarters, on which he put up excellent buildings, house, barn and other structures necessary for a first class ranch running much stock. Mr. and Mrs. Smith's home in Hugoton is a form of bungalow, an attractive structure, commodious and comfortable.
The parents of Mrs. Smith were Philip and Christiana (Campbell) Clark. Philip Clark was born in 1812, at Rye, England, a son of Philip and Mary (Gravet) Clark, the latter being of French extraction. Among their children who came to the United States were: Mrs. Margaret McClees, who died at Puget Sound, Washington; Mrs. Mary Hinds, of Iowa; Henry, who died at Riverton, Illinois; and Philip, the father of Mrs. Smith. Philip Clark came to the United States and to Sangamon County, Illinois, later was a solder with Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk war, and afterward traveled over the United States, going to California in 1849. He was a trader and dealer in stock and other commodities in Illinois. Politically he was a republican. When seventy-five years of age he was converted and during the rest of his life was a zealous Christian worker. His death occurred February 19, 1897, his widow surviving him ten years. They had children as follows: Mrs. Mary Miller, of Wellington, Kansas; John G., who died at Clinton, Illinois, as did also Mrs. Phoebe Armstrong; Mrs. Sarah Frances Martin, of Clinton; Christiana, who was born at Clinton March 9, 1858; and Mattie, who died at Clinton unmarried.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have had four children, namely: Robert Leslie, who is county treasurer of Stevens County, and married Ethel Lohey and has children as follows: Robert L. Jr., and Maxine Gale; Edna Rose, who died at the age of fourteen years; Russell Newton, who is a ranchman near Hugoton and married May Webber; and Aldora Christiana, who is the wife of Benjamin W. Parsons, of Hugoton, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are earnest members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to build the Simpson church edifice, the same building in which Colonel Sam Wood was afterward assassinated. Mr. Smith has been a steward and at present is a member of the board of trustees. Both are active in Sunday School work and Mrs. Smith has been a teacher in the school almost continuously since coming here and is the leader of the Susan Wesley Adult Bible Class. She was educated at Clinton, Illinois, and completed the high school course in 1877, being the first of her kindred to graduate. Her class honors were the highest and she was urged to become a teacher but declined and her marriage followed soon afterward. Her social qualities have always been recognized and all through this section she has appreciative friends. In politics Mr. Smith is a democrat and conscientiously performs his citizenship duties. He was identified with the organization of school district No. 16, but his children were educated at Hugoton because of closer proximity. For several years he served as township trustee but otherwise has not accepted political office.
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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