Samuel H. Smith

SAMUEL H. SMITH, a prominent citizen of Baxter Springs and a leading lawyer of Cherokee County, whose portrait appears on the opposite page, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, July 24, 1859. He is a son of Clark D. and Lydia Rodgers (Bryce) Smith. His father died in 1878; his mother is still living at the age of 74.

Samuel Smith, the great-grandfather, of our subject and the first of the family of whom we have a definite record, in his early manhood came from "over the mountains" in Eastern Pennsylvania and settled in Washington County, that State, in the latter part of the 18th century and became a large land proprietor. Among the children born to him and his wife, Huldah Rush, was Hiram Smith, the grandfather of our subject, who followed the occupation of a millwright and lived his life in honor, prosperity and peace in Washington County. Hiram Smith was married to Huldah Rodgers, who bore him seven children, viz.: Albert; Edmund; Samuel H.; Clark D.; Alexander V. Benjamin Franklin and Huldah.

Clark D. Smith, our subject's father was born September 5, 1829. He received a thorough common-school education and turned his attention to teaching, an occupation in which he was eminently successful. He was joined in marriage December 10, 1851, to Lydia Rodgers Bryce, daughter of Andrew and Lydia (Van Nort) Bryce, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. To this marriage eight children were born: Charles Andrew, who died in 1877; James Hiram, a well-known lawyer of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, prosecutor of the notorious "Armor-plate Frauds;" Ada Kate (Markell), of Connellsville, Pennsylvania; Samuel H.; Sarah Helen (Williams), of St. Louis, Missouri; Alexander Vail; William Bryce, who died in January, 1893, while attending Harvard; and Thomas Herbert, who died in February, 1904, in the city of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Andrew Bryce, our subject's maternal grandfather, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he married Jean Gilchrist. They came to this country soon after their marriage and settled in Indiana. For many years Mr. Bryce carried on a profitable business as a trader along the Ohio River. His wife died and soon thereafter he moved into Western Pennsylvania and engaged in the milling ("grist mill") business in Fayette County, where he married Lydia Van Nort, daughter of Peter Van Nort and his wife Mary Rodgers, who was of English descent. There were born to Andrew Bryce and his wife Lydia: Lydia Rodgers, mother of the subject of our sketch, born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in November, 1831; Andrew Van Nort, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Sarah Elizabeth (McCormick), deceased; and Helen Marr (Phillips), of East End, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Samuel H. Smith received his early education in the public schools of his native county. A student by nature, he made rapid progress in his studies and at the age of 18 years began teaching school, for which work he was exceptionally well qualified and in which he continued for six years; then for a time he turned his attention to civil engineering, in railroad location and construction work. But for years it had been his fixed purpose to take up the study of law, and to this end he entered the Law Department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and graduated therefrom in 1885. The following year he accepted the principalship of the schools at Jackson, Minnesota. In 1886 he opened a law office in Winthrop, Minnesota, and in November, 1888, came to Baxter Springs, Kansas, where he has ever since made his home, with the exception of three years (1894-97) spent in Joplin, Missouri.

Mr. Smith possesses an exceptionally thorough knowledge of the underlying principles of the law; is noted for his being a "safe" counsellor and one who seeks to keep his clients out of litigation, preferring to be known as a "suit-settler" rather than a "suit-fighter;" but when once entered into a case Mr. Smith brings to his command such skill and pertinacity and such masterful argument that the opposition always knows there has been a "fight."

Ever since his advent into Cherokee Cnunty[sic] Mr. Smith has been active in its political history. He has never sought political office or favor, but in the year 1900, without his suggestion or initiative, he was presented by his Cherokee County party friends as their candidate for the Fusion nomination for Congressman. Mr. Smith is a pioneer Anti-Imperialist and has written several articles that were reproduced in the Eastern press and favorably commented upon. In recognition of his services, the National Anti-Imperialist League made him an honorary vice-president of that body—a considerable honor. Mr. Smith is a strong and unyielding advocate of the rigid enforcement of law. He has no respect for the political "trimmer" and naught but loathing for the public officer who takes his official oath lightly. In 1902 Mr. Smith, having become satisfied that economic justice to all can be attained only through the application of the principles of Socialism, announced himself a Socialist.

Mr. Smith is a member of the Masonic order, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America. He is a well read, courteous, polished gentleman.

Mr. Smith was married June 27, 1885, to Esther Julia Pitkin, daughter of Edward P. and Julia A. (Gott) Pitkin of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Edward P. Pitkin is a direct descendant of William Pitkin, colonial Governor of Connecticut from 1766 to 1769. Two children have been born to them: Margaret Gott, born August 25, 1887; and William Bryce, born July 30, 1889. Mrs. Smith is a lady of education, refinement and pleasant personality. The family are church members.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 6-27-97


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