S.P. SMITH'S MILTONVALE RESIDENCE.
Mr. Smith was born in the village of Hoirup, in Schleswig, a province of Denmark, in 1850; he remained in his native land until early in the year of 1870, when he came, accompanied by his brother, Judge C.P. Smith, of Concordia, who is four years his senior, to the Great Republic. As a result of the war between Prussia and Denmark, their territory was set aside into Germany, and rather than enter the Prussian army against their own country, they left their fatherland and came to America. After working two years in Keokuk, Iowa, and Hamilton, Illinois, They came to Cloud county, Kansas, and took a homestead in Colfax township, dug a hole in the hillside 16x24 feet, the primitive Kansas dugout, and appropriated the boards of a deserted shanty from which they manufactured furniture. Their chairs were made of cottonwood logs with holes bored in and pins cut out of wood inserted for legs. Here they experienced for five years all the hardships of the average early settler. They came to the New World to seek their fortunes with no capital, but vigorous physiques, industry and thrift - the heritage of their race.
They had but one pocket-book between them, which was empty most of the time during that period. They secured employment by excavating for cellars, digging wells, etc. Their larder was sometimes reduced to cornbread made of water and meal, and this meager diet did not stick to the ribs of men who were doing manual labor, and they would often have to resort to a lunch between times. For six months they were without flour. These brothers were from a race of blacksmiths and had served an apprenticeship with their father in the oId country, and in the early '70s they bought the smithing outfit of a neighbor on six month's credit (paid before due), dug a hole in the ground, leaving an opening in the roof for the smoke to escape; thus establishing a blacksmith shop. From this they began to prosper and improve their homesteads.
In 1873, they had an experience not unusual to the old timer. The road overseer had ordered the grass burned off along the side of the road, and being inexperienced in back-firing, they could not control the fire, and the flames swept in fury over the homestead and on to the Republican river, doing much damage. Financially this accident crippled the Smiths badly, as they had to furnish feed to some of the settlers, whose hay was destroyed and flour to a widow whose wheat stacks were burned.
In the autumn of of 1876, S.P. Smith sold some of his belongings and bought a blacksmith shop in Clyde, and shortly afterwards sold his homestead. Subsequently, the two brothers formed a partnership and prospered there for several years. In 1880, they erected a one-story brick building, 26x50 feet in dimensions with three fires and a wooden shop in the rear. They became widely known as the manufacturers of the "Tom Clipper," a square cut breaking plow, the first in this country. They paid a royalty of two dollars for the privilege of making them.
In 1882, Mr. Smith sold his business interests in Clyde and traded his residence for a farm in Starr township, two miles north of Miltonvale, which he still owns. This is a well watered, well stocked, and well improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres, with modern residence and other improvements. In 1901, he bought the "Miller" residence property in Miltonvale. Prior to this time, however, he had resided alternately in Miltonvale and on the farm. For several years Mr. Smith has operated a shop in Miltonvale and by his untiring industry and strict integrity he has earned a reputation throughout this community and his workmanship has brought him patronage that no agency can divert so long as his shop is open for business. He does general blacksmithing in all its branches. Mr. Smith's parents were Peter Christian Smith and Karen Soren's "dotter" (as it is expressed in Denmark). Mr. Smith was named for his maternal grandfather, Soren Peterson Smith, while his brother, Christian Smith, being the eldest son, was named for his paternal grandfather, Christian Peterson Smith. The parents joined their sons in America in 1883. The father was born in Denmark in 1819, and died in 1891. The mother was born in 1817, and died in 1894. Besides these two sons there were three daughters, Margaret, wife of Neils Thompson, of Palmer, Washington county, Kansas. The second sister died at the age of twenty-six, unmarried. Caroline was married in Denmark and came to America with her parents and is a resident of Belleville, Kansas.
S.P. Smith was married December 25, 1878, to Elizabeth Neil, a daughter of Benjamin Neil. She was born in Magherlaggen, County Down, Ireland, and came with her parents to this county when seven years of age, and has practically been reared in the "Sunflower State." Benjamin Neil, or "Uncle Benny" as he is called by his neighbors and friends, was a son of the "ould sod," born on the Emerald Isle in County Down in 1820. In his earlier life he was a miller but later followed farming. "Uncle Benny" was a man who possessed a store of valuable information; a man of honorable and upright character, and his familiar face was missed by the people of Miltonvale when July 31, 1894, he was called to his final resting place. He died at the age of seventy-four years, less nine days. An illustration of "Uncle Benny's" reputation for honesty and integrity is told in the following:
He had plodded along for years and could not acquire more land, other than his homestead. There was an adjoining farm for sale and he was sadly in need of more land, but had not the wherewith to buy. In speaking of it to a neighbor, Dave Ferguson, who was and is ever ready to help a friend, told him he would loan him his farm; so "Uncle Benny" was given a deed, mortgaged his friend's farm and bought the land. In a few years he lifted the mortgage and deeded it back to its generous and magnanimous owner. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," but such demonstrations as this do not occur often in the history of a man's lifetime.
Mrs. Smith's mother was Fanny (McRoberts) Neil and died nearly thirty years ago. She was born in Ireland in 1832. The Neil family came to America in 1870, and after living in Westfield, New York, three years came to Cloud county and settled in Starr township. There are nine children, all but one of whom are living in Cloud county - Mary Clegg, of Billings, Montana. Mrs. Smith's brothers are Jim, Joe and George Neil, all farmers near Miltonvale. The sisters are Mrs. Catherine Barber, Mrs. Fanny Shay Mrs. Sarah Anderson, all of Miltonvale, and Mrs. Anna Woodruff, of Clyde; two sisters deceased, Margaret and Matilda, both of whom were young unmarried women.
To Mr. and Mrs. S.P. Smith, eight children have been born, seven of whom are living. They are Benjamin P. Smith (see sketch), Carrie M., a successful Cloud county teacher. She was educated in the schools of Miltonvale, receiving a Cloud county common school diploma. In 1901, she taught in district No. 36 where she had an enrollment of forty pupils. She has been employed for the present year in the grammar grade of the Miltonvale school. Ray, deceased in infancy; Fannie and Juanita, two bright little girls of ten and twelve years; George R., a manly little fellow of five years; Azile, aged three, and an infant son born on the first day of the year, 1903.
Mr. Smith is a Republican in politics and cast his first vote for General Grant. He is interested and takes an active part in city and educational affairs; has been a member of the city council, and on the school board almost continuously for many years; he is one of the directors of the Drover State Bank. He and his family are members and regular attendants as well as workers in the Christian church. Mr. Smith served five years as superintendent of the Sunday-school and to his ardent interest it owes in no small degree its success.
In concluding, it is but a fitting tribute to say of Mr. Smith he is a Christian gentleman who lives his religion every day, and whose pride and ambition centers in his family and his home, that brings to him the peace of soul, that money cannot buy nor poverty dissipate.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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