Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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Millard F. Smith


MILLARD F. SMITH, manufacturer of, and wholesale dealer in, coal miners' supplies, is probably best known by reason of his invention of the M. F. Smith Double and Single Post Drilling Machine, which is widely used in the mining states of the West. He is a practical man, and has met with success in his business ventures.

Mr. Smith was born June 13, 1851, in Logan county, Ohio, and is a son of John Milton and Jemiah (Sudith) Smith. John Milton Smith was a native of Virginia, - of Scotch-Irish descent. He was a millwright by trade, and at an early age went with his widowed mother to Logan county, Ohio, where he assisted in clearing a farm. He moved from Ohio to Missouri and resided in different cities in the latter state, and in Iowa. He was also in the mill business in Texas, in 1860, and molded the first cook stove made in that state. He was a molder by trade, having formerly operated a foundry in Ohio. In the vicinity of Jefferson, Texas, in 1860, his mother was killed by an explosion. In March, 1861, he moved to Jefferson county, Kansas. Previous to this he had been employed at Independence, Missouri, by Overfelt & Dodd, Southern sympthizers, and being a Northerner he was compelled to seek safety in flight. He had owned and operated mills at Eddyville and Ottumwa, Iowa, and was an able mechanic in every line, but paid particular attention to the millwright work. He died at Cedarvale, Kansas, in June, 1886, at the age of seventy-seven years. He and his wife were parents of three children: Dulcina (Sproul), of Cedarvale, Kansas; Millard F.; and Jesse F., a farmer living near Cedarvale.

Millard F. Smith attended the common schools until he was thirteen years of age, after which he was obliged to clothe and support himself. He worked in a woolen mill at Grasshopper Falls, Kansas, now called Valley Falls. He was left in Wilson county, in 1870, and was employed in the grist-mills owned by Beam & Sons. He purchased a farm in Wilson county, which he rented, and in 1870, located at Parsons, and was employed by G. W. Chess, who built the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway shops. His first work there was in guarding around the machine shops, and he helped Foreman Burns to carry the first ladle of iron in the shops. He had begun to work as fireman when a lad of but fifteen years, and by 1870 was a good engineer. In the early "seventies," he ran the engine, in the old Parsons flour mill, owned by Knox, Chess & Matthewson, and then went to Lake City, Colorado, where he operated a shingle-mill and sawmill by contract, until 1877, for Gibert, Hall & Company. In the fall of 1877, he returned to Parsons, and ran a flouring-mill engine for one year. He returned to his farm in August, 1878, and remained there the following winter. He then engaged as engineer for the National Mill & Elevator Company, of Parsons, for eighteen months, and in 1882 bought a patent-right for Nebraska and Dakota, of a rotary pump, which did not prove a success. In Plattsmouth, Nebraska, he worked in a foundry and was also fireman on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, from Plattsmouth to Omaha and Hastings. He also put the machinery into a grist-mill in that city. In March, 1884, he returned to Parsons and engaged with the Parsons Coal Company, - putting in machinery and running their engines at the Daisy Shaft, Weir City, at which work he remained for three years. It was while there he invented the Smith coal mining drill and brass checks, of which he has since manufactured many thousands, selling them in Indiana, Indian Territory, Arkansas and Colorado. In 1889, the Smith Manufacturing Company was organized in Parsons, with Mr. Smith as president and general manager, a position he held until 1895, when he withdrew, taking with him the iron and brass departments. The company still turns out the woodwork, handles, etc. The plant was destroyed by fire in 1894. Mr. Smith now owns the building which he occupies, and manufactures Smith drills and coal miners' supplies. He is the only manufacturer of brass checks with raised figures. He owns all the machinery and employs five men. He also handles coal, and is the only dealer in Parsons who sells Piedmont blacksmithing coal, in car lots. He has two natural gas engines, one of 1 1/2 and the other of 4 horse power, which run the machinery. He is the inventor of various novelties, among which is the Eclipse Embroidery Frame and Embroidery Hoop Holder, adjustable to chair, table or bed rail, and used to hold embroidery and fancy work.

Mr. Smith was united in marriage, at Parsons, Kansas, in May, 1885, with Matie A. Lamb, who was born in Schenectady, New York, in 1868, and they have three children: Cora W., Vesta, and George M. Politically, Mr. Smith is a Prohibitionist and a Republican. He is a member of Lodge No. 117, A. F. & A. M., of Parsons; and Lodge No. 1, A. 0. U. W., of Parsons. Mrs. Smith is a member of the Christian church. Mr. Smith purchased the A. G. Harris house, at No. 2115 Forrest avenue, where he now resides.

Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901 Labette County KS 1901


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