Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 429
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
S. J. SMITH
At an early period in the development of Rice county S J Smith came to Kansas, settling in this portion of the state, and since that time he has been numbered among its prominent and representative farmers. He was born in Richland county, Ohio, September 17, 1835, a son of Samuel and Mary A (Soper) Smith. The Smith family is of Scotch-Irish descent and the Soper family is of German lineage. The father of our subject was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and was one of five children, namely: Thomas and Jedediah, who died in Ohio; Samuel; Mary, the wife of W Barnes, who removed to Iowa, where his last days were spent; and Nellie, who became the wife of J K Barnes and died in Ohio. Samuel Smith, the father of our subject, was reared and married in Pennsylvania. His wife was a native of Maryland. Soon afterward they went to Ohio, where he purchased a tract of raw land and began the development of a farm. Subsequently he purchased, improved and sold three farms. All of his children were born in Ohio, and in 1806 he removed with his family to Michigan, settling in the northern peninsula, where he purchased and sold real estate, there spending his remaining days. He died in Benzonia, Michigan, October 20, 1875. While in Ohio he served as captain of a militia company. Politically he was a Whig and abolitionist in early life, being strongly opposed to the institution of slavery. He filled many minor township offices and was a progressive and loyal citizen. In early life he held membership in the Presbyterian church and later became identified with the Reformed or Congregational church, in which he served as deacon for many years. He was also superintendent of the Sunday-school for more than twenty years. He contributed liberally to church work and gave of his time and effort to the advancement of the cause of religion. Much of his thought and labor was devoted to measures calculated to prove of benefit to his fellow men and he was a liberal contributor to all charitable institutions. A devoted Christian, he was enterprising and public-spirited and had a high sense of integrity and honor. The poor and needy found in him a friend and his neighbors knew him to be a considerate, just and straightforward man. He passed away at the age of seventy-six years, and his wife, long surviving, departed this life in July, 1896, when eighty-six years of age. They had eight children, namely: Ruth A, the wife of J H Ford, who became the parents of Mrs Governor Altgeld, of Illinois; Martha, the wife of C C Baldwin, a Congregational minister of Ohio; James W, who died in childhood; Elizabeth, the wife of C G Bryant, a merchant of Knox county, Ohio; Charles, who died at the age of six years; S J, whose name introduces this review; Edward P, of Chicago; and Mary M, the wife of William Patterson, of Ohio.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for S J Smith in his youth. He remained at home until he had attained his majority and then went to Illinois, where he engaged in teaching school, for he had enjoyed liberal educational privileges, his early mental discipline having been supplemented by a course in the Oberlin Academy. He continued to follow the teacher’s profession until 1862, when, feeling that his country needed his service, he offered his aid to the government, enlisting for three years or during the war, as a member of Company E, Seventy-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under command of Colonel D P Grier. The regiment was assigned to the western department, becoming a member of the Thirteenth Army Corps, with Sherman in command. Mr Smith participated in the siege of Vicksburg and the battle of Arkansas Post and was with General Grant in all of his campaigning in the vicinity of Vicksburg until the capitulation of the city. After the close of that campaign he was granted a twenty-days furlough, the only leave of absence which he had during his entire term of military service. On its expiration he returned to his command and continued with his regiment until the close of the war. His military duty was often arduous. He was in much skirmishing and in seventeen hotly contested battles. At the time of Lee’s surrender he was located in Alabama, in which state the regiment was mustered out and went to Springfield, Illinois, where Mr Smith received an honorable discharge and was paid off in July, 1865.
He then returned to his home and family and resumed school teaching, which he followed continuously until 1867 when he accepted a position as bookkeeper in Peoria. A year later failing eye sight and close confinement compelled him to seek an occupation that would enable him to have some outdoor exercise. He therefore purchased a small farm in Peoria county, upon which he remained for several years. In the spring of 1875 he came to Kansas, locating in Rice county, where he rented a tract of land and began its cultivation. He lived alone through the summer, during which time he located a homestead and built a house, and in the fall of the same year he sent for his family. He is yet residing on his original claim, which at first comprised one hundred and sixty acres, but to this he has since added a tract of eighty acres. His home is a commodious two-story frame residence, in the rear of which stands substantial barns and outbuildings, and these in turn are surrounded by well tilled fields. He also has a good orchard and a grove of over five acres, in which are many squirrels which have their haunts in the trees. He and his wife planted seed and set out trees and are today enjoying the fruits of their labor. Their beautiful home and farm is situated six miles north of Lyons and is one of the most attractive country seats in this portion of the state. When they came here there were few permanent settlers and farming was carried on only on a small scale, but the country settled and developed rapidly and towns and villages were founded. There were some buffaloes and many antelopes yet in the district, but Mr Smith had no time to hunt and within a comparatively short period advancing civilization had driven all wild animals from this district. Occasionally crops have been poor, but usually the return for labor has been abundant. The wheat crop is always reliable and his farm has ever been self-supporting and for many years his labors have been crowned with a high degree of prosperity. He has every reason to be pleased with his adopted state, for here he has established a good home and has gained success.
It was in 1860 that Mr Smith was united in marriage to Miss Lucinda A Gardner, who was born in the city of Peoria, Illinois, November 3, 1840, and is a lady of intelligence and culture. Her parents, Ansel M and Lucinda (Bishop) Gardner, were both natives of New York, where they were married. The paternal grandfather, Adam Gardner, was also born in the Empire state and was of English lineage. By trade he was a shoemaker, and on leaving the east he removed to Illinois, where his last days were passed. His children were: Otis, who died in Illinois; Ansel M, the father of Mrs Smith; Roxanna, wife of W Meggs; Mrs Lydia Meggs; Sophia, the wife of Judge Hunt; and Clarinda, who married Isaac Spencer. Ansel M Gardner was reared in New York and was ordained as a minister of the Baptist church. In 1835 he went to Peoria, Illinois, where he acted as local preacher until old age necessitated his retirement. By occupation he was a mechanic, and in 1844 he took up his abode upon a farm, where he resided for a number of years, after which he retired to Osceola, his death there occurring in 1876. Throughout his entire life his career was in harmony with his Christian teachings, and he died in the firm hope of everlasting happiness. His wife survived him some time and spent her last days with her daughter, Mrs Smith, where she found a good home. Her death occurred January 1, 1895. She was a daughter of Joel Bishop, of New England, who served in the war of the Revolution and was a farmer by occupation. His death occurred in the Empire state. He had thirteen children, namely: Chauncy, Joel, Elijah, Reuben, Anna, Clara, Roxy, Sallie, Phoebe, Lucinda, Harriet, Martha and Rachel. The children of the Gardner family were: Martin A, who is now deceased; Phoebe L, who became Mrs Weaver and after the death of her first husband she was again married; Harriet, the widow of William Calhoun and a resident of Crawford county, Kansas; Adam, who is living in the state of Washington; Martha F, the wife of Joseph A Smith; Reuben B, of Illinois; Lucinda, wife of S J Smith; Chauncy H, of Iowa; Mary J, the wife of C H Drury, of Illinois; and John A, who died at the age of twenty-two years. The parents of this family were members of the Baptist church and in that faith reared their children.
The home of Mr and Mrs Smith has been blessed with seven children, as follows: Charles J, of Utah; Samuel E, a farmer of Rice county; Ella M, wife of W E Cassingham, a grain merchant of Noble, Kansas; Frank, a stockman, at home; Lotta B, the wife of J Blakeley, of Oklahoma; Ransom T, of Utah; and Mary L. Mr Smith is a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and likewise belongs to Kit Carson Post No. 20, GAR, of Lyons. He was reared in the faith of the Whig party and in 1860 supported Stephen A Douglas, who was the author of the Squatter’s Sovereignty plan for Kansas. After entering the army, however, he became a stanch advocate of Republican principles and has since supported the party. While in Illinois he filled a number of township offices and was clerk and treasurer for some time. Since coming to Kansas he has served for eight years as clerk of the courts and was deputy clerk for three years, while in 1890 he was elected to serve in the state senate. He is one of the most prominent and leading members of his party, and was at one time the nominee for county treasurer, but on account of the great strength of the Populist movement he was defeated. In the positions which he has filled he has discharged his duties with marked promptness and fidelity, and over the record of his public career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. He has contributed in no unsubstantial manner to the progress and improvement of his portion of the state, and his worth as a citizen is widely acknowledged. As an honored pioneer and man of genius, ability and worth he well deserves representation in this volume.