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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

SMILEY BROTHERS Redlands and San Bernardino County owe a lasting^ debt to the constructive and esthetic achievements of the Smiley Brothers, and the world too has come to appreciate the manifold measures of their contributions to the broader aspects of educational and humanitarian enterprise. This history on other pages has occasion to describe some of their undertakings, particularly the Smiley Library and Canon Crest Park, at Redlands, which are vital institutions in the development of this section of Southern California. The purpose of this article is to tell in brief the story of their lives and some of the facts that have made them national and international figures in the welfare of humanity.

Of the three brothers the only one now living is Daniel Smiley, who is a half-brother of the late Alfred H. and Albert K. Smiley, and while many years separated them in age all seemed to be animated with a common purpose in their working interests.

Alfred H. and Albert K. Smiley were twin brothers with such a close resemblance in form, feature and manner, that it was often difficult to distinguish one from the other. They were born at Vassalboro, Maine, on March 17, 1828, sons of Daniel and Phoebe (Howland) Smiley. Both attained to venerable age. Alfred H. Smiley died in 1903 at the age of seventy-five, and Albert K. on December 2, 1912, at the age of eighty-four. They were educated in the academy in their native town, in the Friends' School of Providence, Rhode Island, and in Haverford College, Philadelphia, where they were graduated A. B. in 1849 and A. M. in 1859. Albert K. Smiley received the honorary A. M. degree from Brown University in 1875, and the degree LL.D. from Haverford in 1906. They were actively engaged in educational work for thirty years, first in Haverford College where they had charge of the English Department for three years. They founded jointly and were principals of the English and Classical Academy of Philadelphia from 1853 to 1857. Alfred Smiley then became principal and general superintendent of schools at Oskaloosa, Iowa. Albert K. Smiley was the principal of the Oak Grove Seminary at Vassalboro, Maine, in 1858-59, and from 1860 to 1879 was principal of the Friends' Boarding School, now the Moses Brown School at Providence, Rhode Island. His twin brother became associated with him in the management of this school and they made it one of the most famous of New England preparatory institutions.

In 1869 Albert K. Smiley visited Lake Mohonk, New York, and was so well pleased with the beauty and picturesqueness of the spot that he decided to establish a summer home for himself and develop a summer resort. He at once purchased the lake, together with 300 acres of land, and eventually he made the estate one of the splendid resorts of the Union. By successive acquirements he increased the area of this estate to 3,500 acres, and eventually to 5,500 acres, and built a summer resort hotel in 1870. The tract extends along the crests of the mountains for a distance of about six miles with an average width of nearly one mile. Over and through this idyllic preserve he constructed about forty miles of private roads and twenty-five miles of trails and paths and opened the property to the public. For the first ten years the property was managed by Alfred H. Smiley, who in 1875 had purchased Minnewaska, a twin lake, with more than 2,500 acres of land, seven miles distant, on the top of another spur of the mountain where he built two fine hotels with accommodations for 450 guests. He conducted these resorts on the same moral and social plane as did his brother Albert K. the Mohonk resort. It would appear that these two brothers were as nearly alike in disposition and aims in life as they were in appearance.

While busy with this large undertaking Albert K. Smiley did not abate his interest and influence in connection with educational affairs. From 1875 until his death he was a trustee of Brown University, was one of the original trustees of Bryn Mawr College, and was President of the Board of Trustees of the New York State Normal School at New Paltz from its establishment in 1884. He was a member of many societies and organizations.

In 1889 while in California the brothers became so impressed with the beautiful scenery and surroundings of Redlands that they purchased for a winter home 200 acres of the heights south of the town, through which tract they caused to be constructed a beautiful series of roads, both for driving and walking, and on the summit and along the northern declivities started a thousand or more species of rare plants and flowers of such varieties as flourish in this semi-tropical climate. Each of the brothers erected a beautiful and substantial residence on the crest of the hill. This property called the Canon Crest Park, commonly known as Smiley Heights, was thrown open to the public and the park has become famous throughout the land, being visited by thousands of Eastern tourists annually.

A sixteen acre tract which he acquired in the heart of Redlands, Albert K. Smiley also laid out for park purposes, and a portion of this is the site of the A. K. Smiley Public Library Building, an institution reflecting the liberality of all the Smiley Brothers and fully described elsewhere in this publication. In 18% Alfred H. Smiley laid out a beautiful summer resort known as Fredalba Park, near the summit of the mountain range north of Redlands at an elevation of 5,500 feet. Here his liberality and splendid initiative made possible the development of another of the many fine resorts for which Southern California is celebrated.

Albert K. Smiley's career was not confined to local, educational and business interests. On the contrary, he had a national reputation as a friend of the Indian and the Negro, and as one of the foremost champions of international peace, in which last connection it was not given him to live to see the havoc of death and disaster wrought by the late World war, a conflict that could not but have intensified his intense desire to further that peace and good will of which the world stands more deeply in need at the present time than ever before in the annals of history. It has been in the sessions of the Lake Mohonk Indian Conference that practically all reforms in the treatment of the Indians have originated. In 1879 President Hayes appointed Mr. Smiley a member of the National Board of Indian Commissioners, and it was due to Mr. Smiley's earnest desire to co-ordinate and harmonize conflicting religious and civic agencies dealing with the Indians that resulted in his calling upon prominent friends of the Indians to meet at Lake Mohonk House in October. 1883, to spend four days in discussing Indian problems and endeavoring to unite all Indian workers on a common platform. He invited the Board of Indian Commissioners, all secretaries of religious societies, the National Senate and House Committees on Indian AflFairs, army officers having dealings with the Indians, all prominent members of the Indian Bureau, the Indian Rights Association, AVoman's National Indian Association, heads of Indian Schools, editors of leading papers, and prominent men all over the country. Thus orieinated the annual conferences at Lake Mohonk. The results of these gatherings have been revolutionary. Congress has learned to heed and follow the advice of the little band which assembles every October on this mountain-top in Ulster County, New York, and no future historian will be able to write the history of our country without assigning a noble chapter to the Lake Mohonk Indian Conference. For the Indian cause Mr. Smiley contributed some thousands of dollars annually, and he served in various capacities in connection with the care of the Indians.

In the spring of 1889 Congress passed a law creating a commission of three men who were to select reservations for the Mission Indians of Southern California. The Secretary of the Interior appointed Mr. Smiley chairman of this commission, and within the ensuing two years about forty reservations were selected, with the result that 3,000 Indians who were being despoiled of their rightful possessions were placed upon suitable lands, secured to them for a permanent home. Mr. Smiley, as representative of the Board of Indian Commissioners, in 1895, investigated and demonstrated the iniquity of the proposed government measure of uniting the two bands of Indians in Western Nevada, the proposed plan having been one that would have cost the government at least half a million dollars and deprive 2,000 Indians of their guaranteed rights all in the interest of a railroad corporation. In all other matters touching the welfare of the Indians Mr. Smiley continued his unflagging interest until the close of his long and useful life, and his activities were wide and varied, including his service as chairman of the committee appointed to investigate the whole Indian Bureau and suggest changes in its practical workings.

In the years 1890 and 1891, following somewhat the same general plan as that of the Indian conference, Mr. Smiley invited to Mohonk, as his guests, 200 or more philanthropists of this country, particularly those from the South, for a discussion with the object of uniting the North and the South in some concerted plan for the benefit of the Negro race. President Hayes presided at both of these conferences.

In June, 1895, Mr. Smiley invited to Mohonk many statesmen and prominent citizens for a conference in the interest of international arbitration, this being, so far as is known, the first American conference on this subject. Similar conferences for this purpose have been held annually at Mohonk.

Alfred H. Smiley married Rachel M. Swan in 1854, and of this union were born six children. July 8, 1857, Albert K. Smiley married Eliza P. Cornell, of New York. They had one child who died at the age of eight years. On the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1907, a large number of guests of the Lake Mohonk Mountain House presented to Mr. and Mrs. Smiley as a testimonial of their esteem an entrance gateway and lodge costing over nineteen thousand dollars, located at the main entrance of the Lake Mohonk estate.

Associated with these brothers in many of their enterprises and since their death continuing many lines of their noble enterprise is Daniel Smiley, who was born at Vassalboro, Maine, November 29, 1855, son of Daniel and Dorcus Burnham (Hanson) Smiley. He graduated from Haverford College in 1878, was instructor in Greek and Latin at William Penn Charter School of Philadelphia for three years, and in 1881 joined Albert K. Smiley in the management of the property of Lake Mohonk, and in 1912 succeeded to the ownership of the Lake Mohonk estate and also the Canon Crest Park at Redlands. Redlands is his winter home and quite recently he provided for the conception of a new wing to the public library.

Daniel Smiley has been associated in the management from the beginning in 1882 and now is in full charge of the conference of International Arbitration and the conference of friends of the Indians and other dependent peoples held at Lake Mohonk each year. Since 1912 he has been a member of the United States Board of Indian Commissioners. He is a trustee of Vassar College, Haverford College, is President of the Board of the State Normal School at New Paltz, New York, is a trustee of the University of Redlands. He has been a member of the executive committee of the National Peace Conference and is a member of a number of other organizations.

June 18, 1881, he married Miss Effie F. Newell of Kennebeck County, Maine. They have four children. Albert K., manager of the Mohonk Hotel, married Mabel Craven of Westchester, Pennsylvania, and their three children are Daniel Smiley, Jr., Albert K. Smiley, Jr., and Anna Craven Smiley. Hugh the second son, also associated with the management of the hotel at Mohonk, married Hester Squier of Greenwich, Connecticut, and their two children are Virginia LeBeau and Hugh, Jr. Francis, the third son, also in the management of the hotel, married Rachel Orcutt of Boston and has a daughter Rachel. The only daughter of Daniel Smiley is Ruth. She was married by James M. Taylor, president of Vassar Collie on February 21, 1914, at Smiley Heights to Thomas Sanborn, who is manager of the Redlands estate including the Canyon Crest Park. Mr. and Mrs. Sanborn have foui children: Christine, Daniel Smiley, Thomas and Ruth.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011