JEFFERSON COUNTY ILLINOIS
Mervil A. Smith
Among the successful agriculturists of Mt. Vernon Township,
Jefferson County, who have contributed materially to its cultivation
and development, we may well mention the name just given, for none
were better known for industry and devotion to duty, as well as for
the intelligent management of his affairs than Mr. Smith. He departed
this life in May, 1873, mourned by a host of friends.
A native of New York, our subject came to Jefferson County about
1840 and was here married a year later to Hostelina Maxey. The young
couple removed to Washington County, where they made their home for
a short time and then returned to Mt. Vernon Township, this county,
where they were residing at the time of Mr. Smith's decease. The estate
formerly belonged to Mrs. Smith's father, Elihu Maxey, who located upon
the farm in 1818 and made it his home until 1840, before receiving his
deed from the Government.
Our subject had the following children, namely: George W.; William H.;
Ordelia, Mrs. Charles Davidson, of Mt. Vernon, and Ellen, the wife of
Thomas Harpper. The latter is now deceased. Our subject was a man of
enterprise and took an active part in the development of his township
and was prominent factor in the promotion of various matters of mutual
welfare. He was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and
commanded the high regard of the community among which his busy life
was passed. In early years he voted with the Whig party, but on the
organization of the Republican party joined its ranks.
George W. Smith, the eldest son of our subject, was born and reared in
this county and received his education in the common schools. In 1861
he enlisted in the Union service, becoming a member of a company of
Illinois Cavalry. Being discharged shortly afterward, he returned home,
but in the spring of the year 1864 re-enlisted, this time joining
Company H, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, Sixteenth Army Corps. He served his
country faithfully and well until the fall of that year, when he was
discharged on account of the loss of a foot. He immediately returned
to this county and a few months later was married to Miss Mahala, daughter
of Thomas L. Moss. The young couple located on the farm where they are
at present living and which comprises two hundred and thirty acres of well
improved and valuable land. Their family includes five children, of whom
Otto E. is a well-to-do merchant in Idlewood. Nora is the wife of Thomas F.
Johnson, of Mt. Vernon; and Walter G., Nellie M. and Jessie H. are at home.
George W. Smith introduced the first herd of Jersey cattle in Jefferson
County and for many years kept his farm stocked with the finest specimens
of this breed to be found in southern Illinois. He has been engaged in
stock-raising since 1876 and has probably sold more pure-blooded Jerseys
than any other dealer in this section. He also devotes a great deal of
attention to breeding fine horses, which branch of farm work he finds to
be very profitable. He is a man of excellent judgment, and by patient
industry and untiring perseverance has gained assured financial success.
In politics he is a true-blue Republican, and socially is connected with
the Grand Army post in Mt. Vernon. With his family he is a devoted member
of the Method Episcopal Church.
W. Harry Smith, the second son of our subject, is likewise a native of
Jefferson County and was born in 1846. He was given a good education in
the common and select schools of Mt. Vernon and remained at home working
on the farm until reaching his majority. When ready to establish a home of
his own he was married, in 1867, to Miss Louisa, daughter of Peter Glassmann,
The latter was a native of Germany and on immigrating to America was married
in Louisville, KY. Later the parents removed to Indiana, where Mr. Glassmann
died. Soon after his marriage W.H. Smith located in Farrington Township,
where he cleared a farm and remained until 1875, when he purchased the old
homestead. This he placed under a good state cultivation and in 1880 traded
it to his brother George W. and now makes his home on two hundred and eighty
acres located just south of the home farm, which he has improved and erected
thereon a beautiful residence. He devotes twenty acres to an orchard, which
he planted himself, and has stocked his place with fine breeds of cattle and
horses. He has been very successful as a general farmer, and as a public-
spirited citizen has been intimately associated with the rapid growth
and advancement of his section.
Mr. and Mrs. W. Harry Smith have seven children, named: Lora, the wife of
J.T. Yost, Mt. Vernon; Charles G.; Oral; Fanny, the wife of Otto Wallace,
residing in Mt. Vernon; Fred, Ruby and Earl. Both he and his family are
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he is a strong
Republican but in no wise an office seeker.
Mervil A. Smith, of this sketch, was a modest and retiring man but eminently
progressive, and it is said of him that he was one of the most scrupulously
conscientious men in the county. He was liberal to a fault, never refusing
to aid all worthy enterprises, and no one ever came to him in need but
received help in a material way.
SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton,
Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois"
Published by Chapman Publishing Company of Chicago in 1894
Submitted by Sandy (Whalen) Bauer