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