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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JOSEPH T. SMITH. This gentleman may usually be found following the peaceful pursuits of agriculture on his well-regulated farm on section 5, township 15, range 11. He is numbered among the leading men of his community, and in his life has been illustrated the qualities of his substantial New England ancestry. The only reliable family records in his possession go back to the days of his paternal grandfather, Ezekiel Smith, who was born at Weathersfield, near Hartford Conn., and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was a strong man physically and mentally, became prominent in his county, and lived to the ripe old age of ninety-three years. The records indicate that he was twice married and that he became the father of three daughters and two sons, the younger of the latter being Lory, the father of our subject.

Lory Smith was carefully reared and given a practical education in the common school. Soon after reaching his majority it is thought he repaired to Hartford, where he learned the trade of a carpenter, and later operated as a contractor. He was cut down in the midst of his usefulness at the early age of thirty-three years, leaving his wife (who was a widow with four children when they were married) with two sons and two daughters. One of the latter, Frances, became the wife of Loren Sackett, and died late in the forties. Mr. Sackett is now a resident of Lee County, this State; Joseph T. our subject, was the elder of the sons; Charles L. married a New England Lady, Miss Mary A. Filley; they came to this county and died, leaving one son, who is a resident of township 16, range 8. Sarah C. died unmarried in Hartford in 1888.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Fanny Taintor; she was born in Connecticut and was the descendant of an old family who had emigrated from England to America during the Colonial days, and from whom sprang many descendants. Some of her ancestors served in the Revolutionary War, and others were prominently identified with the history of New England. It is not known positively whether the Taintors were of English or Welsh descent. Joseph Taintor, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was born about 1745 and died about 1790. He was the son fo John Taintor. He learned the tanner's trade in early manhood, and it is supposed followed this mostly all his life. He spent his last years in North Carolina. He was the father of three children - William, Sarah and Fanny. The latter was first married to James LeVaughn, who died in Connecticut and left two sons, James and William, who are now deceased.

The mother of our subject departed this life at her home in Hartford Conn., Nov. 27, 1851. She, like her husband, was an active member of the Congregational Church, presided over by the celebrated Dr. Hawse. She was left in straightened circumstances by the death of Mr. Smith, and her son, our subject, was taken into the home of an uncle in Massachusetts, where he was given only limited advantages for education. At the age of fifteen years he was apprenticed to a book-binder at Hartford, and followed this business in New England until 1844. He then determined to seek his fortunes in the Great West, and selling out his interests at Hartford journeyed to this region and took up a tract of land which is now included in his present homestead.

In making the journey hither Mr. Smith traveled by stage, canal and river, and was one month in reaching his destination. He at that time secured 180 acres of land, and for some time sheltered himself in a little shanty. He had then no capital but his strong hands and stout heart, and the young wife, who was prepared to bear with him the heat and burden of the day. They labored together with the mutual purpose of building up a home, and after a series of years spent in a manner common to the settlers on the frontier, were enabled to look around them and realize that their toil and sacrifices had not been in vain. After bringing his land to a good state of cultivation, erecting buildings, planting trees and providing things most needful for their comfort and welfare, Mr. Smith turned his attention to the raising of live stock, from which he has realized a snug sum of money. He believes in keeping the best grades, maintaining that this is the best economy in the end.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Maria Lathrop took place at the bride's home at Hartford, Conn., May 3, 1837. Mrs. Smith was born in Ashford Township, Windham Co., Conn., March 12, 1818, and is the daughter of Erastus and Sarah (Bailey) Lathrop, the former of whom was a carpenter by trade, and died when quite aged, in Hartford. The mother later came to this county and made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Smith, where her death took place when she was about sixty years old. Both she and her husband were Congregationalists in religious belief.

Mrs. Maria Smith was given a common school education and subjected to careful home training by her excellent parents. She remained with them until her marriage. Of her union with our subject there were five children, two fo whom are deceased. Sarah died in infancy; Arthur, when a bright and promising youth was graduated from Union Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, and was given a license to preach, being sent West under the auspices of the Home Missionary Society. He died in Topeka, Kan., Sept. 7, 1872, unmarried, and aged about twenty-five years.

George C. Smith, the eldest son of our subject, married Miss Eva F. Munson, and is occupied as a druggist's clerk, at Springfield, this State. During the Civil War he served as a Union soldier in Company K, 27th Illinois Infantry, fought at Belmont and in other battles, and finally on account of failing health was obliged to accept his honorable discharge after a two years' service. He is now in Springfield, Ill.; Joseph C. is unmarried and operates the homestead; Charles H. was married to Miss Mary M. Erskine, who died leaving no children, and he remains at the homestead.

Mr. Smith, originally in politics was on Old-Line Whig, but since the day of Republicanism has given his support to the principles of this party. He was at one time connected with the Congregational Church, but is now rather liberal in his views upon religious matters.

1889 Index
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