|ON. ALEXANDER HANNIBAL SMITH. There are few people sojourning any length of time in Sumner County, who are unacquainted with at least the name of Mr. Smith, who is recognized as one of its most popular and prosperous citizens. Nature has endowed him with fine abilities, intellectually, and with great kindliness of disposition, besides the qualities which have made him successful financially. He is of Southern birth and antecedents, his birth place having been in the vicinity of Bucksville, Cumberland County, Ky., where he first opened his eyes to the light March 30, 1836.|
John C. Smith, father of the subject of this notice, was born in Fauquier County, Va., and was the son of Mathew Smith, a native of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. The latter left home when a boy, and came to America during the colonial times. He located in Virginia, but later entered the Continental Army, in which he arose to the command of a company, being given a captain’s commission under Gen. Nathaniel Green, his brother-in-law. He was shot through both limbs and crippled for life. Later he became the owner of land in Virginia, where he spent his last days. Mathew Smith married Miss Pamelia, a sister of Gen. Nathaniel Green, who, after the death of her husband, removed, in 1811 to Kentucky. The journey was made overland with ox-teams, and the widowed mother was accompanied by her nine children, taking with her her household goods and farm implements. She was a woman of great courage and resolution, and entered a tract of Government land in the timber of Cumberland County, where, with the assistance of her children, she improved a farm, building up a good homestead.
Late in life she removed to Warren County, where she spent her last years. Her son, John C., the father of our subject, was a lad of nine years when the family removed to Kentucky, where he was reared to man’s estate. After his marriage he purchased a tract of timber land in Warren County. in what was known as Smith’s Grove Valley. He put up a log cabin in the most primitive style, with puncheon floor, and the chimney built outside of earth and sticks. In this pioneer structure the subject of this sketch was born. The mother was a very industrious woman, devoted to her family. She spun and wove wool and flax, manufacturing thus all the cloth used in the family, and making up the garments with her own hands. The father cleared a considerable extent of his land, and was prospered in his labors, being finally enabled to erect a good brick house. For some time after the Smith family settled in that region, wild game of all kinds was abundant, including deer and turkeys. Mrs. Sally D. (Gearhart) Smith, the mother of our subject, was born in Cumberland County. Ky., and was the daughter of Peter Gearhart, a native of Germany, Grandfather Gearhart was reared to farming pursuits, and emigrated to America when a young man, locating in Virginia. He was there married and removed to Kentucky at an early day, settling among the timber of Cumberland County. He cleared a farm and died there. The parents of our subject resided on that farm until their decease, the mother passing away in 1855, and the father in 1857. Six of the ten children born to them lived to mature years, namely: Alexander H., Herschel P., Mercenia, Carroll J., Dobney W., and Julius O.
The subject of this notice was reared to man’s estate in his native county, and acquired his early education in the subscription schools, conducted in a log schoolhouse. The temple of learning was erected and furnished in the most primitive manner, the seats being of split logs, upheld by wooden pins, and the chimney built outside of earth and sticks. Light was admitted through an aperture made by removing a log from one side of the building, and closed by a wooden shutter. The school was conducted mostly during the winter season, while in summer young Smith assisted his father on the farm. He remained with his parents as long as they lived, and then being the eldest child, the care of the family devolved upon him. He managed the farm, and reared the children, taking the place of both father and mother, the youngest child being then two and one-half years old, and his oldest sister, a little girl of seven. The father had made a will, giving to Alexander the homestead with the provision that he was to look after the children until they should be able to take care of themselves. He fulfilled the duties assigned him in an admirable manner and continued to reside on the old farm until 1880. He was a Union man during the Civil War, but took no part therein, and although that section of country was overrun by both armies, he did not in any wise suffer from personal outrage or loss of property.
Disposing of his interests in the Blue Grass State in the year above mentioned, Mr. .Smith came to Kansas and purchased city property in Wellington, also farm lands in Sumner County. He has one hundred and sixty acres adjoining the city limits besides other lands in different parts of the county, and has been identified with many of the enterprises which have assisted in the growth and prosperity of Wellington. He was instrumental in the organization of the State Bank, of which he was elected President, and still holds this office. During his early manhood he was a Whig, politically, but later developed into a Jeffersonian Democrat, he was prominent in the politics of his native State and represented Warren County in the Kentucky Legislature, casting his vote for James B. Beck for Senator. Since coming to Kansas, among other positions of trust and responsibility, he served one term as Mayor of Wellington. As a financier he stands pre eminent, and is now in the enjoyment of not only a large share of this world’s goods, but the confidence and esteem of his fellowmen. Of late years he has operated extensively as a money loaner.
Mr. Smith was married in his native county, in 1857, to Miss Rebecca Shobe. Mrs. Smith like her husband, was born in Warren County, Ky., and there reared to womanhood, receiving a common-school education, and becoming versed in all useful household duties. The twelve children born of this union were named respectively: Herschel P., Jesse G., Moses S., Carrie C. L., Anna, Golsen N., Girden B., Walter, Hannibal, P. F., Talmadge and Dudley.