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Portrait And Biographical Record Of Northern Michigan
Containing Portraits And Biographical Sketches Of Prominent
And Representative Citizens
Record Publishing Co., 1895

Capt. John Smith from his boyhood has sailed the Great Lakes and been interested in shipping affairs. At various times he has been owner, part owner, of lake vessels and still has large sums of money thus invested. He is half-owner of the steamer "Mark B. Covell," used in carrying passengers, freight and lumber from Manistee to Milwaukee and making tri-weekly trips in season. He also owns the "Annie L. Smith," the "Fannie Parnell" and the "Ruby," three valuable vessels, the last of which he built himself.

A native of Newark, N.J., Captain Smith was born September 10, 1850. His parents were patrick and Bridget (Brain) Smith, natives of Ireland, whose marriage was celebrated in New Jersey. The father was a contractor on railroads, and also kept a livery stable in Newark. He removed to Chicago about 1856, and soon afterward was killed by a runaway team. His youngest son, Michael, is a resident of Manistee and captain of a tug boat. The daughter, Ellen, is the wife of Tony LeDuc, mechanic of this city. After the death of her first husband the mother became the wife of J.E. Rumbell, and died in Manistee March 24, 1894.

The father of Captain Smith died when he was only six years of age, and eight years later the boy was engaged to work on steamers plying the Great Lakes. For several years he was employed in various capacities, from that of cabin-boy upward, and managed to lay aside a large share of his earnings. In company with his step-father, he built a steam ferry-boat about 1872, and two years later built a new one, which was christened the "John Smith." This ferry he operated for several years, finally selling the boat and buying the "Dick Davis," which he employed in towing sawlogs for two seasons. Later he disposed of the vessel, but again repurchased it, under the name of the "Rumbell." About 1880 he owned a vessel called the "Tiger," employed in ferrying on Manistee Lake and River. Two years later he bought the "Annie L. Smith," which he still owns, and which is used in towing logs, boats, etc., in this vicinity. He became owner of the "Fannie Parnell" about 1884, and two years later, selling the "Rumbell," built the "Ruby" in its stead. For the past six years our subject has been employed on the shore, superintending work connected with his business. His principal source of revenue from his tugs in towing logs and schooners, their services being constantly in demand except for a short time during severe winter weather.

Christmas Day, 1876, Captain Smith married, in Leland, Mich., Miss Libbie Hawkins, a native of Canada, who came to this state with her parents when a child. The Captain and his wife began housekeeping in this city and have always had their home here. Four children have been born of their union: George A., Reuben, William and Lynn. The eldest is now bookkeeper in his father's office, and during the sessions of the business college at Big Rapids has been a student for a year, and expects to complete the course in 1895. The younger boys are attending local schools.

On questions of politics, Captain Smith is independent. Socially he is a member of the Ancient Order of the United Workmen and the Knights of the Maccabees. His family are members of the Guardian Angels' Catholic Church of this city.

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1895 Portrait And Biographical Record
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