Marshall County

SMITH, James

James SMITH, of La Prairie township, is a worthy representative of that hardy race whose love for their own land – “bonnie Scotland” – never dies. The habits and customs of the race have a peculiar fascination, and however widely separated from their own land, the true Scotchman never loses his interest in it. As citizens of the new world, there are none better, and no section of the country but has a hearty welcome for these people.

The first to locate in this section of Illinois from Scotland was George SCOTT, who located in the northern part of Peoria county, near the Marshall county line, in 1836 or 1837, near where the McLAUGHLINs now reside. He came from Dumfriesshire, Scotland, but after a residence of about ten years returned to his native land and there died. Mr. SCOTT was an uncle of our subject.

The second family to locate here was that of William SMITH, the father of James. His wife was Romina SCOT, a sister of George SCOTT. They came to this locality in 1840 from Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and settled at “Hardscrabble,” Steuben township, on a farm belonging to John HAMMETT. The farm was on the prairie adjoining the timber. Here William SMITH lived for three years, dying in the spring of 1843. His family consisted of three sons and one daughter – William, James, Andrew and Mary. The latter married Robert TURNBULL, of La Prairie township, and died some years since. William yet resides in La Prairie township, and is a highly respected farmer.

Some five years after the death of the father the family removed to the school section in La Prairie township, and together improved the farm on which James SMITH now resides. One by one they each went to farms of their own in due time. Andrew remained at home with his widowed mother and tenderly cared for her until her death, August 13, 1886, when nearly eighty years of age. He never married. His own death occurred September 25, 1890.

Andrew SMITH was an active and thorough-going business man, attending strictly to his own private affairs and never thrusting himself upon the attention of others, but was always ready to aid with his influence and means all projects for the material interests of his adopted county and nation. In the establishment of the woolen mill at Lacon he was an active participant, and together with Archibald RIDDELL became the heaviest stockholders and served as a director, retaining his interest in the manufactory until his death. He was also one of the original stockholders in the Lacon bank, and for years was one of its board of directors. As a farmer, he ranked among the best in Marshall county, everything around him betokening thrift and a watchful eye. There was no detail of the farm work that he did not give his personal attention to, and as a stock raiser he was eminently successful and for some years annually fed many head of cattle and hogs. His investments were all carefully made and few mistakes were ever made by him. In addition to his landed interests in Marshall county, he invested in land in Iroquois county, which he had improved and which he still owned at the time of his death. A liberty loving man, on the organization of the republican party he became a strong advocate of its principles. His death was deeply lamented by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

James SMITH first saw the light of day in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, May 9, 1825, and came with his parents to the United States when but fifteen years of age. He remained at home and was in partnership with his brother until his marriage, March 14, 1858, with Miss Lucy CANTERBURY, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who came to this country when a young miss. She was a daughter of William CANTEBURY, who settled in Marshall county about 1855, some three years prior to her marriage.

Shortly after his marriage, Mr. SMITH secured one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 9, La Prairie township, for which he paid nine hundred dollars. To this farm he removed with his young bride, and there lived until just before the war, when he purchased a partially improved farm adjoining, of one hundred and sixty acres, for which he paid nine thousand dollars. Here they resided until 1892, when he removed to the old home of his brother Andrew, who had died two years previously.

Mr. SMITH still retains his farm on section 9, consisting of one half section, and also owns a quarter section on section 5, Steuben township, which he has rented. The old farm he personally superintends. Like his brother, James SMITH has been a successful farmer and wise manager, giving personal attention to every department of farm work. He was also one of the first stockholders in the woolen mill, and also in the bank at Lacon, and has been a director in each. The former has not been a very successful institution financially, but the latter has always paid reasonably well.

Mr. SMITH has not confined his attention exclusively to Marshall county, but has invested largely in Vermilion county lands, owning there about nine hundred acres, divided into four farms, which he leases to other parties. His faith in the land of his adoption is evidenced by his investments.

Mrs. SMITH, who was of excellent character, a loving wife and mother, passed to her reward February 20, 1878, leaving a family of five children, three dying in early childhood. The living are Fanny G., now the wife of Lewis CALDER, who resides near the old home farm; Mina, wife of Charles MONIER, a son of William MONIER, well known throughout Marshall and adjoining counties; Mary B., Sarah, and Lucy, all at home. The latter is a music teacher in Kendall College, Muscogee, Indian Territory. She was educated in and is a graduate of Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

In politics, Mr. SMITH is a thorough and uncompromising republican, and while caring nothing for the honors of local office, has served at different periods for several years as supervisor from his township. He has also served in other local offices and represented his county in various county conventions. A continuous resident for over fifty-six years in Marshall county, our subject has gone in and out among its people, at all times enjoying the confidence and respect of all. Coming to this country a poor boy, without friends, by his industry and careful management he has become possessed of much of this world’s goods, and his success in life should be an incentive to all struggling youths and an assurance that the way to prosperity is open to every one.

Extracted April 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

James SMITH is one of the venerable citizens of Marshall county, having attained the age of eighty-one years. He is, moreover, one of the most extensive landowners of the county, his possessions aggregating sixteen hundred acres. His extensive holdings are the visible evidence of a life of thrift and enterprise, for all that he possesses has come to him as the reward of his energy and perseverance. He was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, May 9, 1825. His father, William SMITH, was likewise a native of Dumfriesshire, and was married in that country to Miss Wilmina SCOTT, who was also born there. He came to the United States in 1840 and established a home in Steuben township, Marshall county, but afterward removed to Peoria county, where Mr. SMITH carried on general farming. He voted with the republican party, and died in 1843. His widow survived, and died in 1882 at the home of her son Andrew when she was eighty years of age. In the family were three sons and one daughter: William, now a retired farmer living in Sparland; James, of this review; Andrew, who was born in 1827 and died at the home of his brother James in 1891; and Mary, who married Robert TURNBULL, whose sketch is found elsewhere in this work.

Mr. SMITH, whose name introduces this record, spent the days of his youth in the land of hills and heather. He attended school there and in 1840, when a youth of fifteen years, accompanied his parents on their emigration to the new world, his first home in this country being in Steuben township. He began farming on his own account in 1848, and throughout his entire life has carried on agricultural pursuits. The record of his business is one of ceaseless toil, carefully directed labor and of unfaltering enterprise. He started out empty-handed, having no capital nor influential friends to aid him, but he carefully saved his earnings and in due course of time made investment in property. He has since added to his holdings, until he is now the owner of eight hundred acres in Marshall county and over eight hundred acres in Vermilion county, thus gaining a place among the wealthy residents of this part of the state. He is now the only living original stockholder of the Lacon First National Bank, and is also a stockholder in several banks in different parts of the state.

In 1856 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. SMITH and Miss Lucy CANTERBERRY, who was born in the town of Rathdrum, in the county of Wicklow, Ireland, and who departed this life in 1878, leaving five children: Fannie, who is now the wife of Louis KELTER, a farmer of La Prairie township; Wilhelmina, the wife of Charlie MONIER, who is- also farming in La Prairie township; Mary B., at home: Sarah, the wife of Charles COLLINS, a farmer of La Prairie; Lucy, at home; Hettie and Alda, both deceased; and Willie, who died in infancy. Mrs. SMITH is a member of the Episcopal church.

Mr. SMITH is a republican who has given inflexible support to the principles of the party since its organization. He acted as supervisor during the war and several other times was elected to that office until he finally refused to serve any longer. He has also been road commissioner and school director for a number of terms. His life record may well serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement to others, showing what may be accomplished by determined purpose and unfaltering energy. It proves that success is not a matter of genius as held by many, nor does it depend upon fortunate circumstances and environments. It may be achieved through close application and unfaltering diligence and it has been upon that foundation that Mr. SMITH has built his prosperity until he is now one of the wealthiest residents of the entire county, his possessions being equaled by few, if any, of the inhabitants of this district. Moreover, in all his relations he has been honorable and upright and thus bears an untarnished name.

Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.

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