Biography of Capt. Henry Smith
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





CAPT. HENRY SMITH. - Familiarity with the life of a sailor extending back to early life in England, where he was born in Suffolk county October 22, 1842, and including experiences on the high seas in every part of the world, admirably qualifies Captain Smith for the very responsible position which he has filled since 1897, viz.: that of superintending the beacon lights in Humboldt bay as an employe of the United States government. Native ability and long experience combine to equip him for his important duties. He can scarcely recall a time when he was not interested in the sea and more or less acquainted with ocean going craft. When only a boy he made his first voyage from London to Australia on the ship Francis Henty, and altogether he made four round trips between London and Australia. During one of these voyages to the island continent he stopped off at New Zealand and engaged in mining, but met with so little success that he turned his thoughts toward immigration to America. The bark Gertrude, built in Bath, Maine, was the ship on which he sailed from Sidney, Australia, to San Francisco, Cal., and thence he sailed north on the bark Metropolis, Capt. George F. Smith, commander, arriving at Eureka on New Year's day of 1863. The new year meant for him a beginning in a new locality in the midst of an environment and conditions different from those of his boyhood, but he speedily proved himself the master of a sailor's duties on a western vessel and during 1863 proved a most efficient assistant on the bark Rival, that sailed to Victoria, British Columbia, under Captain Blair as commander.

After having engaged during February, 1864, with Capt. H. H. Buhne, commander, on the tugboat Mary Ann, Captain Smith embarked in freight boating on the Dirigo to all the ports on Humboldt bay. During the period of employment in freighting he made a voyage to England and there married Eliza Simmonds, who was born in London and died in Humboldt county in 1902. The six children of the marriage are named as follows: Mrs. J. P. Borg, William J. Smith, Mrs. Ida M. Alexander, Charles H., Mrs. Maude B. Luberg and Fred Smith. During 1869 Captain Smith began to operate the steamboat Gussie McAlpine, from Eureka to the Arcata wharf, and later he ran the Sylvia between Eureka and Hoolcton. Beginning in 1875, he remaine4 for eighteen years in the employ of John Vance and ran a steamboat to the Mad river slough. While with Mr. Vance he towed all of the rock used in the building of the West Seal Rock lighthouse. After leaving the employ of Mr. Vance he ran the steamer Phoenix for the Excelsior Redwood Company until 1897, when he entered the employ of the government, in connection with the lighthouse service in Humboldt bay. Deeply interested in everything pertaining to the ocean steamship service or bay transportation, he nevertheless has not neglected the ordinary duties of citizenship and may be found at all times favoring movements of undoubted merit and genuine public utility. When a boy in England he was confirmed in the Church of England and after coming to America identified himself with the Episcopal faith. Religious enterprises, as well as those of a strictly civic nature, receive his earnest support, nor has he been lacking in his support of all educational institutions, particularly the public schools of Humboldt county.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


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