Biography of James R. Smith
Decatur County, IA Biographies





JAMES R. SMITH.
For more than three decades James R. Smith was prominently identified with the agricultural interests of Decatur county but is now practically living retired in a comfortable home in Lamoni. He was born in Lewis county, New York; April 3, 1841, a son of Peter and Emmeline Smith, who were both natives of Germany but, emigrating to the new world in an early day, were identified with the farming interests of Lewis county for a long period. Both spent their remaining days in the Empire state and passed away there. In their family were three sons, one of whom is living in the east.

James R. Smith was reared in the Empire state to the age of sixteen years and during that time he acquired but a limited education. At that early age he heard and heeded the call of the west and accordingly, in 1857, made his way to Illinois, and found employment at farm work near Mendota, in La Salle county. He was married in Jo Daviess county, that state, in 1864 and in the fall of 1866 continued his journey westward to Decatur county, Iowa. In the following year, 1867, he located upon a farm southeast of Lamoni, which continued his home throughout a long period. When Mr. Smith came to Iowa he had three horses and a wagon and but a few hundred dollars in money. This money he invested in land, which was then in a wild state, for at that time this county was but sparsely settled and wild game was numerous. Mr. Smith went to work and in course of time had the raw land in a good state of cultivation. As he prospered he added to his holdings from time to time until he became the owner of a large amount of land, being at the present time the possessor of eight hundred and forty five acres. He not only raised the cereals best adapted to soil and climate but also engaged extensively in raising stock, making a specialty of high grade cattle, and this returned to him a good income. It was some twenty years ago that he removed to Lamoni and embarked in the grain business, becoming one of the largest buyers of grain in this section of the state. He also assisted in the organization of the Farmers State Bank at Lamoni and is still serving as its vice president. Eventually, however, he disposed of his business interests and for the past fourteen years has lived retired, giving his attention to his invested interests but leaving the active work of his farm to younger hands. He has been a successful man and his success is based largely upon the fact that he was thrown upon his own resources early in his career, which developed in him a spirit of self reliance and determination to make for himself a place in the middle west.

As previously stated Mr. Smith was married in Jo Daviess county, Illinois, in November, 1864, to Miss Eliza A. Graham, and in 1914, after a happy married life covering five decades, they celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of that event. Mrs. Smith was born in Stephenson county, Illinois, a daughter of Theodore and Lena (Tucker) Graham, natives of Ohio and Missouri, respectively. They were married, however, in Illinois. In 1866, the same year of the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Iowa, they, too, journeyed to Decatur county and Mr. Graham purchased a farm located south of Davis City and west of Pleasanton, in Hamilton township There he was busily engaged for many years with the improvement and cultivation of his place but both he and his wife departed this life many years ago. He was successful in his undertakings and was a stanch supporter of the republican party. Of their family two sons and four daughters survive: Mrs. Viola Landphair, of Pleasanton, Iowa; Mrs. Warren Little, of Missouri; Mrs. Lydia M. Olds, of Jo Daviess county, Illinois; Mrs. Smith; 'William H., who is living retired in Lamoni, Iowa; and Benjamin F., who makes his home in Harrison county, Iowa.

To Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born eight children, of whom six survive and all but one were born in Iowa. Clarence F., a farmer and stockman of Lamoni, is married and has one daughter. Theodore J., who also follows farming and stock raising near Lamoni, is likewise married and has a family Minnie B. is the wife of D. F. Kaller, a traveling salesman, who makes his home in Lamoni. Gertie is the wife of Bert Teale, of Mount Ayr, Iowa. Louie is the wife of A. Otis White, who is engaged in the undertaking business in Lamoni. Arthur H. is married and has one child. He is now operating the home farm near Lamoni.

Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Smith has given stalwart support to the republican party and has served as a member of the board of supervisors, while for the past thirty years he has acted as school treasurer, a fact indicative of the confidence reposed in him by his fellow townsmen. In matters of religion he and his family affiliate with the Methodist church, and fraternally he is a Mason, belonging to the blue lodge at Lamoni. The position he has attained and the success he has won is the outcome of energy and perseverance intelligently applied in his early manhood. To few is accorded the privilege of traveling the journey of life together for a period of more than fifty years as Mr. Smith and his estimable wife have done and to few is accorded the high regard and esteem that this venerable couple enjoy from all with whom they are brought in contact.

From:
History of Decatur County, Iowa
And its People
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915


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