Biography of William J. Smith
Erie County, OH Biographies





WILLIAM J. SMITH. In the fine little City of Huron Mr. Smith has built up a large and substantial business as a dealer in produce, and he has made a specialty of the buying and shipping of potatoes, a product for which this favored section of the Buckeye State has gained high reputation.

Mr. Smith takes justifiable pride in his ancestral history and is a scion of a family that was early founded in the State of Virginia, where his paternal grandparents passed their entire lives and where his father was born and reared, the name having been closely and successfully linked with agricultural enterprise in the historic Old Dominion. The grandparents of Mr. Smith attained to venerable age, both were consistent members of the Baptist Church, and they were residents of Cumberland County, Virginia, at the time of their death.

James Smith, father of the subject of this review, was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, in the early part of the nineteenth century, and his death occurred in the year 1855. He was a successful planter and was the owner of a number of slaves, these having been given by him to his brother Charles, as he had become convinced that within ten years all slaves would be given liberty, a prophecy that came true within the decade after his death. He personally held much antipathy to the institution of slavery but in a degree was constrained by the customs of his native state, within whose gracious borders he continued to reside until the close of his life. His widow, Mrs. Lucy Smith, came to Ohio after his death and passed the closing years of her life in the home of her son Robert, in Medina County, where she died at the venerable age of eighty four years of age, her earnest religious faith having been that of the Baptist Church. She became the mother of seven children, all of whom attained to years of maturity, the eldest of the number having been Rev. Charles Smith, who became a clergyman of the Methodist Church and who was a resident of Kentucky at the time of his death, one son and one daughter surviving him. Robert, whose wife is deceased, is still one of the substantial farmers of Medina County, and with him resides his brother John, who is a bachelor. William J., of this sketch, was the next in order of birth; Dr. Edward Smith became a successful physician and was a resident of Berea, Ohio, at the time of his death, several children surviving him. Nancy, who is the widow of Frank Peek, resides at Milan, Erie County, and has one son and one daughter. Mary is the wife of Charles Brasse, of Lorain County, and they have one daughter.

William J. Smith was born on the old home place in Cumberland County, Virginia. There he was reared to the age of nineteen years, and such were the conditions and exigencies of time and place that hp received in his youth practically no definite school advantages, but his alert mentality and broad and varied experience in later years having enabled him effectually to overcome this educational handicap.

In 1866, the year following the close of the Civil war, Mr. Smith provided a covered army wagon and a team of horses, and with this primitive vehicle he transported his mother and most of his brothers and sisters to Ohio, the' journey having covered a period of twenty seven days and the family having encamped at night by the wayside, while en route to the new home. Arriving at Union Corners, Erie County, the sons soon obtained a home for the family at Page's Corners, and later William obtained a position in the employ of Deacon Scott, under whose direction he acquired his first specific educational training, which was later supplemented by his attending school at Berea, Cuyahoga County. For many days he carried his books about with him when possible, and by his assiduous application in otherwise leisure moments he finally acquired a fair degree of scholastic training.

Since the year 1868 Mr. Smith has been a grower of potatoes, and in the initial stage of his enterprise along this line he paid two cents a pound for the famous old Early Rose variety of potatoes, his first crop having brought forth a splendid increase and netted him an appreciable profit. He finally extended his operations by engaging in the buying and shipping of potatoes, and with this branch of commercial enterprise he has been successfully identified for many years, so that he naturaliy pays due respect to the humble tuber which has in a sense been the basis of his prosperity. His operations have been of extensive order and he has gained throughout this section of Ohio the familiar and significant sobriquet of "Potato Smith," a distinction to which he has never objected in the least. Mr. Smith handles each year an average of 100 cars of potatoes, the product being purchased in Erie and adjoining counties and then shipped to the leading markets. Mt. Smith maintains his home at Huron, and is known and honored as one of the steadfast and reliable business men of the older generation in Erie County, where his circle of friends is limited only by that of his acquaintances.

Mr. Smith is a stalwart and well fortified advocate of the principles of the republican party, takes a loyal interest in public affairs of a local order and is now serving his second term as trustee of Huron Township. He is an ardent temperance man and his example is well worthy of emulation, for he has never taken a drink of spirituous liquor and never chewed or smoked tobacco. He is one of the most genial, optimistic and companionable of men, and a more loyal friend has never called for the friendship of others. He and his family hold membership in the Presbyterian Church.

In the City of Sandusky, this county, was solemized the marriage of Mr. Smith to Miss Louise Woodward, who was there born and reared and who is a daughter of Edward R. and Jane (Stapleton) Woodward, who were early settlers of that city, where they continued to reside until their death, Mr. Woodward having been for many years in charge of the oil department of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. at that point. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have four sons, all of whom have conferred honor on the name which they bear: Edward G., who is successfully established in business at Madison, Lake County, is married but has no children; William J. is identified with the sand industry at Sandusky, is married but has no children: Harvey W., who remains at the parental home, is associated with his father in the produce business and is an enterprising and popular young business man of his native county; Andrew is engaged in the grocery business at Huron, where he has a finely equipped store and caters to a representative trade: he married Miss Vera M. Hart, of this city, and they have a daughter, Vera May.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Erie County, Ohio
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium