Biography of Barton Smith
Lucas County, OH Biographies





Prominent among the distinguished representatives of the Toledo bar is Barton Smith, who completed his law course in the University of Michigan in 1875 and has since devoted his attention to active practice. His birthplace was a farm at Channahon, Will county, Illinois, and his natal day June 2, 1852. He was the eldest in a family of ten children whose parents were Charles Claibourne and Corinza (Burr) Smith, the father being a farmer and stock. raiser of Will county, Illinois, where he passed away in 1892. The mother, a native of Indiana, had become a resident of Will county, in 1832 and at the time of her demise was the oldest continuous resident of that county. She was a descendant of the well known Burr family of Hartford, Connecticut, whose ancestors were established on American soil in 1630.

Liberal educational advantages were accorded Barton Smith, who supplemented his early public school training by study in the University of Michigan, there completing his literary course with the class of 1872, at which time the Bachelor of Science degree was conferred upon him with commencement honors for scholarship. The succeeding year was spent on his father's farm and in that period he became thoroughly convinced that he desired to enter upon a professional career. Accordingly he returned to Ann Arbor and there pursued his law course to his graduation in 1875, receiving his LL. B. degree. It was upon the advice of Judge Cooley, one of the most eminent American lawyers and jurists and formerly an instructor in the University of Michigan, that Mr. Smith came to Toledo immediately after the completion of his law course. Here he entered into partnership with Frederick L. Geddes and when that firm was dissolved in July, 1881; he becathe a partner in the firm of Baker, Smith & Baker, the association being maintained until the death of the senior partner, William Baker, in November, 1894. The practice was then continued by Barton Smith and Rufus H. Baker under the style of Smith & Baker until 1914, when they were joined by Erwin R. Effler and Maurice Allen, and later LeRoy E. Eastman was admitted to partnership under the present style of Smith, Baker, Effier, Allen & Eastman, recognized as one of the leading law firms of Ohio. At an early period of his professional career Mr. Smith became attracted by real estate law, in which he specialized, his marked ability soon obtaining for him a substantial degree of success. Regarding Mr. Smith's professional experience and character, the well known Judge John H. Doyle said: "He possesses the clearest and most analytical mind of any man of his age that I have met. He is great in the solution of intricate legal questions involving philosophical study. He has a peculiarly logical mind and is a great student of the authorities. He is very popular and successful. He is an intense man, earnest, self-sacrificing in his duties; thorough, working out every detail and examining every authority, even at the sacrifice of his health. He is very strong before a jury, a fascinating speaker - logical, clear, pointed and impressive, always courteous toward opposing counsel. He is a man of spotless character. I know no man who is his superior in personal integrity and none who has a higher sense of professional honor." Possessed of these qualities, it is not remarkable that Mr. Smith has so long maintained a most honored and honorable position as a representative of the legal profession in Ohio. He has long specialized in corporation law and with this branch of jurisprudence is notably familiar. He has represented some of the most important business interests operating in the state, including the Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company, the Milburn Wagon Company, the Toledo Blade Company and the Sun Oil Company. Mr. Smith has been identified with the Toledo Blade Company since 1879, became a director in 1883 and in 1920 was made president of the corporation. He has conducted much important litigation in behalf of the city, winning success for Toledo in the memorable case that arose out of the City Pipe Line litigation. He was also instrumental in sustaining the validity of the legislation under which the present splendid filtration plant of Toledo was constructed. He became attorney for the street railway companies upon their consolidation and for thirty-two years occupied the position of corporation lawyer with the street railway interests, promoting in a measure much of the development of the line, leading ultimately to the present organization.

Aside from his profession Mr. Smith has rendered most active service in behalf of public welfare along many lines. Such is the public regard for his opinion that his endorsement of a measure is sure to secure for it a strong following. He has always given .his political allegiance to the democratic party and has been a thorough and discriminating student of the important issues that have divided the two great parties. He served as a delegate. to the democratic national convention in Chicago, where he opposed bimetallism. He has never consented to serve in political office, however, and has held no positions of public preferment save that of member of the school board, the cause of education finding in him a stalwart champion and one whose labors have been indeed far-reaching and beneficial. In May, 1921, Mr. Smith was appointed by President Harding representative of the United States on the arbitral commission for the determination of the claim of Landreau against the republic of Peru and sat at the hearing and determination of the commission at London, England, in October, 1922.

On Christmas day of 1877, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss May Searles, a native of Kendall county, Illinois, and they became parents of a son and a daughter. The former, Clifford Charles, was graduated from the Toledo high school in 1897 and afterward became a student in the University of Michigan but near the close of his freshman year was drowned, on the 6th of June, 1899, when but twenty years of age. A young man of splendid prospects, strong intellectual powers and most pleasing personality, his death was deeply deplored. The daughter, Mildred Barton, was graduated from Smead Seminary in Toledo, studied for a year at Geneva, Switzerland, and is now the wife of Maurice Allen, who is one of her father's law partners.

Mr. Smith is very prominent in Masonic circles, having joined Sanford L. Collins Lodge, No. 396, F. & A. M., in 1876. He at once began to study the great basic principles upon which the order is founded and they called forth his keenest endorsement. He was soon elected to a minor position in the craft and since that time has steadily advanced until he is one of the most widely known Masons in the entire country. When a contest was on between the Masonic bodies and the spurious branch known as Cerneauism he was employed to conduct the litigation and was the constant adviser of the grand master in this particular. He won victory in the contest in both the grand lodge and in the courts. His valuable service to the fraternity is indicated in the fact that in 1887 the honorary thirty-third degree was conferred upon him and in' 1894 he was crowned an active member of the Supreme Council thirty-third degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U. S. A. Two years later he was made grand master of the grand lodge and grand commander of the grand commandery of Ohio, filling both positions at the same time with marked capability. In 1907 he was a delegate to the Conference of Supreme Councils of the World in Brussels and was vice president of this conference, which met at Washington three years later and again at Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1922. He was deputy for Ohio from January, 1906, until appointed puissant grand lieutenant commander in 1909. In September, 1910, he was called to the highest office, that of most puissant sovereign grand commander, continuing therein until September, 1921. In fact, Mr. Smith has filled every office within the gift of the Masonic order and some of his other honors in this connection are as follows: He was made an honorary member of Detroit Commandery, No. 1, K. T., in 1881; honorary member of the Supreme Council for France in May, 1912; honorary member of the Supreme Council for Mexico, November 27, 1912; honorary member of the Supreme Council for Greece in December, 1912; honorary member of Delaware Consistory, Wilmington, Delaware, May 23, 1913; honorary member of the Supreme Council. for Canada, October 23, 1913; honorary member of the Masonic Veterans Association of Illinois in 1915; honorary life member of Ohio Consistory, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 25, 1916; honorary member of the American Consistory Club, organized from members of the soldier class from Camp Meigs at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November, 1917; honorary member of the. Barton Smith National Defense Class, organized from class of three hundred and thirty-seven members of the Officers' Training Camp at Plattsburg, New York, November 24, 1917; honorary member of the Supreme Council for England, Wales and the Dependencies of the British Crown, May 16, 1918; and honorary member of the American Masonic Club, U. S. A., P. 0. 708, A. E. F., June 1, 1918. This is a club of Master Masons, representing about one hundred and seventy-five blue lodges throughout the United States. He was likewise made an honorary member of the Scottish Rite Association of Norwalk, Ohio, in February, 1919; honorary sovereign grand commander of the Supreme Council of Italy, April 30, 1919; honorary president of the Masonic Committee of the Jubilee at Rome, September 20, 1920; and honorary member of the Supreme Council of Colon for Cuba, March 12, 1921. He is an honorary member of Barton Smith Lodge, No. 613, F. & A. M., of Toledo, named in his honor, and he has been termed "the most eminent Masonic statesman and the greatest Masonic executive of his time" In every field of labor to which he has directed his efforts results highly satisfactory have been obtained. He never stops short of the successful accomplishment of his purpose and thus it is that he has rendered signal service to mankind, because at all times he has been actuated by the highest principles and most advanced ideals. Few men have so fully realized and met the obligations of life or have realized to a greater degree the opportunity for service. No opportunity of this character has he neglected and throughout the years of his residence in Toledo his course has reflected credit and honor upon the people who have honored him.

From:
Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio
1623-1923
BY: John M. Killits, A.M., LL.D.
S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago and Toledo
1923


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