W. D. SMITH was born in Meckienberg County, Virginia, June 1, 1861. His father, William A. Smith, enlisted in
the Confederate Army as a member of the 59th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers, in May, 1861. His father was killed
at the attle of Petersburg, Virginia, July 10, 1864, after having seen more than three years of active service
In the Confederate Army.
His mother having married a second time, the family came to Southwest Virginia, and located in the Clinch River
Valley in Scott County, near the Hagan Springs. Here young Smith lived until he was about 14 years old.
His opportunities for an education were limited. The public free schools had not yet gotten well under way, and
the private schools within his reach were not good. His attendance upon school was often Interrupted by the necessity
of turning aside to earn a livelihood. The family’s removal to the vicinity of Estillville brought him within reach
of Estillville Academy, then conducted by Prof. John B. Harr, an efficient and successful teacher. He entered the
academy and at once took high rank as a pupil.
Unfortunately another removal of the family took him out of school for a time, but Professor Harr, by this time
greatly interested In him, sought him out and generously provided the means for him to re-enter school. While in
school he was employed as a guard of the county jail by night, thus earning enough to defray his expenses in school.
He went from Estillvillc Academy to the Hamilton Institute, at Mendota, Virginia, a school then conducted by H.
H. Hamilton and H. W. Bellamy. He was a pupil of this school fer the period of three years.
On the completion of his course in Hamilton Institute, he became a teacher in the public free schools of his county
under the supervision of Dr. J. B. Wolfe, then county superintendent.
In 1886, W. D. Smith was appointed county superintendent of schools, an office for which his experience as a teacher
was an excellent preparation. He has held this office continuously from 1886 to the present time (1932). Superintendent
Smith has been closely identified with whatever educational progress the county has made during the more than forty
five years of his incumbency in office.
When he came into office, he found the public schools poorly housed in log buildings, without equipment of any
kind. He at once set for himself the task of providing better school buildings. The old buildings were discarded
as rapidly as possible, and more commodious frame or brick structures erected. Through his efforts, his county
was awarded the distinction for the best improvement in school buildings at the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition
As a benefactor to worthy and aspiring young men and women, struggling for an education, no one who has lived in
the county has equaled him. Many who have now reached mature life can attest the truth of the preceding statement.
In fact, helpful sympathy for young people which often took the form of financial aid to them is an outstanding
characteristic of him.
Superintendent Smith has never sought high political office though more than once such preferment could have been
his for the asking.
At various times, he has served as a member of the board of trustees for William and Mary College, for the State
Teachers' College, East Radford, Virginia, and for the Virginia Intermont College, Bristol, Virginia. His long
experience as a successful educator, taken with a very high order of executive ability, rendered his services valuable
on any board of trustees.
W. D. Smith, I. P. Kane, and N. M. Horton organized the First National Bank of Gate City.
November 14, 1895, he married Miss Sallie Lou Minnich, a lady of rare beauty, ability, and culture, who was a great
inspiration, and help to him in his various fields of labor. Their children are W. D., Jr., Rhea E., Howard C.,
and Sallie Lou.
History of Scott County, Virginia
By: Robert M. Addington
Privately Printed 1932
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