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Biographical Sketch
John I. Smith
Brown County, Kansas


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The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

Gold Bar

John I. Smith, one of the prominent and representative farmers of Brown county, is numbered among the worthy citizens that Pennsylvania has furnished to the Sunflower state.  He was born in Somerset county April 14, 1844, and is a son of Jacob and Polly (Knepper) Smith, who also are natives of Pennsylvania, where they were married.  Her parents were John and Elizabeth Knepper, residents of the Keystone state, where they spent their entire lives.  Their children were: Louis, Solomon, David, John, Parenia, Sally, Elizabeth, Susan, Polly and Rebecca.

The family were Dunkards in religious faith. Jacob Smith, the paternal grandfather of our subject, removed from Pennsylvania to Wayne county, Ohio, where he spent his remaining days.  His children were: Simon; Joseph, a soldier of the Mexican War, who afterward went to Canada; George, who was a member of the army and died in the Soldier's Home in Dayton, Ohio; Elizabeth, Susan and Jacob J.

The last named was reared in Pennsylvania and there wedded Polly Knepper.  He owned and operated a woolen mill in the Keystone state, but it was burned down prior to his emigration westward.  In 1856 he removed with his family to Illinois, locating in Carroll county.  There he purchased land and carried on farming until 1874, when he sold the property and came to Brown county, Kansas.  Here he purchased and improved a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, making his home thereon for many years, but for a
few years prior to his death he lived in Morrill.

In his agricultural pursuits he was quite successful.  He was a man of bright mind, of sterling integrity and honor and through his belief in the goodness of others he frequently suffered losses.  In politics he was a Republican.

He died in 1891, but his wife yet resides in Morrill. They were members of the German Baptist Church and reared six children: John I.; James, who served in the Civil War; Ellen, the wife of B. Haldeman; Sarah, the wife of J. Burnworth; Elizabeth, the wife of J. Mickey; and Alvaro, a farmer.

J. I. Smith, whose name introduces this review, accompanied his parents to Illinois and was there reared to manhood.  He remained upon the home farm until his marriage in 1864, after which he settled on rented land until he purchased a farm of his own.  Not being able to meet the payments on this he afterward again rented land and in 1876 came to Kansas.

He was accompanied by his wife and children and they brought with them some of their household goods. After renting a farm here for three years Mr. Smith purchased 80 acres of wild land from Major Morrill.  He built a small frame house and bought material for building fences.  He paid for this by labor.  His capable management and excellent executive ability have enabled him to work his way steadily upward and he is now the owner of a valuable quarter section of land.  He has remodeled his home, which is now a commodious, two story frame residence.  Near by is a good barn and outbuildings and a well kept orchard yields its fruit in season.  He has also been enabled to aid his children in securing homes and his success has come through well directed efforts at farming and stock raising.

On the 3rd of July, 1864, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Adeline Meyers, who was born in Somerset county, Pennsylvania, April 24, 1843, a daughter of Elder Martin and Sally (Witt) Meyers, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania.  Her father was a minister and farmer and served his county as surveyor. In 1863 he removed to Illinois, locating in Carroll county, where he purchased a farm upon which he made his home until 1882, when he came to Kansas.

He died in 1895, respected by all who knew him.  After coming to this state a cataract on the left eye destroyed his sight and for seven years he was blind, but an operation removed the cataract and his sight was thereby restored.  He engaged both in preaching and farming and his influence for good in the community was most marked.  While in Pennsylvania he had also taught school in both the German and English tongues.  A well informed man,  his education was largely acquired through his own efforts outside of the school room.

His honesty was proverbial and at all times he was loyal to truth and right.  His political support was given the Republican party, but he was never an aspirant of office.  His wife survived him until August, 1898.  His brothers and sisters were Henry, Michael, John, Benjamin, Samuel, Jacob, Nancy, Susan, Elizabeth and Sarah.  He was the youngest.  By his marriage he became the father of fifteen children, namely: Mary, the wife of P. Blough; William a resident of Morrill; Elizabeth, the wife of S. Flickinger; Adeline, the wife of John I. Smith; Elias, of Falls City, Nebraska; Lydia, the wife of M. Whipkey; Harriet, the wife of J. E. Springer; Sarah, the wife of George W. Springer; Martin, a farmer; Rebecca, now Mrs. Fisher; George, who followed farming, but is now deceased; Michael, a twin brother of George, now engaged in merchandising in Morrill; David, also a merchant of Morrill; Anna, the wife of H. Beard; and Susan, the wife of William Sliffer.

All of the children reached mature years and George and Anna are the only ones now deceased.  The children of Mr. and Mrs. Smith are eight in number: John J. A., born September 23, 1866; Samuel J. B., born January 29, 1870, of Oklahoma; Martin A. B., born September 7, 1872; William H. L., born March 28, 1875, of South Dakota; Benjamin A. C., born February 2, 1882; Elizabeth S. E., July 16, 1885; Chester A. A., born March 4, 1888; and Edward E. E., July 14, 1890. 

The first four named are married. John resided upon a farm and was killed May 17, 1896, in the memorable cyclone that swept over this section of Kansas.  Their house and barn were destroyed and the wife afterward forsook her three children, two daughters and a son, namely: Letta V., June and Ervin.

She put them in an orphans' home in Omaha, but since that time homes have been found for them in private families.

Mr. Smith gives his political support to the men and measures of the Republican party and has filled various positions of honor and trust.  He was the township treasurer for three terms, has been a trustee, also the clerk for many years and has filled other local positions in a most creditable and acceptable manner. He was reared in the Dunkard church, but is not connected with any religious organization at the present time. His standard of morality, however, is high and his honesty is above question.  All who know him esteem him for his sterling worth and his circle of friends is extensive, including many of the best people of Brown county.

  Gold Bar

Last update: Friday, July 18, 2003 20:22:16

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