From A Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 519
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902 


   Nature is bountiful in the opportunities which she affords to man.  In every section of this vast land she has given to him opportunity to carry on some productive work which will yield a good return.  Central Kansas is one of the wheat producing sections in our nation and the broad prairies of the state also afford ample opportunity to the stock-raiser.  Both as an agriculturist and stock-raiser J A Smith is carrying on business that is bringing to him an excellent financial return.  He came to Rice county in 1879, and has never had occasion to regret his choice of a location for a home.  With firm faith in its future he began the work of developing a farm here, and his labors have been carried on so energetically that he is today numbered among the most prosperous and progressive farmers in this portion of the state.

   Mr Smith was born in Franklin county, Vermont, on the 10th of December, 1845.  His father, Allen Smith, was also a native of the Green Mountain state and belonged to an old family noted for industry, honesty and morality.  He married Miss Annis Rice, who was born in Vermont and likewise represented an ancestry honorable and distinguished.  Her father was Levi Rice, whose birth occurred in the Green Mountain state.  After residing for some years in New England Allen Smith and his family removed westward, taking up their abode in Will county, Illinois, near Joliet, in the year 1855.  They were among the early settlers there and the father developed and improved several farms, thus aiding largely in the work of upbuilding and substantial improvement in the county.  His wife died at the age of seventy-five years, but he reached the venerable age of eighty-six years.  In his political views he was a Republican, and both he and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, their lives being in harmony with their professions, winning for them the confidence and regard of all with whom they were associated.  They became the parents of eleven children, of whom ten are living, namely:  Elvira, who lives in Minnesota; Warner, who was a soldier in the Civil war and is now living in Wright county, Minnesota; Edgar, who also defended his country as a member of the Union army and is also a resident of Wright county; Edna Laura; Joseph A, of this review; Ezra; Oscar; Silas; Emma; and Olive, who died at the age of thirty-five years.

   Joseph A Smith was reared in Vermont until ten years of age, and then accompanied his parents on their emigration to the west, after which he lived upon his fatherís farm in Will county, Illinois.  He was early taught the power of industry and the value of honesty in the practical affairs of life.  He acquired his education in the public schools and through experience in the business world, supplemented by reading in leisure hours.  When a young man he sought as a companion and helpmate for lifeís journey Miss Jane E Ashton, and in Will county, Illinois, in 1876, they were married.  She was born in Vermont and is a daughter of Thomas and Marian (McClure) Ashton, also natives of the Green Mountain state.  Mrs Smith was only three years of age when she removed to Will county, Illinois.  The marriage of Mr and Mrs Ashton was blessed with seven children, but only four are now living:  Daniel, who was a soldier in the Civil war, serving with the Thirty-ninth Illinois Infantry, and is now a resident of Nickerson, Kansas; Mrs Smith; Mrs Caroline Hoover, of Alden, Kansas; and Myron, of Minnesota.  Three of the number passed away:  Sidney, who died in early manhood; and Maggie and Joshua, who died in childhood.  The father devoted his attention and energies to farming and thus provided for the support of his wife and children.  He died at the age of sixty-three years, in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he was a member.  His wife is also identified with the same church and is now living at the age of eighty-two years.

   The marriage of Mr and Mrs Smith has been blessed with two children, Rosetta and Arthur J, both at home.  Our subject continued his residence in Illinois until 1879, when he resolved to establish a home in Kansas and came to Rice county, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in Center township, and today he is the owner of one of the best farms in this locality.  An enumeration of the improvements upon the place include a good residence, a barn, a grove and orchard and the latest improved machinery, the improvements costing about three thousand dollars.  There are over two hundred trees upon the place, and the residence, well shaded, stands upon a natural building site, commanding an excellent view of the surrounding country.  Mr Smith also purchased and owns the Dave Burney farm of one hundred and sixty acres.  He has also another tract of eighty acres, so that his landed possessions now aggregate four hundred acres and he owns a good residence and a block of land in Lyons.  He is recognized as a very successful business man, possessing keen discernment and reliable judgment.  These qualities are supplemented by fair and honorable dealing, by unflagging industry and by laudable ambition and have gained for him a handsome competence.  He votes with the Republican party and is a stalwart advocate of its measures, which he believes to contain the best elements of good government.  He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and, realizing the object of the church in its efforts to benefit mankind, they have given to it an earnest support and are also in touch with its kindred movements of temperance and education.  The life of Mr Smith illustrates most clearly what can be accomplished by determined purpose.  He was without capital when he entered upon his business career, yet today he is numbered among the most prosperous farmers of his community, and this is the result not of influence or the aid of friends, but is the legitimate outcome of his own well directed efforts, his unflagging perseverance and industry and his zeal in business affairs.