Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 802
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
PHILLIP A. SMITH
In every community the pioneer is justly marked for special honor. Those who share in the benefits of civilization give due credit to those who made possible the blessing which they enjoy. Among the pioneers of Rice county, Kansas, who have been witnesses of its development and are still left to plan for its future, none were more highly respected than Phillip A Smith, of Little River.
Phillip A Smith was born in Knox county, Illinois, December 5, 1843, and was reared on his father’s farm and educated in the common school. His parents, John and Mary (Ginrich) Smith, were born in Pennsylvania, where they married. John Smith was a son of Conrad Smith, a farmer who also was a native of Pennsylvania, but was descended from German stock. Conrad Smith was a soldier in the war of 1812, and did creditable service as a member of a Pennsylvania organization. He combined distilling with farming and in other ways was a man of decided enterprise. He removed from Pennsylvania to Illinois in 1836, and was a pioneer in Knox county, where he settled on land three years before it came into market. Then, in order properly to enter the land and make his proprietorship of it secure, he made the journey to Quincy and returned on foot. He improved a good farm and extended his landed possessions until he owned three hundred and fifty acres. He began life in Illinois in a log house, but later built a large frame house and ample barns and provided his farm with every essential to thorough and effective farming. He died at his homestead in 1864, at the ripe age of eighty-eight years. His children were named John (father of the subject of this sketch), Betsy, Jacob, George, Peter, Charles, Michael, Conrad, Rebecca, Catherine, Mary A, Barbara and Henry. The honored pioneer who was the father of these children was a lifelong member of the Lutheran church.
John Smith, father of Phillip A Smith, was born, reared and married in Pennsylvania. He remained at home until he was twenty-five years old, doing farm work and assisting his father about the distillery. He then married and began farming on his own account and in 1835 removed to Illinois and entered land in Knox county, where he improved a farm and became a citizen of prominence and influence. When he settled there the country was new and sparsely settled and there were few neighbors within many miles. His financial ability was small at the beginning, but he was a hard worker and he was determined to succeed. He paid for and improved his original farm and as opportunity offered bought other land adjoining it until he owned three hundred and fifty-four acres, all under profitable cultivation. On his land were a commodious residence, large barns and many outhouses besides three tenant houses. This fine property he acquired by hard work and good management, dealing fairly and honestly with all with whom he had business relations. He was born December 9, 1804, and died in October, 1886. His wife was born in December, 1811, and died in March, 1892. They were Lutherans throughout life. They had nine children, who were born in the order in which they are here named: Susan married a Mr Hendirckson. Leah died young. John and Mary J were twins, and Mary J married A Johnson. Margaret married J Hefferman. Phillip A is the immediate subject of this sketch. Sarah A married H T Sloan. Alexander is a prominent farmer of Little River township, Rice county, Kansas. Amanda married F Hurlocker.
Phillip A Smith was born, reared and educated in Illinois and remained under the parental roof until 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, Eighty-third Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which was included in the Army of the Cumberland. He served continuously until after the close of the war and did much hard and dangerous duty, participating in long forced marches, in numerous skirmishes and in some of the most desperate battles of the war. During all that time he never shrank from duty and was never absent on furlough, and was never wounded or made prisoner. One can scarcely conceive of a more faithful soldier. When the war closed he was at Clarksville, Tennessee. He was mustered out of the service at Nashville, Tennessee, and sent to Chicago, Illinois, where he was paid off and honorably discharged. Then, after three years of unbroken absence from home, he returned and resumed farming with his father.
In 1866 Mr Smith married and settled on a rented farm. He remained in Illinois until 1878, when he went to Kansas and bought land there. In 1879 he brought his family to the state by the ordinary modes of travel and settled where he now lives. He had made a good selection of land in the second bottom of Little River valley, where he had bought from a railroad company one hundred and sixty acres of smooth prairie, on which grew neither a tree nor a shrub. He built a small box house and got his family under its roof and then began breaking land. He carried the work of improvement and cultivation forward year after year, and achieved a satisfactory success. When he located in Rice county the country was new and its people were poor, and in many minds there was doubt that the country would ever “amount to much’” but the people were persevering and resourceful and studied the land and found out how to work it to good advantage and eventually prospered, and Mr Smith prospered with his neighbors. By hard work and good management, he made his farm one of the best in the vicinity. It is fenced off into fields, pastures, orchard, and is dotted here and there with fine groves which he regards with much pride, for he sent back to Illinois and procured the maple seed and saw the trees grow where nothing had grown before. His house on this farm is two and a half miles south of the town of Little River, and it is surrounded by ample barns and other outbuildings. While giving his attention principally to farming, he raised some stock. A quiet man with no aspiration for political position, he has during all his mature life been a careful student of economic conditions. While he was firm in his convictions concerning questions of public policy, he was always open to new impression and, consequently, in 1900, those who knew that he had been reared a Democrat were not greatly surprised when he announced himself a Republican.
Mr Smith married Miss Melissa Ebright, a woman of many good qualities of mind and heart, who was born in Ohio, February, 5, 1844, a daughter of E G and Ruth (Pyle) Ebright, who were natives respectively of Ohio and Virginia. Mr and Mrs Ebright removed to Indiana and later to Illinois and in 1857 they settled in Knox county in the state last mentioned, on a rented farm. Later they bought a farm where they lived many years and where Mrs Ebright died. In 1880 Mr Ebright went to Kansas, where he again married and settled in Rice county, on a farm on which he remained until his death, which occurred November 6, 1891. His first wife was a worthy and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and he was a devoted Christian and an active church worker and was a class-leader for more than forty years. A man of the broadest sympathy, he was always actuated by a feeling of charity toward all mankind. Mr and Mrs Ebright had only one child, Melissa, who married Phillip A Smith. Mr and Mrs Smith had children named as follows: Ada A, who died in 1889, aged twenty years; Emory E, a farmer in Little River; Delta O, and Ira F, farmers in Rice county; Lettie M, Sidney E and Arthur J, members of the parental household. Mrs Smith is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of the various interests of which Mr Smith is a liberal supporter. Mr Smith was identified with the Masonic fraternity, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Grand Army of the Republic. He passed away October 4, 1901.