This gentleman has been for many years the favorite boot and shoe manufacturer and dealer in Fortville, Hancock County, Indiana and has been a resident of the village for the past thirty-six years. he was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania, April 20, 1844, a son of Beneville and Hannah (Ulrich) Smail, natives of the same county who came west in a wagon in 1849 and first located in Sidney, Shelby county, Ohio, but a year later removed to Allen county, Ohio. Here the father died in 1859 at the age of thirty-six years, and his family, consisting of the mother, two sons and three daughters, returned to Sidney, Ohio, where the mother afterwards remained until death.
In July, 1863, Mr. Smail enlisted for the Civil War, subject o call, belonging to the National guards, but was never called out. He learned the shoemaker s trade of David McCabe in Sidney, Ohio, and January 2, 1866, came to Fortville, Indiana, remained until the following May, and then went back to Sidney, where he was engaged at his trade until December of that year. He came again to Fortville and here married on January 20,. 1867, Miss Josephine Melvina Stuart, a daughter of Dr. J. G. Stuart, then a distinguished physician of Hancock county, but now deceased. Shortly after Mr. Smail s marriage he established a boot and shoe factory, and in 1878 added a stock of ready-made footwear to his homemade goods and since that time, until August, 1902, he conducted the only shoe-store of any note in the village. To this stock he, by degrees, drifted into general merchandising and before the year had closed was doing the largest business in this line for miles around and carried a most extensive assortment of miscellaneous goods suited to the wants of the ordinary patron and adapted to the taste of the most fastidious. He also purchased a very valuable ranch at Rolla, Missouri, in 1901, but this he leaves to the management of his son, John Charles.
When Mr. Smail first settled in Fortville it was a small crossroads village and he was the first to construct a foot-walk, which led to his store-building and afterwards was branched off in different directions; he also erected the first modern house and laid out the first garden. To Mr. and Mrs. Smail have been born five children, viz: Clara May, who died at the age of two years, John Charles, Mary Melvina, Horace Beneville and Oma Eliza.
Fraternally, Mr. Smail is the second oldest member of Edwards Lodge No. 178, I.O.O.F. at Fortville, which he joined in 1878. He is also a charter member of Lodge No. 404, K.P., of Fortville. In politics, he is a Prohibitionist and is very emphatic in the advocacy of the principles of his party.
As a citizen Mr. Smail is very public-spirited and is ready at all times to promote with his means and influence all projects designed for the good of the public and as a business man he is one of the shrewdest and most enterprising in Vernon township. It may not be amiss to state that the ancestors of Mr. Smail were driven from Germany through religious persecution to Wales, thence they came to America.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 428-429.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI Aug 15, 2006.
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