The gentleman to whom attention is herewith respectfully invited is one of the brave men who went to the front in the troublous times of the great Civil war, and not only fought the enemies of free government that America’s cherished institutions might not be destroyed, but shed much precious blood which mingled with that of many other gallant heroes on the battlefield of the sunny Southland. In the peaceful pursuits of civil life he long since won a conspicuous place in the community, where in the humble sphere of private citizenship and as a trusted public servant, in a position involving great responsibilities, his career has been such as to commend him to the people as a man worthy of the honor and high esteem in which he is held.

William G. Smith is a native of the grand old commonwealth of Ohio, a state which has furnished Indiana with many of its most intelligent and enterprising citizens. He was born in the county of Coshocton, November 9, 1840, the son of Martin and Rebecca (Welling) Smith, the father a native of Coshocton and the mother of Harrison county. Martin Smith farmed in his native county and state until 1850, at which time he sold his possessions there and came to Hancock county, Indiana, purchasing a quarter section of unimproved land in the township of Buck Creek. He there lived in a log cabin of the conventional type and by much hard labor succeeded in clearing the greater portion of his land, which in the course of time became one of the best improved farms in the township. He continued to live thereon and prosper until 1878, when he sold the place and took up his abode in the village of Philadelphia, thence later moved to Greenfield, in which city his death occurred in March, 1886, his wife preceding him to the silent land in August of the previous year.

Martin Smith was a man of steadfast purpose, strictly honorable in all things, and by industry, energy and perseverance obtained a sufficiency of this world’s goods to place himself in comfortable circumstances. In politics he was a Whig and later a Republican. He was also a deeply religious man, and did much in an early day for the Methodist church, of which he and wife were devoted members. The family of Martin and Rebecca Smith consisted of nine children, whose names are as follows: Dorcas married John Ash, of Crawfordsville, Indiana; William G.; Ellen became the wife of A. P. Hogle, of Palestine; Rebecca, wife of G. E. Ewbank of Indianapolis; James H., who is now living in Wyoming; Martin H., farmer of Center township; Arminta married M. T. Duncan; and two who died in infancy.

William G. Smith was a lad of about ten years when his parents moved to Hancock county and he received a limited education in the district schools of his neighborhood. He worked on the farm until the breaking out of the great Rebellion, when he joined Company C., Fifty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in 1861, and shortly after his enlistment was sent with his regiment to the army of the Mississippi, assisting in the opening of the river to Ft. Pillow. He participated in several of the bloodiest battles of the war, among the more noted of which were Farmington, siege of Corinth, Stone River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Resaca, all of the engagements from Chattanooga to Kenesaw Mountain and the Atlanta campaign.

Mr. Smith received his first wound in the battle of Stone River, where a grape shot came so close to the side of his head as to inflict a severe though not a dangerous injury. Had the course of the missive been the twentieth of an inch nearer him, his career as a defender of Old Glory would then and there have been terminated. At New Hope Church, in the Atlanta campaign, he received a gunshot wound in the left shoulder and hand; at Kenesaw Mountain, on the 27th of June, 1864, while in line attacking the enemy’s breastworks his right eye was shot out, his right shoulder receiving a slight wound and the fire of several hundred Rebels was centered upon him, his companions having already retreated, the wound in his head having so staggered him that he was not able to follow for some seconds. After these thrilling and dangerous experiences, he saw little active service and on the 22nd day of June, 1865, was honorably discharged with a record for bravery and gallantry of which any soldier might well feel proud.

Returning home immediately after leaving the army, Mr. Smith engaged in farming in Buck Creek township and continued as a tiller of the soil for a period of three years. He then abandoned agricultural pursuits and embarked in the mercantile business at Philadelphia, this county, handling groceries and dry goods, which he sold with fair success until about 1871. Disposing of his stock that year, he became engineer in a steam flouring-mill at Greenfield and continued in that capacity about five years, at the expiration of which time he gave up the position, and, purchasing one hundred and thirty-four acres of land in Buck Creek township, again turned his attention to farming. Mr. Smith remained on his place about four years and then returned to Greenfield for the purpose of resuming his work as an engineer, which he followed at liberal wages for a period of twelve years thereafter. He served in the city council three times and as a member of that body took a decided stand for all necessary improvements and used his influence in promoting much important municipal legislation the wisdom of which has since been demonstrated. In 1894 he was elected treasurer of Greenfield and as custodian of the public funds proved a safe and reliable official, discharging the duties of the position with ability and fidelity and retiring from the office in 1898 with an unblemished record.

Politically Mr. Smith is a Republican. He is zealous in upholding his principles and has rendered his party efficient service in a number of campaigns, usually representing his ward in conventions and taking an active part in their deliberations. Fraternally he holds membership in the Grand Army of the Republic and the Masonic order. In the former he has held all of the important offices, and among his most pleasing experiences is meeting with the veterans of former days and recalling with them the times when, as boys wearing the blue, they fearlessly met the enemy on the bloody field and offered their lives willing sacrifices upon the sacred altar of duty. As a Mason he belongs to the blue lodge, chapter and Eastern Star.

Mr. Smith’s religious belief is that preached and practiced by the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he has for a number of years been a consistent member. He continued actively engaged in his various vocations until 1890 when he retired from active life and is now spending his time pleasantly in his comfortable home in Greenfield. By diligence in business and careful economy, he has laid aside a sufficient competence to render his remaining years free from care and, surrounded by hosts of friends and everything calculated to make life desirable, his lot is indeed a most fortunate and happy one. In addition to a good home in the county seat and valuable personal property, including a liberal bank account, he owns a fine farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Buck Creek township.

Mr. Smith was married on the 22d of March, 1866, to Miss Kezziah E. Price, whose birth occurred in Coshocton county, Ohio. She bore her husband three children, and departed this life July 6, 1900, beloved by her immediate family and highly esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances in Greenfield and elsewhere. The first born of Mr. Smith’s children is Ada M., a scholarly and highly accomplished lady who was graduated in medicine at Atlanta, Georgia. She later took a post-graduate course at Indianapolis, and later spent two years in Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York City. She practiced her profession for some time in Atlanta, Georgia, and Greenfield. She died at Phoenix, Arizona, December 8, 1901, and is interred in Park cemetery in Greenfield. She had achieved distinction in her chosen calling, and was recognized as one of the most learned and successful physicians in the city. The second in order of birth, Chesteene W., received his preliminary education in the public schools of Greenfield, and later was graduated from DePauw University at Greencastle. He entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church, serving five years at Dublin, and is now serving his fifth year at Mishawaka, Indiana, where he has charge of one of the largest and most flourishing congregations of the Northern Indiana Conference. He married Miss Stella Jordan, and is classed as one of the most eloquent and popular young Methodist divines in Northern Indiana. Mabel E., the youngest of the family, married William R. Denny, of Greenfield, a business man and telegraph operator. Mr. Smith spared no pains or expense in providing for the intellectual improvement of his children, all of whom profited by their opportunities and now occupy positions of influence and usefulness. Their training reflects great credit upon their devoted father, who considers himself repaid more than a hundred fold for the care and financial outlay required for fitting them for the places they have so acceptably filled.

Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 360-363.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI August 14, 2002.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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