John E. Smith

John E. Smith, one of Brandywine township's best-known and most progressive farmers, is a native son of Hancock county, having been born on a pioneer farm in the township in which he still lives and where he has spent all his life, October 17, 1850, son of Robert and Mary (Powers) Smith, both members of pioneer families in this section of Indiana, who established their home in Brandywine township, this county, about the year 1840, and there reared their family and spent the remainder of their lives, useful citizens of the community.

Robert was born in Virginia, January 26, 1808, son of Daniel and Isabel (Gilson) Smith, the former of whom, also a Virginian, was born on January 9, 1785, and the latter, of South Carolina, January 18, 1783, who came to Indiana in pioneer days and settled in Fayette county. On April 29, 1841, Robert Smith was united in marriage at Connersville, this state, to Mary Powers, daughter of William and Margaret (Hendricks) Powers, the former of whom was the son of Peter and Mary Hendricks, natives of Tennessee. After his marriage, Robert Smith homesteaded a tract of eighty acres of land in Brandywine township, this county, erected a log cabin on the same and there established his home, his father also entering a tract in the same neighborhood. Robert Smith was a good farmer and soon had his place cleared and under cultivation. As he prospered he added to his land holdings, until he presently became the owner of a fine farm of two hundred and twenty-five acres. He built a substantial brick house, the brick for the same being made on his farm, and his family became very comfortably situated. His father died on December 29, 1848, and his mother died on August 15, 1864. Robert Smith was a stanch Democrat and he and his wife were charter members of the church at Mt. Lebanon. He died on July 22, 1877, and his widow survived him for more than twenty years, her death occurring on October 3, 1899. They were the parents of ten children, namely: William P., born on March 2, 1842, who died on March 25, 1879; Margaret I., June 10, 1844, who died on April 28, 1851; Marshall T., June 4, 1846; Mary J., October 22, 1848; John E. the subject of this biographical sketch; Robet A., January 10, 1853; Malinda, April 10, 1855, who married William Thompson; Sarah Alice, who married Robert H. Archey; Andrew J., October 1, 1859, who died in Texas, and Iduna May, May 11, 1862, who married J. H. Barrett, and is a teacher in the public schools at Greenfield.

John E. Smith was born in the little old log house in which his parents began housekeeping and was a good-sized boy when the new brick house was built, he taking a hand in moulding the bricks which entered into the construction of the same. His schooling was obtained in the district school of his home neighborhood, where he learned the "rudiments" amid conditions common to the schools of that period in rural Indiana, his first teacher being Sylvanus Gard. From early youth he was an able assistant in the work of developing the home farm and remained at home until his marriage, after which he rented land and presently bought twenty-five acres that originally belonged to his father, paying one thousand two hundred and twenty-five dollars for the same, besides which his father also had given him a tract of fifteen acres. After paying for that tract he continued to enlarge his land holdings until now he has a fine farm of one hundred and sixty-seven acres surrounding his home; an undivided one-third interest in one hundred and ten acres four miles south and a half interest in thirty acres northeast; also forty acres north of his home. His sister is now the owner of the old homestead their grandfather entered upon locating in this county, the place never having been out of the family. Mr. Smith has improved his farm in fine shape and has a modern ten-room house, one of the best in the township, heated by furnace and piped for water and gas, and the other improvements about the place are in keeping with the same. He has four barns, a windmill and other excellent farm buildings, the whole place being operated along the most improved lines of modern agriculture. Mr. Smith is a Democrat and gives his close attention to local political affairs. Good roads with him have been matters of the utmost importance and he has done much toward advancing the cause of better highways hereabout. In 1874 he was elected road supervisor for his district and has served, off and on, in that capacity a number of times since.

John E. Smith has been twice been married. His first wife, who was Dora Wilkins, died on June 14, 1887, a few days after the birth of her only child, a son, Robert E. and on October 17, 1900, Mr. Smith married, secondly, Launa B. Ellsbury, daughter of Richard and Jennie (Hendricks) Ellsbury. Mrs. Smith is a member of the church at Mt. Lebanon and Mr. Smith is one of the supporters of the church, both giving their earnest attention to neighborhood good works.

Robert Earl Smith, only son of John R. Smith, is living across the road to the north from his father's home an is farming a place of forty acres very successfully, utilizing modern methods in his farm operations. He has a substantial concrete house and his farm equipment is in full keeping with the same, including a gasoline engine. Robert E. Smith married Mollie Brown, daughter of Robert and Jennie Brown, and has one child, a son, John Robert, born on March 28, 1909.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 886-888.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI September 20, 2001.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas /

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