John H. Smith, b. Jan. 22, 1826


biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

JOHN H. SMITH, residing on section 21, Black Oak Township, is one of the pioneers of 1851. He is a native of Alsace, Germany, born Jan. 22, 1826. His parents, John and Anna (Hassigg) Smith, were also natives of Germany. In 1828 the family emigrated to the United States, first locating in Stark County, Ohio, where they remained until 1887, removing during that year to Elkhart. County, Ind. They were thus pioneers in two States, and have lived to witness the great changes that have occurred in those commonwealths. The father died in 1878, aged seventy-eight. The mother still lives in Elkhart County, at the ripe old age of eighty-two years, having been born April 10, 1805. There were six children in the family, all born in the United States except John H.; Of the number three are yet living: John H.; Margaret, wife of Michael Hoover, residing in Cass County, Mich., and George, now living on the home farm in Elkhart County, Ind. John H. Smith, the subject of this sketch, was reared on a farm and received only a commonschool education. In 1848 he was united in marriage to Polly S. Bennett, a native of Stark County, Ohio, born Sept. 26, 1830, by whom he has had six children: Eleanor J., Ephram, Ira; Izora, wife of Reason Ryan; George W., and Florence E., wife of Frank Porter. In 1849, in company with his wife's father, Mr. Smith come to Iowa and entered land in Black Oak Township, and in 1851 moved here with his family. At this time the country was new and all the hardships and privations of pioneer life had to be endured. There were no railroads in the State and all produce was hauled long distances to reach a market. An inventory of his possessions when he settled in this county footed up as follows: Eighty acres of raw land, a team of horses, an old lumber wagon, and $54 in cash. But above all he had good health, strong arms, resolute will, and a wife who was truly a helpmeet. They determined to succeed, and to that end bent all their energies, and success has crowned their efforts. They now possess one of the best farms in Mahaska County, comprising 330 acres of land, all of which is under cultivation save ten acres, which is timber. Their present commodious residence was erected in 1868-69, and is among the finest farm residences in the State, costing $8,350. It is a two story frame structure, 40x42 feet in size. To each of his children arriving at the age of twenty-two years, Mr. Smith has given $3,750 in cash or its equivalent in land, thus giving them a good start in life. With the example of their parents before them, and inheriting their energy and thrift, it is not to be doubted that each one will in time, add to his or her possessions, and be ranked among the thrifty and enterprising people. Though born in a foreign land, Mr. Smith has much of the drive and push of the Yankee, tempered with the caution and conservativeness of the German race. Never speculating, he has by hard work and economy provided for his children as stated, and laid by a competency for old age. For years he was a stockholder in the Farmer's and Trader's Bank of Oskaloosa, and until its re-organization as a National Bank was one of its Directors. At that time he resigned his position in favor of H. W. McNeill, but in January, 1887,he was again elected as a Director, and is now serving as such. Believing that he had worked hard enough to be entitled to a little relaxation, in 1880 he made a trip to Europe, landing at Antwerp, traveling through Belgium, Holland, up the Rhine and to the summit of the Alps. He then went to Strasburg, where he remained about three months, and from there went to Hamburg, thus passing through the entire German Empire. He next visited England and Ireland, and from Queenstown returned to the United States. In 1881, accompanied by his youngest daughter, he again went to Europe, visiting Belgum, France, Germany, Holland, England and Ireland. Twice since he has crossed the ocean, in the years 1882-84. In early life Mr. Smith was a Democrat, and acted with that party until the outbreak of the Civil War, when, like the lamented Douglas, believing there could be only two parties, cast his lot with the Union Republican party. With that party he has since acted, its principles being more nearly in accord with his own views of government. He is also a believer in the Christian religion, and for many years was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

Home Page