Lee County Biography


One cannot carry investigations far into the pioneer history of Lee county without learning of the honorable and worthy part which David Smith has taken in the work of promoting development and advancement. He is one of the oldest residents of this locality, having made his home on the farm on which he lives since 1837 although he now rents most of the farm to three of his grandnephews. Since the beginning of his active career his influence has been a force in progress, being given always to measures of public advancement and reform. At the age of eighty-two Mr. Smith is still interested in agricultural pursuits, owning a fine farm of four hundred and fifteen acres on section 35, Willow Creek township, but for a few years he has rented most of the farm, except the timber, to relatives. He was born near Campbelltown, Argyleshire, Scotland, July 16, 1831, and is a son of John and Jane Smith, who crossed the Atlantic to America in 1837, arriving in New York after a journey of six weeks. They pushed westward to Illinois and settled in Lee county among the pioneers in this locality. They took up land which was not yet surveyed and the father and his eldest son, Robert, fenced and broke, or plowed, for the first time, most of the farm, which was three-fourths prairie, and carried forward the work of improvement for many years. Robert Smith died in 1905, after many years of close connection with agricultural interests in this locality. He is buried in Wyoming cemetery. John Smith passed away in 1860, having survived his wife twenty years, and both are interred in the Ellsworth cemetery. They became the parents of ten children, four of whom died in Scotland. Martha married William Hopps, who passed away in Wheeling, Cook county, Illinois. Robert died in 1905. John passed away in August, 1837, at the age of nine and is buried in the Ellsworth cemetery. David is the subject of this review. Jane became the wife of Nathaniel Nettleton who passed away during the Civil war and is buried in the Ellsworth cemetery. His wife died June 5, 1894, and was laid to rest in the Ellsworth cemetery beside her husband. Alexander C., born in Illinois in July, 1837, fought in the Union cavalry during the Civil war and died of sickness at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee in April, 1862. He is also buried in Ellsworth cemetery.

David Smith was six years of age when he came to Lee county with his parents. He attended school in Paw Paw and in Wheeling, Cook county, until he was twenty-one years of age, pursuing his studies during the winter months and assisting with the work of the farm during the summers. When the father died and his land was divided David Smith received one hundred and eighty acres and he afterward added greatly to this property, owning at one time nine hundred acres. He has since sold portions of this but retains four hundred and fifteen acres on section 35, Willow Creek township. Upon this fine property he raises grain and stock, keeping cattle, horses and hogs. He has been very successful in breeding swine and has owned as many as three hundred high-grade animals. Throughout the years he has steadily carried forward the work of improving his farm, and the result of his labors is seen in its attractive appearance. Mr. Smith was at one time vice president and a director in the State Bank of Paw Paw and is now a large stockholder, and he is interested in many other enterprises which are factors in general growth.

Upon its organization Mr. Smith joined the republican party and voted for its candidates continuously until 1912, when he entered the ranks of the progressives. He was for three years township supervisor, has been township treasurer, trustee and assessor and also school trustee and school director. In fact he has held practically every important position within the gift of his fellow citizens, for he has been at all times interested in the advancement of the community and takes every means in his power to promote its progress. During the many years of his residence here he has won a high place in the esteem and regard of all who know him, and he has an extensive circle of warm friends.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens

Back Home