Lee County IL Biography


Robert Smith , a retired farmer residing on West Third Street in Dixon, where he owns a beautiful home, is numbered among honored pioneers of the county of 1837. More than half a century has passed away since he here located. Almost the entire growth of the county has he witnessed and with its development and upbuilding has he been prominently connected.

Mr. Smith is a native of the Highlands of Scotland. He was born in Argyleshire, in 1822, and comes of pure Scottish ancestry. His grandfather, Robert Smith, lived and died in Argyleshire, and in accordance with the teachings of his forefathers was a Presbyterian in religious belief. He married Miss McNair, who like him, had pure Scottish blood in her veins and upon the old homestead of the Smith family she spent the remainder of her days, dying in the belief of the Presbyterian Church. Unto them were born seven children but only two ever came to this country. Both settled in Illinois and John Smith, the father of our subject, spent his last days in Lee County. His sister. Miss. Elizabeth McNair, died in McDonough County, Ill. John Smith was reared to farm life and when he bad attained to mature years was married in his native county to Jane Colville, who was also of pure Scotch descent but her people engaged in mercantile pursuits while the Smith family was given to agriculture. Five children were born to them in their home in the Highlands, after which they bade good-by to their native land and in the spring of 1837 crossed the Atlantic to America. On the sailing vessel the "Tropic". They left Greenough; after a voyage of six weeks they landed in New York, from whence they came by way of the Erie Canal and the Lakes to Chicago, completing the Journey overland by teams to Lee County. From the Government Mr. Smith secured land in what is now Willow Creek Township and the settlement which he there made was the second within its borders. He developed a good farm, upon which he made his home until his death, which occurred in 1863. He had lived to see the county well improved and had himself taken an active part in furthering its best interests. His wife had died in 1840, only three years after locating here. Another child had been born unto them, the family then numbering six. Both parents were members of the Presbyterian Church and lived consistent earnest lives. Three of their children are yet living. The brother of our subject is David Smith, a resident farmer of Willow Creek Township; and his sister Jane, widow of N. A. Nettleton, also resides in that township.

The experiences of pioneer life are familiar to Robert Smith. He can recall the days when the county was but sparsely settled, when the greater part of the land was still unimproved and the work of civilization and progress seemed scarcely begun. He has been an eye-witness of the wondrous changes which have since worked a great transformation. His labors have also aided in this task and he well deserves mention among the founders of the county. He was here married to Miss Harriet Beaisley. who was born in Pennsylvania in 1837, and at the age of eighteen years came to Illinois. Her father, John H. Beaisley was killed by a train. Her mother is now living in Wayne, Pa., at the age of seventy-five years. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born a family of children, who in order of birth are as follows: Ella G., the eldest, who graduated from Jennings Seminary, is now the wife of Teil Swarthout, a banker of Paw Paw, IL.; Bertha B. is the wife of William Crampton, a real-estate dealer of West Superior, Wis., and Clyde is an attorney-at-law of Dixon. He Studied for his profession with Mayo & Whitmer. attorneys of Ottawa, IL., and was afterward graduated from the State University of Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are held in high esteem by many friends throughout this community. In politics be is a Republican, having supported that party since its organization, and of its principles is a warm advocate. In the Presbyterian Church he was reared, but neither he nor his wife are members. Mrs. Smith attends the Congregational Church, but her views are not in accordance with many of its orthodox principles. This worthy couple, who have so long resided in Lee County, have now a pleasant and beautiful home in Dixon, which was erected in 1890. There they are now living a retired life in the enjoyment of the fruits of their former toil. Mr. Smith, however, is still the owner of his line large farm in Willow Creek Township, which yields to him an excellent income.

Transcribed by Christine Walters - Portraits and Biographical Lee Co. 1892

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