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John Smith, Sheriff of the County of Brant since this county was separated from Wenworth and Halton, was born on the “Grand River Tract,” on the present site of the City of Brantford, February 9, 1808. His grandfather, for whom he was named, was a United Empire Loyalist, and taken prisoner during the Revolutionary war, and liberated about the time that a British ship, passing up the North (or Hudson) river, broke the chain that was strung across that stream. The parents of our subject were Joseph and Charlotte (Douglas) Smith, both natives of the Empire State. Mrs. Smith is a descendant, in the 6th generation, from William Douglas, who came to America near the middle of the 17th century and settled at New London, Connecticut. Hon. Stephen Arnold Douglas, United States Senator for many years, from Illinois, was of the same branch of the Douglas family.
John was educated in country schools at Blenheim, County of Oxford and Smithville, County of Lincoln, losing his father in the former township about 1838. He farmed until about seventeen years of age, and clerked for a merchant at Grimsby three or four years; opened a store for himself at Paris in 1831; removed to Hamilton in 1837, and after merchandising there for three years,. returned to Paris, and was in trade there until 1853, when he was appointed Sheriff of the newly set off county, all the Sheriff the County of Brant has ever had. He is very punctual and efficient in discharging his duties. _
Sheriff Smith was secretary of the first meeting held at Hamilton after Lord Durham had made his report on the status of the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, recommending their union, which took place two or three years later (1841), the Hamilton meeting approving of the recommendations of the report.
Sheriff Smith is a member of the Church of England, and served at one time as warden of Grace Church at Brantford. He is a man much respected for his good social and moral qualities.
In 1834 he married Miss Mary Sheldon, a native of this Province, and of six children, the fruit of this union, only two are living. Charles Edwin, Deputy-Sheriff under his father, and Emma Jane, wife of Charles Bruce Nimmo, who resides in Port Huron, Michigan.