Biography of Tom D. Smith

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Tom D. Smith, lawyer at Hiawatha, had for a number of years been regarded as one of the most forceful orators and leaders in the republican party of Kansas. Because of his unusual resources as a speaker and reasoner, he was given some of the most important assignments during the national republican campaign of 1916. Much of his work was done in the far East. He spoke at President Wilson’s home and at Long Brauch, and spoke with Charles E. Hughes and William Taft during the Union Square meeting in New York City. He stumped all over New Jersey, Connecticut and New York State. The press frequently quoted his speeches and his arguments, and they undoubtedly contained the most logical arraignment of the opposition and the most forceful presentation of the republican platform of that year. His explanation of the tariff was said to be the most logical and scholarly presentation of that difficult subject ever made. Mr. Smith’s gift had been used chiefiy for the beneflt of his party and his friends and not for himself in matters of politics. Recently, however, a well defined current of opinion had set in favoring his candidacy for attorney-general of the State of Kansas in 1918.

Mr. Smith is a native of Brown County, Kansas, and represents a pioneer family there. He was born March 1, 1874. In the paternal line he is a direct descendant of that James Smith, the Irishman, who signed the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather, Isaac Newton Smith, was born near Bolivar, Virginia, in 1808, lived near Harper’s Ferry in that state, and at DeGraff, Ohio, and died at the latter place in 1867. He was an attorney by profession. During the Mexican war he served with Gen. Zac Taylor and fought at the vattle of Buena Vista. His son Harrison was killed at the battle of Shiloh as a Union soldier and his son Thomas was wounded three times during the war. He had only three sons who grew to maturity, and the other was Isaac Newton Smith, father of the Hiawatha lawyer. Grandfather Smith married a Miss Jenkins, a native of Virginia.

Isaac Newton Smith was born at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1847, but grew up in Ohio, near Bellefontaine, where he married. In 1863 he enlisted in the Fifty-seventh Ohio Infantry, being then only sixteen years of age. He was with Sherman’s army during the Atlanta campaign, and in one of the many battles around that city was captured, was sent as a prisoner of war to Andersonville, Georgia, and later to the prison at Florence, Alabama. He was finally exchanged at Charleston, and was granted his honorable discharge after the war closed in 1865.

In 1867 he removed with his family west to Brown County, Kansas, and bought a homestead right of 160 acres. This homestead is still the property of his widow and is situated one mile east of Baker, Kansas. Isaac N. Smith eultivated his farm and kept his infinence and activities restricted somewhat to one locality until 1879, when he was appointed sheriff of Brown County. He served one term of two years. After that he entered railroading and was a freight and passenger conductor on the Missouri Pacific Railway until 1900. In that year he was again elected sheriff, and served five years, being reelected in 1902, and during the second term his period of service was for three years. In 1905 he retired and his death occurred in Brown County in November, 1908. For many years he served as a member of the school board, and while a resident of Hiawatha represented the Second Ward in the City Council and was president of the Council for a number of years. During the session of 1906 and the session of 1908 he was sergeant at arms in the House of Representatives at Topeka. He was commander of Hiawatha Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, was widely known as a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors, and was past noble grand of the Hiawatha Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

He married Isabelle Wolf, who was born in Logan County, Ohio, in 1852 and is now living at Hiawatha. Her parents came from Rockbridge County, Virginia. Three childrea were born to Isaac Newton Smith and wife, Lizzie, Tom D. and Minor Blaine. Lizzie, who was burned to death in 1893 at Hiawatha as a result of a gasoline stove explosion, was the wife of W. F. Richardson, who died in 1903. Mr. Richardson was a railway conductor and during the great flood that devastated Kansas City in 1903 he was on continuous duty for eighty-four hours and finally, exhausted, went to sleep while standing on the tracks and was struck by an engine, both legs being cut off and his death following soon afterwards. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson had one child, Newton Lee, who is now connected with the Santa Fe Railway Company and lives at Topeka. Minor Blaine Smith had been in the paymaster’s department of the Santa Fe Railway for the past fifteen years and lives at 1122 Monroe Street in Topeka.

Tom D. Smith acquired his early education partly in the rural schools of Brown County, also in the Hiawatha High School and Hiawatha Academy, where he did the work of the senior class. In 1895 he entered the University of Kansas at Lawrence and remained until graduating from the law department LL. B. in 1899. During his university career Mr. Smith evinced many of those brilliant qualities which have borne fruit in his professional and public career. For five years he played on the noted football team of Kansas University and in 1899 he made a record which had never been surpassed in Kansas University and perhaps not elsewhere. That was for kicking forty-five goals after totiehdown and one field goal. His team that year was victorious in every game played.

In 1898 Mr. Smith represented the University of Kansas at the Kansas State Banquet, an honor conferred upon him by election among the students of the University. He responded to the toast on the subject “Prodigal inviting the prodigals backs to the republican ranks.” The prodigals were the populists. Twenty years later Mr. Smith was inviting the progressives back at the Kansas State Banquet in a toast along similar lines.

In 1899 he was admitted to the Kansas bar and to the Supreme Court in the same year. In 1913 he was admitted to practice in the United States courts. For the past eighteen years Mr. Smith had been steadily engaged in general civil and criminal practice and his reputation is one that now is hardly bounded by state lines. It is noteworthy that his success had been attained in his home town, where he grew up and where the people have known him since childhood. His offices are on Oregon Street, over the Stevens drug store. Mr. Smith owned a residence at 406 Shawnee Street, next to his mother’s home, and his investments have chiefly taken the form of farm lands. He owned more than 2,000 acres divided into seventeen farms. Four hundred acres of this land lies in Brown County and the rest in Central and Western Kansas.

Mr. Smith had his first public experience as undersheriff to his father. In 1916 he was elected a delegate at large to the Republican State Convention, where he defeated Senator Bristow and Governor Bailey. Mr. Smith responded to the call for volunteers in the spring of 1898 for the Spanish-American war and served as sergeant-major in the Twenty-second Kansas Regiment. This reglment went to Washington, District of Columbia, at Camp Alger, but never got beyond the borders of the country. Mr. Smith had made application for the Second Officers Training School in the present war with Germany. Mr. Smith is a member of the Brown County and the State Bar associations.

In 1902, at the City of Hiawatha, he married Miss Dola M. Elliott, danghter of John and Mary (Tirpin) Elliott, both of whom are now deceased. Her father was a Union soldier, came to Kansas at the time of the war, and was for many years actively engaged in farming in Brown County. He came to this state from Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have three children: Zillah Belle, born September 20, 1903; Isaac Newton, born October 3, 1905; and Aleta Mary, born May 20, 1907.



MLA Source Citation:

Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 3 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/kansas/biography-of-tom-d-smith.htm - Last updated on Jun 10th, 2012


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