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Biography of C. W. Smith

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C. W. Smith, a most enterprising lumber merchant of Racine, putting forth every effort to promote the growth of his business along legitimate lines, was born in the town of Somers, Kenosha County, February 15, 1847, his parents being Charles and Anna (Reid) Smith, who were natives of Scotland. The father came to the United States in 1835 and established his home in the town of Somers, there remaining until he had prepared a home. He then returned to Scotland and about seven years later came again to the new world, accompanied by his bride. The Indians still lived in this section of the state at the time of his arrival and the seeds of civilization had scarcely been planted. He developed a farm from the raw land and carried on general agricultural pursuits for many years, becoming one of the representative farmers of this part of the state. All who knew him respected him and his worth was widely acknowledged. He died about twenty years ago, while his wife passed away in 1856, when their son, C. W. Smith, was but nine years of age. Both were laid to rest in the town of Somers. They had a family of three children, namely: Anna R., who resides at No. 1547 College Avenue in Racine; C. W., of this review, and James R., who died in El Paso, Texas, twenty years ago.

Reared in the town of Somers, C. W. Smith remained at home until he reached the age of seventeen years, when in response to the country’s call for troops he enlisted in January, 1864, as a member of Company H, Thirty-third Wisconsin Infantry, to serve for three years. He was honorably discharged in the fall of 1865 after having participated in many hotly contested engagements. At the battle of Spanish Fort he had his gun shot out of his hand. He was first under fire at the battle of Fort De Russey on Red river, also participated in the battle of Nashville and various other engagements of lesser importance. He never faltered in the performance of duty, whether called to the firing line or stationed on the lonely picket line, and his patriotic loyalty to his government made his military record a most creditable one.

When the war was over Mr. Smith returned to his home in Kenosha County and for two years was a student in the Racine Commercial College. He then secured a position with the lumber firm of Murray, Slauson & Company, continuing with that house for nineteen years. For a half century he has made his home in Racine and is one of its most respected and worthy residents. He acquainted himself with every phase of the lumber business while in the employ of the above mentioned firm and during that period he carefully saved his earnings until his capital was sufficient to enable him to engage in business on his own account. He then organized the West Shore Lumber Company in association with W. H. Bradley of Milwaukee, who became its first president. In turn the office was filled by O. P. Pillsbury, D. M. Benjamin and M. J. Smiley, and about seven or eight years ago Mr. Smith was elected to the presidency of the company and has since continued in the office. In the meantime he acquired more of the stock as opportunity for purchase occurred and is now the owner of the entire stock of the company. This is the oldest business of the kind in Racine, the West Shore Lumber Company handling lumber, lath, shingles and posts. Mr. Smith is thoroughly familiar with the trade in every department and something of his enterprise and attractive methods is indicated in the fact that he brought forth the attractive advertisements under the heading of the West Shore Lumber Company, 947 Erie street, Racine. They read as follows:

“When looking for lumber, posts, shingles or lath,
Don’t deviate far from the straight narrow path.
You will find the West Shore has millions of feet,
If you only walk over to North Erie street.

You will find there the lumber maligned and abused
Exactly the same as your grandfather used.
The joists and the scantling are all cut full size,
And their clear white pine siding would open your eyes.

They can furnish your finish in cypress or pine,
The wood that’s eternal and wholly divine.
Their red cedar shingles devoid of all bark.
They’re the same that old Noah used shingling the ark.

The cedars of Lebanon we have been told,
Formed part of King Solomon’s temple of gold.
With all of their splendor, they could not outshine
The wood that we worship, Wisconsin white pine.

The party asserting there was no more white pine
Was a base falsifier from well over the line,
Who was anxious to boost some rank foreign wood,
Representing that his was equally good.

Be ye not deceived, there is one thing that’s true,
White pine’s the best timber the woods ever grew.
There’s no lumberman but would tell you the same,
That ever cruised timber, or sat in the game.

Do you look for an estimate? Find Smith with his pad
And pencil all ready the columns to add.
He will give you the figures, and do it in rhyme
And it don’t take ten minutes of anyone’s time.

At the desk you will find our Teutonic cashier,
Who handles the funds that accumulate here.
His favorite pipe has a chocolate howl,
And he greets all his friends with a merry ‘Yaw Wohl.’

Get out your machine. and give it a crank,
You will find the two Louies, Christ Ove and Frank
At nine forty-seven on North Erie street,
And they’ll furnish you lumber, Sands says can’t be heat.

A word to the wise is sufficient, they say.
So harness your horses and get under way,
You are bound to rest easy, be times ever so hard.
If you purchase your lumber at West shore Lumber yard.”

“Are you going to build? Please let us suggest.
Go purchase your lumber where they handle the best.
Don’t stay in the background, get into the line.
And see that your lumber is strictly White Pine.

There is no wood its equal for building today.
`Tis the wood everlasting, and knows no decay.
They may eulogize Cypress, the wood that’s divine.
But there’s nothing that equals our Native White Pine.

The trees high and lofty that grow in the woods,
All furnish their quota of excellent goods.
But the mighty, and lowly, all bow at the shrine
Of the King of the Forest, Wisconsin White Pine.

We have seen White Pine Siding a hundred years old
In better condition than the day it was sold.
It seems to improve in a measure with age,
Like the wisdom instilled in the donne of the sage.

West Shore is the place where they handle these goods
And other material that comes from the woods.
To convince you that such is the ease, we entreat.
You to call at our office on North Erie street.

At, Nine Forty-One you will find us on hand
To furnish you lumber, the best in the land.
But you will miss nothing and save much of your dough
By placing your order with West Shore Lumber Co.

When you want gilt-edge lumber, go to the West Shore.
They can show you a stock of a million or more.
If you purchase or them, you will never regret.
For their lumber’s the Best. Now don’t you forget.

Their lumber and lath are the finest that’s made.
Their shingles excel, too, in pleasing the trade.
In placing your order, you are taking no chance,
Get a good lively move on before the advance.

Go to it.”

In addition to being at the head of the oldest lumber business of Racine, Mr. Smith also owns one hundred and sixty acres of land in Kenosha County, constituting the farm upon which be was born and which is situated eight miles south of Racine, besides various other properties that are scattered about Racine and its environs.

When twenty-two years of age Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Mary C. Halenbake and they have a son, Fred W., who was born in Racine and is a graduate of the high school here. In 1896 he went to Denver, Colorado, where he was employed in connection with the lumber industry for nineteen years. He then returned to Racine and is now identified with the West Shore Lumber Company as secretary. In 1906 he married Miss Pearl Brame and they have become the parents or two children, Vance Reid and Cornelia Rose.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith attend the Presbyterian Church, in the faith of which they were reared. He gives his political allegiance to the Republican Party and fraternally he is connected with the Elks. For twenty years he has been a member of the Heyer Whist Club and he greatly enjoys the game. He is also identified with the Grand Army post and thus maintains pleasant relations with the boys in blue with whom he marched on southern battlefields. The same spirit of loyalty has characterized him at every point in his career, making, him a valued citizen of the community, and at the same time he has gained a most creditable place in business circles.


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