Biography of Jacob W. Smith
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Jacob W. Smith, whose extensive farming interests are in Crittenden Township, has known Champaign County as a home for nearly thirty years. His work and management have brought him success to a high degree, and he has long enjoyed a position among the most influential residents of southern Champaign County.
Mr. Smith was born in Racine County, Wisconsin, November 30, 1858. His parents, Frederick and Catherine (Bienemann) Smith, were both natives of Germany, his father of Mecklenburg. The father came to America when about eighteen years of age and spent his active life as a farmer in Wisconsin, where he died in 1895. The mother passed away in 1869, when Jacob was eleven years old. There were eight children in the family, of whom two brothers and one sister of Jacob are living in Wisconsin, and four brothers are deceased.
Jacob W. Smith had training in the district schools of Wisconsin and learned farming by practical experience. He began life for himself without capital at the age of seventeen, and has made steady progress against all vicissitudes and difficulties. In 1888, coming to Champaign County, he was able to acquire 160 acres in section 29 of Crittenden Township and has since increased his land holdings there to 440 acres, and at the same time has added marvelously to the value and the improvements. He is one of the leading general farmers and stock feeders in that section. Besides his interest as a farmer Mr. Smith is president of the Pesotum Bank. His farm home is supplied with mail from Pesotum over Rural Route No. 55.
Mr. Smith married for his first wife, Miss Mary Best, a native of Peoria County, Illinois. She died September 25, 1892, leaving five children: Frank, a resident of Colorado; Ella, who died at the age of fifteen; Joseph, also deceased; Leo, of Crittenden Township; and Bertha, who died in infancy. On January 25, 1894, Mr. Smith married for his present wife Anna Henry, a native of Morris, Indiana. To this marriage have been born nine children, all of whom are living and are still members of the unbroken family circle. Their names in order of birth are Herbert, Alvin, Walter, Raymond, Mary, Edith, Ruth, James and Alice.
While building up his private fortune Mr. Smith has not neglected the call of the community upon his services and has filled such offices, significant of community esteem and offering great opportunities for service without compensation, as township collector, road commissioner, assessor and school trustee. In politics he is a Democrat, and he and his family worship in the Catholic Church.