Biography of Capt. John May Smith
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Capt. John May Smith. An honored veteran soldier and officer of the Civil war, now living retired at Salina, Capt. John May Smith had been identified with Kansas for more than forty years and he devoted much of his rugged strength to the development of a Kansas homestead. He served his country well, had reared and provided for a family of capable children, and in the evening of life he enjoys the honor and esteem of a host of friends.
Captain Smith was born July 26, 1838, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, a son of Charles and Jane (McClelland) Smith. His parents were also natives of Pennsylvania and were substantial farming people in the western and rugged section of that state. There were ten children, five sons and five daughters, whose names are: Ann, John, May, Lydia, Mary, George William McClelland, Eliza, Ira, Margaret Jane and Charles. Those now living are John M., William M., Margaret Jane and Eliza.
The first advantages enjoyed by Captain Smith in the way of schooling was in country districts and a log school house of Crawford County, Pennsylvania. When he was about eight years of age his parents moved west to Kane County, Illinois. There again he repeated his experience as a student in a log schoolhouse. His parents had located on a new farm, and they spent the rest of their years there. His father died in 1871 and his mother in 1879.
The Illinois farm was Captain Smith’s environment until 1862. In that year he enlisted in Company G of the One Hundred and Fifth Illinois Infantry. He was at once chosen second lieutenant and before the end of twelve months had been promoted to first lieutenant. In 1864 he was made captain of his company and these promotions were based upon meritorious performance of duty both in the routine of a soldier’s life and in the face of the enemy’s fire. Captain Smith led his company through part of the Atlanta campaign, and in the battle of Resaca was seriously wounded, a ball passing through his entire body. That was the only wound he sustained, and he escaped capture altogether. On account of disability caused by his wound he was granted his honorable discharge on December 30, 1864.
Following the war Captain Smith returned to Kane County, Illinois, and for a couple of years was a buyer and shipper of cattle. For three years he farmed in McLean County that state, and on his father’s death returned to Kane County.
Captain Smith became a resident of Kansas in 1874. He located on Government land in Lincoln County, and was a prosperous farmer in that section until 1902, when he retired and moved to Salina. He still owned his original homestead, and besides improving the land he proved a helpful factor in local affairs in Lincoln County.
Captain Smith is an honored member of John A. Logan Post No. 127, Grand Army of the Republic, at Salina. Politically a republican, he had never sought any office, but in 1891 was nominated by his party for the Legislature from Lincoln County, though the populists were too strong at that time and he was defeated.
On November 6, 1865, in Kane County, Illinois, he married Miss Susan Currier. Mr. and Mrs. Smith celebrated their golden wedding anniversary nearly two years ago. Mrs. Smith had become well known in Salina literary circles and is active in the Woman’s Relief Corps. She was born in a log house on a farm in Kane County, Illinois, March 25, 1843, daughter of Hylas T. and Nancy D. (Rice) Currier. Her father was born in Holland, New York, in 1809, and died in Kane County, Illinois, in 1843. He was an early day farmer, school teacher and singing master in Illinois, and was well educated, having attended school at Aurora, New York. Hylas Currier’s father had served with the rank of colonel in the French and Indian wars. Hylas Currier was married in 1835 to Nancy D. Rice, who was born in Vermont in 1820 and died at Ottawa, Kansas, in 1906. Mrs. Smith was the youngest of three children. Her sister, Vienna Celestia, was born in 1836 and is now living at Neodesha, Kansas, widow of Isaac Finley. Her brother, Edgar Llewellyn, born in 1838, was a soldier in the Civil war, serving as a private in Company H of the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, and he died at Portland, Oregon, in 1913.
Besides the children that have grown up under their roof Captain Smith and wife now have a number of grandchildren. Everell Dutton, the oldest of the children, was born August 8, 1866, and in 1893 married Minnie Wright and had a son John Smith, born March 20, 1903. Willard, the second of the children, was born January 10, 1869, and died March 24, 1869. Hylas Charles, born February 8, 1870, is now Indian agent in the famous Uintah Basin of Utah. He married June 20, 1905, Marietta Lawson, and their four children are: Naomi, born in 1907, Eugenia, born in 1909, Sidney, born in 1911, and Elizabeth Susan, born in 1915. Mabel Darling, born August 8, 1871, was married June 2, 1900, to Asa Huffman and had twin children, born January 15, 1906, and named Margreta and Berneta. John Burst, born September 2, 1878, married May 20, 1908, Marietta Smith and had a son John Paul, born February 25, 1912. Jennie Vienna, born August 24, 1882, became the wife of William Ernest Mayer on December 25, 1912.
Mrs. Smith was a teacher for seven years before her marriage in Illinois, and afterwards taught a similar period in Kansas. All of her children have likewise been teachers at some time. The oldest son, Everell Dutton Smith, was for four years county superintendent of public instruction in Lincoln County, Kansas, and is now connected with the United States Agricultural Department.