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BIOS-Past & Present of Bureau Co. 1906 > Henry C. Smith

13 Sep 2005

Source: Past & Present of Bureau County, Illinois
Originally published 1906
Pioneer Pub. Co., Chicago, IL

Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society

Pages 312-315

   Henry C. Smith, a farmer and stock-shipper residing north of Princeton on section 4, Princeton township, was born in Bureau County, September 18, 1846, and represents an old New England family. His paternal grandfather was Chester Smith, who was born March 2, 1771. He was married December 15. 1796, and in his family were nine children, namely: Fannie, Noadiah, Clarinda, Allan, Eli, Elijah, Melinda, Louisa and Ann. Of this number Eli Smith, father of our subject, was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1804, and in his native state was reared. When he had arrived at years of maturity he married Miss Clarissa Childs, who was also born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1804 and was a daughter of David W. Childs. Her father ws born November 17, 1778, and was married September 7, 1802, to Eunice C. Clapp, who was born in May, 1777. They had five children: Herrick, Clarrissa, Sylvia, Eunice and David.

The wedding trip of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Smith consisted of their journey to Illinois by way of the lakes to Chicago and thence by ox team to Bureau county, riding the oxen part of the way. With them came Mr. Smith's brother and they located upon the present farm of their son Henry, comprising one hundred and thirty acres. The year of their arrival was 1831, at which time the father entered the land from the government, and it has since remained in possession of the family, Henry C. Smith now holding the original patent. After reaching Bureau conty Eli Smith and his wife stopped for the first night at the cabin of Elijah Eperson, of Princeton township. Their first home was built of logs and Mr. Smith, who was a carpenter by trade, erected the first frame house in Princeton. He had never engaged in farming before, so that his first experience at farm labor was upon his wild prairie land, which he broke, plowed and planted, giving to it his entire attention. As the years passed and he brought his fields under cultivation he was rewarded with good harvests. He also made the first coffin the county and his mechanical skill and ingenuity enabled him to turn his hand to many kinds of work. He was numbered among the prominent pioneers of this region and aided in subjugating the wilderness and extending the frontier. The difficulties, dangers and hardships of frontier life were all familiar experiences to the family and twice they were driven from the farm during the Black Hawk war in order to save their lives. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages and the privations incident to frontier life Eli Smith continued to work at farming and stock-raising and as the years went by he prospered/ He took an active part in conducting the underground railroad through this section, owning an old sorrel horse named John, which was often used in carrying negroes on their way to freedom. His first experience as a conductor on the underground railroad took place at the home of his brother, Elijah Smith, whose cabin stood just across the township line in Dover township. In the summer of 1835 two colored girls belonging to Major Dougherty of St. Louis made their escape and found refuge  at Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Some months later a professional slave catcher named Harris learned of their whereeabouts and captured them and was on his way back to St. Louis with them, where he expected to receive a large reward offered for their return. He traveled on horseback, leading another horse on which the two girls were riding. One cold December night with his two captives, whoses fee were badly frozen, he arrived at the home of Elijah Smith and asked for entertainment. Eli Smith and his wife with another neighbor were there spreading the eveing and on hearing the sad story of the girls they became interested in their behalf and a plan was adopted for their rescue. Eli Smith hitched up his horse and brought the two girls to his farm, where he hid them in the hay mow until he could take them north to the next station on the underground road.

The family of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Smith numbered eight children, five of whom are now living, although Henry C. Smith is the only one in this county. Both the father and mother have departed this life, the former having passed away August 30, 1871, and the latter on the 17th of January, 1892. They were members of the old Hampshire Colony, in which Mr. Smith took an active and leading part. In politics he was first an abolitionist because of his pronounced views in regard to slavery, and later he became  stalwart republican. He was known as a most highly repsected and valued citizen, whose influence and labors aided in shaping the destiny and molding of the policy of the county during its formative period and in its later-day develpment. In 1846 he built the brick residence upon the farm where the subject of this review now resides.

Henry C. Smith was born in the house which is still his home and under its sheltering roof grew to manhood,  acquiring his early education in the common schools, while he completed his studies in Dover Academy at Dover, this county. He has always lived upong the home farm, residing with hs parents until they passed away, and he is now the owner of the old house property. He has erected all of the buildings upon the farm except the residence and has made all of the modern and substantial improvements which today characterize the place and render it one of the fine farms of the county. He owns here eighty acres of valuable land on section 4, Princeton township, and carries on general farming and stock-raising. In connection with J. B. McBride he also buys and ships cattle, hogs, horses and sheep and he is regarded as one of the ost wide-awake, alert and enterprising farmers of Princeton township.

On the 19th of December, 1867, Mr. Smith was married to Miss Annie M. Cusic, who was born in Dover township, August 4, 1849, and is a daughter of Dennis A. and Betsy (Cox) Cusic, who came to this county from Ohio in 1840, settling in Dover township, where they made their permanent home, the father devoting his entire life to agricultural pursuits. He died August 15, 1876, while his wife survived until September 6, 1894. She was a member of the Methodist Protestant church. In their family were twelve children/ Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born three children: Cora A., a resident of Colorado; Virgil H., deceased; and Marshall H., who is living at home.

Mr. Smith is a stalart republican, active in the work of the part and recognized as one of its local leaaders. The probabilities are good for his election as the next county treasurer of Bureau county. He has been a member of the Bureau County Agricultural Board for twnety-five years, has acted as its presidedent and has been ticket superintendent for many years, serving in that capacity at the present time. He was a member of the board of highway commissioners when graveled roads were first introduced and for eighteen years filled that office. He has always fought for good roads and had done much for the inprovement of the public highways. In fact his influence has always been given for substantioal progress and he has stood for the material, intellectual and moral development of the county. He belongs to the Masonic Fraternity and to the Mystic Workers. His life has been in harmony with the record of a worth and honored pioneer family and his own memory goes back to the time of primitive development here and compasses the period of later-day progress and improvement, in the work of which he has been keenly interested to the extent of giving active co-operation thereto.

TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicohistoricalsociety@gmail.com  President Joan Johnson, 815-438-7581 or garyjoan@thewisp.net  Family History Coordinator, Denise McLoughlin 815-718-3617. We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations are always appreciated!  Sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Thank you!  Visit us on FACEBOOK, too.