In studying the interesting life histories of many of the better class of
men, and the ones of unquestioned merit and honor, it will be found that
they have been compelled, very largely, to map out their own career and
furnish their own motive force in scaling the heights of success, and it is
such a one that the biographer is pleased to write in the paragraphs that
Benjamin M. Smith, the well-known cashier of the Salem State Bank; was born in Central City, Illinois, December 11, 1877, the son of Samuel J. Smith, a native of St. Clair county, Illinois, and a gentleman of many sterling traits who became a man of considerable influence in his community, some of whose commendable characteristics are inherited by his son, our subject. Samuel J. Smith came to Marion county when a young man and was engaged in the milling business of which he made pronounced success, having been in the county several years when the Civil war began, and he continued in this business during the progress of the Rebellion. He took much interest in public affairs. He was County Treasurer and County Clerk for twenty years and Deputy County Treasurer for four years. During his long official record he conducted the affairs that were entrusted to him in a manner that reflected great credit upon his ability and in a way that elicited much favorable comment but no criticism from his contemporaries and constituents. He was called to his rest April 5, 1906, after an eminently successful and useful life.
The subject's grandfather, Benjamin J. Smith, who was a native of the old Pine Tree state (Maine), is remembered as a man of unusual fortitude and courage, having been a composite of the usual elements that go into the makeup of pioneers. He came west in early life and was one of the first settlers of St. Clair county, Illinois, of which county he was at one time Sheriff, one of the best, in fact, that the county ever had. He was an active business man all his life, having been in the commission business in Chicago for a number of years, where he became well known in the business circles of the city in those days. He was born in 1801, and after, a remarkably active career, reaching a venerable age, passed to the silent land when in his ninetieth year.
The mother of the subject was in her maidenhood Mary E. Martin, who was born in Ohio on a farm near Wellsville. She is in many respects a remarkable character, benign, affable and her influence has always been wholesome and uplifting, so that even in the golden evening of her life she is a blessing to those with whom she comes in contact. She is the mother of three children, namely: Irene, who died in infancy; Irma, a woman of fine traits; and Benjamin M., our subject.
Thus after a resume of the subject's worthy ancestors we are not surprised that he has achieved unusual distinction in his community, and to him the future evidently has much of good in store.
Benjamin M. Smith attended school in Salem, graduating from the high school where he had made a splendid record for scholarship and deportment. Feeling that he was destined for a business career, and following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he early began preparations to enter the industrial field, and in order to prepare himself more thoroughly took a course in the Bryant & Stratton Business College at St. Louis, Missouri, standing in the front rank of his class when he graduated in 1900. Mr. Smith has been actively engaged in business since he was sixteen years old and he showed at that early age that he was destined to the highest success. He seems to be best fitted to the management of banking institutions, although he turns everything into success that he under-takes. He has been cashier of banks for seven years in 1908. He was cashier of the Haymond State Bank, now the First National Bank at Kinmundy, Illinois, for two years, during which time the business of this institution greatly increased. Then he came to Salem and became associated with the Salem State Bank of which he is a stockholder and director and one of the organizers, in fact, one of the moving spirits of the institution. Mr. Smith was also a director in the bank at Kinmundy and is still a stockholder in the same. Both these institutions recognize his unusual industrial ability and peculiar aptitude for managing the affairs of a banking concern and the officials are not reluctant to give him all due credit for the great work he has done in placing these banks on a firm foundation and making them among the solid and well known institutions of their kind in this part of the state.
Fraternally Mr. Smith belongs to the Masonic Order, Knights Templar; also the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen and the Eagles, and one would judge from his consistent daily life that he believes in carrying out the sublime principles and doctrines of these worthy orders. In politics our subject is a loyal Democrat, but he has not found time to take an active part in political affairs. However, he believes in placing the best men possible in local offices and his support can always be depended upon in the advancement of any cause looking to the development and betterment of his community and county.
Mr. Smith has preferred single blessedness and has never assumed the responsibilities of the married state.
Our subject is a very strong character in every respect and" although he is yet quite a young man he has shown by his past excel-lent and praiseworthy record that he is a man of unusual industrial ability and the future will- doubtless be replete with honors and success for him.
Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 82-84.