The subject of this sketch early in life realized the fact that success
never smiles upon the idler or dreamer and he has accordingly followed such
an aphorism, devoting his life to ardent toil along lines that cannot but
insure success. The prosperity which he enjoys has been the result of energy
rightly applied and has been won by commendable qualities.
John Smith, one of the progressive farmers of Tonti township, Marion county, Illinois, was born in this locality October 7, 1838, the son of Britton and Mahala (Foster) Smith. Great-grandfather Smith was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, having taken part in many of the famous battles and strenuous campaigns of the same. This old family finally settled in North Carolina, where Britton Smith was born in 1811, on November 7. He came to Tennessee and then to Marion county, Illinois, in 1829, among the pioneers and overcome the obstacles always to be encountered in such a country, however, he remained here only about a year when he returned to Tennessee, but soon returned to Illinois bringing his father, having been enthusiastic of the prospects in the new country, believing that the future was filled with great possibilities. The entire family made the trip from Tennessee as soon as they could arrange to do so and they set to work at once making a home here, where their labors were richly rewarded by mother nature, who seldom fails in just compensation for labor expended in her domain.
Our subject's father was united in marriage in 1836 to Mahala Foster and settled in section 28, in Tonti township. His wife was the daughter of the well known Hon. Hardy Foster, who was an early settler in this county, having come here from Georgia, becoming popular and a leader in political affairs, having represented this district in the legislature. Foster township was named in honor of this pioneer. Britton Smith at one time owned two hundred acres of land in this county, being one of the best known farmers in this locality and he also took much interest in local politics, having served as Deputy Sheriff of Marion county for about seventeen years, during which time he rendered much valuable service to the public. He was a Democrat in his political faith. From time to time he held several township offices.
John Smith, our subject, was born here and worked upon the farm, having a poor chance to receive an education. However, he applied himself as best he could and has since broadened his intellectual horizon by general reading and travel.
When twenty-one years old Mr. Smith went to Texas, where he remained a short time. In 1862 he was united in marriage with Flotiller Nichols, who passed away fourteen months after her marriage, and on October 2, 1868, Mr. Smith married Elizabeth Smith, who was reared in this part of Illinois, and who was called to her rest in November, 1877. Two children were born to the subject, one of whom, Charles B., is living in this county. His date of birth occurred in 1873. Our subject was again married, his third wife being Lenora E. Coe, who is also now deceased. He was married a fourth time to Martha C. (Meadon) Lawson, who has also been called to her rest. Four children were born to in. Smith by his third wife, three of whom art living. Our subject has devoted his life principally to farming with the result that he has achieved definite success in this field of endeavor, for he has great ability in agricultural lines and is a hard worker. He at present owns eighty-one acres of land in this township, which have been developed into an excellent farm, being very productive and yields excellent crops from year to year. He has an excellent residence, well furnished and all the necessary equipments for carrying on successful farming in a general way. Although Mr. Smith has now retired from the farm, he still oversees its management.
Our subject is a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, being one of the Stewards of the local church, and is at this writing (1908) superintendent of the Sunday school. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Patoka, Lodge No. 860. In politics he is a Democrat and takes a lively interest in local political affairs, having served as Township Assessor, also as Township Clerk, and Township Treasurer, which office he still holds, having had charge of the same since 1885. This would indicate that he has given entire satisfaction in the dispensation of all his public duties, and is held in strictest confidence by his constituents else he would not have been entrusted with so many important public offices, nor retained so long.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 399-400.