A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


James Brainerd Smith, capitalist and member of the real estate firm of Smith and Miller, at Pittsburg, Crawford county, has been one of the foremost business men and financiers of this city and county for the past twenty years. For several years he was engaged in the mercantile business, but since then has directed his attention and energies mainly to operations in real estate and money transactions. Many enterprises in the county have received their impetus from his firm, and with his success he has promoted the prosperity and welfare of his community.

Mr. Smith was born at Rosamond, Christian county, Illinois, October 19, 1859, a son of Brainerd and Nancy Ophelia (Hawley) Smith. His father was born at Amherst, Massachusetts, and was educated in Amherst College. He prepared himself for the ministry, but on account of poor health had to change his plans. He came to Illinois in the late fifties, and began farming on a place near Rosamond, Christian county. In 1865 he removed with his family to Normal, Illinois, in order to give his children the advantages of the school facilities there, and his three sons and three daughters all received their advanced training in that city. Mr. Smith, Sr., died at Normal in 1879, but his wife is still living on the old homestead at Normal. The name of one of their sons, William Hawley Smith, is a household word throughout the middle west. He is one of the most popular lecture platform stars, and is not only a repository of wit, humor and pathos, but is noted as a litterateur and literary critic of great ability. He was associated as a co-lecturer with Bill Nye during the last tour of that celebrity. William Hawley Smith makes his home in Peoria, Illinois.

James Brainerd Smith graduated from the Normal public schools and then attended the Northern Illinois Normal at that place. He was engaged in teaching school for three years in central Illinois, after which he engaged in the mercantile business at Winona, Illinois. He remained there until September, 1883, and at that date came to Pittsburg, Kansas, which has been the center of his business interests and home ever since. He first went into the dry-goods business with his brother, George K. Smith, who is now secretary of the National Lumbermen's Association at St. Louis. The firm of Smith and Smith continued for four years, and after its dissolution Mr. J. B. Smith became the partner of Henry C. Willard, a pioneer merchant of the town, under the name of the Willard Mercantile Company. Mr. Smith was connected with this firm for three years, and on June 1, 1890, he went into the real estate, financial and loan business with C. A. Miller, under the name of Smith and Miller. This soon became the leading firm of its kind in this section of the state, and the business has been continued with increasing prosperity from year to year. They own large and valuable additions of real estate and coal lands in Pittsburg and vicinity, having three hundred acres of valuable coal land at the edge of the town. Recently, in connection with capitalists from Kansas City, they organized the Pittsburg Smelting and Mining Company. The company have purchased the old Hobart zinc smelter near Pittsburg, built at an original cost of eighty thousand dollars, and this was one of Pittsburg's most profitable industries until it was abandoned owing to the opening up of gas fields further west. The company has remodeled and rebuilt the plant, and will soon make the zinc industry once more a part of the wealth-producing enterprises of Pittsburg. Mr. Smith holds the office of secretary-treasurer in the Pittsburg Smelting and Mining Company.

For sixteen years Mr. Smith was secretary of the Pittsburg Building and Loan Association, which has had a remarkably successful and beneficial career in Pittsburg. He affiliates with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and with the Masons, and is accounted one of the most public-spirited, solid and substantial citizens of Pittsburg, and has the entire confidence of the investing public.

Mr. Smith was married at Gardner, Illinois, to Miss Lucy E. Armitage, and they have five living children: Victor A., Edgar Z., Ernest Q., Willard Hawley and Eleanor.