Biography - Henderson G. Smith

HENDERSON G. SMITH, one of the prominent citizens of Okaw Township, Shelby County, was born within its bounds, June 19, 1829, has a fine farm on section 30, where he has carried on successfully farming and stock-raising. He has nearly four hundred acres of land all in good condition and his residence which he built in 1887 is homelike, capacious and delightful.

Allen and Karen H. (Robertson) Smith, the father and mother of our subject were born in Virginia and married in Kentucky, and after six children were born to them they came to Illinois, making the journey by the way of prairie schooners, and camping out by the way. At the end of this primitive journey they settled in Okaw Township, in the fall of 1828 and entering land they erected a house of hewed logs. This substantial, although rudely-built house has been occupied from that day to this, but is now removed from the spot where it was first built. The land which he purchased was located just in the edge of the timber and he proceeded to improve it and place it in a condition for cultivation.

The following year, the father of our subject removed to the place which is now the family home and became the happy possessor of some three hundred acres of rich and fertile soil and proceeded to place upon it good improvements, so that it was soon in as prosperous a condition as any farm in those early days. There were few conveniences in those days and fewer opportunities for culture and education. Mr. Smith had to go to St. Louis to market, to Springfield to mill, and to Saline for salt. Venison could be had much nearer home as deer, bears, turkeys and other game abounded and came within easy shot of the house.

The mother of our subject became a widow in 1846, her husband then passing away at the age of fifty-two years, and she survived him until September, 1865. Of this large family of eleven children two died in infancy. One was killed by falling out of a wagon when a little child four years of age. Henry formerly a farmer and merchant, died in Farina, Ill.; William who has been a farmer and stock-dealer, makes his home in Los Angeles, Cal.; Squair T. died in Texas when a young unmarried man. Thomas is a farmer in Washington; Eliza B. died unmarried, February 27, 1846; Wilburn who is a physician makes his home in Indian Territory; and Bloomer A. is carrying on a farm in Clay County, Ill.

The early school days and indeed the entire education of our subject was very limited as the opportunities in his boyhood were poor and his help was greatly needed upon the farm; but he received the best of home training and a thorough grounding in the practical work of farming. In 1854 he was united in marriage with Mary L. Butts, a daughter of Joseph and Perlina B. (Corley) Butts and a native of Smith County, Tenn., where she first saw the light, April 4, 1838. Her father was a native of North Carolina and her mother a Tennesseean and they came to Illinois in 1841, settling successively in Wayne County, Jefferson County, and Clay County, in which latter place the parents died, and where their daughter was residing at the date of her marriage with Mr. Smith.

After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Smith made their first home on the farm which they still occupy and he gave his whole attention to tilling the soil, he has devoted much attention to stock-raising and his farm is thought to be especially well adapted to stock-raising. The eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Smith are: Wilburn, John H., Allen, William T., Perlina, Dexter, Mary L. and Elza C. Perlina is the wife of William Hlendrick and makes her home not far from her parents. Mr. Smith's political views are independent although he was a Republican during war but for the last twenty years he has desired to feel free from party ties. He has held numerous local offices and has served as Supervisor. His wife is a member of the Separate Baptist Church in which she finds a broad field for influence and labor and in whose communion she is highly prized. Mr. Smith has always been of a speculative turn and has made numerous business deals many of which have proved a profit to him.

Extracted 29 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 628-629.

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