Biography of Theron J. Smith

Theron J. Smith, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, has influenced the settlement of more families in the Snake river valley than any two or three other men. He has been a factor in local real-estate transactions, and without doubt has been, in a general way, one of the most efficient promoters of the growth and prosperity of Idaho Falls and the settlement and development of its tributary territory. As immigrant agent of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, he has brought many excursions to this part of the country from Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, and these excursions have resulted in a marked increase of population at and near Idaho Falls. He began the work six years ago, and an idea of its value is afforded by the fact that in 1898 fifty-eight persons were settled by him in Bingham county.

Theron J. Smith was born in Wayne County, New York, July 22, 1844, and was descended from early settlers of Dutchess County, New York, many of whom were prominent in their time. His grandfather, Samuel Smith, together with his brothers, served the cause of the colonies in the American Revolution, and they were paid in colonial scrip, which was never redeemed, but they had the satisfaction of knowing that they had risked their lives in a good and triumphant cause. Late in life Samuel Smith represented his district in the assembly of the state of New York. Lewis H. Smith, son of Samuel Smith and father of Theron J. Smith, was born in Dutchess County, New York, and married one of the daughters of the county. Miss Phoebe Mott. He was a Quaker farmer, a good, intelligent, industrious man, and died in 1854, at the age of fifty, in Wayne County, from an attack of cholera, to which one of his sons succumbed at the same time. His wife attained the age of seventy-seven years. They had eight children, of whom five are living.

Theron J. Smith was the next to the youngest of this family of eight, and was about ten years old when his father died. He received a common-school and academic education in his native state, then gave his attention to farming, and located, when about twenty-five, at Lake City, Iowa, where he followed agricultural pursuits unsuccessfully until 1885, when he sold his farm and removed to Idaho Falls, where he arrived November 22. It was a little railroad town, in which he found a new home, a town which derived its importance from the railroad and the bridge and had no surrounding settlement that could bring much trade or support. Irrigation, realestate operations, and a determined effort to bring a good class of settlers, changed the town into the commercial, financial and mechanical center of a thrifty and growing agricultural population. In this work of improvement settlement and development, Mr. Smith has taken a leading part. He induced settlement and fostered activity in real estate and this, in turn, encouraged investment along all industrial lines. He platted the Broadbeck addition to Idaho Falls and placed it on the market, and has handled real estate extensively otherwise, on his own account and for others.

In the spring of 1864, before Mr. Smith was twenty-one, in personal response to the urgent demand of the United States government for men for military duty, in the suppression of the southern rebellion, he enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Fortieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served in Tennessee and Mississippi until he was discharged on account of ill health, in the fall of the same year. His regiment was detailed to guard railroads, and in connection with that work had many exciting encounters with guerrillas. This warfare was in many ways more harassing and dangerous than fighting in regular order of battle. Mr. Smith is a Grand Army man and a prominent Silver-Republican. He was elected justice of the peace and served in that office with much credit and greatly to the satisfaction of his fellow townsmen, but he has declined all other offices which have been offered him, in deference to the imperative demands made upon him by his private business.

October 13, 1868, he married Miss Sarah E. Bradt, of Mohawk-Dutch ancestry, and a native of Herkimer County, New York, daughter of James Bradt. Her father lived to be eighty-seven years old and her mother also attained a ripe old age. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have had six children, of whom four are living. Their daughter, Mary E., is Mrs. W. S. Jackson, of Idaho Falls, and Lewis M., Elva and Theron J., Jr., are members of their father’s household. Mrs. Smith is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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