Biography of B. S. Smith

B. S. Smith is one of the oldest business men of Humboldt. He had been a merchant there thirty years. In that time he had built up the largest and most complete dry goods establishment not only in the city but in that part of the state: It is a splendid store, stocked with a varied assortment of all the goods required by a discriminating trade, and had been built up on the foundation of square and honest dealing and a careful and painstaking service. Mr. Smith is also well known in other lines of business and as a public spirited citizen.

He is an example of success attained in spite of early disadvantages and handicaps. Bergen Stelle Smith was born at Quakertown in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, July 27, 1857. His father, Zachariah Smith, was born in the same part of New Jersey in 1832, was a merchant tailor, and died at Quakertown, New Jersey, in 1862 when only thirty years of age. He was a member of the Baptist Church. He married Lydia Ann Johnston, who was born in 1835 and is now living at Paterson, New Jersey. Mr. and Mrs. Zachariah Smith had three children: William Judson, a resident of Humboldt, Kansas; Emma L., at home with her mother at Paterson, New Jersey; and Bergen S. Mrs. Zachariah Smith married for her second husband Nicol Graham. Nicol Graham was born in Newfermland, Scotland, and died at Paterson, New Jersey, in 1901. He entered at an early age the employ of the Rogers Locomotive Works at Paterson, New Jersey, rose to responsibilities in their service, and was finally sent to Australia to supervise the assembling of locomotives sent out by his company. He also served as master mechanic of the Renssalaer & Saratoga Railroad, and at one time was master mechanic of the Illinois Central Railway. Mr. and Mrs. Graham had two children: Harry D., of Paterson, New Jersey; and Margaret, living at Paterson, the widow of Edward Conley Toie, who was in the insurance business.

B. S. Smith attended the Reading Academy at Flemington, New Jersey, and a private school. He was only thirteen when he left school to make his own way in the world. For a number of years he earned his living as an employe in the office of the Hunterdon County Republican, and acquired considerable knowledge of the newspaper and printing business. In 1877 he left newspaper work to come west, and for a time was in the great department store of Bulleen, Moore & Emery at Kansas City, Missouri, and later became connected with the wholesale house of Tootle-Hanna Dry Goods Company at Kansas City. While with that wholesale firm he learned the dry goods business in many of its details, and the experience had proved invaluable to him in his subsequent career as an independent merchant. Mr. Smith remained with the Tootle-Hanna Company until 1884.

In that year he came to Kansas and located at Cherryvale, where he conducted a clothing and furnishing store for a year and a half. In 1886 he moved to Humboldt, and there established the B. S. Smith dry goods store located on Bridge Street on the north side of the Square. His large stock now fills floor space 50 by 100 feet, and his trade covers a radius of twenty miles east and west of Humboldt and five miles to the north and south of that city.

Mr. Smith had also been vitally connected with the industrial and manufacturing interests of Humboldt, and is a director, stockholder and vice president of the Humboldt Brick Company. He owned considerable business property and land in Morton County, and had recently completed a fine modern home on Osage Street between Eleventh and Twolfth streets. He is treasurer of the Humboldt School Board, an active member of the Board of Trade, and for ten years served as city treasurer of Humboldt. Politically Mr. Smith is a republican and fraternally he is affiliated with Pacific Lodge No. 29, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Valley Chapter No. 11, Royal Arch Masons, Chanute Commandery of the Knights Templar, Humboldt Camp No. 987, Modern Woodmen of America, Humboldt Lodge No. 133, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Court of Honor. He is a member and elder in the Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Smith was married at Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1903 to Miss Clara D. Nolte, daughter of George H. and Mary (Dunbaugh) Nolte. Her mother now resided at Humboldt, and her father, deceased, was a pork packer in Beardstown and Jacksonville, Illinois. Mrs. Smith died in June, 1904.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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