Biography of Clement Smith, Dr.

Dr. Clement Smith. The undaunted, inquiring attitude of the Twentieth Century is nowhere more definitely perceptible than among the exponents of medical science. The labor of the scientist and specialist of today is destroying ancicnt delusions and thereby placing the health of the nation in the hands of reasoners and independent thinkers. To this class of rational thinkers belones Dr. Clement Smith. of Topeka, whose opportunities along the lines of his specialty have been exceptional and whose use of the same had made him an important factor in connection with the treatment and cure of hernia for many years.

Doctor Smith was born at Batavia, Iowa, January 19. 1866, and is a son of Lucius Van Rensellaer and Elizabeth (Lseson) Smith, and a grandson, on the paternal side, of a soldier of the patriot forces during the Revolutionary war. On his mother’s side, through the Powells, he is related to some of the best New England families. Lucius V. R. Smith was born September 24, 1814, at Saint Alban’s, Vermont, of good old New England stock, and after leaving school learned the trade of millwright. Subsequently, he traveled all over the southern United States on horseback, as a journeyman at his trade. On one occasion, he was to have gone to Russia, at the request of the Czar of Russia, to instruct his people in the art of which he was a master, but missed his boat by a day and accordingly remained in America. After many wanderings, he located at Cineinnati, Ohio, where he met and became attracted to Miss Elizabeth Leeson, whom he later followed to Wheeling, West Virginia, where their marriage took place. Later they went to Illinois and finally settled at Batavia, Iowa, where Clement Smith was born. They later, in 1877, went to Topeka, where Luclus V. R. Smith became the founder of the business of which his son is now the head, and with which he was connected until his death, in 1897. Mrs. Smith passed away September 17, 1908, and was laid to rest at the side of her husband in Topeka Cemetery.

Clement Smith received his early education in the public schools of Topeka, following which he attended the Kansas Medical College, where he took a special course, particularly in hernia and anatomy, for which he received special certificates from the institution, the first to be issued by this college, which is now out of existence. While he was securing his education he was employed in his father’s laboratory and business establishment, being engaged in the manufacture of artificial limbs and orthopedical and surgical instruments. About 1887, father and sons began to give their entire attention to the manufacture of trusses, and this business had grown to such an extent that it is believed that it is now the largest of its kind in the United States.

Having inherited much of their father’s mechanical ability, and being of an inquiring and investigating turn of mind, Doctor Clement and his brother, L. Anton Smith, became interested in self-propelled vehicles and in 1890 invented and developed the first practical automobile to be made and sold in the State of Kansas. This was called the Smith and was built in the factory at Tenth and Jefferson streets, Topeka, and a company was formed, of which Doctor Smith was the president. This antedated the Packard and Pierce companies, and closely followed the Haynes-Apperson and Winton, which were the pioneers in the automobile field. The Smith company manufactured no machine smaller than two cylinders, and built what was then considered an enormous car of six cylinders, for Hon. Arthur Capper, now governor of the state. This business was continued successfully for some time but was eventually sold to eastern interests and this latter corporation finally dissolved.

On September 27, 1893, Doctor Smith was united in marriage with Miss Adelaide Adele Sparks, of Fairport, Iowa, at the home of the bride.

When he left the automobile business, Doctor Smith purchased all other interests in the manufacture of trusses, and had had complete charge of the business. He had probably done more than any other man to bring the mechanical treatment of hernia to its highest possible attainment, had made this his life work, had devoted practically all of his time to its betterment and to the enlightenment of mankind upon the subject, and from him there had come probably more published literature on the subject of hernia and its mechanical alleviation than from any other source in the world. He had built up a business that includes every state in this country, as well as Canada, our island possessions and nearly every civilized country upon the globe. Doctor Smith is a man of genial and confidence inspiring personality, a philosopher in his attitude toward the world and a rationalist in his sane and practical purpose. He is a republican, all other things being equal, but is inclined to be independent when he considers the other party’s candidate the better man. Fraternally, he is affiliated with the Masons, in which he had attained to the thirty-third degree and had filled practically all the chairs in the Scottish Rite, is a member of the United Commercial Travelers, and is a great worker in charitable movements and enterprises.



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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