Biography of Solomon A. Smith

Solomon A. Smith is one of the old time residents of Cowley County and he taught school to an earlier generation of children in the country districts, but for upwards of thirty years had been a successful lawyer of high standing at Winfield, and is one of the oldest members of the bar of that city.

His home had been in Kansas since 1869. He was born near Salem in Marion County, Illinois, May 1, 1853. His people were among the very first settlers in Marion County, having located there very early in the nineteenth century. This branch of the Smith family came out of England to Virginia in Colonial days. His great-grandfather, Solomon Smith, was a Virginia planter, but in his old age went to Marion County, Illinois, where he died and is buried. He went to Illinois to join his three sons, Solomon, Martin and Willis. Willis Smith, grandfather of Solomon A., was born in Virginia, and on going west to Marion County did some of the hard work required to redeem a part of the lands of that section from the wilderness domain. He became a successful farmer and also served as sheriff of the county. In 1850 he started for California, going overland, and while the party was on the plains of Western Kansas they were stricken with cholera and he died and was buried on the overland trail. Willis Smith married Jane Lynch. She was a native of Ireland and died in Marion County, Illinois. John Riley Smith, father of Solomon A., was born in Marion County, Illinois, August 4, 1830. He grew up and married in that county, and his main vocation in life was farming. In the flush of young manhood, on August 4, 1862, his thirty-second birthday, he enlisted in the 111th Illinois Infantry, and was in all the service of that regiment until it was mustered out August 4, 1865, just three years later. He served in the Army of the Tennessee under the gallant General McPherson. John R. Smith was wounded in the battle of Resaca which was a part of the great Atlanta campaign. He was incapacitated for further duty, and in December, 1864, was transferred to the invalid corps at Camp Douglas, Chicago. He remained on duty there until the close of the war, and continued to make his home in Chicago for several years. He set up in a contract teaming business, having purchased several teams of Government horses at the very reasonable price of $25 apiece. He continued this business until 1869, in that year came out to Kansas, and early in 1870 settled in Wilson County. In the fall of the same year he homesteaded 160 acres in Cowley County about ten miles east of Winfield, and that farm, developed and improved under his direction, remained his home until 1890. Selling it he came to Winfield and lived retired. When the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma was opened he secured a claim, and for a time lived at Newkirk. In 1902 he retired to Dexter, Kansas, where his death occurred March 14, 1907, at the age of seventy-seven. He was a democrat in politics, had membership in the Grand Army Post at Newkirk, Oklahoma, and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

This old soldier and Kansas pioneer married Mary Frances Brown. She was born near Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1831 and died at Dexter, Kansas, in 1909. They had a large family of children, a brief record of whom is as follows: William M., who is a farmer and stockman and died near Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1901; Solomon A.; Elizabeth, who died at Dexter, Kansas, in 1912, wife of L. B. Bullington, who was a soldier of the Civil war and is now a retired farmer at Winfield; Delia, wife of E. I. Johnson, who lives in Winfield but owned a farm two miles from the town; John R., Jr., postmaster at Warner, Oklahoma; Carrie Frances, wife of Ed. Watt, whose home is in Austin, Texas, but who is foreman of a ranch at San Luis Potosi, about fifty miles west of Tampico, Mexico; Charles M., who was a cowboy and died at Ralston, Oklahoma, in 1901.

For several years after the war Solomon A. Smith lived in Chicago and while there attended the public schools. After coming to Kansas he was a student in Baker University two years, but that training came after he was grown. On leaving college in June, 1878, he began teaching in the country schools of Cowley County and for ten years that was his chief work. In the meantime he steadily carried on his studies of the law, and in 1889 was admitted to the bar. Since then he had been in active practice at Winfield, and is not only one of the oldest members of the bar but had attained the position due to thorough ability and successful handling of a large volume of important litigation. He had been both in the general civil and criminal practice of the law. His offices are in the Cowley County National Bank Building.

Mr. Smith is a member of the Cowley County Bar Association, was a member of the school board at Winfield eight years, and had long been interested in the things pertaining to the lives of the older generation of citizens. He was formerly president of the Old Settlers’ Association of Cowley County and is still an active member of that organization. In politics Mr. Smith is affiliated with the socialists. His home is at 408 Harter Street.

On December 29, 1878, at Medoc, Missouri, Mr. Smith married Miss Mary F. Johnson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. T. Johnson, both now deceased. Her father was a physician and surgeon by profession, formerly practicing at Newman in Douglas County, Illinois, but after the war removing to Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have four children: Joseph E., who is conducting a successful produce business at Nardin, Oklahoma; John T., who is stenographer for the Nineteenth Judicial District Court of Kansas, with home and headquarters at Winfield; Lois Bernice married Virgil Burnett, who is with a wholesale grocery company at Dodge City, Kansas; and Robert Bruce, who until May 9, 1917, was in Winfield as pressman for the Winfield Courier. On May 10, 1917, he went to Fort Riley, Kansas, to the officers’ training camp.



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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