Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, whose excellent farm of 105 acres lies in Lost Creek Township, one mile from the eastern line of Miami County, has been a quiet, general farmer for many years, but for a long period led a more active and adventurous life than falls to the lot of people generally. He was born in Clark County, Ohio, on the old Croft farm, October 11, 1848, and is a son of Enoch and Catherine (Rockey) Smith.

    Enoch Smith was born on a farm near Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1801. His father died when he was quite young and the mother moved first to Virginia with her children, and then brought the family to Ohio and settled on a small place in Clark County, not far from Boston, where she died. Enoch had two brothers and two sisters, and as his mother's resources were small he started out for himself while still young, beginning to work as a teamster. Later he entered the employ of George Croft and shortly afterward was married to Catherine Rockey, a native of Lancaster, Ohio. Enoch Smith and wife remained with the Croft family for thirty years, giving faithful service and receiving just remuneration and high regard. In 1876 he bought a tract of sixty acres of land one mile north of the present farm of William, H. Smith, and there he and wife passed the remaining years of their lives, respected and esteemed by all who knew them. The death of Enoch Smith took place when within sixteen days of his ninetieth year, and his widow died in 1883, two years later, at the home of her son, William Henry, when aged eighty years. They had eight children, namely: Jonathan, who is deceased; Elizabeth, now deceased, who was the wife of Vincent Yinks; Daniel, who is deceased; Martha, deceased, who was the wife of Levi Kirby, also deceased; Catherine, who is the wife of Augustus Hagan, also deceased; William Henry; and Jacob and James, both of whom live in Clark County, Ohio.

    William Henry Smith is a very well informed man, but he secured but little school training in his youth, his services being required on the farm as soon as he was old enough to wield a hoe or hold a plough handle. He remembers the old log district schoolhouse where he was taught the rudiments by a young man who later became the distinguished soldier and statesman, Gen. O. W. Keiffer. In 1868 he left home, being then a youth of about twenty years, and, in company with his cousin, Jesse Benson, started for that land of adventure the West. The boys utilized the railroad as far as the iron rail would transport them, which was to Laramie, Wyoming. They then started teaming to Helena, Montana, which, at that time was an inconceivably rough mining town and to reach it they had to travel through wild sections beset by savage Indian warriors. They reached Montana safely, however, although parties just before and after, on the same trail, were cruelly massacred. The boys fell in with the ways of the people to some extent, built a cabin on the creek in which they washed out their gold, sometimes digging up $1,000 in a single day for a week at a time, and remained there, with varying luck, for four years. They then returned to Clark County, where they remained for nine months, and then went back to the same region, accompanied. by Henry Croft, Jr., and stayed there for seven years.

    Mr. Smith then came back to the East and in 1883 he bought his present farm from George Sprinkle, after which he made his third trip to the gold fields, previously renting his farm, on which he bad lived for seventeen years, and selling his stock. On this occasion he remained in the far West, only two years. His second trip would have proved his most profitable one had it not been undertaken about the time of the Custer massacre, when the Indians were on the war path. At that time, to save themselves from a like fate, the miners had to lay down their tools and waste their time pursuing the savages, and right near the camp where Mr. Smith was interested several of the miners were killed and scalped. On one occasion, just at that time, Mr. Smith says that the water had suddenly gone out of the ditch which supplied the camp, and the supposition was that the Indians had cut off the supply. Mr. Smith was given the doubtful honor of being appointed to go and find out and he took the precaution to carry his loaded gun with him when he started to investigate. Fortunately he met no Indians in his ride of ten miles, but discovered that the trouble had been caused by a bear stepping on a hand spike that controlled the flow of water and thus shut it off.

    Mr. Smith formally engaged in threshing after be settled on his farm, but when his outfit wore out he decided to follow that industry no longer. He has never married, but his long camping experience has made him more independent of a good cook's help than many who have not had it, and there are those of his friends who have sampled his dinners and declare they could not be improved on. The original writer of this sketch, however, regrets that it was necessary to decline with thanks the kind invitation extended to him to participate in one of these repasts which was being served at the time of the interview. Mr. Smith is a Republican in politics and has served as supervisor of the township. He belongs to the Odd Fellows lodge at Addison.

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