Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 482-84.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  James Newton Smith

James Newton Smith, a well known and successful agriculturist residing on tile southwest quarter of section 27, Lee township, was born in Barren county, Kentucky, December 18, 1851. The great-grandfather on the paternal side was the founder of the family in the United States and two of his sons, John and Hugh Smith, served as captains in the Revolutionary war.  The grandparents of our subject were Captain John and Isabella (Lattimore) Smith.  Both of whom were of Irish descent and were born in Rutherford county, North Carolina.  There they celebrated their marriage and in 1798 emigrated to Barren county. Kentucky, taking up land near the head of Beaver Creek.  Captain John Smith, who was a fine Latin scholar, engaged in surveying and farming in Barren county, Kentucky, and there made his home for about fifty years, rearing a family of twelve children.  Both he and his wife lie buried in the old Lattimore graveyard.  Francis Lattimore served with the rank of captain in the Revolutionary war, while William Lattimore was a soldier in the the [sic] Confederate Army under John H. Morgan.  In the winter of 1863-4 the latter emigrated to Jefferson county, Iowa.  The Smiths and Lattimores were all Protestants in religious faith.


Finis and Fanny (Siddens) Smith, the parents of James Newton Smith, were both natives of Kentucky.  The father successfully carried on merchandising and farming in the Blue Grass state but at the time of the Civil war was obliged to leave the south because of his sympathy with the Union cause and in 1863 he took up his abode in Jefferson county, Iowa.  He was married twice, his first wife passing away in 1864 when forty-five years of age.  By that union there were fourteen children, three of whom still survive, namely:  George W., a resident of Marathon, Iowa; Lewis M., who is living at Gadsden, Alabama; and James Newton, of this review.  Unto Finis Smith and his second wife were born five children.  His demise occurred in Jacksonport, Arkansas, when he had attained the age of seventy-two years.


James Newton Smith lost his mother when but twelve years of age and thus early in life was thrown upon his own resources, but he bravely met and eventually conquered the many difficulties which beset his path, winning the prosperity that ever crowns earnest and persistent labor.  On the 13th of November, 1873, in Jefferson county, Iowa, he was united in marriage to Miss Martha Ann Mills, a daughter of Ralph R. and Elizabeth (Parker) Mills, natives of Vermont and Pennsylvania, respectively.  Ralph R. Mills was numbered among the earliest pioneer settlers of Jefferson county, Iowa, where he located in 1830, receiving the first deed to his farm in that county, signed by James K. Polk.  He was called to his final rest in August, 1873, while his wife, long surviving him, passed away in July, 1904, the remains of both being interred in Fairfield cemetery in Jefferson county.  Unto this worthy couple were born ten children, six of whom are still living, namely:  Minerva, the wife of Carter Lawson, who resides on the old homestead in Jefferson county; Allie E., the wife of John Page, of Colorado; Mrs. Smith; Mary A., who is the wife of William G. Lawson and resides near the old homestead in Jefferson county, Iowa; Sarah J., who is the wife of John Nevin and makes her home in Winterset, Iowa; and Joel E., who wedded Miss Mary Stewart and lives in Sterling, Colorado.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born the following children:  Fanny E., the wife of Byron E. Tremain, who resides in Buena Vista county; Anna Belle, who became the wife of Duncan Donaldson and passed away in December, 1902, when twenty-five years of age; Bertha, the wife of J. Oliver Landsness also living in Buena Vista county; Ralph R., who resides west of Spirit Lake; and Gilbert G., Benjamin H. and James Newton, Jr., all at home.


In the spring of 1878 James Newton Smith removed to northwestern Iowa, having traded property in Jefferson county for some land in Clay county, which, however, he soon disposed of.  Subsequently he bought a timber claim on section 14, Grant township, Buena Vista county, which he afterward sold to Dan Woods and then rented a farm on section 34 for about seven years.  Throughout this period both he and his wife taught school in addition to carrying on the work of the farm.  While residing on section 34 he purchased the entire adjoining section, with the exception of forty acres.  Selling this property in 1881, he subsequently bought four hundred and sixty five acres on section 3, Lincoln township, and two hundred and forty acres on section 1, and bought and disposed of many pieces of property.  In 1880 he purchased the farm on which he now resides, comprising the southwest quarter of section 27, Lee township.  It is a rich and well improved property and annually yields golden harvests in return for the care and labor that is bestowed upon it.  Mr. Smith is widely recognized as one of the representatives and prosperous farmers of the county, who has been prominently identified with its agricultural interests from pioneer times down to the present.


Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Smith has given his political allegiance to the democracy and for several years served as president of the school board, the cause of education ever finding in him a stalwart champion.  Fraternally he is connected with Enterprise Lodge, No. 332, A. F. & A. M., at Sioux Rapids, and also the Odd Fellows lodge at that place.