J Dyer Smith Biography

From the 1889 History of Jackson County Iowa , Pgs 610 - 611

J. Dyer Smith.  Probably there is no more worthy or popular man in the town of Preston than he with whose name we introduce this biographical outline.  A man of decided views and opinions, he possesses great force of character and amid the many changes of life, has preserved that equanimity of deportment which had gained him not only the admiration, but the respect and warm friendship of all who know him.  He is a Deacon and one of the pillars of the Congregational Chruch, and in his social;, business and religious life has been enabled to present an example worthy of imitation.

Mr. Smith is the owner of a good property including besides his town residence, a farm of 120 Acres, eighty acres lying on section 31, and forty Acres on section 5, Van Buren Township, the farm buildings being on the former. The main facts in relation to his family history are a follows: his father, Joshua Smith, a native o Vermont, was the son of David Smith, one of the body guards of Gen. Washington during the Revolutionary War.  The old hero is recorded as having related with pardonable pride many interesting event of those stirring times, and also concerning the Father of our Country, who was never ashamed to fall upon his knees and seek Divine guidance during his hours of peril and anxiety.  It is a well-known fact that he shared the privations of his soldiers with cheerful spirit, and David Smith frequently related how he ate roast potatoes from a shingle in leiu of pewter or sliver.

The paternal great-grandfather of our subject was an Englishman by birth, and upon emigrating to America, settled in Connecticut, where it is probable he spent the remainder of his life, and occupied himself as a farmer.  Grandfather David Smith was born in the colony of Connecticut, and married a French lady from Normandy.  With the exception of this digression, this branch of the Smith family is purely Anglo-Saxon, and traces their ancestry back ot the time of William of Orange.  Joshua Smith was born and reared in Vermont, as was also the lady who he married, Miss Hannah Emmons.

The parents of our subject lived in Vermont until 1816, when they emigrated to Tioga County, N.Y.  The father in the meantime, in his native State, was a member of the militia, Holding the rank of First Sergeant.  He had been bred to farm life, but after leaving the Green Mountain State, engaged in lumbering and operated saw-mills along the Susquehanna River.  At the same time he cleared a tract of land and carried on agriculture to a considerable extent until he became interested in architecture and bridge-building, which he prosecuted very successfully.  He spent the remainder of his days in Tioga County, passing away at the age of seventy-two years.  Of his first marriage there were born two children, the subject of this sketch [J. Dyer Smith] and a son, Orman, who died at the age of eleven years.  Of his second union there were born three children, two of who lived to mature years, and are now deceased.

Deacon Smith, our subject, was born Sept 2, 1812 in Londonderry, VT and the scenes of his first recollections lie among the Green Mountains of his native State.  He was at an early age trained to habits of industry and economy.  When a youth of seventeen years, he assumed the management of one of his father's mills , and at the age of twenty, supported not only himself, but the balance of the family, His father in the meantime having failed in business and lost a large amount of property.  His education was somewhat limited, having been conducted in a log school-house under the imperfect system of that day.  

When in the twenty-second year of his age, Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Louisa Atwater, and he thereafter carried on the saw-mill and the farm until removing to Pennsylvania, where he engaged in lumbering about four year with excellent results.  Of this Union there Were born five daughters, only two of whom are now living: Julia A. and Ellen J.: both are married and reside in Dakota.  In the year 1859, our subject set out for Iowa, and took up his abode in Van Buren Township on a tract of wild land.  He had then a capital of  $7, and was among strangers.  He labored a number of years amid difficulties and discouragements, but in due time industry, honesty and perseverance met with their legitimate reward, and he once more found himself on solid Ground.  Two years after leaving New York State, he returned in order to regain if possible a portion of the property which had once  belonged to him, but the attempt proved futile.  

In Tioga County, N.Y., on the 20 of June, 1861, our subject was married a second time at Waverly, to Miss Julia A. Spencer, and returned to Iowa that same fall with is family.  Mrs. Smith joined hands with her husband in his efforts secure a home and competence for the future, and Providence smiled upon their labors.  Of this marriage there were born two children.  The son, David married Miss Charlotte Wyckoff, and has one child, Maud M.  The second child of Mr. and Mrs Smith, a daughter, died in infancy.  In May, 1871, Mr. Smith and his excellent wife concluded to retire from the active labors of farm life, and took up their residence at a snug home in Preston, where they now reside.

Mr. Smith, politically, is a staunch Republican, "dyed in the wool," having been identified with he party since its organization.  He had the honor of voting for "old Tippecanoe in 1840, and also voted for his grandson, Benjamin Harrison in the election of 1888.  He has filled his present office of Deacon in the Congregational Church for a few months and is a man looked up to and respected by all who know him.