Frederick Alonzo Smith, at one time a promoter of manufacturing interests in Burlington, and active also as an operator in real estate, is now living retired in the enjoyment of a handsome competence that has come to him as the direct reward of labors unremitting and honorable. Recognizing that his opportunity had come, and utilizing his possibilities in the field of practical business endeavor, he made his labors at once a source of profit to himself and also of value to the city in the promotion of its commercial activity.
Mr. Smith is a native of Massachusetts, his birth having occurred in Otis, Berkshire county, on Dec. 31, 1828, his parents being Enos and Millie Moffatt (Shaw) Smith. His paternal grandfather, Curtis Smith, was a resident of Haddam, Conn., where he followed the occupation of farming. He married Aseneth Brainard, and in later years removed to Otis, where his son Enos was then living. He had served as a captain in the State militia, and was prominent in community affairs, wielding a wide and beneficial influence.
Enos Smith was reared to manhood in Haddam, Conn., and soon after attaining his majority removed to Otis, Mass., where he followed the trade of blacksmithing, which he had learned in his native State. He was married, in Otis, to Miss Millie M. Shaw, a daughter of Joshua Shaw, and subsequently they removed to Stockbridge, Mass., where Mr. Smith owned a farm. Taking up his abode thereon, he lived in practical retirement from further business cares until his death, his remains being then interred in the Stockbridge cemetery. Successful in business, he was also active in political and church circles, and in connection with many concerns touching the varied interests and affecting the welfare of the State. He was a representative to the General Court or Legislature of Massachusetts, and gave his allegiance to the Whig party until its dissolution, when he joined the ranks of the Republican party. He held membership in the Congregational church of Stockbridge, and was a man who stood for advanced ideas and progressive thought.
Frederick Alonzo Smith, having acquired his early education in the schools of Otis, continued his studies in the Lee boarding schools, of which Alexander Hyde was master. He afterward remained at his father's home until his removal to the West in the fall of 1852. He located first at Chillicothe, Ohio, and there had what was known as a Yankee notion wagon, from which he sold goods in the outlying settlements beyond Chillicothe. Succeeding in that enterprise, he determined to carry his labors into other frontier districts, and in 1855 arrived in Burlington, Iowa. Here he made arrangements to travel for Samuel Robinson, and thus became one of the early commercial travelers of the State. At that time there were no railroads, and he made his trips with his own team, visiting all of the settled portions of Iowa. Following that pursuit until the fall of 1859, he then embarked in business on his own account, but still remained upon the road in connection with the cigar and tobacco trade, maintaining an office during this period in Burlington. In 1863 he opened a tobacco store and began the manufacture of cigars, also dealing in all goods of that line. His was one of the first extensive cigar manufacturing plants of Burlington. The business grew with the expansion of the city, and Mr. Smith improved every opportunity for broadening the scope of his business career. In 1866 he admitted George Scott to a partnership, and later the tobacco interests of Burlington were consolidated under the firm name of Smith, Scott & Company, an extensive plant being opened on Main Street, where employment was furnished to one hundred and fifty operatives. The firm added a general tobacco business, manufacturing all kinds of cigars and other manufactured products from the tobacco plant.
In connection with Mr. Scott, Mr. Smith purchased Mr. Bolton's interest in 1868, and the business was continued successfully until the fall of 1869, when a fire destroyed their plant and stock, involving them in great loss. They however resumed operations almost immediately, purchasing the large building at the corner of Valley and Third Streets, and equipping it for the continuance of their manufacturing interests and trade. This building was sixty by one hundred and twenty feet, four stories in height, with basement, and was a brick structure. Mr. Smith also bought twenty feet of ground adjoining, on which he erected a four-story building for the firm of Acres, Blackmar & Company, which firm has since occupied it. Mr. Smith continued in the business until 1879, when another fire occurred. In the meantime Mr. Scott's interest had been purchased by Harry Cook, and the firm of Smith, Cook & Company was then formed. Following the fire of 1879 they settled up affairs and closed out the business.
Mr. Smith was also one of the promoters in the establishment of the Burlington Pickle factory, and the business was incorporated in 1880 with Mr. Smith as president. He occupied that position for a number of years, during which time the business expanded until it reached large and profitable proportions. It is still in successful operation; and although Mr. Smith has severed his connection with the business, he still owns a half interest in the building in which it is carried on. He has invested quite extensively in real estate, being at one time the owner of large farming interests. He also built a beautiful home on the bluff, corner of Eighth and Columbia Streets, where he has extensive grounds.
Mr. Smith was married to Miss Lucy Parker, of Sandusky, Lee county, Iowa, a daughter of Benjamin Parker, of Kinsman, Ohio. They have one daughter, Millie, now the wife of E. P. Eastman, of this city. Mrs. Smith died in December, 1895. She was a member of the Presbyterian church, and Mr. Smith has always been a contributor to its support and attends many of its services. In politics he has been a Republican through the years of the party's existence, but has had no political aspirations, preferring to give undivided attention to his business affairs, which, capably conducted, have been resultant factors in the acquirement of a handsome and well merited fortune.