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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 590~


Finley Smith

Finley Smith, a leading farmer and early settler of Fayette County, now residing in Fayette, was born in Wayne County, Ohio, April 17, 1833, and is a son of Solomon and Rebecca (Crawford) Smith, both of whom were born in Ohio, near Wheeling, Va., the former on the 17th of June, 1806, and the latter on the 14th of September, 1800. They were married in their native State in 1825, and have now been keeping house together for sixty-five years. The wife and mother is at this writing ninety years of age and her husband in his eighty-fifth year. Both are in the enjoyment of good health and they make their home in Medina County, Ohio, where they settled about 1836. Mr. Smith has two brothers and a sister living and his wife has one brother and a sister, her brother being now ninety-two years of age. On the father's side the family is of Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch descent, while the Crawford's are of Scottish lineage. The figures show them to be a hardy, long-lived race.


Finley Smith was brought up on a heavily timbered farm in his native State and attended the public schools. From childhood he was trained to habits of industry and frugality and obliged to make his own way in the world. Every dollar he received he had to earn. On the 17th of April, 1852, he left home for Wisconsin and spent the summer in farm work in Dodge County, near Columbus, of that State. In November following he came to Iowa, arriving in Fayette on the 29th of that month. On the journey he was accompanied by a man who was traveling with an ox-team and driving some cows. On his arrival in this county Mr. Smith worked at whatever he could find to do, whereby he might earn an honest dollar, and in the winter of 1853-54 he entered one hundred acres of land, on section 1, Smithfield Township, also purchasing an additional eighty acres of timber land. This farm he improved as his finances admitted and in 1860 built a house thereon.


On the 1st of June, 1864, Mr. Smith and Miss Sarah Adams, an orphan daughter of John and Frances Adams, were united in marriage, the union being celebrated in Westfield Township. The lady was born in Kane County, Ill., December 14, 1841, and came to Iowa in 1858. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have five children living and have lost one. Alden Y., the eldest, born November 20. 1865, died in Colorado of typhoid fever, October 11, 1888; Minnie M., born October 6, 1867; Mary Myrtle, November 20, 1869; Vida C., November 19, 1875; Frances Rebecca, December 28, 1879; and Edith Ivy, January 26, 1883. All were born in Smithfield Township on the old home farm.


In politics Mr. Smith is a Democrat, has served two terms as Trustee of Smithfield and is now a member of the City Council of Fayette. He is a Royal Arch Mason, belonging to the Pleiades Lodge, No. 248, A. F. & A. M., and Ansel Humphreys Chapter, No. 80, R. A. M. He continued his residence on the farm until March 14, 1888, when he removed to the city with his family, the better to educate his children. He still owns the old homestead farm, together with several others, aggregating eight hundred acres, all of which lie in Fayette County, excepting two hundred and twelve acres in Clayton County. In the spring of 1889 Mr. Smith helped to organize the Fayette Creamery Association, of which he has since been Vice-President. He is essentially a self-made man. He left home with but a trifle of his earnings up to that time and when he crossed the Mississippi River his assets amounted to just $113. On his arrival in this county he worked at splitting rails at 50 cents a hundred. There were just two houses, the homes of the Robertson brothers, where the present university town of Fayette stands. In order to get on faster than the farm admitted of he worked at threshing for seventeen seasons. He accumulated a large property until he is now rated among the most prominent and successful farmers of Fayette County. He has always devoted considerable attention to growing and feeding cattle and hogs, besides raising good horses. He now stocks his several farms and keeps a general supervision of them. In the multiplicity of business transactions in which Mr. Smith has been concerned with his fellow-citizens of Iowa, he has always been found prompt, upright and of unquestioned integrity. There are but few of the very earliest settlers of Fayette County left to tell the story of the pioneer days, and it is with pleasure that the writer pays this tribute to one so worthy as the subject of this sketch.




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