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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
John Smith


JOHN SMITH, one of the highly respected and successful citizens of Chatham, County of Kent, Ontario, is descended from one of the pioneer settlers of the county.  The family originated in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the grandfather of John having been born there about 1755, and there married and died.  Among his children were:  James, Robert, David, Thomas, Mary and Duncan.  In 1832 Robert and Thomas Smith emigrated to Ontario, settling in Tilbury township, County of Kent, Thomas on Lot 10, Middle Road, where he farmed until his death.  James came in 1840, and settled in Cobourg.  The Smiths were the founders of Tilbury.

Robert Smith, the father of John, was born in Scotland in 1780, and there married Janet Patterson, a woman of Scottish extraction.  After locating in Ontario he followed farming and milling.  The home was in a wilderness of un cleared land, six miles from any signs of civilization, and for a long time after the family settled upon the property all the water for household use was carried in pails from Lake Erie, a distance of six miles.  These pails were placed on a pole resting on the shoulders of two men.  The grain, which was soon harvested, was ground in a hand mill invented by Robert Smith, a cousin of John Smith.  Meat was obtained by the trusty gun, wild game being plentiful, and with this meager diet the hard workers satisfied their hearty appetites for a long time.  Robert Smith was twice married, and by his first wife, Janet Patterson, he had the following children:  Jean, Marion, Robert, James, Edward, Duncan and John.  His second wife was Margaret Lowery, by whom he had four children:  David, Mary, Isabella and William. 

John Smith was born May 13th, 1822, in Scotland, and was reared to manhood in Tilbury township, County of Kent.  At the age of eighteen he hired out as a farm hand at a salary of eight dollars per month, and, being a thrifty and industrious young fellow, in 1844 he was able to purchase 100 acres of land, on Lot 24, Concession 9, Raleigh township, of which he cleared thirty acres, and raised a crop of wheat.  He then sold this property and purchased 200 acres on Talbot street, in Romney township, County of Kent, where he resided until 1888, when he retired from active life and settled in Chatham.  Mr. Smith was enterprising as well as industrious, and in partnership with the late Archibald McKellar, father of P.D. McKellar, he operated the first threshing machine along the Thames river.

On January 15th, 1846, Mr. Smith married Mary Ann Renwick, who was born in Romney township September 5th, 1822, daughter of Thomas and Ann (Robinson) Renwick, natives of England, who came to Romney township in 1818.  He was the first postmaster at Romney and Mr. Smith was the deputy.  To Mr. And Mrs. Smith nine children have been born, four of whom died young:  George, born March 4th, 1851, is a farmer in Dover township; he married Mary Duncan, by whom he has five children.  Harry, Bertha, Duncan, Maud and George Robert.   Edward, born November 6th, 1854 resides at Leamington, County of Essex; he married Josephine Wilkinson, and has no children.  Thomas Robert, born September 18th, 1858, married Edith Russel, and has one son, Russel. John B., born November 1st, 1861, married Agnes Ward, has one child, Jean, and resides in Raleigh township.  James, born in 1863, resided with his father and mother in Chatham, and was an invalid for a long time, before his death in April, 1903.  Politically Mr. Smith is a member of the Reform party.  His religious connection is with the Presbyterian Church, while Mrs. Smith is connected with the Methodist Church.  Through his own good management Mr. Smith accumulated a comfortable fortune, and is now enjoying the fruits of his long years of arduous labour.  He is now one of the oldest citizens of Chatham, and is held in the highest esteem by his fellow townsmen, who recognize his many excellent traits of character, and to many of whom he has endeared himself.


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