Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
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
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