Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


WILLIAM M. SMITH, M. D. One of the best-known physicians of the city of Springfield, an honored veteran of the Civil war, and for a quarter of a century one of the respected citizens of Greene county, is Dr. William M. Smith. He chose medicine as his life profession and life purpose and pursuit. The environment of his earlier years, its discipline, his college course and drill, the culture that comes from books and study and travel, the success with which he has met as a physician, and the standard in his profession to which he has risen all testify to the wisdom of his choice.

Dr. Smith was born in Barnesville, Ohio, June 7, 1842. He is a son of John C. and Hannah (Thompson) Smith. The father was born in 1817, was reared a Quaker and was a carpenter and contractor during his active life. Toward the early part of the Civil war, although then advanced in years, he enlisted for service in the Union army in August, 1862, in the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Col. John H. Howe, and he served in the battles around Vicksburg, Mississippi, but the hardships of army life proved too much for him and he died before his term of enlistment had expired and was buried in the National cemetery at Mound City, Illinois. The mother of our subject was born January 18, 1818, in Huntington county, Pennsylvania, and was a daughter of Amos Thompson, a farmer. She came with her family to Ohio when she was a child, and her parents both died in that state. She spent the latter part of her life at the home of our subject in Springfield, Missouri, where her death occurred in 1889, and was buried in Hazelwood cemetery here. Some of the maternal great-great-uncles of our subject were soldiers in the Revolutionary war. The family is of German-English, Scotch and Irish ancestry.

Dr. Smith was reared in Ohio and there he received his early education in the common schools, later graduating from the Kewanee Academy, at Kewanee, Illinois, and was preparing for college at the time of his enlistment in the Federal army in September, 1861, in Company A, Forty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Col. Stewart, later serving under Col. Northrop. He saw considerable hard service and proved to be a gallant defender of the flag, participating in the battles of Farmington. Stone River, and the great battle of Chickamauga, in which he was wounded and taken prisoner, but was later paroled and sent to General Hospital in St. Louis. He was honorably discharged at St. Louis at the expiration of term of enlistment and later re-enlisted, February 7, 1865, in the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, serving until October, 1865, and was discharged at Selma, Alabama. After his career in the army Dr. Smith returned home and taught school for several terms, devoting his spare time to the study of medicine, and in 1868 he entered the Keokuk Medical College, at Keokuk, Iowa, later entering Rush Medical College, Chicago, from which he was graduated in 1870. He first began the practice of his profession at Atkinson, Illinois, remaining there nine years, and had a good practice; he then went to Sterling, Illinois, and practiced, three years, after which he moved to Beadle county, South Dakota, where he practiced six years, and in 1888 came to Springfield, Missouri, where he has remained to the present time, enjoying an excellent practice all the while and ranking among the leading general practitioners in the county.

Dr. Smith is a member of the Greene County Medical Society, the Southwest Missouri Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association and the American Medical Association. He was president of the first named society for one term. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic. He has been secretary of the local board of pension examiners for the past sixteen years. Politically he is a Republican and religiously is a member of the Congregational church.

Dr. Smith married Viola M. Ferrin, December 15, 1870. She is a daughter of Isaac and Maria (Bailey) Ferrin, both natives of New England. Mrs. Smith's father died when she was an infant. The mother spent her last years with our subject and died at his home in Springfield in 1890.

Four children have been born to Dr. Smith and wife, namely: Wells Ferrin, born in Atkinson, Illinois, in 1871, was educated in the Springfield high school and Drury College, later was graduated from Beaumont Medical College, in 1898, and he began his practice in Springfield, securing a position in the Frisco Hospital, where he remained two years, then removed to Arkansas, and is now division surgeon for the Iron Mountain Railroad, with headquarters at Little Rock. He married Robbie Blythe, of Clarksville, Arkansas, in 1905, and they have four children, Helen, John, Elsie and Elizabeth. He is a thirty-second degree Mason, and is a fine surgeon. Charles Wilbur Smith, second son of our subject, was born in Atkinson Illinois, in 1873, was educated in the Springfield high school and Drury College, also studied at the Beaumont Medical College, graduating with the class of 1901, later, in 1902, taking a post-graduate course in the St. Louis Hospital. He began the practice of his profession at Keota, Missouri, in 1902, and remained there six years, then came to Springfield and has been engaged in practice here ever since, and is one of the most successful of our younger surgeons and general practitioners, doing a great deal of surgery. He is a member of the Greene County Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association, the Southwest Missouri Medical Society and the American Medical Association. He was at one time health commissioner of the city of Springfield. He is a thirty-second degree Mason, and also belongs to the Knights of Pythias and B. P. O. E. He married Mary Helen Vail in 1902. She is a daughter of Edward Vail, superintendent of a local coal company. One child has been born to Dr. Charles W. Smith and wife, a daughter, Vail Smith, whose birth occurred in 1903. Amy Jessie Smith, daughter of the subject of this sketch, was born in Atkinson, Illinois, was educated in the Springfield high school and graduated from Drury College. She married Alfred H. Mansfield, an attorney, now chief claim agent of the Missouri Pacific Railroad; they reside in St. Louis. To this union one child has been born, Elizabeth, born on August 8, 1914. Winifred Elizabeth Smith, youngest of our subject's children, was born in South Dakota, was educated in the Springfield high school and Drury College, and she married O. J. McCutcheon, president of the McCutcheon' Bros. Vehicle & Harness Company, of Springfield; to them one child, Elizabeth, was born in 1910 in this city. The above named children were given every advantage as to education and general preparation for life, and they are all popular wherever they are known, and are well situated in life.

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