George A. Smith, a leading pioneer settler of Sacramento county, living near Courtland, came to California in the fall of 1853 and thus for more than a half century has been a witness of the great changes which have here occurred, as this state has made rapid strides toward a high point of civilization and progress. He is a native of Bavaria, Germany, born on the 9th of March, 1831, and is a son of Frederick and Margaret Smith, who were likewise natives of Bavaria. He was reared in his native land until 1849, when at the age of eighteen years he emigrated to America, hoping that he might benefit by the improved business conditions which he understood were offered in the new world. He remained in New York city for a time and subsequently located in Illinois, where he resided until 1853, when he started for California, being attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast and the opportunities which it brought about for business advancement in all lines of industrial and commercial activity.

He came by way of the Panama route, walking the entire distance across the isthmus in order to catch a steamer on the Pacific side. At length he reached California and at once made his way to Sacramento county, where he soon secured employment as a farm hand. In 1855 he began farming on his own account on Grand Island and was identified with agricultural interests for many years, there residing until 1881, in which year he settled at his present home south of Courtland, where he has resided the greater part of the time since. His home ranch is near the town and contains one hundred and sixty-nine acres of land, largely devoted to fruit culture. He also owns a ranch on Grand Island, comprising six hundred and seventy-four acres, which borders the Sacramento river and of which three hundred acres is devoted to the raising of fruit.

Mr. Smith returned to Joliet, Illinois, in 1859, and there on the 31st of December of that year was married to Miss Margaret H. Hall, who was born in Germany, but was reared in Joliet. They have become the parents of four children, of whom three are living: William J., who resides on Grand Island, in Sacramento county; Edward H., who makes his home near Courtland; and Ida H., the wife of Scott Ennis, of Sacramento, California.

Mr. Smith is now a director in the Farmers and Mechanics Bank in California, of which he is one of the organizers. He is also a director in the California Transportation Company, of San Francisco, and thus his business activity is extended to various lines, resulting in benefit to himself and at the same time proving a factor in the business development of the cities in which they are located. He is a man of sound judgment and keen discrimination, carrying forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes. He is public-spirited, favoring every movement that tends to improve his locality and elevate society. His political support is given to the Republican party and he is a staunch advocate of the public school system. Few residents of Sacramento county have resided longer within its borders or have more intimate knowledge of the history of the state and the advances which constitute its annals. He arrived here when much of the state was little more than a mining camp, but with the passing of th years a great transformation has been wrought and in his home locality Mr. Smith has done his full part in the work of development and improvement.

Source: History of the New California - Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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