GEORGE F. SMITH


George F. Smoth, who died at Stockton, January 9, 1890, was a successful and widely known California forty-niner, for many years a resident of San Joaquin county, and recognized as one of the most extensive land owners and ablest agriculturists in the county.

He was born in Crawford county, Indiana, September 13, 1822, being a son of Robert and Lydia A. H. (mcMahon) Smith, his parents both native Kentuckians. The Smiths were of English and Irish extraction, and came to this country during the colonial epoch, and the paternal grandfather, isaac Smith, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. When a boy Mr. Smith went with his parents to Mead county, Kentucky, where he was reared to manhood, and his early education was received in the subscription schools of that portion of Kentucky. He was necessarily largely a self-educated man, but it is recalled that he was always interested in the world of affairs and kept himself well informed about them.

One of his early experiences in life was as an Ohio river boatman. At the age of twenty-seven, in 1849, he joined in the exodus for the Pacific coast and came with a mule-team train across the plains to this state. For some years he engaged in the buying, selling and raising of cattle in Tuolumne and Fresno counties, and in this line of industry was very successful. He located at Stockton in 1859, and that was his home practically the rest of his life, from which city he directed his large and constantly increasing agricultureal operations in San Joaquin county. During the early fifties he had for a short time conducted a livery stable in Stockton. General agriculture was his principal pursuit, and on the Lower Sacramento road about five miles from Stockton he owned at one time approximately three thousand acres, a large portion of which was reclaimed land. He also gave a broad and public-spirited interest to the affairs of his community in general. For a number of years he served on the board of education in Stockton. In politics he was a Democrat with independent proclivities. He was at one time a member of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers.

May 9, 1854, Mr. Smith was married in Sonora, this state, to Miss Jennie Bell, who still lives, one of the venerable and honored pioneer women of San Joaquin county. She was born in Rutherford county, North Carolina, March 7, 1827, a daughter of John and Margaret (Neal) Bell, both natives of North Carolina. Both her paternal grandfather, Thomas Bell, and her maternal grandfather, James Neal, were Revolutionary soldiers. In infancy Mrs. Smith accompanied her parents to Carroll county, Tennessee, where she was reared. Her parents both died in Kentucky, and in 1852, in company with other relatives, she came out to California, making the trip by the Nicaragua route. She came direct to Tuolumne county, where a year or so later she was married.

Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, only two of whom are living, namely: Richard Russell, in Stockton, and Nellie Alice, in Stockton. Those deceased are Thomas G., Henry C., E. Bell and William. Mr. Smith, the father, was for many years a well known Mason in Stockton, a member of San Joaquin Lodge No. 19, and his son Richard Russell, as also his grandson George R., are both members of the same lodge, thus making three generations who have been represented in this lodge. Mr. George F. Smith was also affiliated with Stockton Commandery No. 8, K. T.

Mrs. Smith and her two children reside at 347 East Popular street in Stockton, and their friends are numerous in the city and throughout the county.

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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