Biography of

Leander V. Smith

[Emmigrant from Callaway County to Kansas]

LEANDER V. SMITH, a resident of Finney County [KS] since September, 1886, and a retired farmer and land dealer at Garden City, has enjoyed a long life and an active career and was past middle age when he came to this state.

He is a native of Callaway County, Missouri, born near the line of Boone County July 15, 1838. His father, William Smith, was born in Delaware and early in the last century went west to Kentucky, from which state he enlisted and saw active service in the War of 1812. During the early '20s he moved to Missouri and was a pioneer in Callaway County, where he spent the rest of his life. His years were passed in providing for his family and in lending his influence for good in every community. He was a very jealous and an active member of the Baptist Church. His death occurred in 1860, when nearly seventy years of age. His wife was Elizabeth Cress, her early home having been near the Virginia and Pennsylvania line. She died about twenty years ago, when within a few weeks of 100 years of age. She came of long lived stock, her mother having attained the age of 104, and that trait she passed on to her descendants. Her oldest child, Robert H., died a resident of Columbia, Missouri, at the age of ninety-eight. The second son, William, was a St. Louis trader at the time of the war, and being within Confederate lines, though not enlisted, he was drawn into the service of the South and was killed while leading a charge of Confederate troops against Union forces. John B., the third child, went out to California in 1849 and spent the rest of his life in the far West, where his descendants are still found. Wilson H. married and had children and died at St. Joseph, Missouri. George W. is still living at Columbia, Missouri. Henrietta is Mrs. T. J. McClelland, of Oklahoma. The youngest of the family is Leander V.

Leander V. Smith spent his youth on his father's farm in Missouri, and acquired an education in the country schools. While still a boy he worked as clerk in a store at Columbia and with increasing experience he invested his capital in a store of his own at Hainesville. He continued merchandising at that point until the spring of 1861, when he exchanged his store for lands in Carroll and Audrain counties, Missouri.

In 1861 Mr. Smith enlisted in the Missouri Cavalry under Colonel Catherwood. He saw much hard service as a Union soldier. His regiment was part of the army of General Blount and engaged in the campaigns through Kansas, Indian Territory and Arkansas. The chief battle in which he fought was just south of Fort Smith at Devil's Gap or Backbone Mountain. In that engagement three horses were shot from under him. He fell under one horse and was permanently injured, and as a result was discharged from the service. He has been more or less of a cripple ever since. He enlisted as a private, and rose to the rank of sergeant major of his regiment.

After the war Mr. Smith sold his Missouri lands and for a number of years continued alternately identified with merchandising and farming. He had a drug store at Holt and Lathrop, Missouri, after the war, again had a store in Hainesville, and finally gave up his Missouri interests and came from Lathrop to Kansas.

Arriving in Finney County in the month of September, 1886, he filed on a homestead in the northeast corner of the county. That was his first Kansas home. On his claim he erected a house which in construction and general appointments was considered by far the best home of the locality at that time. Here he tried making his land support him and family, but is obliged to confess that the dry weather conditions made it impossible to succeed along that line. He acquired a second quarter section and proved up both. He tried cattle raising, but that also was short of success. Leaving the locality he located in Garden City and began buying tax certificates and incidentally dealing in lands. Owning a few teams, he used them in cutting grain and hay and for several years this was a considerable source of revenue. He has invested liberally of his means in local property at Garden City, and by building and other improvements has contributed substantially to the development of the town.

So far as politics is concerned Mr. Smith has led a retired life. However, he is a man of strong convictions and is a republican of the progressive type. For years he has been a warm and enthusiastic supporter of the Roosevelt policies. Few men in Kansas began voting so far back in the country's history. In 1860 he supported the wing of the party headed by Bell and Everett, but in 1864, while fighting the battles of the Union, he voted for Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Smith is a religious man of great depth and sincerity of conviction and was reared and has always retained his membership in the Baptist Church.

On October 6, 1867, at Boonville, Missouri, Mr. Smith married Miss Susan Euphrates Major. Her parents were James M. and Frances (Bernard) Major, the former of Frankfort, Kentucky, and the latter a native of Old Franklin, Missouri. James M. Major was a cabinet maker by trade. In the Major family were five children, and those who grew up were: John N.; Mrs. Smith, who was born April 3, 1843; Samuel C.; and Emma G., who married Alfred Vawter of Marshall, Missouri.

Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, three of whom have reached maturity. Henrietta Gertrude, the oldest, is the wife of J. J. Griffin, of Pratt, Kansas, and their children are William Russell, Major and Maxine. William C. lives at Texhoma, Oklahoma. He married Anna V. Nesbitt and has children Rex, William and Eugene. Lewis Ely, whose present whereabouts are unknown, has two children who live in Garden City, Thelma E. and Lewis Lloyd.

From from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, by William E. Connelly, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919,