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                                                 William Smith  Story


This story appeared in the Lorain Journal on Thursday, July 20, 1995. Darlene Brown interview him. I had talked with her earlier and ask her to interview him because she was doing articles on early families of Lorain. The following article appear in the Lorain Journal and like a lot of newspaper stories , there was some mistakes. My brother gave me a copy of all the mistakes , so when I copied the Lorain Journal story, I inserted the correct data. Here is the story as it appeared in the Lorain Journal July 20,1995.

Early history of Black River Township is not easy to come by, but some families have researched about their early ancestors settling in the  township that would later be known as Lorain.

Howard Lester Smith, 58,  of Sheffield  Lake,said his great-great-great-great- grandfather, William Smith, settled here between 1811 and 1815. The younger Smith said that he has not been able to pinpoint where William came from, but believes it may have been somewhere in Massachussetts.

"Elizabeth Betsy Reid  came in the spring of 1810 with her father, John S Reid, and she helped him build a double blockhouse for their living quarters at the mouth of the river", said Smith, WHO WITH THE ASSISTANCECE OF A COUSIN, has researched family  history for many years. (I do not know where she may have got this from or why she took it upon herself to state this).

"She had a brother, Conrad Reid, who became the the first mayor of Lorain, SHE WAS THE  COUNTY HISTORIAN (Darlene Brown confused Elizabeth Reid with Dr. Catharina Gregg, who was the county historian.)." SMITH said  " Elizabeth and her sisters operated a ferry across the river because there were no bridge."

Smith said "records show that William Smith married Elizabeth on Jan.14, 1815, with her father performing the ceremony. Two children were born to the couple-Lester in 1816 and Ann ,who's bithday is not known. Smith died in 1819,   leaving   his wife a young widow to rear two children. Lester and Ann, Elizabeth                   children,   were raised in the Reids blockhouse after, and possibly before,their father's death "said Smith."their mother married again to a Captain  Harry Brooks, who drowned when the ship  he was aboard sank in Lake Erie, a few months after their marriage. Elizabeth,again windowed early, was pregnant at the time and gave birth to Mary Jane Brooks".

"Elizabeth Reid Smith Brooks then married Quartus Gillmore in 1824. Gillmore had settled here in 1811, coming from Hampshire County,Mass" according to Smith.ELIZABETH AND QUANTUS HAD A CHILD.  (not completed, Lorain Civil War General Quincy A Gillmore was born).

On Aug 5,1830, Ann Smith married a Thomas Brown, who came to Black River Township from Detroit and opened  a tailor shop. Brown later became a proprietor of the American House Hotel in Elyria, and the Park House in Oberlin. Their children were:William, Ann,Abigail, Orphus, and Elijah. When Ann, the mother died, in 1845, she was buried in the family plot at Ridgelawn Cementery.

Other members of this extended family,such as the earliest settler, William Smith, died  and were buried in this area, but there are no records to substantiate this. Smith is believed to have been buried in "the cemetery on the hill", which Dr. Catherine Gregg, a relative,                 educator, and a historian, wrote in a letter to Howard Lester Smith in 1966. She wrote that the cementery on the hill was a early graveyard located on the west side of North Broadway, now the site of the Lorain's City Hall parking lot.

She went on to say, "The gravestones were taken up and ended being ground up for gravel, although for a short time , they lined the cellar of of Conrad Reid's house and were available for reference until he died and the house was torn down".

Taking advantage of Black River shipping port, Lester Smith, son of William and Ann, who married Hannah C Jackson in 1837, tried his hand as a sailor, shipbuilder,  and farmer. He became well known in the shipping circle for the building of his ships:the Rush in 1853, Home in 1854, Planet in 1855, Summer Cloud in 1864, and the Penquinin 1867.

In 1851, Lester purchased from his mother and Quartus lot 106 at the Black River, presently known as 218 Washington Ave. He reared his family at this location and his son MARSHALL(should have read"son James"), who was the town marshall, occupied the same dwelling. Most of the Smith family resided their entire lives on the west side of Washington Ave to Erie Ave. In 1842 , A Methodist Church WAS BUILT(It should have read "located" not "built" because this was originally a house, belonging to Daniel Baldwin and his wife, that was moved to lot 108 and made over into a church building.) on lot 108, the spot where the Red Head service station was recently closed.

The intriguing adventures of the Smith, included a voyage by James Smith, the great-grandfather of Howard Lester Smith of Sheffield Lake. IT WAS AUGUST 1842   (It was 1859. August 1842  is when James Smith was born) when James Smith, who was 17 years old  at the time, journey with Alex Porter and Captain Aaron aboard the Pierson to Liverpool, England.The cargo was staves and timber.

James married Mary Perrigo in 1864, and the couple had two sons, Melvin and Robert. James at the time , served as town marshal and constable for three terms in each position.There was a abundance of saloons in those early years for entertaining the sailors who came into port.

"Drunken sailors presented the chief problem of the mayor's count in that year (1893), and the fiery little constable Jimmy Smith was known by all lake men as being afraid of nothing that lived or breathed" according to a historical article written by attorney William  G. Wickens.

Lester Smith JR, who was born in September 1845, married a Marion V Spooner in 1866. The couple had a son, Calvin,and  a daughter, Libbie. Calvin was a sailor and devoted his life to the lake.

"In one of the worst recorded Great Lakes storms of all times (1913),   Calvin and his son Daniel, perished aboard the steamer John  A MaGean, off   Port Huron, Mich., "explained Smith. "Calvin was chief engineer and Daniel, 16, was a oiler. All 28 men aboard perished. Daniel's body was never recovered, but Calvin and Daniel share a common gravestone at Calvary Cementery."

With this extended family, several moved to the Sandusky area, where they remained for the duration of their lives.

Robert L Smith married Mary Mahoney. Her father came here to work for the Brass Works that moved here from Haydenville,PA (the state should have read Massachusetts). Robert was a tug captain and later became a stationary engineer for various contractors. He had one son Hartley, who was the father of Howard Lester Smith.

"My father was born in 1904 and worked at the Lake Terminal Railroad for over 40 years. He was married to Rosella Schueller" said Smith. He had a sister, Velma, who dies in 1911 at 5 years old.

In August 1932, my sister Leila, made front page news when a motorman of a interurban car, climbed out on the cow catcher and snatched my sister from the tracks, at stop 86, now Lake Breeze Road and Tennyson Avenue in Sheffield Lake."

"The hero, Bill Lang of Sandusky, was the third oldest motorman on the Lake Shore Electric Line at the time. For his heroic deed, he was awarded the Bronze Carnegie Medal for heroism and 1000 dollars".

Smith of Sheffield Lake is now retired from Lorain Products, where he worked for 34 years. He is married to Diana(fish). The couple have four children : Leonard, Alan,  Dawne,and Christopher. His sister Leila lives in newport Pa. and brothers Hartley, Robert, and Charles   reside in Lorain. Another brother, Richard, is deceased.

There are still descendants of William Smith and Jim Smith in this area.There are some Robinsons in Vermilion that stems from the family. I have been researching on my own out of curiosity, and still trying to prove that Jim Smith was the first marshall of Lorain, according what my father told me.

Note:Darlene did not mention all the children of Lester Smith Sr..William, Elizabeth, James, Lester jr., Ann, Hannah, Reed and Wilson. Nor did she mention the spouses. The William Smith referred to in item #10 is the son of of Lester Smith Sr. Also, Ann Smith married John M Robinson and there of the Robinson's relatives, not the Robinson's in the Vermilion Area.

More information is available at the Reid-Smith-Gilmore Family tree   .

Additional Information:

Robert Smith married Mary Mahoney who was the daughter of William Mahoney and Julie Gilmartin.

William Mahoney's  family came to Williamsburh, Massachusetts around 1867. His father and mother, along with his brothers and sisters also came at that time, one large family. William workrd at the Haydenville Brass Works and around 1882-1883, moved to Lorain, Ohio, when the company relocated.

Robert Smith was a tug Captain and later became a stationary engineer for various contractors.Their only son, Hartley, was my father, born September 8,1904. Hartley worked at the Lake Terminal Railroad for over 40 years. He married Rosella Schueller, daughter of Henry and granddaughter of Peter Schueller, a native Lorain Countian, born May 1853 in Sheffield Township. Henry's wife, Rose Oster, is also from an old Sheffield family, the Peter Oster family. Hartley has a sister Velma, who died in 1911,,just 5 years old.

A story book rescue of my sister Leila took place August 24,1932, when a motorman of an inter-urban car climbed out upon the cares fender and snatched my sister from the tracks. The hero, Bill Lang, of Sandusky, was the 3rd oldest motorman on the Lake Erie Elestric line at the time. Lang was awarded the bronze Carnegie metal for heroism and 1000 dollars. His bravery was cited by the U S Congress and he received another medal. President Franklin D Roosevelt forwarded a letter of congratulations. Later in life, Mr. Lang and Leila  became close friends.

Hartley Smith Sr. family:

Hartley and Margaret Bradley

Robert and Irene Thomas

Richard and Darlene Lucas  (Richard deceased)

Howard Lester and Diana Fish

Charles Smith  (single)

Leila and Irvin Hoover  (widow)  Story above relates to her

Note:All above have at least one male child except Charles