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The Autobiography of Calvin Smith

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It is our pleasure to present this reproduction of "The Autobiography of Calvin Smith of Smithville" during the Sesquicentennial of the founding of Smithville by Calvin's father, Humphrey Smith. We wish to thank the Smithville businesses, which through their sponsorship we have been able to provide this book at no charge as a .pdf download.

This reproduction is based on the original book published by Calvin Smith in 1906. In fact, the book appears to be Calvin's personal copy, which includes a handwritten note to his grandson, Couch. That note has been added to the fore pages of the reproduction.

Calvin, in this 1906 autobiography, describes the trip his dad led their family from Pennsylvania to ultimately founding the mills along the Little Platte and establishing the outpost that would later become the city of Smithville.

"On the 29th day of February, 1816, my father prepared for a trip to the West.  He had four thousand dollars in gold which he put in a belt and buckled it around his waist.  In an old-style two-wheeled ox-cart, drawn by a yoke of oxen, he put his family and started for Missourie, that being the French pronunciation and the way it was spelled at that time.  We went to Olean, a point on the Allegheny River.  With his wife and four children he embarked there on a canoe.  At Pittsburgh, Pa., father had to attach the canoe to a flat-bottom boat going to New Orleans . . .

". . . On the 14th day of July my sister Missouri was born and about five weeks later, August, 1816, father and his family crossed the Missouri River. . .

". . .In 1822 father took another move to Clay County, Missouri, and settled at a place now called Smithville, in the northwest part The first Smith Mills were started there.  It was a hand mill, two stones, each two feet across and six inches thick, one on top of the other.  We could grind enough fine meal on this mill, in about an hour, to last all day."

Read the trials that Humphrey, his wife and his children faced as abolitionists in a pro-slavery stronghold.




"Humphrey Smith, my father, was a strong supporter of John Adams’ Administration as President of the United States of America, after the Hamilton theory of our Government, approved by Washington, and which was opposed by Thomas Jefferson, who believed in State’s rights.  In my day father took strong grounds for the election of John Q. Adams in 1828, and I supported for President in 1840 William Henry Harrison, who was a Whig and a strong anti-slavery man.  These principles being ground and rooted into all his sons – daughters also; so we were all Union men . . . "

Picture of Calvin and three generations of Smiths




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