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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
J. Fred Smith

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 350, 353 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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J. Fred Smith, superintendent of the Union Mills, Incorporated, of Herkimer, New York, was born in Schenectady, New York, on August 31, 1882, the son of Isaac Eugene and Elizabeth (Kingsbury) Smith. Isaac E. Smith was born in the town of Minden, New York, on July 21, 1841, and died at St. Johnsville, New York, on April 18, 1917. At one time he was associated with the Wagner Palace Car Company and at another time conducted an air dried strawboard factory at Palatine Church, New York. From 1894 to 1900 he was clerk of Montgomery county, New York. He was a captain in the Civil war. His parents were Samuel and Sarah (Cox) Smith. Samuel Smith, a farmer, was born at St. Johnsville in 1803 and died there in 1882. His wife was also born at St. Johnsville, in 1817, and died there in 1894. She was a direct descendant of Colonel Ebenezer Cox who served under General Herkimer and was killed at the battle of Oriskany. Colonel Cox's wife was Elizabeth, daughter of George Klock, one of the pioneers of the Klock family in the Mohawk valley. Elizabeth (Kingsbury) Smith, mother of J. Fred Smith, was born in St. Johnsville in 1846, and died there on April 6, 1886. She was the daughter of William and Charlotte (Armitage) Kingsbury. William Kingsbury was born in 1823 and died at St. Johnsville in 1862. He was the proprietor of "The Eating House", as it was called in those days, and it was said to be the only one between Albany and Utica. At the time Lincoln's funeral train passed through St. Johnsville this place furnished the meal for the entire train, and the young ladies of the town turned out, dressed in white, for the occasion. Charlotte (Armitage) Kingsbury was born in England and died at St. Johnsville in 1893.

J. Fred Smith was graduated at the St. Johnsville high school, class of 1899, and at Worcester Academy, in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1901. In 1905 he graduated from Harvard University with the degree of B. S., after which he studied law at Harvard Law School for a year. The fall of 1906 found him in the state engineering office in Albany and in the spring of 1907 he formed a partnership with F. S. Mosher of St. Johnsville for the retail coal business, the firm name being F. S. Mosher & Company. In February, 1911, Mr. Smith came to Herkimer and became associated as assistant superintendent and in February, 1915, became superintendent, which position he now holds.

On July 20, 1915, at Souderton, Pennsylvania, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Klees, who was born on May 5, 1884, her parents being James and Elizabeth (Spang) Klees. James Klees, now a retired wagonmaker, was born in 1852 and is now living in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. His wife was born in 1856 and died at Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1903. Mrs. Smith is a member of the Reformed church and General Herkimer Council, Daughters of the American Revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have two children: Elizabeth Klees Smith was born on September 4, 1916; and William Kingsbury Smith was born on June 2, 1922.

During the World war Mr. Smith was a member of the home defense and took an active interest in the Liberty Loan drives. In March, 1924, he was elected president of the village of Herkimer and is still serving. From 1910 to 1911 he was town clerk of the town of St. Johnsville. He is treasurer of the Herkimer County Y. M. C. A., and a member of St. Johnsville Lodge, F. & A. M., and pastmaster. He is also a member of Hiram Union Chapter, No. 53, of Canajoharie; Little Falls Commandery Knights Templars, No. 26; Ziyara Temple of Utica, and the Sons of the American Revolution. Mr. Smith is a member of the Exchange Club and an ex-president, and also ex-president of the Chamber of Commerce of Herkimer. His church associations are with the Reformed church of Herkimer, where he is a deacon. In politics he is a republican. For diversion he is fond of all out-of-doors sports and the woods.

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