Benjamin F. Smith, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Benjamin F. Smith

BENJAMIN F. SMITH. Largely upon the shoulders of young men of vigor and ability falls the robe of responsibility in the affairs of the county, state or nation. The municipal affairs, administers of finance and the government official positions, all of great trust and responsibility, should be in charge of men of strong character whose acts are controlled by an inflexible sincerity of conviction and purpose and whose fidelity to the public interest cannot be challenged nor their personal integrity assailed. The life record of Benjamin F. Smith, the present assistant postmaster at Valparaiso, Indiana, who for twenty years has been connected with that office, has in that and in other official positions well stood the above test of qualification, and he thereby merits the high standing in which he is held by his fellow citizens. Mr. Smith is a scion of one of Porter county's pioneer families as well, and there the name remains after three-quarters of a century locally significant of character and attainment.

He was born in Porter county, Indiana, March 1, 1865, the youngest of eight children, four sons and four daughters, born to Sylvester W. and Louisa Angeline (Pennock) Smith. Of this family five children are living: Arthur C., who was educated in what was then the Valparaiso Methodist College but is now the University of Valparaiso, and for some years was engaged as a druggist in Valparaiso but is now there identified with the City Telephone Company. He was united in marriage to .Miss Lola Nugent. Jessie A., a graduate of the city schools of Valparaiso and for several years a teacher in the same schools, became the wife of James A. Burhans, a graduate of DePauw University and now an attorney-at-law at Edgewater, Illinois. Lulu P., the widow of Orren A. Brook and now residing in Valparaiso, is a graduate of the Valparaiso high school and for some time previous to her marriage was a teacher in the schools of that city. Bertha E., who resides in Valparaiso, was a saleslady for a number of years for the firm of Specht, Finney, Skinner & Company. Benjamin F. is the subject of this review. Sylvester W. Smith, the father, was born at Sacketts Harbor, New York, on the east coast of Lake Ontario, March 20, 1813, and died in Porter county, Indiana, February 5, 1883. He was reared to manhood in his native state and was educated in the common schools of his locality and time, but in succeeding years he sought eagerly to correct the deficiencies of his earlier training, and by self-instruction he acquired an extensive knowledge and capacity for usefulness. In 1836, when twenty-three years of age, he came westward to Porter county, Indiana, locating there when the county was undeveloped and the prosperous city of Valparaiso had yet scarcely a beginning. He began teaching school as a stepping stone to some more lucrative employment, his first term having been taught in a log house in Liberty township. As a man he was aggressive and progressive, ever ready to undertake and carry to success any worthy enterprise which would advance his own interests or those of the community with which he had cast his fortunes. His whole career was spent as a teacher and in official duties in Porter county, his first office being that of school commissioner, in which capacity he continued for years. Later he was elected on the Republican ticket as county auditor, and so ably and acceptably filled the office that he was retained in it continuously sixteen years. He was then elected county treasurer and served four years, having served a like period also as county clerk of Porter county. During all of this long period of public activity there was evident the strictest probity of character, which, together with the excellence of his principles and ability, has left a record which his descendants may well take as an example for upright and useful living. In his youth he had become a member of the Presbyterian church at his old New York home, but after coming to Indiana he affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal denomination and consistently lived its tenets until death called him from the scene of his earthly labors. On November 29, 1846, he wedded Louisa Angeline Pennock, in Porter county, also a native of New York, in Oswego county of which state she was born March 3, 1827. She remained a resident of her native state and county until about sixteen years of age, when she came to Porter county, Indiana and there was married a few years later. The death of the husband and father in 1883, after thirty-seven years of companionship, left to her charge her children, to whose welfare the remainder of her life was given in unselfish devotion. A worthy companion and a devoted mother, the purity of her character left no uncertain impress upon the lives of her children and to them her memory is enshrined in a halo of love. Both parents are interred in Maplewood cemetery, Valparaiso.

Benjamin F. Smith was reared in Porter county and obtained his education in the public schools of Valparaiso and at the old Valparaiso Methodist College of that city. He entered into independent activity as a typesetter in the office of the Vidette, where he remained nine years learning and then following his vocation. Later he was employed in Chicago, St. Joseph, Michigan, and at Chesterton, Indiana, having spent in all about twelve years as a practical printer. It was while at Chesterton that he received his appointment as a general delivery clerk in the Valparaiso postoffice, and he at once entered upon the duties of this position. That was twenty years ago, and he has remained in continuous service there to the present time. Through his ability and steadfastness he won advancement to the office of mailing clerk, and in April, 1910, Mr. Smith received the appointment to his present position, that of deputy postmaster. He has served under six postmasters of Valparaiso. No more eloquent or convincing testimony than this could be given of Mr. Smith's efficiency and carefulness, of his strict honesty and the undeviating attention he has given to his duties, or of his standing among his fellow citizens.

At Port Orange, Florida, on April 16, 1895, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Smith and Miss Eva Baum. Mrs. Smith was born in Porter county, Indiana, on August 8, 1871, and is the only living child of Niles and Louise (Rosebaum) Baum, now retired residents of Valparaiso. Mr. Baum was for many years a prominent farmer in Morgan township. Mrs. Smith was educated in the Valparaiso schools and graduated from them in the same class of which Arthur Hugart, city superintendent of the Valparaiso schools, was a member. She is also a graduate of the musical department of the University of Valparaiso. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of the Woman's Club and of the Order of the Eastern Star, Lodge No. 164, at Valparaiso, and her talent and culture make her a valued member of the social circles of Valparaiso. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have two children: Niles Baum, now a pupil in the Valparaiso high school, and Louise A., a pupil in the eighth grade.

Since casting his first presidential vote for Benjamin Harrison Mr. Smith has given unswerving allegiance to the Republican party. Fraternally he sustains membership in Lodge No. 137, Free and Accepted Masons, in Chapter No. 79, Royal Arch Masons, and in Council No. 86, Royal & Select Masters at Valparaiso. He also is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are held in high esteem by all who know them.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 649-652

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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