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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/William R. Smith

WILLIAM R. SMITH was born in Ocean County, New Jersey, December 30, 1828. His boyhood days were spent on a farm and in the winter he attended the public school. In 1845 the family removed to Michigan where the son taught several winters. He had decided to study medicine and when about twenty-one went to New York City and attended lectures. In 1866 he removed to Iowa, locating in the frontier town of Sioux City. Northwestern Iowa, Dakota and northern Nebraska were at that time almost entirely unsettled. Sioux City was but a little village remote from railroad and reached only by a semi-weekly stage line from Dubuque. In the spring of 1861, when the Sioux Indians were threatening the frontier settlements of Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota and Nebraska military companies were organized for protection and Dr. Smith was chosen a lieutenant in one consisting of mounted riflemen, in which he served until relieved by the arrival of United States troops. He was appointed Government surgeon and was sent on a sanitary tour of inspection among the Iowa regiments serving in the Vicksburg campaign. In 1863 he was appointed surgeon of the Board of Enrollment for the Sixth Congressional District and served through the draft of 1864, being stationed at Fort Dodge. He served as mayor of Sioux City, was one of the incorporators of the First National Bank, also of the Sioux City & St. Paul and other railroad companies. In 1878 he was appointed by Governor Gear one of the Commissioners to the Paris Exposition. He was a member of the Cobden Club of England and deeply interested in tariff reform. Dr. Smith was one of the founders of the First Unitarian Church of Sioux City and an active member of the Iowa and Western Conferences of that denomination. In politics he was an independent Republican of the George William Curtis stamp and always acted up to his convictions of right, regardless of party platforms. He served for thirteen years as Receiver of the United States Land Office at Sioux City and as such had the custody of millions of dollars of the public money during the sales of public lands.