Pulaski County

Biography - Egbert Smith

EGBERT A. SMITH was born in Dundas, Dominion of Canada, June 18, 1856. His father, George Smith, who died in Cairo, Illinois, October 30, 1864, was born in Ely, England, about 1806, where he married Annie Groves, who died in Canada, leaving a family of six children. George Smith with his family immigrated to Canada about the year 1839 or 1840. Four sons, Thomas, George, William H. and Fuller, and two daughters, Emma and Annie M., belonged to this family. All are now dead with the exception of William H. Smith, of Denver, Colorado, and Annie M. Guion, of Cairo, Illinois. The father, George Smith, with his six children lived in Dundas, Canada, and on December 31, 1849, married Catherine Turner, of Brantford, Canada. To these parents were born seven children: Cyrus E., Arthur W., James R., Egbert A., Clara, Mary E. and Caroline F. The four sons were born in Canada and the three daughters in Cairo, Illinois. All of his family are now dead with the exception of Egbert A. Smith.

George Smith, the father, by trade was a machinist and carpenter, and while in Dundas, Canada, was engaged in the business of manufacturing straw cutters, cultivators, etc. In the year 1856 he sold out the business and in 1858 moved his family to Cairo, Illinois, where he died in 1864. In 1859 he had established a store at the corner of Thirteenth and Poplar streets, Cairo. This business was continued by him until his death and afterward carried on by his sons until the year 1867, when it was closed out, the family moving to different places. The mother again returned to Cairo in the year 1872. She was a daughter of Robert and Sarah Turner, being one of twins and was born June 22, 1834, in the town of By Town (now the city of Ottawa), Ontario, Dominion of Canada. Her father, Robert Turner, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, about the year 1795 and died in Brantford, Ontario, about the year 1851. Sarah Jennings, her mother, was born in Northumberland, England, about the year 1800, and died in Brantford, Ontario, about 1845. Her mother was the daughter of Nicholas Jennings and was married to Robert Turner in Edinburgh, May 10, 1818. After the death of George Smith his widow married Louis Lincoln, of Carbondale, Illinois, at Cairo, this state, in 1867. Of this marriage three sons were born: Louis Logan Lincoln and Bishop Grant Lincoln, twins, and Staata S. Lincoln, but all are now deceased. Catherine Lincoln died in Cairo, Illinois, in the year 1911, at the age of seventy-seven years. All were members of the Episcopal church.

Egbert A. Smith at the age of eighteen years and with his brother James R. again started the business at the old stand, with a capital of one hundred dollars and under the style of Smith Brothers. James R. Smith died in the year 1886, leaving a widow and one son, James Arthur Smith. Another brother, Cyrus E. Smith, became associated with Egbert A. Smith in the business, but. later disposed of his interests therein to Egbert A. Smith, who continued the business under the firm name of Smith Brothers, but Egbert A. being the sole owner. He also gave some attention to saw milling in Alexander county and owns large tracts of farming land there, besides smaller tracts in Pulaski county and a farm inside the city limits of Cairo containing about nine hundred acres. This land a few years ago was considered of small value, but the improvements made upon it with a large expenditure of money have made this trace a very valuable addition to Cairo. About seven miles of driveway have been constructed over the land and following the Mississippi river, known as Smith Drive, which is enjoyed by the citizens of Cairo. As Cairo grows this land will be required as a part of the city.

In 1903 Egbert A. Smith organized the Cairo National Bank, with a capital of $100,000, was elected its president and still holds that position. This bank is a prosperous institution with over a half million deposits. During the year 1903 the Cairo & Thebes Railroad was projected by him, and in the year 1905, through the Cairo Commercial Club, of which he was president, the project took life and he with his associates organized the company with a capital of ten thousand dollars. He was elected its president, and through his efforts it was financed and constructed. About a million dollars has already been expended on terminals in the city of Cairo and about one million dollars in constructing the main line through Alexander county to Thebes, Illinois.

Mr. Smith served about ten years in the city council of Cairo, was president of the Cairo Board of Trade about six years and was president of the Cairo Commercial Club for five years. He has been identified with river improvement associations for thirty years, and is vice president of the Ohio Valley Improvement Association for Illinois and is a member of the Lakes to the Gulf Improvement Association, the National Rivers and Harbors Congress and the Good Roads Organization.

Mr. Smith was married in 1886 to Miss Phyllis Howard, a daughter of Phillip and Lucy A. Howard, early settlers of Cairo. The children of this union are: Berta Tyler, now Mrs. Wilfred W. Beach, of Sioux City, Iowa; Phyllis H., Egbert A. Jr., Catherine and Caroline, and they have also taken two boys to raise, Arthur and Robert Lincoln, sons of the deceased brother. The children received their education in the Cairo schools, and Berta and Phyllis completed their education in Chicago and New York. The family are members of the Episcopal church.

Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 3, pages 1560-1561

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