JOHN S. SMITH, farmer, P. O. New Grand Chain. "Uncle Johnny Smith," as his numerous friends familiarly call him, is one of those good old souls that are a blessing to the whole country. He is really a native of Pulaski County, having first beheld the light of day at Big Spring or what was otherwise called the "Dicky Brown place," near where Wetaug is now located. At the time of his birth, the country was Alexander and Johnson Counties, and his birthplace was within the boundaries of the former. He was born April 18, 1819, to William and Annie (Tellus) Smith, he a native of North Carolina, and she of Tennessee. The father was a natural mechanic, and about 1831 he was employed as ship-carpenter on Ohio River boats. He was engaged in farming pursuits in later years. He was a son of John C. Smith, of North Carolina, who served in the Revolutionary war. For a period of three or four years during his life, John C. was engaged in piloting boats from old Fort Wilkinsonville to the Chalk Banks, a distance of about seven miles down the Ohio River, which at the point mentioned was seriously obstructed by rapids, rocks, etc., which only a skilled pilot could get a boat through. He was at one time very wealthy, owning 320 acres of land in Hopkinsville, Ky., and the city now stands on his land. Hearing that Illinois was a veritable paradise, he sold out and, coming to old Fort Wilkinsonville, he invested his all in horses, intending to raise them to make his fortune. All of them died but an old black stud. He lost his wife and many or his children, and becoming disheartened, he went to Arkansas, where he lived on green meat for several months, and here he lost another child, and finally had to leave the country by order of the Indian Agents. Our subject's parents were married about October, 1814, and the mother died about 1826. They were blessed with six children, two of whom are living, John S. and Jane. Our subject went to school in this county. After his father’s death, he lived with his uncle, Nicholas Smith, in Kentucky, until the latter died. He then lived with his grandfather two years, when he died. John had made him a good crop of corn, and at his death he instructed his administrator to allow John one-half of the crop, which he did, and it netted $55. With this amount of cash, our subject determined how much of an education he could receive. He went and boarded with a man by the name of Atherton, and by working Saturdays, he was enabled to attend school considerably. His school bill was $10 and board bill $50. He made some more crops, went to Arkansas to visit some ''rich kin" that he had heard of, but shortly afterward returned and rented more ground and engaged in farming. In 1839, he came to the "Nation," built a good house, stable, etc., when some individuals endeavored to enter him out. A man was hired to whip him out of the house, and John came near shooting him; five years of court trouble ensued John finally coming out victorious. In 1846, he went with an uncle, Isom Smith, to Texas, and to make the story short, nearly starved to death. He returned, bought and sold several tracts of land, and finally settled on his present place, which now contains sixty acres, which is given to general farming. He was first married, April 13, 1848, to Amanda Bartleson (see sketch of the Bartleson family), who died April 29, 1849, the mother of one child, Amanda. He was married a second time, March 9, 1851, to Rosanna (Mangold) Forker, who died August 5, 1879. His present wife, Polly (Karraker) Dry, he married April 18, 1880. Both are members of the Christian Church. In politics, he was a Democrat up to Lincoln's second election, since which he has been a Republican.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 308-309.