Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
JOHN W. SMITH, merchant, postmaster
and townsite proprietor of the town of Keystone, formerly known as Harriston,
Adams county, Washington, is a native of Beaver county, Pennsylvania, born
in July, 1856, son of George and Sarah (Greennail) Smith, natives of Alsace,
Germany. His parents came to the United States about the year 1843,
settled first in New York and later in the state of Pennsylvania.
John W. Smith in his youth had very little
opportunity to acquire an education, but he managed to gain a great amount
of knowledge by his own efforts so that one to transact business or converse
with him would class him as a man of finished education. He worked
for his father until becoming sixteen years of age, when he went to Pittsburg
and took work at nine dollars per week, --the top wage for boys--and in
1878 he learned the blacksmith's trade. Upon leaving Pennsylvania,
he went to Ohio, and from that state to Illinois, where he conducted his
first blacksmith shop in Elwood. He again went to Ohio, and was there
married to Ellen Akins, in 1879. His wife was the daughter of David
Akins who married a Miss Snyder. From Ohio he removed in turn to
Michigan, Nebraska and Oregon. In the latter named state he located
in the Willamette valley, and came from there to Spokane county in 1882.
He settled in Rockford, where he opened a shop which he sold in 1887, and
in 1889 he erected the first brick block in the town. He was on the
first city council of his town and was a delegate from Spokane county to
the constitutional convention in 1889. From Rockford he went to Whitman
county and purchased a grist mill. Later he removed to Winona, where
he bought and was proprietor of a hotel until coming to his present locality
in 1901. Here he acquired title to the townsite and established a
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been parents of five
sons and an equal number of daughters, Ida E., Elmer W., Cora, deceased,
Minnie M., Harry J., William D., Maggie E., Pearl L., Hiram Z. and Charles
L. Mr. Smith is an active Republican, and in fraternity circles is
a prominent member of the Odd Fellows and Masonic orders. He is a
strong type of the self-made man; regarded by his neighbors as a frugal,
conscientious and honorable citizen, with more than ordinary business ability.
He is widely known and has almost as many friends as acquaintances.