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Frank L. Smith


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"Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. (No author listed.) pgs. 88-92.

       FRANK L. SMITH is known to the business world through his mining interests, for he is now closely associated with the development of the rich coal deposits of British Columbia, operating extensively along modern lines. Judged only from a business standpoint, his life work would be considered of worth in this connection, but his activities have been of far wider range in his efforts to uplift humanity and bring into the lives of his fellowmen those higher ideals which result in the development of individual character. His life has come into close and beneficial contact with many others, as he has labored not only in this country and in our insular possessions but also in Great Britain for the benefit of his fellowmen in the dissemination of those truths which are a higher and holier force in the world.He was born in New York city, February 18, 1848. His ancestral history can be traced back to the Cromwellian period, for the family are descended from Lord Stephen Smith, who was a member of Cromwell's parliament. His father, Elias Smith, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and died about 1891. He was recognized as a very prominent war correspondent and newspaper man of New York and was associated with Horace Greeley in journalistic enterprises. He became one of the famous newspaper correspondents at the time of the Civil war and was held in high regard by the press of New York city, the chief journalists of the metropolis giving him the credit of being a real historian of that great conflict. He served on the staff of General Burnside and came into close touch with the events that constituted the real history of the civil strife. He scored many "scoops" as correspondent during the days of the war, and the first news which the war department had of the fall of Vicksburg was a dispatch which Elias Smith sent. He practically gave all of his life to newspaper work and was city editor of the New York Times. He was an intimate friend of Henry Ward Beecher and knew many of the leading journalists and distinguished men of the day. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah R. Miller, is of English lineage and a descendant of Roger Williams, the first governor of Rhode Island. Her father was the founder of the Providence Journal and was a prominent political leader.
       In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Elias Smith were three sons: Frank L.; E. C., who is now engaged in mining in Mexico; and Alva M., who is a newspaper man of the south. Frank L. Smith pursued his education in the public schools and in Fairchild's Academy at Flushing, Long Island. He was still a youth in his teens when he did active duty as a member of the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Volunteers of the New York National Guard during the riots at the docks. He entered business life as a commercial traveler in the employ of an uncle and afterward was engaged in business in Galveston, Texas, until 1867. While there residing he was married, in May, 1866, to Miss Charlotte Higgins, of Keyport, New Jersey, a daughter of Charles Higgins, one of the most prominent men of that district, who at that time owned all the stage routes out of Freehold. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born seven children, of whom four are yet living: Edward W., a resident of San Francisco; Ernest, who is living in Sebastopol, California; Judson, a pharmacist of Spokane; and Lottie M., the wife of Rev. Alfred Lockwood, who for five years was the predecessor of Dean Hicks of All Saints cathedral and is now rector of the church at North Yakima.
       On leaving Galveston, Mr. Smith went to Bloomington, Illinois, where he was connected with the railroad service until 1874, when he was made assistant treasurer of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad, now a branch of the Big Four. He won advancement from the position of office clerks to assistant treasurer in the general office and remained with the road until it changed hands. Becoming deeply interested in religious work, he afterward spent a number of years in important positions in connection with the Young Men's Christian Association. He was also engaged in evangelistic work and held missions not only all over the United States but also in England, Scotland and Ireland, conducting a very interesting campaign in behalf of moral progress on the other side of the water. The meetings which he held were all by invitation, for his reputation spread and he became known as an earnest, zealous worker in his church. He continued in the evangelistic field until the Spanish war, when he conducted Christian work among the camps of the south, at Camp Lee, Jacksonville, and at Savannah. He afterward continued his labors in this connection on the island of Porto Rico and assisted General Henry in distributing relief. He instituted his religious work in Porto Rico at the time the troops were first sent to San Juan, conducting this labor under the auspices of the international committee of the Young Men's Christian Association. He afterward took part in instituting similar work among the United States sailors but eventually removed to the northwest. Here he has been connected with a number of important business enterprises and is now secretary-treasurer of the Boundary Mining & Exploration Company, Limited, of which Dr. C. M. Kingston is the president and S. J. Miller vice president. In addition to the officers, F. H. Knight and A. H. Noyes are members of the board of directors. The object of this company is to develop the coal properties of Midway, British Columbia, consisting of crown-granted property of six hundred acres and other tracts. They have over one thousand feet in tunnels and drifts and shafts and several hundred feet of the mines have beendeveloped. They are now beginning to sink a developing shaft to strike two veins of coal, one to be reached at a depth of one hundred and ten feet and the other of one hundred and seventy feet. They have several well defined veins in tunnel, five feet in width. Their coal is of the bituminous kind and they are now prospecting for semi-anthracite. This is a good blacksmith coal and took first prize at the Interstate Fair. The work of development is being vigorously prosecuted and the company will make its initial shipments in 1912. They have two lines of railroad over the property, the Canadian Pacific and the Great Northern, affording them remarkably good shipping facilities.
       While Mr. Smith is proving his worth as an enterprising, progressive business man, capable and determined, he at the same time continues his labors in behalf of moral progress and as an evangelist has held misions in every state of the Union except Wyoming and Nevada, working largely along undenominational lines. He has served as state evangelist for the Congregational church of California. At Ellensburg he joined the Episcopal church, was confirmed, worked as a layman under Bishop Wells and conducted services as a layman. During 1908 he was called to the management of the Ondarra Inn in Spokane, an institution for the help of the unemployed, and succeeded in making this great work self-supporting. A free employment bureau provided work for about eight hundred men each month and thousands of men were sheltered and fed. Religious services were held and lectures given by prominent men. The property was purchased in 1910, by the North Coast Railroad to be used as a union depot and the work discontinued. Rev. W. L. Bull, an episcopal clergyman, was the owner and he, with Right Rev. Lemuel H. Wells, bishop of the diocese, were the instigators and responsible for the work. He now connected with St. James parish and had charge of the work at St. John's church for one year. He presented a confirmation class of five to the bishop-rather an unusual thing for a layman. His efforts have been a most efficient force for good in the districts where he has labored and the radius of his influence is far reaching. In politics Mr. Smith is an independent republican, while fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen and the Red Men, being now a trustee of Comanche Tribe. He also belongs to the Inland Club and in connection with Senator Poindexter and others organized the Fellowship Club, which has been very active in the discussion of public subjects, thus creating public opinion and largely influencing public work. He has ever regarded life as an opportunity-an opportunity for the development of the trifold nature of man-and has therefore labored to bring to the highest perfection possible the physical, mental and moral forces of the world. He has ever reached out in helpful spirit and sympathy toward all mankind and his is one of the natures that sheds around it much of the sunshine of life.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

* * * * Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies Project. Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the individuals featured in the biographies.


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