PRESTON W. SMITH
††††††††††† Of the educational interests of Placer County Professor Preston W. Smith is a well known representative.† Occupying the position of county superintendent of schools, his marked ability has gained him prestige in the line of his chosen calling, and his influence in educational circles has been of great benefit in promoting efficiency and raising the standard of the schools in this part of California.† He is a man of strong mentality, of earnest purpose and keen discrimination, and with a just appreciation of the importance of intelligent training in early life he has devoted his efforts for many years to the improvement of the schools of his native state.
††††††††††† Professor Smith was born in Dutch Flat, California, August 12, 1861.† His father, Thomas R. Smith, came to the Pacific coast in 1850.† He was a native of New York City and was of English lineage, his ancestors having come to the new world at an early period in the development of New England, making a settlement in Connecticut.† The paternal grandfather of our subject served his country in the War of 1812.† Thomas R. Smith, the Professorís father, married Miss Louisiana Fuller, a native of the state whose name she bore, and a daughter of Jacob N. Fuller, a veteran of the Mexican War.† Mr. Smith came to California by the ocean route, making the voyage around Cape Horn in a ship which a company of California pioneers had purchased and fitted out for this particular purpose.† After his arrival in San Francisco the father of our subject made his way to Newcastle, where he engaged in merchandising.† Later he conducted a store at Iowa Hill, and he also employed teams and was engaged in freighting.† He purchased the Empire ranch and was one of the first who, by practical experience, demonstrated the productiveness of this soil in producing grain, hay and vegetables.† He found a ready market for his hay with the stage companies.† Prices were high in those days, flour sometimes bringing fifty dollars per sack, while other commodities were proportionately high; but the miners had gold and spent their money freely.† In 1855 Thomas R. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Fuller, and they became the parents of seven sons and five daughters, of whom four sons and three daughters are still living.† The father was a Presbyterian in his religious faith, while his wife was identified with the Baptist church.† He was never an office seeker, but the cause of education found in him a warm friend, and he rendered valuable service to his school district while serving as school trustee for a number of years.† Both he and his wife are still living, at the ripe age of eighty years, and are esteemed as worthy pioneer people and valued citizens, who through an honorable career have enjoyed the confidence and respect of all with whom they have come in contact.
††††††††††† Professor Smith, their eldest surviving child, acquired his preliminary education in the public schools of California, and later supplemented his early studies by a course in the Battle Creek College, of Battle Creek, Michigan.† He then began teaching in Dowagiac, Michigan.† Subsequently returning to California, he spent twelve years as a teacher in three different towns of Placer County.† For five years he was the popular principal of the Auburn schools, and his efforts resulted in raising the educational institutions of that city to a high standard.† In 1894 he was elected county superintendent of schools, and after filling the office with much ability for four years he was re-elected, in 1898, for a second term, the citizens of the county thus indicating their appreciation of his faithful and valuable service.
††††††††††† Superintendent Smith is an enthusiast in his profession, and as the head of the Placer County schools he has introduced many improvements in the courses of its study and the methods of teaching.† All the schools of the fifty-eight districts of the county are systematically graded and a record of the scholarship of the pupils and samples of their work are kept in the superintendentís office.† Through the influence of Superintendent Smith many of the school grounds have been enlarged and ornamented with trees, the school rooms made more convenient and decorated with appropriate pictures, and improvements have been made in heating, lighting and ventilating the school buildings.† Largely through his instrumentality the school libraries have been filled with books suitable to the various ages of the pupils and made more accessible and therefore more useful to the public.† He has also succeeded in placing the school districts on a good financial basis.† The books and records of his office have been kept so well and so systematically arranged that he has been very highly commended by all the count experts who have examined the affairs of the office.† He has also been instrumental in organizing reading circles among the teachers of the county, which, with the teacherís institutes under his supervision, have been the means of awakening much professional interest and enthusiasm.† These various lines of work have resulted in great good, and the schools of Placer County now take rank with the best public institutions of the state.
††††††††††† Professor Smith is a stalwart Republican in politics, and as the candidate of that party he received a majority of more than three hundred at each election.
††††††††††† In 1891 was celebrated the marriage of Preston W. Smith and Sophia E. Roelok, a native of El Dorado County and a daughter of George H. Roelok, ex-supervisor of El Dorado County and a veteran of the Mexican War.† They have two children, Mildred and Virgil Thomas.† Before her marriage Mrs. Smith was a successful teacher.† She is a lady of marked culture and refinement.† Mr. Smith and his wife attend the Congregational church, and she is a member of the Congregational Guild, and of the Order of the Eastern Star.† Mr. Smith is a past president of the Auburn Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West.† He also belongs to the Foresters, the Knights of Pythias and to the Masonic fraternity.† In the last named he is now filling the position of senior deacon and in the others he has served as the chief officer.† Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a beautiful home in Auburn and take great delight in the cultivation of flowers and in improving their well kept grounds.† Their home is the center of a cultured society circle and its social functions are greatly enjoyed by their many friends.† In personal appearance Mr. Smith is tall and he is an excellent example of the sterling type of Californiaís native sons.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010† Gerald Iaquinta.