Theodore Edward SMITH was a youth of seventeen years when he became a pioneer of California, he having come to this state in 1851 and having joined in San Francisco an uncle who was here engaged in the boot and shoe business.† Failing health soon caused the uncle to retire from active business, and the young nephew was thrown entirely upon his own resources.† Mr. SMITH eventually gained place as one of the substantial and representative business men in San Francisco, and was a citizen whose sterling character gained and retained to him the confidence and good will of the people of his adopted city and state.† He continued his residence in San Francisco until his death, at the age of seventy-eight years.
Mr. SMITH was scion of Colonial New England stock and a direct descendant of Robert TREAT, the first governor of Connecticut.† Theodore was born at Milford, Connecticut, on the 11th of February 1834, his father David SMITH having been a shoemaker by trade and vocation and having continued to follow his trade until after the close of the Civil war, when machinery for the manufacture of boots and shoes made his business no longer profitable.† The subject of this memoir gained his early education by attending the common schools of his native state, and in 1851 he came to California, the trip having been made by way of the Isthmus of Panama.† After he left the employ of his uncle in San Francisco, the pioneer city was ravaged by several fires and the young man was finally left to walk the streets in a penniless condition.† Under these deplorable circumstances he finally found a samaritan friend in the old Colonel TAYLOR, who had a little carpenter shop and who told the youth that he could there find a place to sleep.† Mr. SMITH found employment at various jobs that gave him a living, among which was employment with SELBY & Company and later with HOBART, WOOD & Company, wholesale boot and shoe merchants.† Of this stage in his career a record of interesting order has been given, as follows:† ďMr. SMITH was a great lover of music but knew nothing of its technique. In those early days but few musicians of ability were to be found in San Francisco.† One Sunday he chanced to be near Trinity Church, Protestant Episcopal, on one of the wharves, and was so entranced by the sound of the organ that he stopped by the door.† After thus reveling in the music emanating from the church he repeated his visit every recurring Sunday, there drinking in the music as a thirsty man would drink water.† After a number of such visits a man came to him and asked what he was doing there, this having been the first time a member of the congregation had taken the pains to speak to the young man.† The speaker on this occasion was a Frenchman who was the organist of the church and whose name was PLANNELL.† This kindly musician took a lively interest in young SMITH, to whom he gave a few music lessons. †The natural talent of the youth enabled him to make splendid progress in his musical studies, and when Mr. PLANNELL was attacked by illness and was unable to preside at the church organ, young SMITH was able to supply his place most acceptably.† He retained until his death a deep love for and appreciation for music, and did much to encourage its development in San Francisco.
Mr. SMITH finally took a position in the general merchandise establishment of SELBY & Company, but before coming to California he had gained an intimate knowledge of the boot and shoe business, with the result that he finally associated himself with the great wholesale shoe house of BUCKINGHAM & HECHT of San Francisco.† Of this position he continued and valued incumbent many years, and he was known as one of the able and progressive business men of California, with a wide personal acquaintance all over the state.† He was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and was a devoted communicant of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as is also his widow, who is now venerable in years and whose circle of friends in her home city of San Francisco is coextensive with that of her acquaintances.
In the year 1867 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. SMITH and Miss Lucilla BATES, who was born in the State of Michigan but who was reared on the Hawaiian Islands, where her father, Asher B. BATES, served as attorney-general for the government.† Later he received the appointment by Abraham LINCOLN as registrar in bankruptcy for San Francisco, which office he held until his death.† Mr. and Mrs. SMITH, became the parents of ten children, of whom three are deceased; Gertrude, Jessie and Lucile.† The surviving children are: Juliet, Leontine Ford, Lancelot H., Woodley Bates, Norwood Browning, Elliott Maynard, and Theodore E. Jr.† Miss Lucile SMITH was the founder in San Francisco of the MUNSON School for Private Secretaries and she developed the same into one of the leading business schools of the city, the school having an enrollment of about 1,000 students.† Miss Lucile passed away in December 1922, and her sister, Miss Juliet SMITH, succeeded her as president of the school.† Elliott Maynard SMITH became the business manager.† Leontine Ford SMITH became the wife of George B. FRYER, son of Doctor FRYER, professor emeritus of oriental languages of the University of California, and they reside in China, where they have two schools.† Mr. FRYER conducts a school for the teaching of business trades and Mrs. FRYER conducts an institution for the blind.† Lancelot H. SMITH is married and has three children, Edith, Roberta and Theodore.† He is engaged in the wholesale jewelry business in Portland, Oregon.† Woodley is married and has one son, Woodley Bates, Jr and is an attorney of Petamula [Petaluma].† Norwood BROWNING is married and has two sons, Norwood BROWNING, Jr.,† and Dana Knepper.† He is engaged in the real estate business of Palo Alto.† Elliot Maynard is married and has two children, Robert Treat and Carolyn.† Theodore E. is married and has one son, Theodore O.† He is in the mercantile business in Los Angeles.† He served overseas with the Young Menís Christian Association in the Rainbow Division and took part in the main offensives there.† He was wounded and gassed in the service, but is slowly recovering his health. He was financial manager of the Young Menís Christian Association for the Forty-seventh Division.
Transcribed by Deana Schultz.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 309-311 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Deana Schultz.