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G. FRANK SMITH was born on the Island of Jamaica, British West Indies, of English parentage, his father being an office in the English army, and stationed there. He received the rudiments of his early education in Jamaica, completing his school course in England, and came to New York in 1849, where he married the daughter of D. B. Rising, a California merchant. In 1852 he came to the Pacific Coast, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1854. He engaged in practice and for a period of thirty-six years has followed his profession here, and is one of the oldest members of the bar of the Pacific Coast in active practice. In 1855 he formed a partnership with Frank M. Pixley, and the firm of Pixley and Smith was a prominent and active legal factor for fourteen years, until 1869, when Mr. Pixley was appointed United States District Attorney, and Mr. Smith received the nomination for Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, but was defeated by his opponent, Robert Morrison, afterwards Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This was the only office Mr. Smith ever aspired to. He has devoted himself to the interest of his profession, having been connected with cases of great magnitude and importance, among them Kenny vs. O’Brien; the Hopkins estate; Ellen M. Colton vs. Stanford and others (Central Pacific Railroad). He was leading counsel for Mrs. Colton, and to him her interests were wisely entrusted. The amount involved in this suit, the brilliant array of counsel on either side of the case and the great length of time occupied in its hearing, makes it one of the most noted cases before the courts of this country. Mr. Smith had the assistance, in the management and trial of this case, of John A. Stanley, George R. B. Hayes, D. M. Delmas, and Judges William T. Wallace and E. W. McKinstry; the eminent array of legal talent on the other side were Judge DeLos Lake, Hall McAllister, Judge John Garber, Judge James P. Hoge, Silas W. Anderson, Judge L. D. McKissick, A.A. Cohen and Creed Haymond. The longest speeches ever made in any court of justice in this country were made during this memorable trial. Hall McAllister’s argument occupied twenty-one days, and the actual trial occupied eighteen months. It was conceded by the bar of the city and State that great ability was displayed by Mr. Smith in the management of this remarkable trial.

Mr. Smith has to a great extent now retired from the actual duties of a practitioner - and can only be retained in very large cases, where there is a field for his talent and the compensation remunerative.

This gentleman has for many years enjoyed the advantages of an independent income, a professional and social position of the very best, together with the luxury of a wife and grown family, famed for their intelligence and refinement. Mr. Smith is a book-worm and a student. He is genial, social, and has few equals as a converser.


Transcribed by Elaine Sturdevant

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 1, page 530-531, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2004 Elaine Sturdevant.

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