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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Jacob De Smith

Source: Portraits and Bios

Jacob De Smith is numbered among the earliest settlers of Sheboygan County. Fleshing, Zeeland, Holland, is the place of his birth, and the date September 3, 1819. When only ten years of age, his father, John De Smith, was taken from him by the hand of death. Five children, of whom Jacob was the eldest, were left to be cared for and educated by their mother. His father was a seafaring man, being commonly known as Capt. De Smith. For many years he sailed a Dutch-built vessel, known as "The Three Brothers," plying between Fleshing and Antwerp. At the time of this death, Capt. De Smith was in the prime of life, being about fifty years of age. His widow, who bore the maiden name of Gertrude Reinhout, was subsequently married to Jacob Hynolf, who was a native of Holland. Of the second marriage one child was born. On the 29th of May, 1836, this worthy couple, with five children, shipped at Fleshing, and after fifty-two days of sailing, during which time they encountered severe gales, they reached the harbor of New York, where they bade good-bye to the old ship "Gentleman," which had brought them across the stormy deep in safety. In Cattaraugus County, NY, the step-father bought one hundred and twenty acres of land, but, finding that it was covered by a mortgage involving more than the purchase price of the land, he abandoned it. Going to Williamson, Wayne County, NY, he there made his home for the remainder of his life. He too followed the calling of a seaman, and ran the first steam propeller from Oswego to Milwaukee, carrying a load of wheat. This occurred in the year 1843. Mr. Hynolf died at Williamson, at the advanced age of seventy years. By his side his wife was laid to rest, on the 15th of August, 1875.

While residing in Williamson Jacob De Smith was married, in April, 1843, to Miss Sarah Jane Lawton, who was a native of Hudson, NY. In 1845, this pioneer couple made their arrival in Sheboygan County, coming by way of the Lakes. The vessel on which they took passage should have stopped at Sheboygan, but finding it impossible to land went on to Milwaukee. There our subject embarked on a sloop, which was coming northward for a cargo of wood, and was put ashore where no lies the village of Amsterdam. Of George Cole Mr. De Smith purchase eighty acres of timbered land, paying the nominal sum of $1.25 per acre. Having remained here about eighteen months, and having run short of funds, he deemed it advisable to return to this former home, and there earn the money with which to sustain his family while developing his new farm. After spending some five years in New York, he again returned to Sheboygan, and re- established himself in his log-cabin home. On the same farm, Mr. De Smith has resided ever since. By much hard work and good management he has made it one of the valuable farms of Holland Township. In 1847, prior to his return to New York, Mr. De Smith was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who was buried in the cemetery on section 18. Our subject was again married, in 1857, when Miss Ella Berenschott became his wife. The lady is a native of Zutfen, Guelderland, Holland, born February 8, 1826, being a daughter of Gerrett and Minni (Null) Berenschott. She is the fourth in order of birth of ten children.

By his first marriage Mr. De Smith had two children. Charles H., born May 9, 1845, is a farmer of Holland Township; and James M. is deceased. Of the second union there are five children, as follows: James M., born July 6, 1858, a baggageman at Sheboygan Falls; Lillie Gertrude, born April 18, 1862; Ella Matilda, born July 18, 1863; Sarah Jane, born August 12, 1864; and Jacob W., born April 16, 1865, all at home.

Though in his seventy-fifth year, Mr. De Smith's mental faculties are well preserved Physically, he has lost much of his vigor and activity, having received a sunstroke, which came near resulting in paralysis.

Mr. De Smith has been a life-long Democrat, and during his long residence here has been called upon to fill a number of official positions. He was Chairman of the Town Board in 1861, and since that time has held the same position several terms. In an early day he was also a Justice of the Peace. He is one of the old landmarks of Sheboygan County, and is a gentleman much esteemed for his sterling worth and integrity.


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