Lee County Biography

George G. Smith


A well-known railroad engineer, is now retired from active life, residing just outside the city limits of Dixon, where he has a comfortable home of five acres. His place is supplied with good buildings and in 1890 he erected a pleasant dwelling. Our subject has been enterprising and industrious and when only fifteen years of age possessed property of his own. He has ever since continued to be a landowner.

Mr. Smith, of this sketch, is prominent in railroad circles, having been connected with the Wabash Railroad for thirty years and was in the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad for one year. He began life for himself when fifteen years of age by working in the railroads shop of the Boston Lowell Road in the cities of Boston and Lowell, Mass. He remained with them until reaching his majority when he was given charge of an engine in the yards at Cambridge, Mass., and so efficiently did he perform his duties as engineer that he was soon given charge of an engine in regular service.

In 1855 our subject came West and located in Springfield, IL., where he was given charge of an engine on the Great Western Railroad, running between Springfield and Naples, a distance of about fifty-five miles. That road was later merged into what is now the Wabash and our subject remained in their employ for thirty years, or until he retired in 1890. He has passed through all the various stages of an engineer's life and during the entire period of his service he has never had an accident which resulted seriously to his passengers. During seven years of that time he never even had a wheel off the track and in recognition of that fact he was highly complimented by the then acting Passenger Superintendent, Robert Andrews.

He claims that the people at large are responsible to a great extent for the many accidents on railroads as they ask and expect trains to be run at such an enormous speed.

Mr. Smith looks back with much pleasure to the time when he was in active service on the road and numbers some of his best friends among the highest officials of the company. Beginning at an early age the serious business of caring for himself, Mr. Smith has continued through life to be prudent and industrious and in his old age is able to retire with a comfortable competency that insures him immunity from want or care, and Dixon may feel proud to have so honorable a gentleman among her citizen's.

The subject of this sketch was born at Lowell, Mass., December 9, 1833 and was the son of John L. Smith, a native of New Hampshire. The father made his home for a number of years at Lowell, but passed from this life at Dixon, Lee County, when sixty-two years of age. Our subject came honestly by his love for railroad life, as his father was employed for a number of years by the Boston Lowell Railroad. The maiden name of Mrs. Smith was Miss Alvira Perkins, also a native of the Granite State, who died at Dixon, aged seventy-two years, having come West a number of years before her decease. Religiously she was a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and a kind and loving wife and mother.

The gentleman of whom we write was educated in the public schools in Boston, Mass., and after he became of age was married in Cambridge to Miss Eliza Underwood, the date of the ceremony being 1854. Mrs. Smith was the daughter of Isaac Underwood, a native of Massachusetts, who lived and died at Cambridge, his decease occurring when he was seventy-six years of age. He followed the trade of a carpenter and was fairly successful in that calling. The mother of Mrs. Smith was Miss Rebecca Slocum and was the first white child born in East Cambridge then known as Craig's Point; she died in 1875 when nearly sixty-two years old. The parents were members of the Universalist Church and were greatly esteemed in their community for their upright and honest lives.

Mrs. Eliza Smith, wife of our subject received a good education in her native town and by her marriage with our subject has become the mother of two children, only one of whom is living at the present time, Martha, who remains under the parental roof. Ella died when fourteen years of age. In politics he is a believer in Republican principles and hence always casts his vote and influence in favor of the candidates of that party.is

Source: Portraits & Biographical Lee County 1892 Pg 319

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