Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pearlus Everett Smiley (1880-1954)

From the Lebanon Pioneer, October 29, 1914.

  Lifelong Hoosier Pearlus Everett Smiley is the newest addition to the Strangest Names In American Political History, earning placement here due to his service as Prosecuting Attorney for Indiana's 20th judicial circuit. The son of Phillip Smiley, Pearlus E. Smiley was born in Worth Township, Boone County, Indiana on June 13, 1880. He would attend the high school in Whitestown and for a time taught in several schools in Boone County. He later advanced to the post of principal, serving in the towns of Advance, Graysville, Kennard, and Medaryville.
  In the late 1900s Smiley began pursuing the study of law at Indiana University, graduating with his degree in the class of 1910. In the next year, he established his practice in Lebanon and in 1912 was named as assistant secretary and collector for the Lebanon Businessmen's Association. The year 1912 also saw Smiley enter politics for the first time, hoping to gain the Democratic nomination for Prosecuting Attorney of Indiana's 20th judicial circuit. He would subsequently lose that nomination to another oddly named man, Vasco Dodson. 
   Two years following his loss Smiley was again the nominee for prosecuting attorney, this time facing off against  Republican nominee Roscoe Hollingsworth. Smiley's candidacy was boomed in the October 29, 1914 edition of the Lebanon Pioneer, which related that
"Mr. Smiley is amply qualified for the position for which he aspires, and to which he will be elected next Tuesday. He can be depended upon to enforce the provisions of the law pertaining to the apprehension and punishment of crime, in a fair and impartial manner. Vote for Smiley and award a young man of merit."
  When Boone County voters went to the polls in November 1914 it was Pearlus Smiley who emerged victorious, besting Roscoe Hollingworth by a vote of 2,975 to 1, 825.  Smiley entered into his duties in January 1915 and served one term of two years, losing his renomination bid to Vasco Dodson. Pearlus Smiley would marry in Hendricks, Indiana on November 1, 1919, to Mildred Dillon (born 1889), with whom he had one son, Richard Everett (1921-1944). Richard E. Smiley would lose his life during WWII, being killed in action while serving in Italy

Smiley's portrait from the 1910 Arbutus Yearbook.

   Following his term as prosecuting attorney Smiley continued to be prominent in Boone County public life. He returned to his law practice in Lebanon and also served as a special judge for the Lebanon city court, even presiding over a case involving the transportation of intoxicating liquor in 1922. Facts regarding Smiley's life post-1922 are difficult to come by, excepting notice of his death in Lebanon in early January 1954, when he would have been 73 years old. A burial location for both he and his wife remains uncertain, but they may have been interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon, the resting place of their son Richard.

From the Indianapolis Star, January 9, 1954.


  Considering the dearth of resources mentioning Pearlus E. Smiley, I figured it high time for a "YOU CAN HELP" segment. If any amateur historians, genealogists or possible descendents of Mr. Smiley are out there and want an interesting project to undertake, please see what else you can locate on this oddly named Hoosier! Also feel free to drop a line at this site's Facebook page in the event you discover something!

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