Saturday, November 22, 2014

Culbertson Jones Smith (1850-1930)

Portrait from "Ohio Legislative History, 1913-1917".

   Four-term Ohio state representative Culbertson Jones Smith's career in public service began in the 1880s when he entered into the office of Prosecuting Attorney of Butler County. After serving a decade in that post he won election to the Ohio General Assembly, and in the twilight of his life served two terms as Mayor of his hometown of Hamilton, Ohio.
   A lifelong resident of Butler County, Culbertson Jones "Culla" Smith was born in Wayne township in that county on February 25, 1850, being the son of John Culbertson and Elizabeth Jones Smith. His education occurred in the county of his birth and after reaching age sixteen began teaching school, earning enough income to enroll at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1868.
  Graduating in the class of 1870, Smith turned his attention to the law, and after a period of study under local judge Alexander F. Hume was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1876. Smith had married two years previously in June 1874 to Christianna Kindred (1852-1930), who had one son, George William Kindred (1869-1944) from a previous marriage. 
   From 1876 onward Smith would practice law in Hamilton and made his first run for elected office in 1882 when he was a candidate in that year's primary for Prosecuting Attorney of Butler County. He was unsuccessful in his bid and would suffer two further losses for that office, finally winning election to that office in 1887. He would serve a total of ten years as prosecuting attorney, and his time in that post received prominent mention in the 1905 Centennial History of Butler County, which noted that:
"Mr. Smith has brought to this office superior ability and honest, prompt, and efficient management of the affairs coming before him in his official capacity. His administration is referred to, both in public and private, as clean, able and honorable."
  Following his terms as county prosecutor Smith returned to private practice and in November 1910 was elected as Butler County's representative to the Ohio General Assembly. Serving during the 1911-13 session, Smith was a member of the house committees on the Girl's Industrial School, the Judiciary, and Taxation and Revenues. He would win re-election to the assembly in 1912 (with no opposition) and in the 1913-15 term chaired the committee on the Library; also serving on the Banks and Banking, Benevolent and Penal Institutions, and the Judiciary.

                               Culbertson J. Smith, from the Manual of Legislative Practice, 1913-14.

   In November 1914 Smith won his third term in the assembly and two years later was awarded a fourth term by his fellow Butler County citizens. He would serve as a member of the committees on Agriculture, Appropriations and Finance, Privileges and Elections and held the chairmanship of the Military Affairs committee.
   Towards the conclusion of his fourth term in the legislature, Smith was elected as the Mayor of Hamilton, Ohio in November 1917. His election to that office came about due to the "combined votes of the Democrats and Republicans of the city, thus defeating the candidate of the Socialist party which had been in control of the city."  Smith would be reelected as mayor of Hamilton in 1919, and at the conclusion of his term retired from political life to resume the practice of law, continuing active practice until a week before his death.
   Several days prior to his death Smith developed a scratch on his face and afterward took ill, with an infection called erysipelas setting in. Further medical complications developed and on December 16, 1930 Smith died at age 80. His wife Christianna had preceded him in death several months prior and both were interred at the Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton.

                                                       Culbertson Smith during his last term in the legislature.

Smith's obituary from the December 17th 1930 edition of the Hamilton Daily Times.

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