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Otto William "O.W." Smith, Sr
Birth: Jan. 1, 1864
McLean County
Illinois, USA
Death: Jan. 1, 1949
Cook County
Illinois, USA

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The story of O. W. Smith Sr.:

Born in Bloomington, IL on January 1, 1864, Otto William Smith was the second of five known children between Andrew and Minnie (Heisterhage) Schmitt. Little is known of Otto's early upbringing other than he lived in Chicago for a period of time, eventually moving (or passing through) to St. Louis, MO, where his sister Jennie was born in 1869. Sometime from 1869 to 1880 the family moved to Denver, Co. It is not known whether they settled somewhere in between their journey from St. Louis to Denver or went a more direct, immediate route.

Although Andrew was a miner and later a brick maker, young Otto was an apprentice book binder, a trade in which he engaged in for over twenty years (C. 1880 1900). At the conclusion of his apprenticeship, O. W. (as he was known as from a young adult) relocated himself to Leavenworth, KS, where he worked for the Samuel Dodsworth Book Company until approximately 1887. He then moved to Wichita, KS, in 1888, where he was employed by the Eagle Bindery. He eventually became foreman of the Eagle binding department, supervising twelve to twenty men. It is not known why he chose to change employers.

In late May of 1885, O.W.'s father Andrew passed away in Denver with Minnie following shortly thereafter in late December of 1888. Both are interred in Riverside Cemetery, Denver, CO with their daughter Jennie, who passed away earlier in 1880.

Almost a year after his mother's death, O. W. married Sadie E. Crabill, daughter of John and Frances (Conrad) Crabill, on September 21, 1889, at 427 South Main Street, Wichita, KS. According to the Wichita Eagle, O. W. "counts his friends by the score" and "is popular with everyone whom he has come in contact, and will prove a meet life companion for the lady of his choice."

Several months later, O.W. and his new bride relocated to Denver, CO, where she gave birth to Jennie Frances Smith on September 27, 1890. Just as he did in Kansas, O. W. supported his family as a bindery foreman, particularly employed by Collier and Cleveland, the "Great Denver Lithographers."

In August of 1891, Otto visited Boise where he was met with reporters from the Idaho Daily Statesmen. Pleased with what he saw, Otto stated "that I have never seen a city bearing more openly the appearance of great present prosperity, with the well founded hope of future growth. The city itself like the state is a gem, and evidence of my opinion is contained in the fact that I have concluded to locate here, where I will establish myself in business. I will leave this evening for Harrisburg, PA, where I will order the machinery for a first-class book bindery, and return in three weeks with my family. My partner, Mr. C. G. Newcomer, accompanied by his family, will return with me, and I expect to get my bindery in working order within six weeks. Then with close attention to business I believe that our success or failure will rest in the hands of the people. If they will patronize home industry we will surely succeed." Constructed on Main Street (between fifth and sixth streets), O. W.'s bindery opened the first week of October, 1891. By means of newspaper advertising, O. W. encouraged people from all over Idaho and Eastern Oregon to do business with his company, guaranteeing customer satisfaction.

While in Boise, O. W. fathered five more children (the last by another marriage), Walter James, born on February 19, 1892; Willis Charles, born on July 9, 1894; Clyde Raymond, born on May 1, 1896; Lawrence Richard, born on May 25, 1897; all by his wife Sadie. The Smiths appeared to have experienced nothing but prosperity until the unfortunate death of Sadie on April 21, 1899. She was interred in Pioneer Cemetery, Boise, ID. A few weeks later O. W. sold his family's five room cottage, 2119 Eighth Avenue and many of their household possessions. The children were sent to Oregon to continue their studies, perhaps residing with their grandparents, John and Frances (Conrad) Crabill (O. W.'s in-laws), as newspapers later reported O. W. visiting his children in Portland, OR.

Despite the poor turn of events, O. W. remarried a divorced woman, Anna M. (Shepard) Torrance, former wife of Samuel Torrance, in January of 1900. Anna, too, had children of her own. Though it may never be known, it is very possible that the marriage between O. W. and Anna was one of convenience, given that both parties had a vacancy for a new mother/ father of their children. Whatever the case, O. W. and Anna gave birth to one child between them, O. W. Jr. at 308 Broadway Street, Boise. They resided at 308 until 1905 when O. W. erected a much larger home at 414 Jefferson Street. The new home was complete with running water, heat, sewer, and electric, as well as spacious rooms, a library, a large dining room, and a grand staircase. Many family weddings were held at 414 and was always decorated in lavish detail.

Refusing to settle, O.W. saw fit to move once again. Selling his home and disposing of his business, the Smith family relocated to Chicago, IL in February of 1920. According to the Idaho Daily Statesman, O. W. was interested in a manufacturing business in Chicago, but may have excluded subtle details. Legend has it that O. W. borrowed $100,000 ($1,000,000 in today's money) from his stepdaughter's husband's father, Thomas Davis. O. W. lost the money and rather than account for his mismanagement, left for Chicago. No physical document has ever surfaced to prove such money ever changed hands. Perhaps the family will never know for sure.

While in Chicago, O. W. Jr. attended Columbia College and Chicago Law School, graduating in 1925. He continued to live with his mother and father even after graduating. O. W.'s stepdaughter, Emily Torrance, lived with the family as a practicing nurse, having graduated from St. Alphonsus Hospital, Boise. Relatives of Marcella Torrance-Davis, step-daughter of O. W., assert that Emily was a primary bread winner for the Smith family while in Chicago.

Besides being head of the household, little is known at the present of O. W. Sr.'s business practices in Chicago, but was reported in the 1930 census as a superintendent of a mine, but also was a grocery store owner at 949 Webster Avenue, only a block away from his new Chicago home. Perhaps as a result of mismanaging finances, the Smiths lived in a considerably smaller home at 1105 Webster Avenue. They lived there possibly as late as 1933 when Anna Smith died from heart complications.

Relocating one last time before his death, O. W. Sr. moved to a small apartment at 2320 Sheffield Avenue around 1943, only a few blocks from his residence on Webster Avenue. His youngest son, O. W. Jr., relocated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and sold insurance around this time. It is possible that the loss of a second income forced O. W. Sr. to reevaluate his living arrangements and find a more economical residence. His stepdaughter, Emily, continued to care for him until his death on New Year's Day, 1949, which was also his eighty-fifth birthday. He was tragically killed when he slipped on a patch of ice in front of 859 Fullerton Avenue, not more than a few blocks from home. He fractured his right shoulder and ribs and succumbed from shock. It is not known why he was out or where he was headed.

Interred in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Evanston, IL he now rests with his wife Anna and step-granddaughter, Julia Davis. Perhaps as a constant reminder of the dwindled Smith estate, no burial marker or monument exists at this time. Nevertheless, may the soul of O. W. Smith Sr. be at peace regardless of his worldly concerns.
Family links: 
  Andreas Schmitt (1820 - 1885)
  Mina Haster Schmitt (1832 - 1888)
  Sadie E Crabill Smith (1869 - 1899)
  Anna Marie Shepard Smith (1860 - 1933)
  Jennie Frances Smith Hawley (1890 - 1974)*
  Walter James Smith (1892 - 1962)*
  Willis Charles Smith (1894 - 1946)*
  Clyde Raymond Smith (1896 - 1964)*
  Lawrence Richard Smith (1897 - 1965)*
  Ogden William Smith (1902 - 1966)*
  Charles Alden Smith (1861 - 1934)*
  Otto William Smith (1864 - 1949)
  Jacob A Smith (1866 - 1942)*
  Jennie Schmitt (1869 - 1880)*
*Calculated relationship
Note: No headstone exists at the present.
Calvary Cemetery
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Plot: Lot 12, Block 35, Section Y
Created by: Patrick R. Hare
Record added: Sep 19, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 58884388
Otto William O.W. Smith, Sr
Added by: Patrick R. Hare
Otto William O.W. Smith, Sr
Added by: Patrick R. Hare
Otto William O.W. Smith, Sr
Added by: Patrick R. Hare
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- Sabrina Nelson
 Added: Sep. 7, 2014

- Patricia Spellman Saville
 Added: Sep. 5, 2014
In memory~
- Rita Jean Arnold
 Added: Sep. 5, 2014
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This page is sponsored by: Patrick R. Hare

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