Ezra Leonard Smith

Ezra Leonard Smith

Craftsbury, Orleans County, Vermont, USA
Death 22 Jan 1921 (aged 83)
Hood River, Hood River County, Oregon, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes scattered in Columbia River
Memorial ID 29956729 · View Source
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The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., January 27, 1921, page 1
Includes portrait

Eventful Career Ends Saturday
Mr. Smith, One of the Founders of the Apple Industry, Was One of the Coast's Prominent Pioneers

All places of business were closed from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday while Hood River paid honor to E.L. Smith, Hood River valley's first citizen, and grand old man, who died at his home Saturday. The Riverside Community church was crowded by residents from all parts of the valley and pioneers from other districts. Rev. W.G. Eliot, pastor of the Church of Our Father in Portland, a friend of nearly 50 years standing, delivered the funeral address. He read a memorial tribute written by his father, Dr. T.L. Eliot, Pastor emeritus of the First Unitarian church, Portland, who was unable to attend the service because of ill health. Rev. W.H. Boddy aided with the service.

Mr. Smith was first master of the local Masonic lodge, a Knight Templar and Shrine member. The local lodge of Masons attended in a body, observing ritualistic services. Pallbearers, all members of the lodge, where L.N. Blowers, W.H. Clipping, T.A. Reavis, W.L. Clark, Geo. F. Stranahan and A.J. Derby. Honorary pallbearers, all pioneers of the section, were: S.F. Blythe, C. Dethman, Henry L. Howe, M.D. Odell, Robert Rand, S. Copple, W.J. Baker and A.H. Jewett, of White Salmon, Wash. K.W. Sinclair drove the car containing the active pallbearers to Portland.

The body, accompanied by members of the family and friends, was taken to Portland over the Columbia River Highway for cremation. It was the first funeral cortege ever to pass down the Columbia gorge from here.

Mr. Smith was born in Vermont, September 17, 1837. While his name is closely linked with the pioneer history of the three Pacific Coast states, California, Oregon and Washington, he is best known in Oregon, having resided with his family in Hood River county since 1876. He planted one of the valley's first commercial orchards and for years was a leader in establishing the apple industry in the northwest. He was one of the founders and for a number of years president of the Oregon Horticultural Society. His enthusiasm for the local fruit industry won for him the name of "Hood River" Smith. He was a member of the Oregon Commission at the Pan-American exposition at Buffalo, N.Y., and had charge of the state's horticultural exhibits, which received first awards at the international contests there.

Mr. Smith was perhaps the last Pacific Coast survivor who attended the Republican convention at Chicago in 1862, when Abraham Lincoln received his first nomination for the presidency. At the time he was a student at Lombard University at Galesburg, Ill., having accompanied Isaac Parker, a young professor of ancient languages called from New England to the middle western institution. He was a great admirer of Lincoln and visited him at his home at Springfield, Ill. Mr. Smith's wife, Georgiana Slocum, was a fellow Lombard student. Their wedding was set for the morning of March 4, 1861, but at the request of the bridegroom, in order that he and his wife might say that their married life was begun under the administration of Abraham Lincoln, the wedding was postponed until the afternoon. The couple set off immediately for New York City, where they sailed for California via the Isthmus of Panama. They made their way to El Dorado county, where Mr. Smith engaged in mining for several years. In 1864 and 65, Mr. Smith was a member of the California general assembly. In 1867 he received appointment as secretary of Washington territory. For the greater part of his term as secretary he was also acting territorial governor. At the expiration of his official duties, Mr. Smith associated with Geo. A. Barnes, a member of the first city council of Portland, and William H. Avery, established the first bank at Olympia.

Mr. Smith arrived here with his family on March 1, 1876. He had previously purchased a large acreage in the Frankton district just west of the present town of Hood River. A home had been erected with lumber shipped by boat from Portland. Mr. Smith established the county's first store, which was later moved to Hood River.

Except for a short residence in The Dalles, where he served as a register of the United States Land Office, Mr. Smith resided here continuously after his arrival from Olympia. He was noted as one of the state's most eloquent public speakers and took a prominent part as Republican leader in state and national politics. In 1889 he was speaker of the lower house of the legislature. He was at one time United States senatorial candidate.

Mr. Smith and his family became widely known throughout the Northwest for their interest in civic affairs. Mrs. Smith, who died in 1911, was a leading pioneer in Oregon Women's Club circles. Her charities among the Indians and unfortunate whites covered a wide area. News of the death of Mr. Smith was received with expressions of sincere grief by the remaining Indians here.

Mr. Smith was a close friend of Dr. T.L. Eliot, pastor emeritus of the First Unitarian church of Portland. Formerly the two were accustomed to make excursions of exploration into the surrounding forest wilds. They were members of the party that discovered Lost Lake. It was largely through Mr. Smith's financial support that a Unitarian church was established here. Mr. and Mrs. Smith donated to Hood River the site of the county's imposing public library.

Mr. Smith is survived by four daughters, Mrs. J.F. Watt and Mrs. William Stewart, of Hood River; and Mrs. J.E. Rand and Mrs. O.J. Nelson, of Portland. Other surviving close relatives are Geo. I Slocum and Roy C. Slocum, the latter of Portland.

The funeral was directed by S.E. Bartmess.


The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., February 3, 1921, page 1


No person who came to Oregon after admission of the territory is entitled to the official -- or formal -- designation as a pioneer. This is the rule made by the Oregon Pioneer association, and we have no thought of finding fault with it. There are still living, it is pleasing to recall, many hundreds and even thousands of those early and venturesome emigrants who made their heroic way to the distant northwest, and laid the foundations of a great American commonwealth. It would be a proposal suggestive of profanation if it were to be asked that the bar be lowered so that other useful citizens whose coming was later, be entitled also to the distinction which exclusively belongs to those who came to Oregon when it was a territory.

Yet it will not be amiss to say that the late Ezra L. Smith had the stature, and the record of a pioneer. It was impossible to think of him in other aspects. He was clearly a pioneer in Hood River valley and was a great factor in its early development as a prosperous horticultural district. Yet he went there as late as 1876, but a generation and a half ago. In pioneer parlance, forty-four years is not long; but in the life of the individual and the growth of a community it may be it, and it usually is, epochal. It is only within the past twenty years, or even less, that Hood River acquired a national fame for its fruit. Mr. Smith had much to do with it.

Ezra L. Smith's time goes back to Lincoln in Illinois, to civil war times in California, almost to the political beginnings of Washington territory, and to what might be termed the late middle period of Oregon history. So after all he was a good deal of a pioneer. He was conspicuous in civic affairs, and long a prominent figure in the political activities of the state. He had the esteem of his neighbors and the confidence of the public in an uncommon degree. It will not be easy to think of Hood River without Ezra L. Smith. -- Oregonian.


In the death of E.L. Smith, which occurred at Hood River, on last Saturday, one of the best known horticulturists of the early days passed out. -- Newberg graphic.


The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., January 27, 1921, page 2


All Oregon will fill the loss of Ezra Leonard Smith, whose eventful career was closed last Saturday morning, while in the calm of dawn he met his Pilot face to face and crossed out over the bar. He was great and lovable and had lived a life of unselfish service. Here in Hood River, where we knew him best, where every man, woman and child was his admiring friend, we will miss him most. His cheery greeting and imposing, stalwart figure have been missed from the streets since last summer. The office in his building, where nearly all of us at one time or another have called for kindly advice or had sat while the hours slipped pleasantly away listening to some interesting recital of pioneer times, a discussion on the wonders of our mountain scenery or a story of Indiana mythology, has been silent.

Four score and three years had passed for him and we knew that he had grown ripe for the reward of those well spent years, and yet last Saturday what one of us was not stricken with a sense of personal loss when the news went forth that E.L. Smith was dead? We felt it whether we were pioneers of many years or only residents of a comparatively short time. E.L. Smith never saw a stranger. He loved to greet new arrivals, and the good cheer of his welcome at once made Hood River a better home spot. He had a way of talking about things and subjects in such a way as to illuminate them. He had a reverence for the wonders of nature and, too, for the simple, unadorned faith of men and women. He detested a sham in any form. He was ever ready to grant an audience to children or an unlearned Indian. As Dr. Eliot wrote in his memorial tribute, "He was one of Nature's noblemen."

Who of us in Hood River will not miss Mr. Smith? Not one. His fund of Indian lore and information on past happenings of national importance have on numerous occasions made possible a more interesting issue of the Glacier. He was a link between today and the inspiring happenings of the last half of the century just passed. No man of the Northwest possessed a greater Indian lore. We are sorry that his stories of the legends were not compiled. They ought to be available to every Hood River county school child.

In another column we have set forth some of the numerous honors that came to Mr. Smith in his long and useful life. But the greatness of his personality, the love of truth and honesty, his hatred of and shrinking from trickery and chicanery and his reverence for nature and things holy transcended all of these. All that was mortal of him has passed, but the benevolence of his spirit will remain as long as we who knew him survive, and the worth of his character will continue to leave its impress on our own.


The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 28, 1921, page 1
Includes portrait


With the passing of Ezra Leonard Smith, whose death occurred at his home of on State St. on Saturday last, one that of the great figures in the early history of the West, joins the majority of those state builders of other days.

Mr. Smith, who was 83 years of age at the time of his death, had not been about town since last fall, growing infirmity causing him to keep to the house. He became steadily weaker and the end was not unexpected by the sorrowing family.

Mr. Smith was born in Vermont on September 17, 1837, the son of Ezra and Avis Smith, the father being from a very prominent American family.

As a young man he was a spectator at the convention held in Chicago in 1859, at which Abraham Lincoln was first nominated for the presidency of the United States.

Mr. Smith was married at Woodstock, Ill., on March 4, 1861, to the Georgiana Slocum. The couple left for California the same year, and lived for the next six years in the Golden State. Their home was in Eldorado county, where Mr. Smith was interested in mining. In 1865-66 he was a member of the California legislature.

In 1867, Mr. Smith was appointed secretary of Washington territory, upon the recommendation of William H. Seward, by President Johnson. A portion of the time he served as secretary, he also acted as governor of this territory, owing to the illness and enforced absence of Governor Marshall Moore.

Mr. Smith, with the George A. Barnes, established the first bank in Olympia, under the name of George A. Barnes & Co., and also was a member of the territorial council. After residence of nine years at Olympia, on account of failing health, he relinquished his activities in Olympia.

In 1876, Mr. Smith arrived in Hood River and took up residence at a point about one mile and a half west of where the city now stands, where he engaged in farming and later in the general merchandise business.

In 1883, he was appointed registrar of The Dalles land office, and for a time lived partly at The Dalles. In 1886, when his term of office expire expired, he returned to Hood River, and had been a continual resident of this city ever since. In 1888 he was elected to the Oregon legislature from Wasco county, and became speaker of the house of representatives. He was three times president of the Columbia River waterway association, was well known in horticultural circles and had been president of both of the State Horticultural society and the state board of Agriculture.

Surviving daughters are Mrs. J.F. Watt, Mrs. Wm. M. Stewart, both of Hood River, and Mrs. J.E. Rand and Mrs. O.J. Nelson, both of Portland.

With the closing of every business house in town and with Riverside church crowded to capacity, the people of Hood River did their best to pay a tribute worthy of the memory of Mr. Smith. Hood River Masons, to the number of over 200, paid their last respects to their dead brother and occupied the body of the church and, at the conclusion of the fine oration delivered by the Rev. W.G. Eliot, pastor of the Church of Our Father, Portland, performed the simple but inspiring Masonic funeral rites. Miss S. Howes played appropriate organ music and accompanied Mrs. C.H. Sletton, who sang solos that added to the solemnity of the occasion.

The service was conducted by Rev. W.H. Boddy, but it was left to Dr. Eliot, a friend of fifty years of Mr. Smith, to express sympathy with the relatives in a glowing tribute to the memory of the deceased man, whom he characterized as "one of nature's noblemen." He dwelt on Mr. Smith's love of nature and his unbounding kindness toward his fellow men and women; his faith in things that were good and his rigid adherence to the truth and honesty. Dr. Eliot said that honesty of purpose was one of the great outstanding traits in Mr. Smith's character, and he recalled the fact that, on one occasion, when Mr. Smith was offered the highest post it was possible for a Governor to confer, he refused it because in return he would have been called upon to give a pledge which did not coincide with his own views of honesty toward his fellow men. All through his life, his kindness of character made the road easier for his fellow men and women, and t!
he example his entire life offered might well be accepted as a standard of right living and thinking.

At the conclusion of the service, the casket was born by the pallbearers through a double line of Masons to the hearse, and at 4 p.m. Undertaker Bartmess left on the journey to Portland over the Highway to the crematorium, accompanied by the pallbearers. The remains reached Portland after nine o'clock, and have since been cremated. Pallbearers were: L.N. Blowers, W.H. Chipping, T.A. Reavis, W.L. Clark, George F. Stranahan and A.J. Derby. Several of the pioneers of this section were at t he church as honorary pallbearers, as follow: S.F. Blythe, C. Dethman, Henry L. Howe, M.D. Odell and Robert Rand of Hood River, and A.J. Jewett, of White Salmon. A.O. Adams, one of the old residents of Cascade Locks, was also present.


The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 28, 1921, page 4


Two years ago we met for the first time a man whose name had, for many years, been a by-word in Oregon and who, in Hood River county, had watched and assisted in the growth of all that stands for progress in this section. A fine old gentleman who, endowed in his youth with a good education, had been a keen observer and compiler of the many things which go to make up the history of the West. It was in anecdote that Mr. E.L. Smith was the more entertaining to the man or woman who had come to the West in recent years, for when he talked on the political or civic history of the Western states he traveled back over the years with an assurance that the newcomer was unable to follow with understanding. Yet the newcomer who was seeking knowledge of the West of the early days always, at the end of the talk with Mr. Smith, found himself regretted that he had not known this fine old man many years before. While he often gave his views with an air of finality that, in a younger man, would have been regarded as presumption, yet a close analysis of his decisions invariably found him in the right -- because he assured himself that he was in the right before he gave an opinion. As with all honest men, he was fearless in his views, and in politics one instinctively felt, after discussion with him, that his was a master mind, little clouded by his eighty odd years. In passing, he leaves a remarkable record of plain living and clean thinking, and Hood River should feel honored that such a man should have chosen this section of all the West as his home through the many years the lived here. It is only when Nature's Noblemen, such as Mr. Smith pass to the Great Beyond that we realized how scarce men of this type of becoming and how much poorer is the world by their death.

An Illustrated History of Central Oregon, Western Historical Publishing Company, Spokane, WA. 1905, page 336
A portrait of Mr. Smith appears between pages 336 and 337.
HON. EZRA LEONARD SMITH was born in Vermont, on September 17, 1837, the son of Ezra and Avis (Barker) Smith, natives of Connecticut and Haverhill, New Hampshire, respectively. The father came from a prominent American family, the first of whom, Richard Smith, came to Massachusetts in 1630.
Ezra L. Smith was educated in the Orleans Liberal Institute of Glover, Vermont and at Lombard University of Galesburg, Illinois. On March 4, 1861, he was married at Woodstock, Illinois to Georgiana Slocum, second daughter of Ira and Marietta (Sheldon) Slocum.
Going to California in 1861, he lived six years in that state, most of the time in Eldorado county, where he was interested in mining. In 1865-66, he was a member of the California legislature and during his whole residence in California, was an enthusiastic Republican. In 1867, he was appointed secretary of Washington territory, upon the recommendation of William H. Seward, by President Johnson. A portion of the time he served as secretary, he also acted as governor of the territory, owing to the illness and enforced absence of Governor Marshall Moore.
Mr. Smith with George A. Barnes and William H. Avery established the first bank in Olympia, under the name of George A. Barnes & Co. Mr. Smith also served as a member of the territorial council.
After a residence of nine years in Olympia, on account of failing health, he moved to Hood River, Oregon, in 1876, where he engaged in farming and also had a general merchandise store. He was appointed register of The Dalles land office in 1883 and after his term of office expired, he returned to Hood River, where he has resided continuously since 1886. In 1888 he was elected to the Oregon Legislature and he was made speaker of the House of Representatives. He was three times president of the Columbia River Waterway Association. For three years, he has been president of the State Horticultural Society and is serving his fourth year as president of the State Board of Horticulture. Mr. Smith is an enthusiastic horticulturist and devoted to the upbuilding of his home town.
Mr. Smith's family consists of his wife and four married daughters; Jessie, wife of Dr. J.F. Watt; Avis, wife of William M. Stewart; Georgiana, wife of J.E. Rand; and Anne C., wife of Rev. O.J. Nelson.

History of Early Pioneer Families of Hood River, Oregon. Compiled by Mrs. D.M. Coon
Ezra Leonard Smith, the only son of Ezra Smith and Avis Barker Smith, was born at Craftsburg, Orleans Co., Vermont, on the 17th of September 1837.
After the death of his mother in 1847 and of his father in 1849 Ezra Smith lived under the guardianship of Lyndal French at Glover, Vermont, where he attended first the public school and later the Orleans Liberal Institute, of which Professor Isaac A. Parker was principal.
In 1858 Professor Parker was appointed Professor of Ancient languages at Lombard College, located at Galesburg, Illinois. In company with Professor Parker young Smith went to Galesburg and entered Lombard College in the fall of 1858.
Here he met Georgiana Slocum also a student of Lombard. A three year college association of Ezra Smith and Georgiana Slocum eventuated in the marriage of these two March 4, 1861, at Woodstock, Ill., the home of the bride's father and mother, Ira Slocum and Marietta Sheldon Slocum. Immediately after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Smith went to New York City, where they took passage for California, via the Isthmus of Panama. After some forty days en route they reached San Francisco and thence went to Georgetown, Eldorado County, California, where they made their first home in April, 1861. Here Mr. Smith engaged in mining and began the active part he always thenceforth took in public affairs.
Associating himself with the political party of Lincoln, he was elected to and served through the California legislature of 1864 and 1865, and is proud of the fact that he was a member of the joint special committee which took the initial step for the organization of the University of California.
At Georgetown the first child of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jesse Benton, was born December 17, 1864. Here also was born the second daughter, Avis Myra, December 1, 1864. The third daughter, Georgiana, was born in San Francisco, January 22, 1866.
Mr. Smith, in 1867, took his family to Olympia, Washington, where he had been appointed to serve as Secretary of Washington Territory. At Olympia the family resided for nine years and was there augmented by the arrival of two more daughters Laura, born January 4, 1868 and Annie Conger, born July 19, 1873.
The business of banking, in which Mr. Smith was engaged after completing his term as Territorial Secretary, proved inimical to his health and by advice of his physicians he sought outdoor employment; this led him to Hood River, where he purchased a farm which had its north boundary near the State road and its south on what is now the Belmont Road and included the present site of the Frankton School, a hundred rods west of where the Frankton school house now stands was located the first Hood River home of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Here they brought their family of five little daughters March 1, 1876.
Always interested in horticulture the beautiful orchards of apple, peach and cherry, surrounding this home, was the lodestone that drew Mr. Smith here and the ever increasing spread of the orchards of Hood River has been a charm to hold him.
Here on this farm was born the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Irving McKinney the little boy, born February 1879, was permitted to stay but a short time, being taken from them January 1881 at the age of 23 months.
Except for the few years, 1883 to 1886, during which time Mr. Smith served as registrar of the land office at The Dalles, and his wife and daughters resided with him there, the family have made their continuous home in Hood River. It was during this brief residence at The Dalles that the "Grim Reaper" a second time plucked a precious member from this family, Laura, the fourth daughter, a charming girl of fourteen years, died there December 10, 1883. It was also during the residence at The Dalles, November 1883, that George and Roy Slocum, orphaned sons of Mrs. Smith's brother, became members of this family.
Mr. Smith, always active in local government affairs, has several times been honored by the Electorate of his state. In 1889, while representing Wasco County in the Legislature, he was elected speaker of the houses and again in the presidential campaign of 1896, he was chosen a member of the electoral college which cast the state vote for Pres. McKinley.
In 1876 Mr. Smith established a general merchandise store, at what is now the junction of the Belmont planer and State roads. In 1882 this store was moved to the newly located town of Hood River and for many years was wider the able management of the late George P. Crowell.
The present residence of Mr. Smith, occupying the sightly block at 6th and State Sts., was erected and became the family home in March, 1886. Here the four remaining daughters were married. Jesse Benton became Mrs. F.J. Watt April 26, 1886. To Dr. and Mrs. Watt is given the precious memory of a daughter, Avis, who was taken by death at the age of 15 years, Oct, 4, 1902. Mrs. Watt and her husband are now the companions of her father at the family home.
Avis Myra, was married to Wm. M. Stewart November 30, 1886. The present home of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart is on State St. in Hood River. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart have an adopted daughter Catherine.
Georgiana became the wife of James Elmer Rand September 27, 1891; the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rand in Portland is graced by the presence of a daughter Laura, aged 20 years; the first, a son, Everett was claimed by death at the age of 14 years, January 29, 1907.
Annie Conger married Oscar J. Nelson April 6, 1905. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are living in Portland. They have two children, Avis aged nine years and Smith Jamison aged seven.
The wife of Ezra Smith and the mother of his family, born Georgiana Slocum, at Troy, N.Y., May 22, 1842, departed this life in the family home at 6th and State St., Hood River, December 10, 1911. At the death of Mrs. Smith, Hood River mourned the loss of one of its best known and best loved citizens. An appreciation of the life of Mrs. Smith is felt throughout the Northwest, where her acquaintances were widely extended and especially among the residents of Hood River is there full conception of her work and influence in the promotion of education and good citizenship, by all who knew her Mrs. Smith is given the tribute of a wise and honorable woman and a well-nigh perfect wife and mother.
Mrs. Amadon, Mrs. Smith's mother, was an inmate of the Smith home for many years. The little things that make the "warp and woof" of every day life are not easily preserved in printer's ink, but to those who knew her and loved her, Grandmother remains a blessed memory. She passed away in the winter of 1879 and was buried in the family burial grounds at Frankton.
The following beautiful poem was composed by Mr. Smith and recited by him at the Pioneer's annual reunion September 17, 1918, that date being Mr. Smith's eighty first anniversary of his birth, as well as the day for the Pioneer's meeting.
O come! and let us go
Where garnered waters of an empire flow
Through chasm dark and deep and vast,
Cut in the eons of the past,
A channel of divine decree,
From Eastern plain to Western sea.
On yonder height now let us stand,
And look abroad on wonder-land;
See those broad volcanic cones,
Which lift their heads to frigid zones,
While lesser heights in forest green
Add wondrous beauty to the scene.
See the sunlights, as they play
From early dawn to close of day,
With changing hues for every hour
On tree and shrub and blooming flower.
Look westward, a mountain chain
Some mighty force hath rent in twain;
Through this rift a river glides
To mingle with old ocean's tides,
And to this place from every land
Shall ever come a pilgrim band.
Amazed, they look, and then exclaim,
"God's wonderland! Blest be His name!"
The Romans built the Appian Way
To lead their conquering legions o'er;
They built for war, which we abhor,
We built for Him whom we adore.
Praise be to those who wrought,
And praise to those who planned,
Who graded down the rocky cliffs,
And all their canyons spanned,
That all the world might view
The glories of Columbia's land.
Mrs. Smith, her children and her grandchildren were interred in the family plot near their early home by the side of Grandma Amadon. Mr. Smith had thought much upon the proper manner of disposing of the remains of our loved ones and became convinced that cremation was the better way and requested that his body be cremated and his ashes scattered on the waters of the Columbia River. His wish was complied with and the bodies of those long buried were disinterred and treated in the same manner. Mrs. Jessie Smith Watt passed away in 1925 and her body cared for in the manner chosen by the father
Mr. Smith died January 22, 1921, deeply mourned by all.

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  • Created by: Jeffrey Bryant
  • Added: 20 Sep 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 29956729
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ezra Leonard Smith (17 Sep 1837–22 Jan 1921), Find a Grave Memorial no. 29956729, ; Maintained by Jeffrey Bryant (contributor 46919897) Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes scattered in Columbia River.