Senator Thomas Henry Smith View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 9/17/1936
Birth Place: Soap Creek, IA
Birth County: Appanoose
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 34 (1911) - 35 (1913)
Home County: Shelby
Thomas Henry Smith
Shelby County


MR. PRESIDENT: Your committee appointed to prepare resolutions commemorating the life, character and public service of Honorable Thomas H. Smith of Harlan, Iowa, begs leave to submit the following report:

Thomas H. Smith, son of Paris S. and Nancy Jane Smith, was born September 30, 1854, in Appanoose county, Iowa, on the banks of a rather famous stream known as “Soap Creek”. Mr. Smith’s father was a native of Ohio, his mother a native of West Virginia. His great grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Smith was raised on a farm in Davis county and his elementary education was received in the country schools, supplemented by a course in the Southern Iowa Normal School in Bloomfield, one of Mr. Smith’s instructors being Hon. George W. Cullison, later his partner in the practice of law at Harlan. Mr. Smith at the age of 18 years began teaching country school, putting in his spare time reading law with Attorney M. H. Jones of Bloomfield. At the age of 23 Mr. Smith was admitted to the bar. He moved to Harlan where he began practicing law.

On the afternoon of May 31, 1878, he rode into Harlan on horseback, having borrowed a horse from an uncle of his residing in Davis county. In after years, Mr. Smith made no secret of the fact that at the time of coming to Shelby county he was exceedingly short of money. He first rented one small room which served as his bedroom as well as his office, his furniture consisting of one rude cot, two rickety chairs, a table, a hand-made bench and a hand-made bookcase of two shelves. His law library consisted of four books, and his office equipment a bottle of ink and one pen. His total means, so his biography recites, consisted of $150. For a time he took the agency of an insurance company as a means of taking in some money until he could build up his law practice.

In 1880 he was united in marriage with Josephine Wonn. To this union were born three daughters.

In 1886, Mr. Smith became county attorney of Shelby county, holding this office for two years and subsequently serving as city attorney for Harlan for two terms.

He was president and member of the Harlan School board for one term. He alway took an active part in politics and served as chairman of the Republican county central committee for two years.

Later, in 1910, he was elected state senator, and for one term represented the senatorial district of Shelby and Cass counties in the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth General Assemblies, introducing and backing a number of measures of importance and taking a high rank as a hard working and able member of the state legislature.

Mr. Smith will long be remembered for his physical and mental strength, for his untiring energy in the services of his clients and the best interests of the community in which he lived for more than fifty years. He believed strongly in the moral and spiritual elements in mankind, and, believing in them, he was, in his life and conduct, an example to others in his community. His thoroughly democratic attitude toward his fellowmen and his kindly good humor greatly helped to make for him an enduring place in the history of Shelby county and in the State of Iowa.

Mr. Smith passed away at his home in Harlan, Iowa, on the seventeenth day of September, 1936.

Mr. Smith’s passing should not be one of unreasoning sorrow but rather an occasion of pride and consolation in the contemplation of a well-rounded life and a successful career.

Therefore, Be It Resolved, That, in the passing of Honorable Thomas H. Smith, the State has lost a worthy and esteemed citizen, and that we extend to his relatives and friends our sincere sympathy; and

Be It Further Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be printed in the records of this body and a copy of the same be forwarded to his family.





The resolution was unanimously adopted.