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Amor Smith, Jr.
FOR A PERIOD of over forty years, the late Amor Smith,
Jr., was regarded by his wide acquaintance as one of the most progressive and public-spirited men of affairs
of the city of Cincinnati, and one of Ohio's most representative native sons. He was one of the great manufacturers of fertilizers in the East and also an influential politician, and held a number of important offices of public trust, including that of chief executive of Cincinnati, making a commendable record in all. He was a man whom to know was to admire and respect, for he was the possessor of that peculiar combination of attributes which results in the attainment of much that is worth while in this world. He aimed to be progressive in what he did, was always in sympathy with enterprises having for their object the common good, and his influence was invariably exerted on the right side of every moral issue.
Mr. Smith was born October 22, 1840, at Dayton, Ohio. He was a son of Amor and Sarah (Spencer) Smith. The latter was a daughter of Jeremiah and Anna (Hobson) Spencer, natives of Hull, England, from which country they immigrated to the United States in 1816. John Smith, originally of England, and later of Newcastle County, Delaware, was our subject's paternal grandfather. Lord Spencer, of England, was an ancestor of Mr. Smith on his mother's side. Thus he was of excellent Anglo-Saxon stock. In 1847, Amor Smith, Sr., and wife, removed from Dayton to Cincinnati, in which city Amor Smith, Jr., attended the public schools and a private school, then studied at the Swedenborgian University at Urbana, Ohio. At an early age, he entered the employ of his father, who was engaged in the manufacture of Star candles and other similar products in Cincinnati. In 1865, he formed a partnership with his father and brother in the manufacture of fertilizers, under the firm name of Amor Smith & Company, himself and brother managing the business. In 1868, they established a branch house in Baltimore, Maryland, and our subject removed to that city to take charge of the same, remaining there about six years. His wife died there on November 26, 1873. In less than a year from that date, he removed to Cincinnati with his children, but retained the business branch in Baltimore until 1894, when it was sold. Amor Smith, Jr., was the executive head of the business, both in Cincinnati and Baltimore, and by close application, great industry, perseverance, the exercise of sound judgment, and honest dealings, he developed it into one of the mammoth concerns of its kind in America, and reaped handsome financial rewards.
Mr. Smith was an ardent Republican and became active in public affairs, and was a recognized leader in his party in Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati, in fact, was a strong factor in the State political arena for many years. In 1870, he was elected to the first board of aldermen in Cincinnati and became chairman of the street-car committee. He was the youngest member of that body. He was also placed on the board of city improvements and the board of city commissioners. In 1876 he was elected chairman of the campaign committee, when Cincinnati voted a six million bond issue to build the Cincinnati Southern Railway. His ability as an organizer became quickly known, and in 1875 he was chosen chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Executive Committee. His able leadership was made evident and admitted by his party and the opposition as well when it was found that the Republican party had carried Hamilton County, after the Democrats had controlled it for five years past, electing their officers each time. In 1878 President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Mr. Smith collector of internal revenue for Ohio, which position he held for three and one-half years, after which he again became active in his father's business affairs. In 1880 he served on the committee that arranged the sale of the old Federal building to the Chamber of Commerce of Cincinnati, and on the site of which now stands one of the city's skyscrapers. In 1882 he was nominated for Congress on the Republican ticket and he made a good race. In 1884 he was chosen a delegate to the Republican national convention. In 1885 he was elected mayor of Cincinnati, and he discharged the duties of this important office in such an able and eminently satisfactory manner to his constituents that he was reelected in 1887. He was safe and sane in his management of the city's affairs and his administration will long be remembered as one of the best the city has ever had. During that period he did much for the general welfare of the masses. He managed the office in a business-like manner under a superb system. He ousted the worthless office holders and placed honest, capable men in their places. In 1886, as chairman of the board of revision, he secured the punishment of the men responsible for the shocking condition of the Cincinnati Infirmary, in fact, he corrected the evils in all departments in the city. Labor troubles of a grave nature arose in 1886. Thirty thousand men were on strike at one time. He went about settling the trouble in a fair and firm manner, issuing a proclamation to the effect that if the strikers would return to their work he would assure them ample protection. He was informed that bloodshed would result, and to this he replied: "If you start it, I will end it, for I am ready." He then called a special meeting at which he presided. A striker was secretary of the meeting, and an amicable adjustment was secured through Mayor Smith's great tact and force of character and soundness of his ideas, the strikers returning quietly to their tasks. He also peacefully prevented an uprising of a similar nature at the time of the courthouse riot. As mayor, he appointed the first chief of police of Cincinnati in 1886. He was the first president of the board of water works commission. He was a member of the board of city affairs in 1898 and 1889, and was surveyor of customs from 1889 to 1894, and in 1903 he was reappointed to this office, and continued to act in that capacity until 1911, in which year he associated with E. E. Shipley in the fire insurance business.
Although long in public life, Mr. Smith had few enemies, for he was a man in whom all had implicit confidence, his honesty,
good faith and integrity as well as his ability never being questioned. He did not believe in or use rough methods, being by nature a kind-hearted man, gentle, yet firm, always strong in his convictions. Officials of the national Government appointed him to vari-. ous offices because of his ability and unquestioned honesty, without first consulting the leaders of the Republican party, or its committee. In his labor arguments his statements were based on facts and right principles, and thus secured satisfactory settlements. Troops were not needed and loss of life and destruction of property prevented.
Fraternally Mr. Smith was a thirty-second degree Mason, belonging to the Scottish Rites, also a member of the Syrian Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was, in fact, a life member of the Masonic Fraternity. He belonged to the Cuvier Press Club and other political clubs.
Mr. Smith was married on May 27, 1863, to Mary Jane Kessler, a daughter of Henry Kessler, who was born in Saxony, Germany, from which country he came to the United States when young, locating in Cincinnati, in which city he became a powerful factor in public affairs. His parents accompanied him to this country, but his father, who was a farmer and composer of music was drowned at sea. Henry Kessler married Priscilla Boswell, of Frederick, Maryland, in which town Henry Kessler settled.
Three children were born to Amor Smith, Jr., and Mary Jane (Kessler) Smith, namely; Kessler Smith, who lives in Cincinnati, married Emma Beatty, now deceased; to them two children were bornóHenry Kessler Smith, the second, and Leander Smith. Kessler Smith's second marriage was to Bertha Lawrence, and they have one childóLawrence Smith. Alvin Smith, second of our subject's children, married Jennie Yount, and they have two childrenóKatherine and Alvin, Jr., Leonora Smith, the third child, married John G. Robinson, and they have three childrenóLeon- ora, the second; Ellanora, and John G. Robinson, Jr., the fourth. They reside in Los Angeles, California.
Mr. Smith's first wife died in 1873, as stated in a preceding paragraph, and he was subsequently married to Ida Sennett, a daughter of Abner H. and Amelia (Truesdall) Sennett. Mr. Sennett was a descendant of Peter Brown, who was one of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower.
The death of Amor Smith, Jr., occurred at the commodious family home in Cincinnati, on August 24, 1915, when lacking only two months of his seventy-fifth birthday. He will long be remembered as one of the city's worthiest citizens, a man of great executive and business ability, a safe and brilliant public official and a model family man. In fact, he was recognized as a born leader of men, peculiarly adapted to official positions. Cincinnati owed him a debt of gratitude for punishing her crooked politicians. The national Government realized the fact that he was a man of high qualities and great force of character, and entrusted responsible positions to his care.
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