Dr. Samuel L. S. Smith biography

SAMUEL L. S. SMITH, M. D., who has won distinction in the medical profession, is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and a son of Isaac P. and Abbie H. (Campbell) Smith. He was reared and received his early literary education in the city of his birth, where his father was a prominent architect and builder, while his professional training was obtained in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating with the class of 1873. His summer vacations were spent in the Marine Hospital at Louisville, the last year as an interne by appointment of the physician in charge, Dr. Griffith, and after his graduation he continued his services in the hospital until August of that year, 1873. An epidemic of cholera broke out at Lancaster, Kentucky, where at that time there was an army post garrisoned by Company E of the Sixteenth Infantry under Captain J. S. Fletcher. The epidemic became so violent that the town was panic-stricken and all the physicians fled, including the post surgeon, as did also a majority of the people. Hearing of this and with the stern sense of the duty of a physician, Dr. Smith volunteered to Dr. Griffith and through time to Dr. Sloan of Louisville, who at that time was medical director of the Department of the South, to go to the relief of the stricken people of Lancaster. Dr. Sloan had tried in vain to induce physicians to go there, and so impressed was he with Dr. Smith’s offer that he appointed him post surgeon of Company E, Sixteenth Infantry, and for his meritorious service was retained in the medical department of the United States army for nearly nine years, three years of the time being spent at Lancaster. After the epidemic had been quelled he made a detailed report to the surgeon general of the army and this is now a part of the government report of “The Cholera Epidemic of 1873,” published about a year later.

While serving as post surgeon at Lancaster, which was located in the feud- infested part of eastern Kentucky, Dr. Smith had some thrilling experiences and narrow escapes from assassination in the bitter warfare going on there at that time, and which was the cause of the troops becoming stationed there. But his sterling character and true worth were soon recognized by all, even by those engaged in the feuds, and these brought him friendships that more than once saved his life. From Kentucky he was transferred to the post at Aiken, South Carolina, and thence to northern Georgia, where he served as surgeon and was with the two companies of the Second Infantry when they captured eight hundred moonshiners. Following this Dr. Smith resigned his position and for a short time was engaged in private practice in Indianapolis, but his services were still needed in the army, and after a few months the surgeon general voluntarily offered him an appointment, allowing him to choose whatever post or section of the country he wished to serveā€”an unusual favor to show an appointee to positions in army life. Judge Walter Q. Gresham, afterward secretary of state in Cleveland’s cabinet, gave him a letter of introduction to General E. O. C. Ord, then in command of the Department of the Southwest, with headquarters at San Antonio, and Dr. Smith decided to report at that place, with the result that General Ord assigned him for duty at Fort Concho, with title of assistant surgeon with the rank of first lieutenant of cavalry. Fort Concho was located in Western Texas, on the Concho river. Tom Green county, where the town of San Angelo has since been built, and the buildings of this fort, the ruins of which are still standing, were begun about 1866 and completed about 1874. At the time Dr. Smith arrived at the fort, in the year 187, it was a ten-company post, and on account of the Indian troubles in Texas and New Mexico was an important seat of army operations at that time. During the first year of his services here he rode five thousand miles on horseback with his regiment on duty. Hew as with the expedition that was sent out after the Indians in rebellion under Chief Victoria, these being the Apaches, and was with them at the battle of Tularosa, New Mexico, where were captured about four hundred of the savages, with many killed on both sides. He was also on many other scouting and fighting expeditions, ranging over the West Texas country from Fort Concho to and including New Mexico and south to the big bend of the Rio Grande, his last trip having been made with five companies of troops to Fort Sill, Indian Nation, on account of the outbreaks of the Kiowas in 1881.

In October, 1881, Dr. Smith tendered his resignation as army surgeon, which was accepted with reluctance as he had made strong and lasting friendships in the army and established himself for private practice in Fort Concho, or more properly speaking at San Angelo, which was then just beginning to spring into existence, at that time consisting of only a few shacks. A little item of interest recalled by the Doctor which others seem to have forgotten or not to have noticed, is that the town had originally been named San Angela, but the postoffice department objected to the name on account of its being incorrect Spanish, and insisted that it be either St. Angela or San Angelo, the latter form being chosen after the town had been on the map for some time as San Angela. Here he has ever since been numbered among the city’s skilled physicians and surgeons, and a large and lucrative practice has been vouchsafed him. He is the dean of the medical profession in this section of the state. He was the first president of the Tom Green County Medical Society, was a member of the board of education in San Angelo for about sixteen years and was instrumental in building the first permanent school house in the city, which was the beginning of the educational system here; was president of the Citizens National Bank, but this institution is not now in existence; and is examiner for about twenty insurance companies. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons, belonging to the local commandery.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Potter, daughter of the Rev. S. S. Potter, a Presbyterian minister, the wedding being celebrated on the 5th of April, 1882, and to them were born two children, a son and a daughter, but the former, Isaac Potter Smith, died at Louisville in May, 1904, while preparing to enter the medical profession. The daughter is Miss Elizabeth R. Smith.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 592-593.