• TitleA. A. Smith Family Papers, 1828-2001 NCCA.RG11.S01
  • PublisherNorth Central College Archives
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositoryNorth Central College Archives
  • Physical Description5.17 Linear Feet
  • Date1828-2001

By Smith family generation, then alphabetical

Augustine Austin and Eliza Cowles Smith: Augustine Austin Smith was born on November 23, 1806 near Sandisfield, Massachusetts. In 1823, he began teaching at North Colebrook district school in Connecticut and in 1828, he moved to Ohio to pursue further career opportunities. He married Eliza Cowles in Austinburg, Ohio in 1833. Eliza Cowles Smith was born in Norfolk, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Their children included Augustine Tilden, Charles Cowles, Henry Cowles and Maria Cowles. A. A. Smith served as supervisor of accounts at Oberlin College and then as mathematics instructor and principal of the Grand River Institute from 1837 until 1857. An ordained minister in the Congregational Church, A. A. Smith first became involved with the Evangelical Association when he accepted the position of president of the Greensburg Seminary in 1857. In 1861, A. A. Smith accepted the presidency of the newly formed Plainfield College (due to commitments at the Seminary, he first arrived in Plainfield for the 1862 school year). He retired from presidency in 1883, but continued to participate in the college's affairs as President Emeritus. In addition to duties as president, Smith also served as Professor of Mental and Moral Science from his arrival in 1862 until his death on December 8, 1891. A.A. Smith and his family were active in many movements, including religion, abolitionism, temperance, women's rights, and opposition to racial temperance. Frances Willard was a close friend of the family and often visited the Smith House in Naperville. Eliza Cowles Smith wrote articles on church music and college prayer-meetings for the Evangelical Messenger, the publication of the Evangelical Association.

Charles C. Smith was born on December 17, 1844 to A. A. and Eliza Cowles Smith, and enlisted as a union soldier on October 19, 1861 at Greensburg, Ohio. He became 8th Corporal on November 29, 1861 and Sergeant on February 15, 1863. He fought in the Civil War until he died of fever and ague on July 21, 1963 near Jackson, Mississippi.

Henry Cowles and Mary Dreisbach Smith Henry Cowles Smith was born in Austinburg, Ohio in 1839, the second child of A. A. and Eliza Cowles Smith. H. C. Smith began his teaching career early, becoming an assistant professor of Latin and Greek at Grand River Institute in Ohio when he was fifteen. Three years later, he taught at Greensburg Seminary in Summit County, Ohio, while his father was president of that institution. In 1860, H. C. Smith left his teaching post to attend Oberlin College, graduating in 1862. He became Professor of Vocal and Instrumental Music at North-Western College. H. C. Smith married Mary Dreisbach in Ohio in the summer of 1863. Both returned to Plainfield for the fall term of that year. In 1868, H. C. Smith resigned from North-Western College to attend Goldbeck's Conservatory of Music in Chicago, but he returned to North-Western College in 1869 as Professor of Latin Language and Literature as well as Professor of Music, both positions he maintained until his retirement in 1922. He was Professor Emeritus until his death in 1936. He remains the longest serving professor in the history of North Central College.

Mary Dreisbach Smith was a direct descendent of John Dreisbach, one of the founders of the Evangelical Church. She was born c.1840 in Ohio. In April of 1860, she began teaching school, and in the summer of 1863 she married H. C. Smith, whom she had met when he tutored her in some of her studies. Upon her arrival in Plainfield, Mary Dreisbach Smith became active in college and church social life; she taught Sunday school, and was involved in the Women's Missionary Society, and later, the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Mary Dreisbach Smith and H. C. Smith had several children, among them Charles Arthur, Henry Augustine, Fanny Eyer, Lucy Jewett, Martha (Mattie) Eliza, and Annie May who died in infancy.

Fanny Smith Hildreth Fanny Eyer Smith was born on April 24, 1866. She entered the preparatory department of North-Western College at the age of 12, and joined the Musical Union, the first college glee club, in 1881. She received her degree from the college in 1888. From 1884 to 1896, Fanny Smith served as an assistant in the Music Department of the college. Fanny Smith married Fred Foster Hildreth on February 20, 1896 and they went on to have three children: Gladys Winifred, Gertrude Howell, and Egbert Smith. Fanny Smith Hildreth was interested in the women's rights movement, the temperance movement, music and academics and was an avid journalist.

Most of the collection should be handled carefully, but Boxes 1, 10 and 11 contain particularly fragile items. Box 12 contains items which are oversized and fragile. Although the original Red Plush Album: The Family Chronicle by Fanny Smith Hildreth is contained in the collection, researchers should use only the photocopied version. The container list (available upon request) includes the fragile items both by box number and by their intellectual arrangement (with a bracketed note regarding their actual physical placement).

The Smith Family Papers were part of the base archives collection in 1999. Fragile letters were placed in polyester sheets for protection. Loose photographs were removed from the photo albums and placed in the photograph folders. Bookmarks placed in the journals by Fannie Smith Hildreth were removed and discarded. Items which had no direct relevance to the Smith Family were relocated to appropriate series in the College Archives.

This collection documents the lives and history of A. A. Smith, first president of North Central College, and the Smith family members. It includes journals, correspondence, news clippings, programs, books, catalogues and photographs of the family. The journals are arranged chronologically by date for each family member.

The items written and collected by Fanny Smith Hildreth form the largest part of this collection, and include academic books, journals, and news clippings. It is arranged by topics, including Books, Family, Journals, Francis Willard, Women and Education, Women's Suffrage, and the World's Columbian Exposition (held in Chicago in 1893). The journals begin around Fanny's 15th birthday and continue for the next 10 years and contain many stories and details about life in Naperville, at North-Western College, and within the local Evangelical congregations. Red Plush Album: The Family Chronicle is a manuscript of a history of the Smith family written by Fanny Smith Hildreth in 1943. It narrates the lives of her grandparents (A. A. and Eliza Cowles Smith), her parents (H. C. and Mary Dreisbach Smith), her brothers and sisters, and various other relatives. She used the majority of this collection as sources and many pages are marked as "read" or with additional notes in her handwriting. The World's Columbian Exposition folders include interesting catalogues, souvenir books, and Fanny's notes from multiple visits to the fair. The Emerson Birthday Book lists the birthdates of her family and friends, and the accompanying transcription is useful.

H. C. Smith's papers are composed of journals and corresponding extra material, including newspaper and magazine clippings, and concert programs, which were pasted into or folded into the journals. The journals contain information on the weather, a record of church services and prayer meetings, and often written accounts of concerts or lecture programs. In addition, the journals contain personal meditations on H. C. Smith's faith life and religious conviction, family life, vacations to the East Coast and Ohio, life at Plainfield and North-Western College, and frustrations and triumphs as a teacher. Volumes 1 and 2 contain several allusions to the tense political situation in the United States, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War, and the assassination of President Lincoln. All of Volumes 9 and 4 and most of Volume 5 are dedicated to notes on the teaching of music gained at lectures or from his own experience. Most of Volume 8 was written while H. C. Smith was living in Florida at the end of his life.

Mary Dreisbach Smith's papers are composed of journals and corresponding extra material, including correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, and programs, which were pasted into or folded into the journals. In addition, a signature and memory book as well as a small notebook with notes taken for the Church Mission Circle are found in Mary Smith's papers. The journals contain information on the weather, church services and prayer meetings, visiting missionaries, vacations to the East Coast and Ohio, and college events and people. The journals also record household chores, family birthdays and anniversaries, the marriages and deaths of family and friends, visits to and from friends and family, and Mrs. Smith's musings on her family and religious conviction. Later journals also hint at involvement in the temperance movement and the women's peace movement. Volume 5 contains a detailed account, in retrospect, of her son Charlie's illness and death in young manhood. Volume 9 contains detailed abstracts of letters written to Mrs. Smith by friends who were missionaries in Africa. The Signature Book, called a "Mental Photograph" book, contains questions filled out by loved ones to give a "picture" of them. Included are the following notable North-Western College affiliates: Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Rassweiler, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Heidner, H. C. Smith, Fannie Smith, Charles Smith, Charles Naumann, and Mrs. C. F. Rassweiler.

Other items that may be of particular interest to researchers include a folder for A. A. Smith titled "Writings" which includes poetry and an essay about slavery. Also, the folders for Charles C. Smith contain many Civil War documents, including his commissioning and promotion papers and two diaries that he kept. In the "General" folders, a scrapbook of articles contains various news clippings, many related to the Smith family. The folders of "Notes by Clarence N. Roberts" and "Genealogies" are useful sources for studying the lineages and family trees of the Smith Family.

The folders titled "Related Materials for Journals" are documents, such as news clippings, letters or programs, which were found inside the journals and removed to a separate folder. The folder "Transcriptions of the Collection" contains a detailed transcript of the events and information written in the journals. "Correspondence" includes many personal letters from family, friends, and professional associates. Separate folders were created when a substantial number of letters from particular individuals existed. The folders on "Institutions" contain the catalogues and bulletins of various colleges and schools at which family members taught or attended.