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John Smith

John Smith. One of the principal factors in the growth and development of Henryetta, Okmulgee County, is the abundance of cheap cost fuel found here in the shape of natural gas. This product, developed under careful management by experienced men of foresight and ability, has attracted to this region much outside capital, and has brought here men of acumen who are constantly looking for an opportunity and who have here founded industries and enterprises which have served to add materially to Henryetta’s business prestige as a center of activity. A firm that has advanced from a modest venture of small capital and operation into what is probably the largest owner of natural gas production in the world is that of Smith & Swan, the headquarters of which are located at Henryetta. Messrs. Smith and Swan, early in the development of oil and natural gas in this territory, secured both by purchase and development large number of gas producing wells. They arc holders of a franchise covering the supplying of gas to this and nearby cities, and the service as rendered under this franchise has been an exceptional one, both because of the excellence of the product and the reasonable character of the charge. The members of this firm are justly accounted as among the leaders in business life of this and the surrounding community, and their success has been a deserved one, whether considered from the standpoint of prosperity won through individual effort, or whether as success that has carried with it a large measure of added prosperity to the localities in which operations have been carried on.
John Smith, the senior partner of the firm of Smith & Swan, was born in McKean County, Pennsylvania, April 2, 1858, and is a son of Casper and Anna D. (Dehn) Smith, the former a native of Saxony and the latter of Bavaria, Germany. Casper Smith belongs to a family which numbered among its members men high in the governmental service in Germany, but this did not prevent the authorities from forcing him to do military service in the struggles of 1848 in that country. He had, however, no desire for the life of the soldier, and eventually managed to make his escape and to flee to a steamer, on which he was a stowaway for a few days until discovered. At that time, fearing that he might be sent back to his native land if his identity were to be discovered, he changed his name. He finally landed at New York City, from whence he made his way to Pittsburgh, and there met and married Anna D. Dehn. Later they went to McKean County, Pennsylvania, at which time Mr. Smith gave up the trade of tailor which he had followed in the large cities, and turned his attention to farming in the vicinity of Clermont. All six children were born on that farm, but in 1874 the family moved to Smethport, Pennsylvania, where the father died in February, 1909, at seventy-four years of age, the mother surviving until February 26, 1911, when she died aged seventy-eight years. They were good and honorable, God-fearing people, who had the respect and confidence of the people of their community and who helped in various ways in their locality’s development.
The next to the eldest of his father’s children, John Smith, was reared on the homestead farm and received a very limited education in the public schools of his native county. He is really self-educated for he never attended school to exceed thirty days after eight years of age. His father was the incumbent of many local offices, such as county commissioner and state road commissioner, and left the farm work entirely to his son, who finally rebelled, and at the age of sixteen years left the parental roof and started out in life for himself. Going to Buffalo, New York, he made his heme with a lumber firm and was engaged in lumber scalping for ten years, when he returned to his home community. , Subsequently, he was awarded the contract to furnish lumber for two revenue cutters to be built at the yards of the Union Dry Dock Company, Buffalo, New York, during President Cleveland’s first administration, and the success of this venture encouraged him so that he extended his operations into shipping large quantities of lumber to the dry docks of the Great Lakes and New York. He later branched out into handling cherry and hardwood, of which he sold large quantities, then disposed of a great amount of hemlock, and finally built a mill at Crosby, Pennsylvania, and put out 150.000 feet of finished lumber a day. About this time circumstances over which he had no control caused Mr. Smith to meet with financial reverses, and to recuperate his lost fortunes he entered the oil fields of Pennsylvania, thus entering a business with which he has been identified ever since. For some years he operated in Pennsylvania, later was a well known figure in the fields of Ohio and Indiana, and in 1903 located at Independence, Kansas, where his home is still situated. In 1905 he engaged in ventures at Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where he installed a gas dis
tributing plant and carried on operations, but October 1, 1913, sold out there and put in his entire efforts at Henryetta, which is the only plant he owns save that at Mounds, Oklahoma. Formerly he had plants at Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Independence, Chautauqua and Peru, Kansas, but has disposed of his interests in all. Since 1904 he has been in partnership with J. B. Swan, also a business man of broad and thorough experience in gas, oil and coal interests, in which they are known as the most extensive operators in the field. They have the best gas holdings in the state, producing 150,000,000 feet of gas daily, and the territory is not even nearly developed at this time. They also have interests in the allied products of gas and oil, and own two coal mines, one of which is now producing 200 tons daily. Mr. Smith has been president of the Mines National Bank since its organization. He is a republican and a member of the Masonic fraternity.
Mr. Smith was married in 1886, at Arcade, New York, to Miss Nettie S. Howard, a native of Rochester, New York, and they are the parents of two children: Clarence B. is a student at Manlius, New York, in the senior year, and valedictorian of his class, his record of having the highest standing in all grades for that year (1915) of any student in the school. He graduated June, 1916. Merion Elizabeth is in her senior year at Hosmer Hall, St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Smith is a large, well preserved man, a jolly, lovable fellow, and has hosts of warm friends. He is a self-made man.