Dr. James Oscar Smith, one of the early settlers of the county, and a time-tried and reliable citizen and physician, arrived in this county July 4, 1855. He is a native of the State of New York, born in Schoharie County, April 23, 1822, the son of James Smith, who was a native of the same State and a merchant in Buffalo, and was also a lumber merchant in Canada. He died in 1873. The Doctorís grandfather, John Smith, was a native of New York, and a soldier in the Revolution; the ancestors of the family came from England. The Doctorís father married Abigail Wattles, a native of Cherry Valley, Connecticut, and they had eleven children, four of whom are now living.

Dr. Smith, the eldest son, spent the first twelve years of his life in the city of Buffalo, and then attended school for six years in Canada. There he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Wallen, with whom he remained eleven years. The Doctor came to California and began practice at Middletown, where he remained nine years. He then purchased a ranch of 240 acres, and in connection with his medical practice carried on the farm for two years. He then sold and purchased another 240 acres, on which he resided until 1885. He was engaged in raising cattle, horses and sheep, and from time to time added to his ranch until he had 4,000 acres, which he afterward sold and moved into Cottonwood. While on his ranch his house was robbed and burned when the family was absent, causing him a loss of $3,000, but it was thought that the thieves did not get over $150. The Doctor has built him a good residence and office in Cottonwood, where he has in a measure retired, and is living upon the interest of his money. For some years he has been engaged in money lending. During his long life he has waited upon and administered to the suffering of both rich and poor alike, both in the day and night and in all kinds of weather, accepting pay from those who had it, and giving it to those who were too poor to pay. For a long time he was the only physician in his part of the county. The Doctor has a fine constitution, and is a strong and hearty man, who has witnessed the growth of the great commonwealth in which he lives, and is one of its active citizens. Before the war he was a Douglas Democrat, but at Lincolnís second election he became a Republican, and has since voted that ticket. He is also a strong temperance man.

Dr. Smith was married in Canada, in 1843, to Miss Jane Stooer, a native of Nova Scotia, and they have been blessed with six children, three boys and three girls, but one of whom is deceased.

Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Biography Index