Solano County

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For nearly sixty years Thomas Smith, head of the Smith Music Company of Vallejo and one of the real veteran merchants of this section of California, has been engaged in business at Vallejo and he thus has been a witness to and a participant in the development of the mercantile interests of that city since the days that properly may be regarded as belonging to the pioneer period of development here. He opened the first piano store in this county and he ever since has been engaged in business, Smith's Music House having been a household word among three generations of buyers in this section.

The veteran merchant, Thomas Smith, is a native of Ireland but has been a resident of this country since he was five years of age. He was born on May 24, 1842, and in 1847 was brought to this country by his parents, the family coming over by a sailing vessel that put in at the port of New Orleans. There Thomas Smith's father died. His widow made her way to Galena, in the northwestern part of Illinois, where kinsfolk had preceded her, and presently moved from there up over the state line into Lafayette county, Wisconsin, in the lead mine country. It was here that young Thomas Smith' had what schooling was available there at that time and he early became engaged in labors about the lead mines, driving a team hauling ore to Benton and pig lead to Galena, and in due time became a miner himself. He remained there until in 1863, the year in which he attained his majority, when he went to St. Louis and in that city opened a feed store, a line he carried on for something like five years or until February, 1868, when he came to California, making the trip around by way of the Isthmus.

Upon his arrival in this state, Mr. Smith became engaged for awhile in mining operations in Strawberry valley, but he was not greatly impressed with the results of these operations and in the following June (1868) he settled at Vallejo, where three years later he opened a shoe factory. Due to labor troubles and some other local factors that then entered into the industrial situation here, he presently found himself obliged to close his factory and to take up another line. It was thus that in 1878 he took up the sewing machine business. He did well with this line of goods and five years later, in 1883, he extended his stock to include pianos. That was more than forty years ago and the Smith Music House has ever since been doing business, carrying a general line of musical instruments and supplies, as well as sewing machines, and is amply equipped for supplying the needs of the community along these lines in this fine trade area. Mr. Smith has done well in business, is the owner of his own store building at 340 Georgia street and has for many years been regarded as one of the dependable merchants of the city, a good citizen and ever alert to the possibilities of further commercial and industrial expansion here. He is a member of the board of directors of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce and is a charter member of the locally influential Rotary Club. He also is a charter member of Vallejo Council No. 874, Knights of Columbus, and is a member of the board of trustees of Vallejo Lodge No. 559, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.

Formerly and for years Mr. Smith was a leader in the breeding and racing of horses here and was twice the winner of the famous Occidental stake at the California state fair at Sacramento. Among the horses bred and trained in his stables that gained fame in their day were "Professor Heald" (2:09i/2), "Vallejo Girl"'(2:101,4) and "Vallejo Boy" (2:15). He was one of the organizers of the old Solano County Agricultural Association that owned the trotting park here and was for thirty years a recognized leader in the racing game in this section of California.

In 1868, the year in which he came to California, Thomas Smith was married in Sacramento to Miss Mary Cunningham, who was born in Ireland and who died in Vallejo in August, 1911. Of the ten children born to that union, five are still living, Mr. Smith having two sons, Joseph L. and Thomas F. Smith, and three daughters, Miss Rose Smith, Mrs. Theresa Byrne and Mrs. Clara Clark.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 16 Oct 2007

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