John P. Smith, engaged in the banking business in Roberts and now president of the village, discharging his duties in a prompt, businesslike and progressive manner, was born near Kempville, Ontario, Canada, on the 17th of July, 1855. His father, James F. Smith, died in Roberts August 26, 1896, and the mother still resides here. A daughter of the family, Mary, who became the wife of R. S. Montague, died in North Dakota in 1895.
John P. Smith was only about four or five years of age when brought by his parents to Lyman township, Ford county, Illinois, the family home being established upon a farm about three miles north of Roberts. He early became familiar with' the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist and assisted in the various departments of farm work until nineteen years of age. As opportunity offered, he attended the common schools and when a young man of nineteen years attended the Northern Indiana Normal school, at Valparaiso, for one term. He then accepted a position with the Gilman, Clinton & Springfield Railroad Company, now a part of the Illinois Central system, as station agent and operator, being located for seven years at Cornland. On the expiration of that period he came to Roberts, where he began business as a general merchant in connection with his father and two brothers, under the firm style of James S. Smith & Sons. This relation was continued for about seven years, from 1882 until 1889. In the latter year, John P. Smith sold out and with his father built an elevator, at a cost of four thousand dollars, and embarked in the grain business, in which he continued with success for about five years. On the expiration of that period he disposed of his interests in the grain trade and erected a business block in Roberts which he rented until it was destroyed by fire in 1892. He then rebuilt it and in 1895 established a banking business, to which he now devotes the greater part of his time and attention. It is conducted as a private bank under his own name. He also carries on a general insurance business and in former years engaged in the coal trade, handling both bituminous and anthracite coal. Whatever he undertakes he carries forward to successful completion, possessing a spirit of strong enterprise that enables him to overcome all difficulties and obstacles in his path.
On the 6th of October, 1880, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Sarah N. Day, a native of Logan county, Illinois, and unto them were born three children, but the son, Clyde, died at the age of nine years. The daughters, Delia and Edna, are twins. The former is assisting her father in the bank and is a graduate of the commercial department of Onarga Seminary. Edna has taken a course in music in the Wesleyan College of Music, at Bloomington, Illinois, and is now a teacher of piano.
Mr. Smith gives stalwart allegiance to the republican party, is recognized as a leader in its local ranks and has been elected on its ticket to fill local offices. He served as supervisor for one year, was school director for about twelve years and at the present writing, in 1908, is president of the village, in which position he is capably directing municipal affairs. He was also school treasurer of the township for eleven years and the cause of education finds in him a stalwart champion. He and his wife are active and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he is serving as trustee, while in the various departments of church work he is deeply and helpfully interested. Almost his entire life has been spent in this county, so that his history is well known and his fellow townsmen give him their respect and confidence in recognition of the upright and honorable life that he has led.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 579-580.

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