The accompanying picture is supposedly the
only one ever taken of anything in the town of Smithton. It was
taken long after the town was abandoned and is of the home of
Eli Smith. A reference in the GENTRY and WORTH COUNTY HISTORY
1882 leads a person to believe that it was also the home of William
Davidson, a son-in-law of Eli Smith.
Eli Smith came to this area from Ohio in 1857. He had been a merchant in New Lexington, Ohio, for some 20 years before coming to Missouri.
He chose a place to settle near the center of what was later to become Middlefork Township in Worth County. Smith purchased some land from one Christopher Shinkle who had built a log cabin on the land.
Smith first built a two-story building, 24 X 40 feet. He used the first floor for a store, and the upper floor was a hall where the county court met when Smithton was the county seat.
Smith also erected and operated a saw mill where he sawed out the lumber for his new home as well as lumber for other homes and buildings in the area.
James Taliaferro was also an early-day merchant in Smithton. At the beginning of the Civil War he left the town to join the Confederate Army.
P.R. Cadle was a wagon-maker who later became county clerk, and the first blacksmith in the town was Eli Shanor.
On Feb. 8, 1861, the act to organize Worth County was approved. The second section of that act stated "That David Brubaker, of Gentry county, John D. Williams, of Daviess County, and Nathaniel Mothershead, of Gentry County, be and are hereby appointed commissioners to select the seat of justice of said County of Worth, whose duty it shall be to meet on the first Monday in April, 1861, at the town of Smithton, in the last named county, for the purpose for selecting and locating the permanent seat of justice of said county."
I don't think there is any record of the initial meeting of the commissioners appointed to select a site for the new county seat called for in the act creating Worth County.
The first mention of the site selection seem to be in April 1862 where the following is found in the county records:
"Ordered by the court that the county seat commissioners proceed to lay out three rows of lots on the west end of Smithton, extending to the county road, on the east side of D.M. Smith's house, with the streets running east and west, to correspond with the present streets of Smithton, and a street between said lots sixty feet wide and an alley at the back end of said lots, with a square in the lots west of lots Nos. 101 and 148, and leave a street three rods wide between said lots and said original town. The said lots to be 145 feet by 53 feet, seven and one-half inches, and also to lay off one tier of lots on the south side of said town 145 feet long and extend to the south tier of the lots of said town, south forty-six feet, and leave an alley between said lots one rod wide and plat the same and report to the court at its next term."
A month later the court records show the following entry:
"J.F. Mason, county seat commissioner of Worth County, presents the plat and survey of lots in Worthville, approved by the court, and it is ordered that said commissioner offer at public sale, on the first Monday in June, to the highest bidder, on six and twelve months time, the lots in said town, the purchaser giving bond, with approved security, and due notice to be given of sale, and ordered that the commissioner be given full power to mark off said plat of all lots in Eli Smith's Addition that were reserved by said Smith, and those reserved by C. Brown to be transferred to the best advantage with the owners or their agents."
It is interesting to note that the new addition was to be called Worthville and one has to wonder if the name Smithton would have been retained for the original town.
The town of Smithton was not centrally located in the county and it wasn't too long until a movement began to get the 'seat of justice' moved to a more central location. On January 7, 1863, G.W. Frakes presented a petition, signed by three fifths of the taxable inhabitants of the county, praying the removal of the county seat from Smithton to the center of the county.
In August, 1863, an election was held in the county on the question of whether to move the county seat to a more central location. The voters approved the move by a vote of 225 to 90.
In 1864 the county seat was moved to Grant City and the town of Smithton began to fade into history.
The town of Smithton was located about 1/4 mile south and slightly west of the home of Bill Davidson. Bill Davidson is a great-grandson on Eli Smith, the founder of the town. The name Smith has been carried down through the Davidson family for three generations, Bill's father, his brother and a nephew all having the name Smith.
A postoffice was established in Smithton with Eli Smith as the first postmaster. It was closed sometime in the 1860's. In 1875 a postoffice was reopened at Smithton but the name of the office was Prohibition City. Most likely, between the closing of the office in the 1860's and the reopening in 1875, the name had been assigned to Smithton, MO, and a new name had to be used.