GEORGE WARD SMITH. One of the leading representatives of the Fourth Estate in Southern Illinois is George Ward Smith, editor of the Columbia Star, a progressive journal, enjoying high prestige far beyond the boundaries of Monroe county. The Star has done much toward moulding public opinion in the right direction, and its forceful and pleasing logic has ever been exerted toward the fuller acquisition of the general welfare. Mr. Smith is a native son of Waterloo and is exceedingly loyal to its institutions. Here his birth occurred on February 10, 1858, his father being George Schmitt, a native of Bavaria, Germany. The elder gentleman was born in Bechtheim, in the aforesaid kingdom, on March 3, 1828, and when a young man he came to America, locating first in New York; going thence to Milwaukee, where he engaged in shoemaking; thence to St. Louis; and finally taking up his permanent residence in Waterloo. He survives in honored old age and still engages in his trade of shoemaking. George Schmitt was married to Caroline Schweig in 1852, shortly after his arrival in Waterloo, and to their union were born ten children, of whom the immediate subject of this review is the third in order of nativity. An enumeration of the sons and daughters is as follows: Philip, engaged in the shoe business in St. Louis; Mrs. Jane Schwartz, residing in St. Louis; George W.; Frank, a grocer of St. Louis; Mrs. Louisa Musbacher, of St. Louis; William and Mrs. Mary Bircher, also living in that city; Henry and Adam, deceased; and Christina, of Waterloo, The subject's father has engaged
in the shoe business in Waterloo for fifty-two years and continuously at the same stand. He is widely known as a man of honest business methods and of honorable and public-spirited citizenship. His helpful and devoted life companion also survives, their married life having covered a period of more than half a century. He is a Democrat of stanch conviction, and for many years served on the school board and as alderman. He is a member of the Evangelical church.
Waterloo is particularly dear to George Ward Smith with all the memories and associations of childhood and youth. In the public schools of the place he received his education and he was active in all that interested the incipient voters of his day and generation. Believing with the Bard of Avon that "home-keeping youth have ever homely wits," he started out for Chicago at one time and resided for a period in that metropolis. There he attended the night schools and also became an assistant in the printing offices, an experience which has sometimes been declared to be in itself equal to a liberal education. He began his career as a printer in the home town, working as a boy on the old Advocate. He then traveled through the south and east as a journeyman printer, and worked in most of the principal cities of the United States. For sixteen years he was a member of the force of the Chicago Record-Herald. At the end of that time he went to West Point, Iowa, where he worked on the West Point Bee as editor and publisher for twelve years, his editorial work dating from his connection with that sheet. In 1906 he came back to Monroe county, locating in Columbia and establishing the Columbia Star, which he has since conducted and which under his able and enlightened direction has become the county's leading paper. In its political policy the Star is independent and it has worked valiantly for the accomplishment of many excellent things, among these having been instrumental in establishing a high school at Columbia and in the building of three miles of cement sidewalk. Columbia's thriving condition at the present time, it is not to be gainsaid, is in no small measure due to the wise campaigns of the Star. Also it has persistently and continually advocated an electric railroad.
Mr. Smith was happily married in 1887 to Miss Kate Carroll, of Milwaukee, daughter of John Carroll, and the two daughters of their household are Ernestine and Consuelo.
In national politics Mr. Smith is Democratic, although in local matters he has independent leanings. His church is the Evangelical and he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America. He is president of the Columbia Fire Department and also belongs to the Turnverein, to which his German paternal ancestry makes him eligible. He is one of the charter members of the Southern Illinois Editorial Association and is interested in all that pertains to the good of newspaperdom. He is especially to be congratulated on the success of the Star, which has succeeded when several other local papers have failed.