Biography - James Smith

James A. SMITH, ice-dealer, St. Louis, Mo., was born in London, England, in 1823, and was a lighterman on the River Thames. He came to the United States in 1857, and first located in Chicago, Ill., where he dealt in grain three years, and went thence to St. Louis, Mo., where he began dealing in ice in a wholesale and retail way, the trade at that time being but small everywhere. In connection with ice, he was engaged in wrecking on the Upper and Lower Mississippi River during the war, his work being the raising of sunken boats. At the close of the war, he began extending the ice business from year to year, until he has now thirty houses scattered through the States of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, which have an aggregate capacity of 150,000 tons, which is shipped by barge and railroad to the Mississippi Valley as far south as Texas; during the cutting season, he employs from five hundred to seven hundred men, and in the shipping season has from fifty to eighty men. In the spring of 1880, James A. SMITH & Son purchased five acres of land, lying between the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad and the Litchfield reservoir, and leased the ice privilege of about three-fourths of the reservoir for twenty years, and, in November, 1880, they began the construction of an ice-house which cost $28,000, being 160x160 feet, thirty-six feet high, with a self-supporting roof, and three-feet walls filled with saw-dust, the whole having a capacity of 21,500 tons; this house is filled by the Knickerbocker endless chain hoisting machinery, which has a capacity of 1,200 tons per day; the present firm is James A., Sr., and James A., Jr. The Litchfield building was erected under the supervision of Mr. Arthur SMITH, who is the youngest son of our subject, and who has had charge of this and the Oakland, Iowa, department, which latter consists of three houses. Mr. SMITH's general office is at No. 817 North Seventh street, St. Louis, Mo.

Extracted 19 Nov 2016 by Norma Hass from 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois, Part 2 Biographical Department, page 170.

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