Dr. Jacob Smith was born in Beamsville, Ontario on the 2nd of January, 1831. He was the 2nd of 5 children born to David B. Smith and the former Elizabeth Wilcox. His siblings were; Anson Smith (who died in 1850 at the age of 21), David Smith, Elizabeth Anne Smith and Ellen Smith.
Dr. Smith’s family moved to Chatham-Kent in 1844 and his parents, his brother David and sisters Elizabeth and Ellen were known to be living in Zone Twp according to the 1861 census. Dr. Smith’s father died in Chatham in 1869 and his mother died in Chatham-Kent in 1877. They were buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.
For a few years Dr. Smith was a school teacher, before attending The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. He graduated in 1856. He also graduated from the Philadelphia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Smith set up his medical practice in Bothwell and stayed there for 2 years before moving to Ridgetown, where he practiced for the rest of his life. His office was located at 56 Main Street East.
According to the 1882 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Smith joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 15th of June, 1866.
Dr. Smith married Elizabeth “Ann” Smith on the 6th of October, 1857. (Smith was also her maiden name.) Mrs. Smith was born on the 26th of July, 1831 and she was raised in Morpeth. Her parents were Israel B. Smith and the former Elizabeth Beamer and she was known to have 3 older brothers named Cyrus Samuel Smith, Israel Beamer Smith and John W. Smith (who died as an infant).
Dr. and Mrs. Smith had 5 children; Mary Elizabeth Smith, Emma Catherine Smith, Anson Andrew Smith, Israel Goldwin Smith and Herbert David Smith.
Dr. Smith, entered the political arena in Canada’s year of Confederation (1867). At that time, Kent had two seats, one for Kent and one for Bothwell. Dr. Smith ran for the Bothwell seat as a Liberal. Well into the campaign, in the interest of the Liberal party, Dr. Smith, withdrew his candidacy allowing his counterpart, Archie McKellar the opportunity to win the seat.
Dr. Smith advertised his medical practice in many Kent County business directories including the 1864-65 County of Kent Gazetteer and General Business Directory (see ad below), the 1869 Province of Ontario Gazetteer, the 1870 Sutherlands Kent and Essex County Directory, 1875 Kent County Directory and Directory and in the November 15, 1877 edition of the East Kent Plaindealer. It states that he was located in Ridgetown and identifies him as an M.D. and a druggist. Ridgetown was incorporated as a village on January 1st, 1877 and Dr. Smith was elected as the first Reeve. He was re-elected as Reeve in 1878. He took the following year off, but assumed the position again in 1880. That same year, he was the first person from Ridgetown, to be elected as Warden of Kent County.
Dr. Jacob Smith died on the 27th of November, 1885. He was the first burial at Greenwood Cemetery in Ridgetown. His wife died on the 6th of February, 1886 and she was also buried at Greenwood Cemetery.
*Dr. Smith’s son Herbert David Smith practiced law in Ridgetown and eventually he became the Crown Attorney in Chatham.
**Dr. Smith’s daughter Mary Elizabeth Smith became a Registered Nurse.
***Dr. Smith’s son Dr. Israel Goldwin Smith graduated in 1896 from the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and practiced medicine in the Ottawa area.
****Dr. Smith’s son Dr. Anson Andrew Smith and Dr. John Martin Fraser are also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
Pictured below is the home/office of Dr. Smith which was located at 56 Main Street.