General Israel C. Smith

Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General

Colonel of the 10th Michigan Cavalry

Born: 1838 – Michigan, USA
Died: 1899 – Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan
Burial: Oakhill Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan

General Smith enlisted as a private. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1860, and in July, 1861 was promoted to First Lieutenant at the first Bull Run battlefield. He was wounded during a crucial maneuver during the Battle of Gettysburg, and was commended for his gallantry during this battle. He returned home due to his wounds in 1863, and in August of that year was promoted to Major of the Tenth Regiment Michigan Volunteer Cavalry, taking command of the camp at Grand Rapids.

In the fall, the regiment headed back south through Kentucky and East Tennessee to the Virginia line. By 1865 he was made a Colonel of his regiment and moved his command to Memphis. He then went back to Michigan where his regiment was mustered out of service.

He was commissioned Brevet Brigadier-General to date from 13 Mar 1865. By this point he had participated in nearly all of the battles of the Army of the Potomac, from first Bull Run to Gettysburg, and the cavalry engagements in East Tennessee in 1864 and 1865.

After being mustered out of the service, he assumed the management of the National Hotel, which stood where now stands the Morton House, in Grand Rapids. He married, in 1867, Ada Elizabeth Meeker, born in new York City, daughter of William D. and Abbie R. Meeker, and granddaughter of the late Judge Edward Mundy, who was distinguished as Lieutenant-Governor, Attorney-General and Judge on the Supreme Bench of Michigan.

General Smith removed to Kansas City in 1867 and opened a hotel, the Pacific House, of which he was the proprietor for three years. In 1870 he engaged in cattle raising and mining, making his headquarters at Denver, with one cattle ranch in Colorado and one in New Mexico. During his residence in Denver, he commanded a "crack" military company, the Governor’s Guards.

His only child, Morton Fitz Smith, was born in that city.

In 1878 he returned to Grand Rapids, and in company with George B. Morton bought the Old National Hotel property and erected the Morton House. In 1875, the city having been visited by several destructive fires, General Smith was appointed Fire Marshal. In 1876 he was appointed agent for the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad and Star Union Line. In 1878 after he had reorganized the Fire Department, and established its present high standard for efficiency, he resigned his position with the Department.

In 1881 the Legislature passed a bill placing the Police and Fire Departments of Grand Rapids in the hands of five commissioners, General Smith being one of the five original members mentioned in the act. He was also at that time Captain General of the Commandery of Knights Templar, Demolai No. 5.

In 1882 he resigned his position with the railroad company, the Captain-Generalcy of the Commandery and his position as Police and Fire Commissioner, to accept the general management of the Barnhart Lumber Company, operating at Duluth. In June, 1887, he was appointed Superintendent of Police by the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, and in a short time placed the Department in an advanced position for discipline and general efficiency. He resigned the position in February, 1889, to accept that of general manager of the Converse Manufacturing Company, controlled by James W. Converse, of Boston.

In 1874 General Smith accepted the Captaincy of the Grand Rapids Guard, and when the companies were organized into Regiments, he was appointed Colonel of the Second Regiment. In 1884 he was appointed Brigadier-General of the Michigan State Troops and held the command until his term expired, January 1, 1889, having served in the State troops for fifteen consecutive years.

General Smith is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, of Custer Post G. A. R., and of the Michigan Commandery of the Loyal Legion, of which he was elected Vice Commander in 1889, and Commander in 1890. In March, 1890, he was appointed by the Governor of the State, one of the Board of Managers of the Soldiers Home.

Transcriber: ES
Created: 4 April 2007