Doddridge County Roots

A West Virginia Genealogy

Silas Preston SMITH

Male 1860 - 1943  (83 years)


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  • Name Silas Preston SMITH 
    Census 1860  Doddridge Co, (W)VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Born 22 Apr 1860  Nutters Fork, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Census 1870, 1880, 1900  West Union District, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • In 1880, listed as one of four boarders in the household of Jacob & Sarah (Lewin) Benninger. He and the other boarders, ranging in age from 19 to 25, had occupations entered as "attending school." Silas P. Smith was also indicated as being "Maimed, Crippled, Bedridden, or otherwise disabled."
    Census 1910, 1920, 1930  West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Occupation editor of West Union Record newspaper (1886-1911) 
    Occupation owner/proprietor of Record Book & Drug Store (1900-1915)  [4
    Died 19 Oct 1943  West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 5, 6
    Buried Masonic Memorial Park Cemetery, Crystal Lake (West Union), WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 7
    Notes 
    • Silas Preston Smith was the former editor of the West Union Record newspaper, was several times mayor of West Union, and for 20 years was Doddridge County's Democratic chairman. He was educated in Doddridge County public schools and at Fairmont State Normal School. He taught six terms of school in Doddridge and two summer schools for teachers in Tyler County. He bought the West Union Record in March 1886, and owned and edited that newspaper for 25 years, until March 1911, when he sold it to State Senator George W. Bland of Clarksburg. Silas P. Smith was considered one of the best county newspaper editors in West Virginia. After retiring from the newspaper business, he first operated a drug and book store in West Union, then engaged in a successful insurance business. He was chairman of the Doddridge County Democratic Executive Committee for 20 years, and had served on state, congressional, senatorial and judicial committees. He served as mayor for several terms, and was the West Union postmaster during the second Cleveland administration.

      The Silas P. Smith Opera House was built by Mr. Smith on a lot adjacent to his home, located at the corner of Church & South (now Court) Streets. He purchased the lot on Apr 12 1889 for $1800. Construction on the building did not begin until April 1899. Used almost exclusively for operatic performances from its opening in early 1900 until 1905, it continued to serve the community for many civic, educational, religious and home-talent events, such as church conferences, music recitals, political meetings, teacher institutes (now known as professional development or continuing education), graduations, moving pictures, and business meetings. In 1914, the property was converted to residential apartments. From about 1965 to Summer 2016, the first floor housed the Doddridge County Public Library [ http://dodd.clark.lib.wv.us/ ], while the second floor provided office space for several agencies. The Silas P. Smith Opera House, which is a simple commercial Romanesque Revival style with the dominant features being the round arched doorway and windows, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 25, 2001.
      http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/doddridge/01000788.pdf

      Excerpt from an article in the series "Mostly About Ourselves," by Alton Childers, "West Union Herald Record," Aug 1 1989, in which Silas P. Smith is quoted reminiscing about West Union as it was when he first published the "West Union Record" in March 1886:
      "... The crowd of men attending court were taken care of by two hotels, the U.S. Hotel and the Grant House. J. H. Thorndell was proprietor of the U.S. Hotel and Joseph Cheuvront of the Grant House. ... At that time, West Union had one two-room school house located where the Columbian hotel now stands. In fact, the school house forms part of the present hotel building which was completed by Mrs. M. I. Ash about 1893, the year of the Columbian Exposition of Chicago. It was this year that Columbian street was widened, having been only an alley up to that time."

      Item in a column titled "News of the Week Forty Years Ago" in the May 4 1916 issue of the "West Union Record":
      "Messrs. G. S. Smith, Dudley Smith, Silas P. Smith, Claude Shannon and Chas. A. McConnell started to Fairmont on the 24th to attend the Normal school. You have our best wishes boys."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Friday, January 5 1900:
      "The dance given at the Opera House Christmas night was a decided success. The Grafton orchestra furnished the music."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Friday, Feb 9 1900:
      "Smith's new Opera House is not yet completed, but the work is far enough along that the building can be used and will be opened next Monday night by Erwood's celebrated Stock Company, who will begin a three nights engagement here with twelve people. The building will be nicely lighted and comfortably heated, so that all who attend may come prepared to enjoy themselves. The building has not got any of its finishing...." (Remainder of article missing.)

      West Union Record, Friday, Mar 23, 1900, in its entirety:
      AT THE OPERA
      "Fields & Hanson's Minstrels gave their entertainment to a well filled house here Monday night. Everyone present was delighted with the performance and spoke in highest praise of Mr. John F. Fields, the proprietor, and his troop of thirty peope, which is the largest troop that ever played in this town. The performance was clean from start to finish, and strictly up to date. A splendid orchestra furnished the music. The attendance was good and the order, with slight exceptions, was first-class, for which the management is under obligations to those present and the members of our splendid police force. West Union is gaining a reputation as a show town which if kept up will insure it the best troops on the road."

      West Union Record, Friday, Mar 30 1900, in its entirety:
      AT THE OPERA
      "By request the R. J. Erwood Stock Company will play a return date here April 2, 3 and 4, three new plays, new specialties and illustrated songs, new scenery for each play. Opening play Monday night the Erwood All Star Stock Company in the superb production of the comedy drama in four acts, 'Down in Dixie.' The return of this very popular company is an advertisement for both the troop and the town. Admission 25 and 35 cents; children 15 cents. Tickets on sale at usual place. Doors open at 7:30, curtain at 8:15."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Friday, Apr 6 1900:
      "The offices on the first floor of the Smith Opera Building are occupied as follows: Nos. one and three by W. S. Stuart, attorney; No. five by G. W. Bland, attorney; No. seven by J. W. Stuck, attorney; No. nine by John J. Ingle, attorney; Nos. two and four by W. B. Gribble, Circuit Clerk; Nos. six and eight by Ramsey & Ireland, attorneys; [illegible] by Henry Ash [illegible]...." (Remainder of article missing)

      West Union Record, Friday, Apr 13 1900, in its entirety:
      WEST UNION IS BOOMING
      "A prominent citizen of Tyler County, who recently visited West Union, writes to the 'Star' as follows concerning his trip:
      'A few hours sojourn in West Union Saturday convinced me that West Union is in the swim. She has not only put on her good clothes, but the businessmen of the town have infused new life into her old frame, and she is coming to the front with gigantic strides. The new court house, W. S. Stewart's mammoth hardware store, Editor Smith's up-to-date building, containing law offices and opera house adorned with beautiful scenery, J. B. Markey's wholesale clothing house, with three first-class newspapers, prove beyond doubt that West Union is booming.'"

      West Union Record, Friday, May 4 1900, in its entirety:
      "The Carroll Comedy Company played to fairly good and delighted audiences in the opera house here Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights of last week. The troop is composed of eleven persons and the plays they rendered were well received by our people. To the credit of all who attended, the order throughout was first-class and our people were commended by the troop for the splendid order that prevailed throughout the entire performances."

      West Union Record, Friday, Jun 22 1900, in its entirety:
      "The rendition of 'Uncle Josh Whitcomb' by local talent, under the direction of Mr. Jack Goodwin, in the Opera House last Saturday evening was enjoyed by a well filled house. All the performers played their parts well and were roundly applauded. The dancing by --- Kitson and Jas. Thorndell was pronounced firstclass and the cake walk was enjoyed by all. The first venture proved that West Union talent is all right. We are promised another in the near future."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Friday, July 6 1900, in its entirety:
      "The festival given by the ladies of the Baptist church in the Opera House Saturday night was quite an enjoyable affair and success financially as well as socially. The sum of fifty dollars was cleared above all expenses and will be used in the construction of the new Baptist church which is to be begun in the near future."

      West Union Record, Friday, Aug 31 1900, in its entirety:
      OPERA SEASON OPENS
      GOODWIN-WINTER COMPANY NEXT WEEK
      "The opera season in West Union will open next Monday night with the appearance of the Goodwin-Winter Company with an entire new play every night. Among them will be a 'Runaway Wife,' the sensational drama, 'Guilty Without Crime,' 'Struck Oil,' a comedy drama of life in the oil fields of West Virginia, introducing for the first time an exact reproduction of the shooting of an oil well. 'The Silver Ledge,' a Western romance, 'Lost in London,' 'Camille,' Alex. Dumas' great society play and others. New singing and dancing specialties every night. The price of admission is within the reach of all -- 10, 20 and 30 cents. Doors open at 7:30, curtain at 8."

      West Union Record, Friday, Sep 7 1900, in part:
      TICKET NAMED
      DODDRIDGE DEMOCRATS HOLD A ROUSING CONVENTION
      "Speeches made by Hon. John A. Preston and Hon. Geo. M. McCoy ...
      The Doddridge County Democratic Convention was called to order in the Opera House in West Union on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 10:45, by Henry Ash, chairman of the county committee...."

      West Union Record, Friday, Sep 14 1900, in its entirety:
      "A large company of young people, under the auspices of the West Union Social Club, 'tripped the light fantastic' to the strains of a Grafton Orchestra in the Opera House Wednesday night."

      Display ad, front page, West Union Record, Friday, Oct 5 1900:
      PUBLIC SPEAKING
      Distinguished Orators Coming!
      Hon. Stuart W. Walker
      will speak in the Opera House in West Union, Monday Evening, October 8, at 7:30 p.m.
      Hon. John H. Holt,
      Democratic nominee for Governor, and
      Hon. W. E. Haymond,
      Democratic nominee for Congress, will address the people of Doddridge County at West Union, on
      Thursday, October 11, at 1 p.m.
      A cordial invitation is extended to all, both ladies and gentlemen.
      By order of the Doddridge County Democratic Ex. Com.
      J. V. Blair, Chairman
      S. P. Smith, Sec.

      West Union Record, Friday, Oct 19 1900:
      A BIG DAY
      Was Last Thursday for the Democrats of Doddridge
      Holt, Haymond and Brennan Make Rousing Speeches at West Union
      "The day that capped all others thus far this campaign at this place was last Thursday when a vast throng of the citizens of Doddridge County assembled to hear Hon. John H Holt, the next Governor, Hon. Wm. E. Haymond, Democratic nominee for Congress, and Hon. James B. Brennan, Democratic nominee for Elector.
      "The meeting was held in the Opera House, which was filled to the very walls and many even then were unable to get close to hear. The meeting was called to order by Hon. J. V. Blair, chairman of the county committee, who introduced the speakers in a very pleasant, yet effective way...."

      West Union Record, Friday, Nov 2 1900:
      A ROUSING MEETING
      Was the One Held by the Democrats Last Saturday
      "The largest and most interesting political meeting at this place this campaign was the one held under the auspices of the Democratic party last Saturday. The Opera House was simply packed to the very walls and the crowd extended out into the halls as far as they could hear...."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Friday, January 4, 1901:
      "The entertainment given by Prof. Crotty's waltzing class in the Opera House New Years Eve was a success in every particular. Many of the prominent holiday visitors in the town were guests of the member of the club and were present on that occasion and all enjoyed a very pleasant evening, nor did those ...." (Remainder of article missing.)

      News item, Clarksburg Telegram, January 31, 1902, reveals Silas P. Smith's position on the temperance movement:
      "The recent municipal election at West Union was followed by some sensational developments. Henry Ash, J. V. Blair, and Silas P. Smith have been at the head of the Democratic party In Doddridge county the past several years and as thick as three in a bed, but they are no longer chums. Ash ran for mayor on the dry ticket, and Smith and Blair opposed him. Ash was defeated and a day or so afterward he gave Smith, who is a cripple, a severe shaking on the streets."

      Local news item, West Union Herald, Thursday, March 23 1911, in its entirety:
      "Editor S. P. Smith is this week moving from the Maccabee Temple to the room recently vacated by Barber Verge Powell in the new Stuart building. This is only two doors east of his former location and gives Mr. Smith a location second to none in the town. Groceryman Peterson has divided up space with Mr. Smith in the rear of the building, to such an extent that Mr. Smith will now have one of the most commodious and up-to-date business rooms in the town. We congratulate Mr. Smith on his good luck in securing this desirable location, where we feel sure he will meet with a much deserved business sucess."

      Clarksburg Telegram, July 4, 1912:
      "Silas P. Smith, a retired newspaper man of West Union, will be taken to the Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore Thursday to have a leg amputated. He has been afflicted a number of years and is in bad shape now."

      Local news item, West Union Herald, Thursday, Jul 2 1914, in its entirety:
      "S. P. Smith is remodeling the second story of the Opera House building and will partition it into rooms for offices and dwelling apartments."

      Local news item, West Union Record, Jul 17 1914, in its entirety:
      "S. P. Smith is remodeling the old Opera House, cutting it up into rooms, for rent."

      Local news item, West Union Herald, Thursday, Oct 1 1914, in its entirety:
      "S. P. Smith has completed the work of converting the Opera house into living or office rooms. He has twelve fine large rooms on the second floor."

      Local news item, "West Union Herald," Thursday, Nov 4 1915, in its entirety:
      "Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Walker of Atlantic City arrived in our city last week and are nicely located in the Smith Aparment House on Court Street."

      News article, "Doddridge County Republican," Thursday, Nov 18 1915, in its entirety:
      RECORD BOOK AND DRUG STORE SOLD
      "It is highly probable that a deal will be closed the latter part of the present week through which Dr. Orth Talbott of Weston, and perhaps other bussiness associates, will become the owners of the S. P. Smith Book and Drug Store.
      "The inventory has just been taken and the main features of the deal have been agreed upon."

      News article, "West Union Herald," Thursday, Dec 9 1915, in its entirety:
      STORE CHANGES HANDS
      "The Record Book & Drug Store has been sold and transferred to the Red Cross Pharmacy. All accounts due the store up to and including November 15, 1915, is due the undersigned, who will be at the store for the next few days to make settlements. The statements of accounts already rendered should be paid as soon as possible.
      "Thanking our patrons for their liberal patronage and the public in general for their many acts of kindness toward us in the past, and hoping the same may be extended to our worthy succussors, I remain,
      "Most respectfully, Silas P. Smith
      "West Union, W.Va., Dec 7 1915."

      Local news item, "Doddridge County Republican," Thursday, Oct 26 1916, in its entirety:
      "Dressmaking in Opera House Building." [8]
    Person ID I52641  Doddridge County Roots
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2019 

    Father William M. SMITH,   b. 20 Oct 1823, Tyler Co, (W)VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Dec 1915, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 92 years) 
    Mother Margaret Ann DOAK,   b. 8 Dec 1826,   d. 9 Jun 1899  (Age 72 years) 
    Family ID F11280  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Alice Anna HALDEMAN,   b. 19 Jul 1869, Fayette Co, PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Oct 1893  (Age 24 years) 
    Married 14 Mar 1889  Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Family ID F22006  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Edith Davisson MARTIN,   b. 4 May 1873, Wood Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Jul 1968, Cabell Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    Married 9 Dec 1896  Ritchie Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [10, 11
    Notes 
    • 1900 Census, Doddridge Co, WV (West Union District):
      Silas P. Smith, 40, b. Apr 1860, father b. Pa, mother b. WV, married 3 yrs; wife Edith D, 26, b. May 1874, mother of one child (still living); son Kenneth M, 1, b. Dec 1898; adopted dau Mary E, 10, b. Jun 1889.

      1910 Census, Doddridge Co, WV (West Union District, Town of West Union), enumerated on Apr 16 1910:
      Silas P. Smith, 49, editor, married 13 yrs (2nd marriage); wife Edith D, 36, married 13 yrs (1st marriage), mother of 2 children (both still living); son Kenneth M, 11, newsboy on streets; son Festus, 3; adopted dau Mary E, 20, single, nurse at hospital; sister-in-law Katherine Martin, 28, single; roomer Silas Langfitt, 44, banker, married 9 months (1st marriage); roomer Juliette Langfitt, 28, married 9 months (1st marriage), no children.

      1930 Census, Doddridge Co, WV (West Union District):
      Silas P. Smith, 69; wife Edith D, 56; son Silas P Jr, 17; sister-in-law Katherine Martin, 50, single; boarder Charles Lauder, 33, single, b. North Carolina.
    Children 
     1. Mary E. SMITH,   b. Jun 1889  [Adopted]
    +2. Kenneth Martin SMITH,   b. 8 Dec 1898, West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jan 1975  (Age 76 years)
     3. Festus William SMITH,   b. 6 Sep 1906, West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jul 1975  (Age 68 years)
     4. Silas Preston SMITH, Jr.,   b. 7 Dec 1912,   d. Mar 1982  (Age 69 years)
    Family ID F22016  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 22 Apr 1860 - Nutters Fork, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1910, 1920, 1930 - West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 19 Oct 1943 - West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Masonic Memorial Park Cemetery, Crystal Lake (West Union), WV Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Silas P Smith home, next to Opera House
    Original Home of Silas P Smith - Opera House in Background
    Home of Silas P Smith - Opera House in Background
    Home of Silas P Smith - Opera House in Background
    Doddridge Co Library - Former Silas P Smith Opera House
    Doddridge Co Library - Former Silas P Smith Opera House

    Documents
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_1860-1943_Obit.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_1860-1943_Obit.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_WestUnionRecord_25Apr1935.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_WestUnionRecord_25Apr1935.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_SellsRecordBook-DrugStore_WURecord_18Nov1915.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_SellsRecordBook-DrugStore_WURecord_18Nov1915.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_StoreChangesHands_WUHerald_9Dec1915.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_StoreChangesHands_WUHerald_9Dec1915.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_BirthdayParty_WestUnionRecord_25Apr1935.jpg
    52641_SMITH_SilasP_BirthdayParty_WestUnionRecord_25Apr1935.jpg
    999999_ElectionResults_WestUnionRecord_5Jan1900.jpg
    999999_ElectionResults_WestUnionRecord_5Jan1900.jpg
    52641_Smith-Opera-House-Tenants_WURecord_6Apr1900.jpg
    52641_Smith-Opera-House-Tenants_WURecord_6Apr1900.jpg

  • Sources 
    1. [S14] Obituary.

    2. [S638] Headstone (year only).

    3. [S1774] Doddridge County WV Marriages 1845-1937, (Wes Cochran, 156 Gihon Meadows, Apt 150, Parkersburg, WV 26101 (Jan 1993)).

    4. [S1897] West Union Record, 11/18/1915.

    5. [S1752] Obituary - At home, West Union Herald, 10/28/1943.

    6. [S1773] Doddridge County WV Deaths 1853-1969, (Wes Cochran, 156 Gihon Meadows, Apt 150, Parkersburg, WV 26101).

    7. [S1793] West Union WV Cemeteries (Doddridge County), (Wes Cochran, 2515 10th Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26101 (July 1990)).

    8. [S14] Obituary, West Union Herald, 10/28/1943.

    9. [S1774] Doddridge County WV Marriages 1845-1937, (Wes Cochran, 156 Gihon Meadows, Apt 150, Parkersburg, WV 26101 (Jan 1993)).
      Identified as Silas P. Smith, 28, of Doddridge Co; and Alice A. Haldeman, 19, b. Fayette Co PA, res. Doddridge Co. Married Mar 14 1889.

    10. [S1630] Ritchie County WV Marriages 1843-1915, (Wes Cochran, 2515 10th Ave, Parkersburg WV 26101 (July 1985)).
      Identified as Silas P. Smith, widowed, 36, of Doddridge Co; and Edith D. Martin, 23, b. Wood Co, res. Ritchie Co. Married Dec 9 1896.

    11. [S110] Obituary of husband.