VESPASIAN SMITH, M.D., was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Oct. 21, 1818. His parents were Virginians, who had moved to that locality in the spring of 1805. He attended the common schools of Mt. Vernon, and afterward prepared himself for a trader, following that vocation for one year, when he took up the study of medicine, under the tutelage of Dr. J.N. Burr. Subsequently he entered the Medical DEpartment of Western Reserve College, at Cleveland, graduating from that institution with the class of 1851. He practiced for several years in New Carlisle and Columbus, Ohio, from which latter place he moved to Superior, Wis., in 1857, when this section was little more than a wilderness. He remained in Superior until 1860, when he received a government appointment as physician to the Indians at the Bayfield Agency. This position he held for eight years, and they were hard years, too. He has been known to travel forty miles in an open boat on Lake Superior to visit a sick Indian, and he was never known to refuse a call, no matter how hard it was, or under what circumstances. Subsequently he was made register of the Land Office at Bayfield, which position he held for two years.
With the first year of the building of the St. Paul & Mississippi River railroad, afterward the St. Paul and Duluth railroad, into Duluth, Dr. Smith located here, and from that time till his death he was always a prominent figure. He was appointed the second Collector of Customs of the port of Duluth, holding the office for nine years, under three administrations. Dr. Smith probably received more government appointments, under more different administrations, than any ther man in the Northwest, his first appointment coming under Buchanan's administration, and others following under every administration except that of President Cleveland. He was for two terms the Mayor of the City of Duluth, and his popularity is evidenced by the fact that at his first election there wa not one vote against him, and at the second there were three, and he cast one of these adverse votes himself. He was elected first President of the ST. Louis County Medical Society, about the same time being appointed a member of the State Board of Health, a position he held for twenty years.
Dr. Smith was a member of the Masonic Fraternity, and had been associated with Masons for years. He was a member of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, when the first dispensation for a Lodge in the Territory of Minnesota was granted.
In 1846, the Doctor was married to Charlotte E. Neely, of New Carlisle, Ohio, and he died in Duluth, Minn., Oct. 11, 1897, being survived by two children, Frank B. Smith and Mrs. S.C. McCormick, both of Duluth.