Smith, Abraham (of Vermilion County)

Born: 1810-XX-XX Tennessee

Died: 1863-04-26 Ridge Farm, Illinois

Flourished: 1839 to 1863 Ridge Farm, Illinois

Abraham Smith, farmer and merchant, moved to Vermilion County sometime before 1839, when he settled permanently on a farm he called Ridge Farm. Ridge Farm was located along the stage route between Danville and Paris, and Smith acted as tavernkeeper for travelers. He served as the first postmaster of the growing community of Ridge Farm from 1841 through 1857, platted a village of the same name in 1853, and was involved in the construction of many of the village’s early businesses. Smith built a blacksmith shop, a wagon-shop, a store, and a steam mill in Ridge Farm between 1850 and 1855. In 1853 Smith was sued for slander in Vermilion County Circuit Court, and Abraham Lincoln represented the plaintiff in that case and in Smith’s 1854 appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. A Quaker and an abolitionist, Smith ran as a Liberty Party candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives in 1836 and 1844, for lieutenant governor in 1846, and was a Liberty Party elector in the presidential elections of 1844 and 1848. In the election of 1852, Smith was named to the electoral ticket of Free Soil Party candidate John P. Hale, and he served on the committee that drafted the platform of the Free Soil Party convention of that year in Pittsburgh. He ultimately allied himself with the Republican Party, preferring Lincoln to Stephen A. Douglas in the Illinois race for U.S. Senate in 1858, and he represented Vermilion County at the 1860 Illinois Republican Convention. Following Lincoln’s election as president, Smith unsuccessfully petitioned him to be named a territorial governor. Smith married Mary Canady Durham in 1833 and the pair had seven children.

H. W. Beckwith, History of Vermilion County (Chicago: H. H. Hill, 1879), 560, 573-74, 587-88;Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Vermilion County, 31 October 1833, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971 , NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls, Records of the Post Office Department, RG 28, 1855-1865, 20a:138, National Archives Building, Washington, DC; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 151, 164-67, 294, 402, 571; Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review (IL), 1 September 1848, 3:1; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Vermilion County, IL, 257; Illinois State Register (Springfield), 21 October 1852, 3:2; Campbell v. Smith, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),; Smith v. Campbell, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition,; Abraham Smith to Abraham Lincoln; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Vermilion County, 297; Wayne C. Temple, “Delegates to the Illinois State Republican Nominating Convention in 1860,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 92 (Autumn 1999), 297; Abraham Smith to Abraham Lincoln; Friends’ Review 16 (6 June 1863), 633; Gravestone, Vermilion Grove Cemetery, Vermilion Grove, IL.