October 21, 2016

John N. O. Smith

   John N. O. Smith, soldier, state legislator, and newspaper publisher, was born in Massachusetts in 1815. Smith came to Texas prior to 1836. On February 1, 1836, he enlisted for service with Sam Houston’s forces in the Texas Revolution. He served as a sergeant major and participated in the battle of San Jacinto. He served until May 1, 1836. On April 12, 1838, Smith received a grant for one-third league of land in Harris County for his service in the revolution, but he lost his certificate and obtained a replacement certificate in 1840 and sold his headright certificate in 1845. Smith was also the original grantee for 320 acres of land in present-day Erath County in 1847.

   On April 24, 1842, he married Margaret Farrell. In September 1842 Smith was elected captain of a company for a new foray against Mexico - the Somervell expedition - but remained in Gonzales County due to illness. Around this time he settled in Houston, Harris County, and established himself in the newspaper business. In 1841 Smith published the Houstonian. From December 1843 to October 1844, he published a newspaper which was issued under several titles, including The Citizen, the Weekly Citizen, and the Texian Democrat. He was also president of the first Typographical Association of Texas.

   In 1846 Smith served as representative for Harris County in the House of the First Texas Legislature. He was a member of the Education Committee, Public Printing Committee, and several select committees, and he chaired the Select Committee on An act for the incorporation of all Lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of the State of Texas. Politically, Smith was a Democrat, his constituency consisting of “Farmers, Mechanics, and Working Men.” Smith died in Houston on May 5, 1851, and was buried in City Cemetery (now known as Founders’ Memorial Park) in Houston. Source 

Note: Unmarked. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day. John Smith's is one of them.


Founders Memorial Park

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