"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Smith, Ralph E. a well-known member of the Lincoln County bar, who for the last 20 years has been a resident of Merrill, except when absent on public business, was born in the town of Alto, Fond du Lac County, Wis., Jan. 15, 1875, son of Ralph H. and Ella (BUTTS) SMITH. The father, who was born in New York State, came of Revolutionary stock, his grandfather having served two enlistments in the struggle for independence; he was from Dutchess County, New York. Among the ancestors of Ralph H. SMITH were the founders of the Pratt family, who came to America in 1642, settling in Colchester, Conn. Another ancestor, of the Munn family - his great grandmother on his father's side - came to this country in 1700, settling in Massachusetts. Ralph H. SMITH, himself, was a soldier in the Civil War, a member of Company H, 144th New York Infantry. In 1866 he came to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and went to work for his uncle Luther BUTTS, on a farm, also teaching school during the winter months. This farm was then fairly well developed, the Butts family having settled there in 1846, 20 years previously. Mr. SMITH continued to work on it until he finally retired, except for four years that he spent in Minnesota. He and his wife Ella both died in Waupun, Wis. She was a native of Michigan and daughter of David M. and Betsy (HARRIS) WOODEN. They had four sons: Melvin L., a farmer in Marathon County; Ralph E., of Merrill; Luther C., a contractor of Waupun, and Roscoe M., who is employed in the post office at Waupun. Ralph E. SMITH was reared in Fond du Lac County, attending first the district school and later the Waupun High School, from which he was graduated in 1895. He then taught school for three years and was principal of schools at Hazel Green, Wis., from 1895 to 1897, and at Shullsberg in 1897-98. Being subsequently graduated from the law course of Wisconsin State University, he was admitted to the bar in 1900, with the right to practice in all courts, and in 1906 was admitted to practice in the supreme court of the United States. He first opened a law office in Tomahawk, in the fall of the 1900, but after three weeks accepted a position as superintendent and principal of the Tomahawk schools, teaching there for two years. The summer and fall of 1902 were spent prospecting in the state of Washington. Then in 1903 he came to Merrill and became associated in law practice with John M. COCHRAN, whose partner he was for four years. After that until 1911 he practiced alone, his next partner being Carl ZOLLMANN, with whom he was associated until 1914. From that year to 1916 he was in partnership with Quincy JONES, under the firm name of Smith & Jones, after which he practiced along until 1921, when he entered into another partnership, this time with C. B WORSTER under the firm name of Smith & Worster, and this still continues. In 1906 Mr. SMTIH was elected district attorney for Lincoln County and in 1908 and 1910 was re-elected to the same office. In 1911 he was appointed to the State Board of Control, serving until February, 1915, and for three years being president of the board. He then returned to active practice at Merrill and in 1916 was again elected district attorney, being re-elected in 1918 and 1920. Mr. SMITH has the reputation of having been the most agressive prosecuting attorney Lincoln County ever had, working for the welfare of the community as such both in and out of court and achieving decided results. As a member of the State Board of Control he also made an exceptionally fine record. He is a stockholder in the Citizens National Bank, a member of the Rotary Club, and belongs to several fraternal orders, being a thirty-second degree mason and "Shriner," and a member of the Eagles and Modern Woodmen of America. Mr. SMITH was married in Merrill, in June, 1906, to Minnie L. LITTLEJOHN, daughter of Henry and Mary Jane (BULLIS) LITTLEJOHN, per parents, now deceased, having been early settlers in Merrill. Mr. and Mrs. SMITH have one daughter, Mary Virginia.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 708-709, History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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