Patrick Smyth
Mary Kenny
Mary Gallagher
Michael Kenny Smyth
Bridget McDonnell
Thomas Alexander Smyth


Family Links

1. Sarah Elizabeth Usher

Thomas Alexander Smyth

  • Born: 28 Sep 1848, Chicago
  • Christened: 19 Oct 1848, St. Patrick's church, Chicago
  • Marriage (1): Sarah Elizabeth Usher on 27 Aug 1879 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States 237
  • Died: 28 Oct 1930, Chicago, Cook, Illinois at age 82
  • Buried: Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, IL 238

  Noted events in his life were:

Birth. 224 Born on a boat on the Chicago River as the family moved from Canada

Memory: Chicago. 224 Thomas recalled helping his brother Michael bringing the family cow down State Street.

Occupation, 1860's, Chicago. 224 Tom was apprenticed to a bricklayer when he left grammar school

Civil War, 1862 or 1863, Chicago. 224 When federal troops were camped in a nearby park, Tom volunteered to drum. An officer permitted him to drum and informed him he was thereupon made a drummer boy of the Union Army. A neighbor told Bridget Smyth who brought Tom home by the ear and terminated his military career.

Occupation, 1867, Chicago. 224,239 Tom was the first salesman for his brother John when the John M. Smyth store first opened for business.

Residence: Chicago. 224 Thomas and Sarah raised their family in a home at 2022 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago.

Baseball, Abt 1868, Chicago. 224 As a youth, Tom was a member of the Chicago Firemen's baseball team, the first professional ball team in the city.

First Meeting, Abt 1875, Chicago. 224 Thomas first met Sarah Elizabeth Usher when she came from Boston to visit her sister, Mary Ellen Usher Riley, in Chicago. When she went back to Boston, Tom courted her while he handled some of the furniture store's business in that city.

Elected Office, 1899. 224 Thomas A. Smyth, on the 3rd inst., was elected President of the Sanitary district of Chicago. He was born in Chicago in 1848 of Irish-American parents, Michael and Bridget Smyth, nee McDonnell, and was educated in the public schools. In early manhood he became a moulder, later on a mason, and later still a successful contractor. He afterwards bought an interest in the then modest retail furniture store of his brother, John M. In 1888 he disposed of his interest in the furniture business and had since been engaged in real estate, loan and insurance business with offices on the southwest corner of LaSalle and Madison sts. In 1899 he was elected as a Democratic candidate to the Drainage Board and was re-elected in 1900. -Nov. 14, 1901

Real Estate: Chicago. 224 Tom sold his share of the furniture business in about 1888 when John M. rehired an employee that Thomas had fired. It was an amicable seperation. Tom received about $40,000 from the sale and began a real estate business.

Politics, 1899 -, Chicago. 224 Tom was President of the Sanitary District in either 1899 or 1901. In 1910, the Roger Sullivan Democratic organization asked his to run for President again, this time against Robert R. McCormick, Publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Tom beat McCormick decisively and McCormick never ran for office again.

Sanitary District, 1899-1915, Chicago. 224 Thomas was President of the Sanitary District in Chicago at least twice. He was a Democrat. He was elected to the first board of Trustees. The District was set up to construct and govern the canal, still known as the Sanitary and Ship Canal, which reversed the flow of the Chicago river so that the current flows away from Lake Michigan.. This prevented all the sewage from the city from being dumped into the Lake where Chicago got its drinking water. The Canal hooked the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River which then carries the sewage into the Illinois and then the Mississippi. It also opened a new avenue of river boat traffic.

Venture: Chicago. 224 Tom bought a boat to run excursions down the Chicago River and Canal to Lockport. This boat was a forerunner of the submarine. It sank several times but no one was ever drowned. Tom's sons John, Joe and Tom often spent weekends bailing out the boat and cleaning up the engine so it would run again.

Tribune Feud, 1910 -, Chicago. 224 After Tom beat Robert McCormick for Sanitary Board President, a Tribune reporter, Oscar E. Hewitt, was assigned to "get the goods" on Tom. Stories slanted against Tom were run daily on the front page of the Tribune. One story cited the fact that Tom's son, John, was on the sanitary district payrill but neglected to mention that he had been hired before Tom had been elected. A story in the Calumet Record in about 1912 titled "The Contemptible Chicago Tribune" excoriated McCormick for abusing the power of the Tribune to unfairly attack Tom.

Return to John M. Smyth, Abt 1915, Chicago. 224 After the death of John M. Smyth in 1912, his children had trouble running the furniture store. Tom was asked to return as a Vice President, which he did, and continued working there until his death in 1930.

Debts, 1930. 240 Thomas had about $15,000 in stock market debts when he died. It was a struggle for John and Agnes to provide for Angela. However, he had several pieces of property including the Lombard house on South Edson which was occupied by his son Joe and his family.

Thomas married Sarah Elizabeth Usher on 27 Aug 1879 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.237 (Sarah Elizabeth Usher was born Jan-Feb-Mar 1851 in Salford, Lancashire, England,241 died on 7 Feb 1894 in Chicago 242 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, IL 243.)

  Noted events in their marriage were:

Alt. Marriage, 27 Aug 1879, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States. 244

Sarah's parents, 1879, Boston, MA. 245 The marriage registration for Thomas and Sarah in Boston shows that Sarah's parents were Thomas and Mary. It also shows that Sarah was born in England as the family tradition showed.

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