Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 19, 1895
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCatherine Smith, mother, Clarkston, Washington, USA
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number219846/2103486
BattalionCompany A 339th Machine Gun Battalion
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
BranchAmerican Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentClarkston, Washington, USA
Address at EnlistmentClarkston, Washington, USA
Date of EnlistmentJune 5, 1917
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 14, 1944
Age at Death49
Buried AtClinton Memorial Park Cemetery, Clinton, Illinois, USA

Smith, Francis Jacob

Smith brothers Frank (seated) and David (standing), 1918

Francis Jacob Smith was born on 19 May 1895, birth registered in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Both from Quebec, his parents were Jacob Smith, a baker, and Catherine Coile, the couple marrying in 1876 in Montreal. (Unmarried at the time of Catherine’s birth, her mother later married George Dickson (Dixon) and at times Catherine used Dickson/Dixon as her maiden name.) Over the years the family moved around a fair bit with other known children born in various places:
Sarah Jane (b 1877 York, Ontario, d 1880 Sandwich, Essex, Ontario)
Catherine Caroline (b 1879, York, Ontario, d 1900 Calgary, Alberta)
Joseph (b 1881 York, Ontario)
Sarah Phillips (b 1884 Rat Portage, Ontario, d 1970 Kenora, Ontario)
Mary Bertha (b 1887 Rat Portage, Ontario, d 1975 Palo Alto, California)
Charles Edward (b 1889 Keewatin, Ontario, d 1889 Keewatin, Ontario)
Henrietta Frederica (b 1890 Keewatin, Ontario, d 1984 Eugene, Oregon)
David William (b 1892 Rat Portage, d 1966 Mountlake Terrace, Washington)
Elizia Sylvesta (Vesta) (1896 Rat Portage, d 1986 North Vancouver, BC)
Myrtle Vera Louise (Vera) (b 1901 Calgary, Alberta, d 1984 Eugene, Oregon)

After the death of daughter Sarah Jane in Sandwich, Essex, Ontario in 1880, at the time of the 1881 census the family was living in the Stisted and McMurrich district of Muskoka, Ontario, returning to York for Jospeh’s birthday later that year. For the 1891 census they were in Keewatin, Ontario, a small town about 5 kilometres west of Rat Portage/Kenora. It appears that the family likely operated a bakery in Norman, a village about half way between Keewatin and Kenora. By the time of the 1901 census they had lived in Calgary as evidenced by daughter Catherine’s death and Vera’s birth, the census placing the family in the municipality of Vernon in Yale East, Yale Cariboo in British Columbia. A 1906 census had the Jacob, Catherine and children Henrietta, David, Frank, Vesta, and Vera living in Westaskiwin, Alberta and by 1911 census Jacob and Henrietta were in Creston, British Columbia where Jacob was operating a bakery while Catherine and some of the children were in Alberta. Feeling ill, Jacob had travelled to Cranbrook, BC seeking medical attention and died there on 29 July 1913.

In February of 1916 Frank, occupation of baker, and his sister Henrietta crossed the border at Eastwood, Idaho. They were on their way to their sister Mary Bertha Moore who was living in Seattle with her husband William Garnet Moore. When Frank signed his WW1 Draft Registration card in Clarkston, Washington on 5 June 1917, he had been living in Gennesee, Idaho and working as a farmer for HP Herman.

Frank was inducted into service on 7 February 1918 in Clarkston where his mother Catherine was living. His place of birth was given as Norman, Ontario and his mother as next of kin. As a Private with Company A 339 Machine Gun Battalion, he embarked for France on 14 August 1918 from Philadelphia aboard the Rhesus. Details of his service overseas are not known but he returned to the United States in June of 1919, discharged upon demobilization on the 25th, rank of Private 1st Class. His mother Catherine had died in February of 1919 in Clarkston. Frank’s brother David served overseas with the Company B 110th Regiment Engineers, rank of Private.

For the US 1920 census Frank and his brother David were living in Seattle with John and Margaret Sherin, listed as brothers-in-law and although the relationship could not be confirmed, their sister Mary Bertha and husband William were living on the same street at the time. On 6 September 1922, in Walla Walla, Washington, Frank married Goldie Alberta Ray. Born in 1903 in Dayton, Washington, Goldie was the daughter of Alex Ray and Laura Bates. At the time of the marriage Frank was fruit ranching at Tonasket in Okanogan County in Washington.

At some point the marriage failed and on 25 March 1931, Frank married Dorothy Leona Beckwith. Born in 1910 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dorothy was the daughter of Dwight Beckwith and Marie Dumbault. At the time of the marriage both Frank and Dorothy were living in Cashmere, Washington where Frank was working as a rancher. Three children were born to the couple, Donald (1932, Washington), Walter Francis (1935, Clinton, Iowa), and David Eugene (1936, Clinton, Iowa). Dorothy later married Albert Buelow in 1939 and died in 1978 in Clinton.

At the time of the 1940 census Frank, now divorced, was living in Clinton and working as a warehouse man in a sugar refinery. According to his later obituary, on 25 August 1942, in Missouri, he married Luella Kimbal. Born in 1902 in Dubuque, Iowa, Luella was the daughter of Adolph Kimbal and Jennie Dietrich. She had previously been married to John Eacker (1927).

Frank died on 31 August 1944 in the Veterans’ Hospital in Maywood, Illinois. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Luella, sons Donald, Walter, and David as well as siblings Sarah (John) Longe of Kenora, Ontario, Mary Bertha (William Garnet) Moore of Berkley, California, Henrietta (Ralph) Wolverton of Eugene, Washington, David in Washington, Vesta (Mansford) Swallow of Langley, British Columbia, and Vera (Jack) Kight of Eugene, Washington. Luella later died in 1959. Frank is interred in the Clinton Lawn Cemetery in Clinton.

By Judy Thorburn

Photographs of Frank courtesy of his grandson Todd Smith.

« Back To Soldier Biographies