Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 7, 1895
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCatherine Smith, mother, Clarkston, Washington, USA
Trade / CallingClerk
Service Details
Regimental Number919999
Service RecordSee images below
BattalionCompany B 110th Regiment Engineers
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
BranchUS Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentClarkston, Washington, USA
Address at EnlistmentClarkston, Washington, USA
Date of EnlistmentJune 5, 1917
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 23, 1966
Age at Death70

Smith, David William

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

David William Smith (aka Bill, Billy) was born on 7 September 1892, 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)
Francis Jacob (Frank) (b 1895 Rat Portage, Ontario, d 1944 Maywood, Illinois)
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 December of 1915 David crossed the border at Eastport in Idaho, listed on the record as a baker that had been living with his mother Catherine in Creston. When he signed his WW1 Draft Registration card on 5 June 1917 in Clarkston Washington where Catherine was living, David had been living in Baird (Bayard) Nebraska where he had been working for the Great Western Sugar Company as a clerk. On the card his place of birth was given as Norman, Ontario.

As Private with Company B, 110th Regiment Engineers, David embarked for France from Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the Great Northern. His next of kin on the transport list was given as Catherine Smith, mother, in Clarkston. Little is known about David’s service but he embarked from Brest in France on 11 April 1919 aboard the Von Steuben, on his way to Camp Mills on Long Island in New York. David’s brother Frank served overseas with Company A 339 Machine Gun Battalion, rank of Private 1st Class.

For the US 1920 census David and his brother Frank 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 Garnet Moore were living on the same street at the time. On 17 April 1927 in Cashmere in Washington, he married Enid Kaiser. Born in 1907 in South Dakota, Enid was the daughter of Charles Kaiser and Epsie Workman. At the time of the marriage and for most of his later life, David’s occupation was given as orchardist. The 1930 census placed David and Enid in Dryden, Chelan in Washington, David listed as a fruit farmer. In May of 1932 the couple gave birth to son Darold Gene. By the 1940 census they had divorced, with David and Darold living in Monitor, Chelan, Washington, David working as a labourer on a road project. The 1950 census found father and son in rural Chelan, both listed as ranch workers.

On 23 January 1966, David died in a Mountlake Terrace, Washington nursing home following a long illness. His obituary reported that he was a long time orchardist of the Upper Valley and for the last year had been living with his son Darold in Mountlake Terrace. Predeceased by his mother Catherine in 1919 in Clarkston as well as some of his siblings, at the time of his death he was survived by sisters Sarah (John) Longe of Kenora, Ontario, Mary Bertha (William Garnet) Moore of Berkley, California, Henrietta (Ralph) Wolverton of Eugene, Washington, Vesta (Mansford) Swallow of Langley, British Columbia, and Vera (Jack) Kight of Eugene, Washington. A memorial service was held for David at the St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Edmond, with Acacia Funeral Home in Seattle in charge of cremation. Disposition of David’s ashes is unknown.

By Judy Thorburn

Photographs of David and Frank courtesy of Frank’s grandson Todd Smith.

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