Thomas Adams Smith

Elizabeth Davis

Thomas Adams Smith was born Aug. 12, 1781, in Virginia, to Francis and Lucy Wilkinson Smith.

Smith joined the U.S. Army and was commissioned a second lieutenant of artillery Dec. 15, 1803, and was promoted to first lieutenant two years later. On May 3, 1808, he was promoted to captain in the Regiment of Riflemen. He was promoted again on July 31, 1810, to lieutenant colonel when Lt. Col. William Duane proved unable to be second in command of the Regiment of Riflemen. When Col. Alexander Smyth left the regiment on July 6, 1812, Smith was promoted to colonel and assumed command of the regiment.

Smith was stationed at Fort Bellefontaine, when Congress established a government land office in Franklin, on Feb. 17, 1818. Charles Carroll was the land register and Smith was hoping to be appointed the receiver of public money. With the aid of John O’Fallon, a prominent businessman in St. Louis who had served with Smith in the Regiment of Riflemen, Smith secured the appointment. The land office opened Nov. 1, 1818.

The following year experienced a large migration to the west. More than 120 wagons a week for nine consecutive weeks passed through St. Charles and headed up Boon’s Lick Trail. During the first year 662,434.37 acres were sold for $1,894,904.69 and nearly one-third of that was in cash. It was required that the money be deposited in the Bank of Missouri in St. Louis that required a 180-mile trip to St. Louis by a trusted agent. During the 10-plus years that Smith held that position, he only lost $1,000.

While working as receiver, Smith was able to save enough to acquire a few thousand acres of land for himself and build a house. He resigned in 1829, moved his wife and children to the house, and became a full-time farmer.

Thomas Adams Smith died on June 25, 1844, and was laid to rest in Memorial Presbyterian Church Cemetery, in Napton, Saline County, Missouri.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008. She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to