Skip to main content

1857 – Benjamin Finley Smith

Benjamin Finley Smith was born on July 4, 1811 at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Early in his life he was the Assistant Clerk of Courts of Knox County, serving under his father. About 1851, he was elected Auditor of the County, a position he held for 4 years, later becoming a member of the Ohio Legislature. In the spring of 1857 he moved to Blue Earth County, Minnesota as a representative of the Mt. Vernon Colony with the responsibility of assisting in laying out the town of Vernon Center, which was named after his native city of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He was elected the Register of Deeds of Blue Earth County in 1862, a position which he held for six years. In 1869 he was elected Mayor of the City of Mankato, Minnesota and during 1870 and 1871 he also was a member of the Minnesota State Senate. Between the years of 1872 and 1876 he was Register of the U. S. Land Office at Redwood Falls, Minnesota.

He was married to Miss Julia Stilley in 1830 and to this union thirteen children were born.

M. W. Brother Smith was an inspector for the Militia in Ohio for a number of years, an interest, which he carried with him to Minnesota, where in the summer of 1861 he organized a Militia Company at Vernon, Minnesota. In recognition of his interest and ability he was made Captain of the company. In the fall of 1861 he was instrumental in forming a cavalry company which was later attached to the 5th Iowa Cavalry. He did not serve in the Civil War with this group, for on November 5, 1861 he was commissioned a Lt. Colonel in the 3rd Minnesota Infantry. Ill health, unfortunately, forced his resignation approximately six months later. This did not end his interest in military affairs, however, for in the fall of 1862 the Governor placed him in charge of Fort Snelling with the assignment to organize the men stationed there into companies and regiments. Upon completion of this assignment, he returned to Mankato and was commissioned Commander of the Militia for the Blue Earth County District, a position he held until the termination of the Sioux War in 1866.

M. W. Brother Smith received his degrees in 1838 and 1839 in Mt. Zion Lodge No. 9 and first appeared on their Annual Report of October 1839 while serving as Senior Deacon of that Lodge. He later served as Worshipful Master of Mt. Zion Lodge in 1842 and 1843 and Secretary in 1844 and 1845.

He served as Senior Grand Deacon of The Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1842, Junior Grand Deacon in 1844, Grand Secretary from 1846 to 1851, Deputy Grand Master in 1854 and 1855 and Grand Master in 1856. On December 6, 1861 he dimitted from Mt. Zion Lodge No. 9 and affiliated with Mankato Lodge No. 12, Mankato, Minnesota on December 27, 1862.

M. W. Brother Smith was a member of Warren Chapter No. 6, R. A. M. of Newark and later of Clinton Chapter No. 26, R. A .M., Mt. Vernon. He served the Grand Chapter R. A. M. of Ohio as Grand Secretary from 1845 to 1850 and served the Grand Chapter R. A. M. of Minnesota as Grand High Priest in 1866. He was a member of Newark Council No. 10, R. & S. M. of Newark and Clinton Commandery No. 5, K. T. He served as first Grand Recorder of the Grand Commandery until 1850 and held various offices thereafter.

Death came to M. W. Brother Smith on December 12, 1892 at Mankato, Minnesota with burial in Glenwood Cemetery, Section 2, Lot A, Mankato, Minnesota.