- Born February 13, 1832, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Trained in carpentry and building, removed to Galena in 1854
- Erected numerous public and private buildings in Galena and Dubuque, Iowa
- Enlisted as Private in Company I, 96th Illinois Infantry; elected Captain
- Commissioned Major, September 1862
- Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, for gallantry at Chickamauga, September 1863
- Wounded at Kenesaw Mountain
- Held various bureaucratic posts at Nashville, Tennessee until end of war
- Brevetted Colonel and promoted to full rank, 1865
- Promoted brevet Brigadier General for war service, June 1865
- Assessor for Department of Internal Revenue until 1872
- Commission merchant in Chicago; chief grain inspector for city
- Elected both Illinois State Treasurer and Lieutenant Governor
- Died in Chicago, December 31, 1910; buried in Galena
Brevet Brigadier General John Corson Smith moved to Galena in th emid-1850s and formed a carpentry and contracting business with B.W. Marble of Galena. They assisted in the construction of the Methodist Episcopal Church on Bench Street. Smith married Charlotte Gallagher, of Galena in March of 1856. They had five children. From 1859 to 1861 Smith was the Assistant Superintendent of Construction for Dubuque Iowa’s Post Office and Custom House. In 1862 Smith enlisted as a private in a new company of volunteers which was comprised mostly of men from Jo Daviess County. Smith was elected Captain of the Company. On September 6, 1862 the unit was mustered into the army as I Company of the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Smith was mustered in as a Major in the Regiment Staff. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel on September 20, 1863. On February 20, 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General for meritorious service.
Following the war John Corson Smith was appointed assessor for the Department of Internal Revenue. He moved to Chicago in the early 1870s and became involved in several business ventures and Republican politics. He was elected Illinois State Treasurer in 1878 and 1882 and served as lieutenant governor of Illinois from 1885 to 1889. Smith died on December 31, 1910 in Chicago. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.