John Eugene Smith

John Eugene Smith

jesmith2John E. Smith was born in Switzerland in 1816 and immigrated with his parents to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when he was a year old. He grew up and finished his apprenticeship in the jeweler’s craft there. In 1832 he accompanied his family to the St.Louis where he practiced this craft until he left to seek his fortune at the upper Mississippi Lead Mines.

He settled in Galena, the supply center of the Mining District. His jewelry store was located on Main Street near the steamboat landing and as the miners prospered so did he.

John E. Smith was popular and active in the county and organized the Washburne Lead Mine Regiment in 1861 when he was acting as Governor Yate’s aide.


*Settled in Galena in 1836, practicing the jeweler’s trade for twenty-five years
*Served as Jo Daviess County Treasurer
*Organized the 45th Illinois Infantry, the “Washburne Lead Mine Regiment”; commissioned its Colonel, July 1861
*Promoted Brigadier General (USV), November 1862
*Brevetted Brigadier General (USA) for Vicksburg; Major General (USV), for war service; Major General (USA) for gallant service at Savannah, Georgia
*Served as United States Assessor for District of Utah
*Colonel of 27th U.S. Infantry
*Transferred to 14th U.S. Infantry (1870); served until retirement in May 1881
*Resided in Chicago; died there January 29, 1897; buried in Galena