He was born near Danville, in Pittsylvania County, Va., on December 23, 1870, and is the son of Thomas and Susan Smith, both of whom are still living (1922). The Smiths were farmers and the boy grew up on the farm and laid the foundation of his education in the rural public schools. As he grew older he found work in the tobacco factory at Reidsville, N. C. Then came the promise of better wages in the coal fields of West Virginia, and young Smith left Virginia and went to work in Mercer County. When about 25 years of age, he was happily converted and joined the First Baptist Church of Mayberry, W. Va. On the very day of his conversion he felt called to preach the Gospel, and during the same year was licensed to preach and the following year ordained to the full work of the ministry. With the call to preach came also the realization of the need for more adequate preparation for the serious work of life, and he studied at Bluefield Institiute for two terms, combining his literary and theological studies. He was successful from the beginning of his ministry. He organized the Wingfield Baptist Church at Eckman and built a house of worship. Under his ministry the congregation grew rapidly and was soon too large for the church that had been built, so it was necessary to build the second time at that point. He remained on that work for ten years and saw it grow to a membership of 450. After he had the work at Eckman well under the way he went to Arlington and organized Galilee Baptist Church, where it was necessary to build a house of worship. He was the shepherd of his flock for eight years and brought many into the fold. He also acted as supply pastor of the church at Algoma for three years, and it prospered under his leadership. He went next to the Main Street Baptist Church at Clifton Forge, Va., and during a pastorate of 13 months there, remodeled the church. From there he went to Erlington, Ky., to the pastorate of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and while he remained there only nine months a brick church was erected during that time. He went from there to a long and successful pastorate at the Washington Street Baptist Church of Paducah, Ky., which he served for thirteen years. While he was there the church was remodeled at an expense of $6,000.00, and a debt of $6,000 paid and 500 persons added to the membership. He resigned that work in 1921, and returned to West Virginia and locating at Hunting, accepted a call to the Calvary Baptist Church there, and the Central Street Baptist Church at Sylvia in Raleigh County. The work at both places has responded to his leadership. At Huntington a modern new house of worship has been erected and the membership has grown from a mere handful of nine members to 275, while more than a hundred have been added to the work at Sylvia.
He preaches with earnestness and enthusiasm and the people hear him gladly.
He was Secretary Treasurer of the State Mission Board, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention, till elected President of the Convention. He is a Republican though not active in political matters, and among the secret orders, affiliates with the Masons. In his domestic relations Mr. Smith has been called to go through the deep water. His first marriage was to Miss Emma Moyer, of McDowell County, W. Va. She bore him two children, Ida May Smith and Rosa Lee Smith. Mrs. Smith passed away, and he was married a second time to Miss Clara Wright, of Covington, Va. The date of that marriage was October 15, 1912. This union was blessed with two children, Vincent H. and Mary Frances Smith. Their mother passed to her reward on June 11, 1918. H remained a widower Till December 1, 1920, when he was married to Miss Sarah Harris, of Paducah, Ky.
Mr. Smith has observed conditions as a farmer, as a wage earner and as a minister and he is of the opinion that a wise and proper adjustment of wages, with a corresponding re-arrangement of the price of produce to the consumer, would do much to promote progress.
Since coming to Huntington, Mr. Smith has erected a comfortable home on Artisan Ave. He received the degree of D.D. in May 1905, from the Lynchburg Theological Seminary and College, Lynchburg, Va., Prof. G. W. Hayes, President.
In 1922, Dr. Smith was elected President of the West Virginia Baptist State Convention.
History of the American Negro Index
West Virginia History Center