REVEREND H. W. SMITH
Rev. Smith | Links | Information
HENRY WESTON SMITH
Born: January 10, 1827, Ellington CT
Died: August 20, 1876, Lawrence County, SD
Buried: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Lawrence Co., South Dakota
Rev. Henry Weston Smith (Preacher Smith) was the first Christian
minister to enter the Black Hills after the gold discovery. He was
earnest and self sacrificing. He located in Deadwood in 1876, built
himself a cabin and worked at mining for a livelihood, preaching
upon the streets and in saloons whenever occasion offered. He went
to the outlying camps upon Sundays to preach there. In a great mining
camp where little regard was given to Christian living he won the
respect of everyone.
More about Rev.
Henry W. Smith's life at Legends of America
morning, August 20, 1876, he preached in Deadwood and then started
to Crook City to preach there. The country was overrun with hostile
Indians returning from the Little Bighorn River to their homes
upon the reservations. While he was upon the ridge three or four
miles northeast of Deadwood, he was shot from ambush by an Indian
and killed. His body was found, an undelivered sermon in his pocket.
Seth Bullock conducted the first Episcopal service for "Preacher
Smith" in Deadwood in August of 1876. Using a borrowed Book
of Common Prayer, he read the Burial Office for him.
Seth Bullock described Rev. Smiths death in his August
21 letter to Rev. J. S. Chadwick in Louisville, Kentucky:
"It becomes my painful duty to inform you that Rev. H.
Weston Smith was killed by the Indians yesterday (Sunday) a short
distance from this place. He had an appointment to preach here
in the afternoon, and was on his way from Crook City when a band
of Indians overtook him and shot him. His body was not mutilated
in any way, and was found in the road a short time after the hellish
deed had been done. His death was instantaneous as he was shot
through the heart. His funeral occurred today from his home in
this town. Everything was done by kind hands, that was possible
under the circumstances, and a Christian burial given him. I was
not personally acquainted with Mr. Smith, but knew him by reputation,
as an earnest worker in his Masters Vineyard. He has preached
here on several occasions, and was the only minister in the Hills.
He died in the harness and his memory will be always with those
who knew him. A letter from you which I found in his home causes
me to convey this sad intelligence to you."
The people of Deadwood have erected a suitable monument at or
near the place of his death to commemorate his worthy life. August
17, 1924 a commemorative ceremony in his honor was head in Deadwood,
in which many pioneers participated. Those present resolved to
make such Memorial Service an annual event.
Henry Weston Smith was born in Ellington, Connecticut, January
10, 1827. At the age of 23 he entered the Methodist ministry.
In 1861 he enlisted in the 52nd Massachusetts Infantry; after
the war, he became a doctor and moved to Louisville, Kentucky
with his wife, Lydia Ann Joslin, and their four children.
Smiths body was laid to rest in Ingleside Cemetery with
Seth Bullock presiding at his service. His body was moved to Mount
Moriah Cemetery at Deadwood and a lifesized statue stands over
his grave. You can find the Preacher Smith Monument, three miles
south of Deadwood on Highway 85
Family trees at Ancestry.com indicate that Rev. Henry W. Smith
was the son of Joshua Weston & Percey/Persey (Galpin) Smith
of Berlin, Hartford Co. CT, and that he married 23 February 1858
to Lydia Ann Joselyn. Information found at the link below states
he married Ruth Yeomans, but I have not found any information
to verify that.
more photographs of Preacher Smith and his tombstone
The Preacher Smith Heritage Center Museum is now located in
the lower level of the First Western Bank at 696 Main Street,
- From City of Deadwood web site
Henry W. Smith - from Blackhillsvisitor.com
Site of Henry W. Smith - from Find-A-Grave
McKinnon , actor who plays "Rev. H.W. Smith" on the
HBO: Deadwood series
- from TvTome.com
Encyclopedia of South Dakota, by Doane Robinson, First Edition,
Pierre, S.D., 1925; page 669-670