Smith, Orrin, 1806-1881.

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Orrin Fruit Smith was born in Winona, Minnesota on March 4, 1854, the second white child known to have been born in Winona County. The son of Alexander Boyd and Catharine McClure Fruit Goddard Smith, he received a public school education and worked for 10 years at the Second National Bank of Winona as clerk, bookkeeper, and correspondence clerk. He then worked for three years for the First National Bank in Minneapolis. Returning to Winona, he spent four seasons as agent for the Diamond Jo Line, a steamboat company. He moved to Chicago during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, remaining until 1894. He then returned to Minnesota where he was employed as a steamboat line agent in St. Paul. He soon moved back to Winona, where he worked as a spring water salesman and local gas company employee. In 1905 he became connected with the accounting department of the Hayes Lucas Lumber Company.

Smith married Marion P. Beach on March 21, 1885 and the couple had three children. A member of the Central Methodist Church, Smith was also an avid local historian, writing and publishing numerous articles on early Winona.

Catharine McClure Fruit was born in White Deer Township, near Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1812, the daughter of Robert and Maria Nevius Fruit. On March 21, 1833 she married Abner S. Goddard, the son of Stephen and Sylvia Goddard. Abner graduated from the Oxford Academy [Oxford, Pennsylvania?], in 1830 and had since then taught in various Pennsylvania schools. Shortly after their marriage, the Goddards traveled by wagon and steamboat to Jacksonville, Illinois where Abner taught until 1835. They then moved back to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where Abner both taught school and grew silk worms. In 1845 they joined several members of Abner's family in Clay County, Missouri, where they remained until 1848. In that year, Abner's poor health forced their move to Freeport, Illinois, where Abner engaged in freighting while making preparations to join the "gold rush" to California. Catharine and the children returned to Pennsylvania to await his return. In 1849, his California trip aborted, Abner moved to New Diggings, Wisconsin, where he taught day school. Catharine and the children joined him there in April 1850. In 1851 the family moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where Abner taught the city's first school and Catharine operated a boarding house. In 1852 they moved again, settling in Winona, Minnesota. Their home soon became a stopping place for new arrivals, leading Catharine to once again open a boarding house. In August 1852 Abner was appointed the city's postmaster and a notary public of Wabsha County. In early September, however, Abner and two of the couple's children contracted a malarial-type fever, Abner dying on September 11 and the children soon after.

Abner and Catharine had seven children during their marriage. The first four, James Ralph (b. 1835), Laird Smith (b. 1837), Sylvia Maria (b. 1839), and Peter Nevius (b. 1841), all died of fever in 1842. Of the last three, Lucretia Jane (birthdate unknown) and William Allison (b. ca. 1849), died along with their father in 1852. The only surviving child, Charles Edwin, is discussed in more detail below.

Catharine continued to operate her boarding house following Abner's death. In August 1853 she married Alexander Boyd Smith, a former lumberman and river pilot. During that summer he had become owner of the "Minnesota House" and in 1855 he erected the "Wabasha Prairie House." Shortly after the latter's construction he left the building one evening and was never seen again. It was generally supposed that he met with some type of foul play. The couple had one child, Orrin Fruit Smith. Catharine retired from the hotel business in 1860 but continued to run her private boarding house for many years. She died in Winona on June 2, 1888.

Charles Edwin Goddard, son of Abner S. and Catharine McClure Fruit Goddard, was born in Union County, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1845 and came with his parents to Minnesota in May 1852. On April 29, 1861, although underage, he was mustered into the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, Company K, and served until April 1864, participating in the Civil War battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. He was wounded in the latter but soon returned to his company.

Following the war he returned to Winona where he engaged in a variety of business pursuits and, on November 7, 1868, was elected Winona County Register of Deeds. He died on December 9, 1868 following a short illness.

Biographical information was taken from the collection and from Joseph A. A. Burnquist, Minnesota and Its People (1924) IV, pp. 187, 191.

See also: Minnesota History Bulletin, 3:97, 526, and 5:308, 377 and Minnesota History, 6:205, 266, 293; 7:40; 9:177; 10:205; 11:158n; 13:102, 196; and 16:334.

From the guide to the Orrin F. Smith and family papers., 1829-1932., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Smith, Orrin F. (Orrin Fruit), 1854-1939. Orrin F. Smith and family papers, 1829-1932. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Orrin F. Smith and family papers., 1829-1932. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Goff, Mary C. Beginnings in Winona County, 1925 June 17 and 18. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ball, John. person
associatedWith Beaver, Jesse. person
associatedWith Beaver, Peter. person
associatedWith Beaver, Thomas. person
associatedWith Berry, Charles Henry, 1823-1900 person
associatedWith Chamberlain family. family
associatedWith Ely, Charles E. person
associatedWith Ely, Edward, b. 1812 person
associatedWith Ely, Helen Mar. person
associatedWith First Minnesota Regiment Volunteers Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Geddes family. family
associatedWith Goddard, Abner S., d. 1852 person
associatedWith Goddard, Charley, d. 1868 person
associatedWith Goddard family. family
associatedWith Goddard, Stephen, d. 1850? person
associatedWith Goddard, Sylvia. person
associatedWith Goff, Mary C. person
associatedWith Laird, John Chamberlain, 1825-1902 person
associatedWith Laird, Maria Nevius Fruit, 1790-1862 person
associatedWith Laird, Robert Hayes, 1796-1885 person
associatedWith McCool, Joseph, 1794-1884 person
associatedWith Nevius family. family
associatedWith Nevius, John, 1802-1875 person
associatedWith New York (State). Militia. Horse Artillery Regiment, 3rd. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Alexander Boyd. person
associatedWith Smith, Catharine Fruit Goddard, 1812-1888 person
associatedWith Smith, Orrin F. (Orrin Fruit), 1854-1939. person
associatedWith United States. Army. Military life. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Minnesota Infantry Regiment, 1st, 1861-1864. Company K. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota corporateBody
associatedWith Winona County Old Settlers' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Winona Daily Republican. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Minnesota City (Minn.).
Winona (Minn.)
New Diggings (Wis.).
Mississippi River
Lewisburg (Pa.).
United States
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862
Family life
Freight and freightage
Frontier and pioneer life
Frontier and pioneer life
Lead mines and mining
Postal service
Women pioneers


Birth 1806

Death 1881

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Ark ID: w6m073jg

SNAC ID: 26381777