Monday, 22 March 2010

Uriah Smith

Here's something completely different, a question about proving a genealogical identity. About the only anglo-celtic connection is the name Smith.

This amazing invention is attributed to Uriah Smith of Battle Creek, Michigan. It was featured in Time magazine in 2007 in an article on the 50 worst cars of all time. www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1658545_1657686_1657662,00.html

Intrigued, and thinking maybe it was a hoax, I googled Uriah Smith and up came a Wikipedia article Uriah Smith (May 3, 1832 - March 6, 1903) was a Seventh-day Adventist author and editor who worked for the Review and Herald (now the Adventist Review) for 50 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriah_Smith. It mentions that in 1844 Smith has his right leg amputated. Could the inventor and clergyman be the same person?

On ancestry.com I found several patents issued to Uriah Smith, including one in 1899 for "a new and original design for a vehicle body providing at its front end with a forwardly projecting figure of a horses head", with the illustration shown here. So with a contemporary patent the Time item isn't a hoax.

Other patents registered to Uriah Smith from Battle Creek, are for a combination camp chair and cane, tablet for rapid writing, spectacles, improvement in folding seats for school desks, and improvement in artificial legs.

In the US 1880 and 1900 censuses a Uriah Smith is found living in Battle Creek, MI, occupation clergyman, with birth about 1832. In 1870 he is living with his parents in Battle Creek with his father's occupation described as selling patent rights.

Based on this evidence how strong is the case that the clergyman and inventor are one and the same person?

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