Adventures of a York County native
A few months ago I did a post on Henry Smeych, who claimed to have captured John Wilkes Booth’s horse on which Booth escaped after assassinating President Lincoln. At 87, Smeych, born in Chanceford Township in October 1837, talked at length about his adventurous life in a lengthy piece in the October 5, 1924 York Dispatch.
According to the article:
“At one time Smeych was closely associated with General Grant, who was a constant user of cigars. The general one day, while away from the commissary, ran out of his favorite weed and Smeych, who had a box, willingly gave him half of them, receiving the favor of the soldier and his promise that the cigars would be returned as soon as he reached a store. But, according to Smeych, the general never returned the cigars.”
Smeych said he served in the Quarter Master department of the U.S. Army around Norfolk and Alexandria. He helped “to outfit a fleet to cross the bay to Whitehouse Landing to meet the army coming from the Wilderness campaign,” helped build a railroad in the area and had charge of a site for Civil War prisoners of war.
He shared that during his life he learned the miller’s trade as a boy, became a cooper and a carpenter. He worked in New Orleans and Cuba and settled later in life in Lancaster where he ran a coal business for 25 years and served on the city council and school board.
Finally, the article states:
“His last extended trip from Lancaster was made in 1903 when he went west in search of gold. He did not have much luck. On his way home he visited the Chicago, the St. Louis and the Jamestown fairs.”
According to a photo on www.findagrave.com Smeych died in January 1926 and is buried at Woodward Hill cemetery in Lancaster. The tombstone names him as Col. Henry Smeych. I haven’t yet found the regiment in which he served or if the title was actual or honorary.