Horace P. Smart
Genius in some particular line of industry or branch of commerce has been the means of bringing'success to comparatively few men; it is rather the capacity, physical and mental, to accept conditions as they are, and to use them and turn them to the best advantage, that enables men to stand out prominently in the varied walks of life. This is eminently true of the career of Horace Pearson Smart, of Savannah, Georgia; a man who, though now past the prime of life, is still versatile in his abilities and strong in action as a factor in the lumber commerce of the Southeast. As a young man he went to the south country and grew with its growth, and to him must be given credit for assisting in the development that has been witnessed there in the last two decades. His success through years of toil has been of his own making, and is largely due to his versatility of mind and his faculty of mastering the diverse details of many interests.
Mr. Smart is a native of the Granite State, the ruggedness of which is suggested in his strong character. He was born at Great Falls, New Hampshire, in 1834. His father was Jacob Smart, a skilled machinist who had charge of Swampscot machine shops, South New Market, New Hampshire. The son, after obtaining an education in the public schools, was apprenticed, as were also his two brothers, as machinist in the shop where his father could oversee his work. Young Horace was an unusually observing youth and became deeply interested in mechanics. He was possessed of practical ideas and given to exercising them even during his apprenticeship.
Prior to 1850 there were practically no railroads, such as we know them today, in the South, and when Horace Smart's attention was drawn to that part of the United States and he had made up his mind to go there, the journey had to be made by steamboat and stage. It was not difficult for the young man to find employment in the new field, as first-class mechanics were few. His first job was on the old South Carolina Railroad as an engineer and machinist, and he held that position until 1854. Going to Savannah in that year he became an engineer on the Georgia Central Railway, remaining with that road for four years and gaining a reputation as a first-class engineman. Leaving this company, he became master mechanic with the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad.
In 1860 Mr. Smart was commissioned to take to Shreveport the first locomotive ever carried into that part of the country. The engine was conveyed by steamboat from New Orleans. He took an active part in the extension of the road through Marshall, Texas, and was thus one of the pioneers in railroad building in the Southwest. His railroad experience was not confined to the South, however, for in 1857 he was engaged for a time in running a construction train used in building the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway from Gilman to Chenoa, Illinois.
While engaged in construction work in Louisiana, in 1859, Mr. Smart came in touch with the lumber business. His first venture in the industry was the buying of a small interest in a cypress mill in Madison Parish. While this did not require his attention, it gave him a taste of a business in which he was later to be so prominent and so popular a factor.
Reverting to the outline of Mr. Smart's railroad experience in Texas, he finished his labors there in 1862. From Marshall he went to Cuba, where he took charge of the machinery on a sugar plantation. For seven years he filled this position and added to his store of knowledge of mechanics and agriculture and learned something of a country of which little was known in those days. It was because of the outbreak of the ten-year war that he returned to the south country. His next position was as superintendent of the mechanical department of the Studebaker plant at South Bend, Indiana, where he remained until 1871.
Apparently the time had come, Mr. Smart thought, for him to settle down to a permanent business, for his experiences had thus far been in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Indiana and on the island of Cuba. With this determination, in 1871 he went back to Georgia, locating in Emanuel County, and engaged in the lumber business with his brother, A.G. Smart. The firm was H.P. Smart & Bro. and the business was continued until 1898, although about 1892 it was merged into that of the H.P. Smart Lumber Company.
He gave up the active management of H.P. Smart & Bro. in 1877 and associated himself with Major D. C. Bacon, now deceased, in the lumber business. The firm of D.C. Bacon & Co. was formed at Savannah, Georgia, and continued until 1900. Mr. Smart's connection with this firm marked his branching out in the industry. The firm owned and operated the Amoskeag Lumber Company, at Amoskeag, Georgia; the Pinopolis Saw Mill Company, at Pinopolis, Georgia, and the Vale-Royal Manufacturing Company, at Savannah. In 1899 Mr. Smart exchanged his interest in the Pinopolis Saw Mill Company for Major Bacon's interest in the Vale-Royal Manufacturing Company, and in 1902 Mr. Smart sold that company's entire business to the Hilton-Dodge Lumber Company, of Darien, Georgia.
As director in several lumber and financial institutions, Mr. Smart is still active in commercial affairs in the South. He is a director of the Southern Pine Lumber Company, also of the Southern Bank of Georgia, at Savannah, and a director and member of the executive committee of the Georgia Southern & Florida Railway Company, and was chairman of the bondholders' committee of that road when it was reorganized a few years ago. He is also in the directorate of the Savannah Investment Company, the Chatham Real Estate & Improvement Company, of Savannah, and the Georgia Telephone Company.
In 1902 Mr. Smart decided to give up his active interests in the lumber business and devote a year or more to travel and recreation. Starting the latter part of July of that year he went to the Pacific Coast, traveling from one end to the other, and then sailed across the Pacific to Japan. From there he went to China, India, Egypt, Italy and the Continent. The trip was planned to occupy nearly a year and a half and Mr. Smart returned in almost as good health and spirits as when as a boy he first reached Savannah.
Mr. Smart is a Mason of high standing and a member of Alee Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He is a loyal Hoo-Hoo, having been initiated September 8, 1893, at Chicago. During the world's fair in Chicago he was president of the Pickwick Club.
He married Miss Jane Rice, of Savannah, May 27, 1871. They have one son and four daughters--H.P. Smart, Junior, H. Marion, Ysabel, Sara G. and Jane M. Smart.
There is one trait of Mr. Smart's character that has especially endeared him to all with whom he has come in contact in business or social circles he has never wearied of life nor for a moment given outward show of his distrust of his fellowmen. He has never forgotten how to laugh, and his is a laugh that is infectious the expression of a heart full of joy and well meaning. Time by no means has laid a heavy hand upon this citizen of the sunny southland, and he is in perfect health and declares he has never been sick in his life. Wherever he goes he can study and appreciate new scenes with all the enthusiasm of youth.