J.U. Smith or John Ulrich Smith emigrated
    from Switzerland when he was a young man
    and came to America, fi rst landing in New
    York then making his way to Ohio, where he
    met and married his wife, Martha.

    While in Ohio, he took to business as his
    profession. He then made his way to Kansas
    and set up in the mercantile business and
    later moved on to Ellsworth, Kansas, selling
    supplies to the railroad. John and Martha
    eventually settled in Miami County,
    establishing his vineyard northwest of Paola
    by the time he was about 39, in 1869. Three
    years later he produced his first wine from his
    farm’s winery. Unfortunately his dreams as a
    vintner ended in 1881 with the passing of the
    Kansas prohibition. His obituary listed that
    his only failure in life was when he had to rip
    up his vineyard.

    Known locally as “Wine Smith”, J.U. Smith
    continued to prosper in other business
    ventures until he passed away in 1899.

    The 1878 Miami County Atlas lists him as one
    of the top businesses in the county,
    specializing in wine production and cattle. He
    and his wife never had any children to carry
    on his farm or business, but did raise a niece
    who later married and moved to Kansas City.

    His obituary stated that he left a large estate
    to his wife, left no debt to anyone and
    continually donated to local county charities.

    As a testament to his wealth after his death,
    his wife Martha donated $10,000 to have the
    current stone Paola Free Library built in
    memorial to him.

    The library that today serves town’s
    residents has a brass memorial plate hanging
    above its fireplace dedicating the library to
    John Ulrich Smith.
“Wine Smith”, aka John U. Smith
inside first Library
First Free Library
Ladies of the Library
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Hannes Poetter Design and Sponsorship - all rights reserved
Miami County Historical Museum - 12 E. Peoria, - Paola, KS 66071 Phone: 913-294-4940
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