SMULL, John
Back Up Next

SMULL, JOHN AUGUSTUS, the second born son of John Smull and Harriet Pauli, was born at Harrisburg, Pa., September 1, 1832. Mr. Smullís parents came to Harrisburg shortly after their marriage, and there all their children were born . The death of Johnís father, in 1841, left his widowed mother dependent upon her own exertions and those of the eldest son, Le Van, who was then in his fourteenth year. An acquaintance with a number of members of the Legislature emboldened her to secure a position for him which would, in some measure, aid in her maintenance. Le Van was appointed page to the Speaker, the first one known to the legislative body. In the spring of 1848 John was tendered the appointment of a midshipman in the United States navy, and would have accepted the position but for the opposition of his mother. Shortly after he concluded to learn the art of printing, and apprenticed himself at the Telegraph, then under the editorial supervision of Theo. Fenn, Esq., a noted journalist at that day. On the 14th of April, 1849, Le Van Smull died, and the vacant position of page was secured for his brother John, then in his seventeenth year. In 1861 the office of resident clerk was created. The duties of this position were multiform, not only during the session of the Legislature, but in the recess. With an energy and industry most remarkable, affairs in this department were so systematically arranged that everything went as clock work. He could tell everything relating to legislation, the progress of each bill, and to all inquiries would give the most satisfactory replies, his memory being unusually retentive. During the closing days of the session he was ready for all queries as to the status of every species of legislation before the House, so familiar did he make himself with whatever appertained to the business of the Assembly. For a number of years Matthiasí and Zieglerís Manuels were the guide books of legislative practice. In 1867 Mr. Smull enlarged the ordinary Directory and Rules of the General Assembly by the compilation of the "Legislative Handbook," which has been published annually since 1873 as a State document. A vade mecum of information relative to the official life of the Commonwealth, it is the book of reference for all knowledge thereof. The work has been imitated in other States, and even by the National Government, but none of them can be compared to "Smullís HandBook" in usefulness. The necessities of legislation required the compilation of the work, and it is this necessity which perpetuates the labors of the lamented editor.

The duties of Mr. Smullís official position did by no means prevent him from taking an active interest in every public enterprise, and the citizens of his native town hold him in grateful remembrance for the energy he displayed in contributing to the advancement of its industrial and business enterprises. He was largely instrumental in the erection of the city passenger railway, of which he was a director and secretary from the date of its organization. He was secretary of the Harrisburg Cemetary Association, and president of the Harrisburg Brick and Tile Company. He was largely interested in several land and building associations, the Harrisburg car works, Farmersí Bank, and a memberof the Fort Hunter road commission. He served many years as one of the inspectors of the Dauphin county prison and was the efficient secretary of the board: was vice-president of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society, in the management of which he tookan active part, being a working mamber of committees at all annual exhibitions the past fifteen years. The foregoing are only a few of the enterprises and institutions in which Mr. Smull was prominent. Others equally as important found in him an able advocate and friend.

On Wednesday, July 9, 1879, he left home for Asbury Park, in the hope of recuperating his lost energies, with the intention of stopping over at Philadelphia until Thursday noon. The day and night were exceedingly warm, and whatever may have been the cause, the next morning he was found dead in his bed. The announcement of the death of John A. Smull was received with sorrow at Harrisburg and elsewhere, for, as Colonel McClure fitly said in his editorial, "many a good and prominent citizen of Pennsylvania could have been better spared than John A. Smull, and his sudden death will carry grief to every part of the State." So widely known was he that not a newspaper in the Commonwealth but had some tender expression of regret over his death. At the following session of the Legislature memorial services were held, and several eulogistic addresses were delivered concerning the deceased parliamentarian, and the House of Representatives unanimously ordered a memorial volume to be published comprising a biography of Mr. Smull and the proceedings had in that body relating thereto. Mr. Smull never married, and at his death his estate went to a cousin, who died shortly after, and to his brother, William Pauli Smull.

 

Dorothy Bumbaugh

Sidney, Indiana page 340 & 343