By Spence Heddens
George C. Smith was born in 1848 in Cooper County, Missouri, and died in 1906, in Kansas City, Mo., at the age of 57. He was the son of Spotswood Dandridge Smith and was raised on the family farm. In 1880 he married Mattie Heddens of St. Joseph, Mo., daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. William Irving Heddens. Together George and Mattie raised three children: Irving Heddens Smith, George C. Smith Jr. and Catherine Smith Dodge.
At age 21, George Smith began in sales in Atchison, Kan., and shortly thereafter moved to St. Joseph, Mo., where he accepted a position in a wholesale dry goods store as an assistant salesman and buyer. Within three years he became a partner in the enterprise; six years later he sold his interest and moved to Kansas City, where he entered the wholesale grocery business. He partnered with his brother-in-law, William I. Heddens Jr., doing business as Smith-Heddens & Company. Five years later he sold out to Heddens and moved back to St. Joseph. There he entered into partnership with John S. Brittain in the wholesale dry goods business. Together, Heddens and Brittain bought out a company that manufactured overalls and shirts.
George C. Smith
Source: JCHS Strauss-Peyton Collection
In 1893 Smith became a partner with James McCord, president of the Nave-McCord Mercantile Company of St. Joseph, and John Townsend of the Townsend-Wyatt Dry Goods Company. The name of the new partnership became the Smith-McCord Dry Goods Company. They opened a wholesale dry goods establishment at the corner of Seventh and Wyandotte streets in Kansas City and in 1903 erected a six-story building at the corner of Seventh and Central streets. By that time they were known as Smith-McCord-Townsend Dry Goods Company and had become one of the largest dry goods concerns in the city. George C. Smith served as president and CEO.
Smith was a director of the Commercial Club, the Convention Hall and the Provident Association. He was elected president of the Commercial Club but was forced to resign due to failing health. He was known as an astute businessman who took an interest in the prosperity of Kansas City. Well-respected by the general public, he had the sincere admiration and trust of his peers. He especially enjoyed helping young men get started in the business world. He was a devoted family man whose greatest joy was being surrounded by his family at home.
Advertisement for Smith-McCord Dry Goods Co.
Source: Kansas City Museum