Ohio State Navbar

About the Department

The Smith Family


Dr. Smith and his wife had two sons and two daughters (44). A fifth child (sex unknown) died in infancy in 1851 (8). Both sons died early in their adult lives--Charles at age twenty-one in 1874, and Samuel at thirty in 1878 (18; 21). Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, married General James M. Comly, a prominent Columbus soldier, attorney and journalist. Shortly after becoming President, Rutherford B. Hayes appointed General Comly to the post of Minister to the Hawaiian Islands (1 1). One of their sons, Smith M. Comly, became President of the National Fuel Company of Columbus. In 1915 Smith M. Comly was appointed a trustee of the OSU College of Medicine--the same position held by his grandfather sixty-seven years earlier (12).

The Smiths' younger daughter, Frances, studied music in Europe and sang grand opera there under the stage name "Fannie Manetti." With her husband, Mr. John Jackson, a music critic for the New York World, she is said to have translated the first Wagnerian operas presented in English at the New York Metropolitan Opera House (25).

William Dean Howells, the prolific author who spent the first part of his life in Ohio, was a long-time friend of the Smith family. His autobiographical work, Years of My Youth, offers a glimpse of family life in the Smith household. Howells noted: "It was not only a literary house, it was even more a musical house, where there was both singing and playing, with interludes of laughter and joking in all forms of seemly mirth, with the whole family till the little boys of it stumbled up the stairs half asleep (sic)" (26, p. 141).

Dr. Smith was described as a man of liberal education and large professional attainments. He was known as an eloquent speaker and as a skillful diagnostician and physician. He was also an ardent abolitionist, outspoken in his dislike for slavery (35, p. 87). His attitude toward slavery is also recorded by Howells, who wrote that with some men antislavery was a matter of politics "but with Dr. S it is a matter of ethics" (26, p. 146). In later years, Dr. Smith and his son-in-law, General Comly, were co-owners of the Ohio State Journal (35, p. 428), a newspaper with a long antislavery tradition.


* Taken from Pinta, E.R. (1994). A History of Psychiatry at The Ohio State University, 1847-1993, pp. 3-12

25 This statement regarding Frances Smith Jackson ("Fannie Manetti") and her husband has been difficult to verify. It is found on page one of the Ohio State Journal of April 25, 1926 ("Grand Opera Singer Will Be Buried Here") (25). Ms. Jackson was eighty years old when she died in New Jersey on April 22nd. She married John P. Jackson in 1880 (22).

Mander and Mitchenson credit Mr. Jackson with English translations of several Wagner operas (30, pp. 48, 63, 73, 86, 187). These were presented in London and at the New York Academy of Music in the 1870s and 1880s, but no mention is made of the New York Metropolitan Opera House. The first fully-staged Wagner opera presented in translation at the Metropolitan Opera House was in 1920--after World War I--and this translation was by Henry E. Krehbiel (27; 39). However, abbreviated concert versions of Wagner operas had been previously presented on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, e.g., "Parsifal" on March 4, 1886. Parts of these performances were in English, and perhaps these concert versions were the ones referred to in the Ohio State Journal (30,p. 187; 31; 32).