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Norman R. Smith Collection
1999.17  
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Description
Norman R Smith's son Chester V Smith died on November 9, 1918, of pneumonia at Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; this appears to be the inspiration that drove his devoted father to begin a series of diaries, titled "The Bridge," written from 1918 through 1938. Smith recorded daily activities, including the weather, from his Moonstone Beach retirement home as he boldly visioned the future development of the town of Trinidad. The diaries also were a vehicle for Smith to express his continuing grief at the loss of his son, as virtually every entry contains a variant of this (from Jan 1, 1933): "…My Dear Dad: Trust God and hold fast onto me. I am with you and the Lord is with You. Be not discouraged nor cast down, all is Well…..Chester". Norman R Smith was a well-traveled surveyor and engineer "with pipe dreams." His father, Victor Smith, of the town of Port Angeles WA, was lost on the Brother Jonathan shipwreck off Crescent City. Norman Smith also wrote a family history: "Victory: Biography of Victor Smith" was published serially in the Port Angeles Evening News in 1950.
Background
After a very full and eventful life primarily in California, Washington (D.C. and State), Alaska and British Columbia, Norman R. Smith, born in Ohio in 1857, "retired" to the "summer resort community" that he had developed at Moonstone Beach, Humboldt County from his base in Red Bluff, California about 1914. This was near where his father, Victor Smith, well known in Port Angeles and Port Townsend WA, was lost in the wreck of the Brother Jonathan off Crescent City in 1865. Norman studied civil engineering in San Francisco and worked as a surveyor in Port Angeles and Port Townsend before returning to California. He married May Smith in 1890; both had been previously married. Confusingly, May's first husband was also named Smith (George Venable Smith), and they had a daughter, Lois, born in 1883. Lois lived with Norman and May and their son Chester V. Smith, born in 1891 in Port Angeles. Chester worked closely with his father in the development of the Moonstone Beach property; unfortunately, he died on November 9, 1918 of pneumonia at Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, having just been accepted in the Service. Victor's death appears to be the inspiration that drove his father to begin the series of daily diaries that he titled "The Bridge." Norman, May and Lois continued to live in both Red Bluff and Moonstone Beach, where they each occupied different houses. Norman had great visions for the major development of an "Industrial Colony on Trinidad Harbor," as he described in a 20 page "booster" publication in 1924, complete with photos by Lois Smith. In 1934, in response to a request from his sister Nellie in Berkeley, Norman wrote her a series of letters detailing the family history, and in particular the exploits of their father Victor Smith and his relationship to the town of Port Angeles, WA. These letters resurfaced in 1950 when Jack Henson from the Port Angeles Evening News interviewed Norman and published them in the newspaper from June 9 through October 1950 as "Victor: Biography of Victor Smith." Norman died in 1954 at 96; he was preceded in death by May in 1946 and Lois died in 1968.
Extent
3 cubic feet (5 boxes)
Restrictions
Copyright has not been assigned to Humboldt State University. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce in any format, please contact the Special Collections Librarian.
Availability
Open for research by appointment.