YOUR SILENT NEIGHBORS, Phelps F. Smith, Plumber & Bicycle Salesman
by David K. Leff
Town Poet Laureate and Deputy Town Historian
Phelps F. Smith (1852-1904) was a Collinsville plumber and tinsmith who sold bicycles and stoves. He also repaired and rented bicycles, and sold bicycle wheels and related products. In 1896 he founded P. F. Smith Hardware, Plumbing at 107 Main Street. After his death, the store was operated by his son Edwin J. Smith. It later became known as Eaton Hardware, closing in 2001 after 105 years in business at its longtime location of 122 Main Street.
Smith was active in the Collinsville Congregational Church. When the church library was established, he developed the system for book distribution and served as librarian for many years. He worked to help produce “nearly all of the socials and entertainments given under church auspices,” and was described in a newspaper report as “earnest and faithful.”
Smith was held in high esteem by fellow Collinsville residents and the church was packed for the funeral. His favorite hymns “Some Day, Some Time, We’ll Understand” and “Saved by Grace” were sung by a quartet. A great profusion of flowers filled the church with colors and scents.
A member of the Village Lodge of Masons, about seventy-five members attended the funeral as a group. Afterward, there was a graveside Masonic ceremony “given in an impressive manner.”
Smith was twice married. Rose Hart, his first wife, died in 1883. Mae Hart Thomas, his second wife, survived him. She served as president of the Senior Christian Endeavor Society.
Phelps F. Smith is buried in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.
“Your Silent Neighbors” introduces readers to people out of Canton’s past. Readers are encouraged to visit these gravesites and pay their respects to the people who have helped make our community what it is today.