Albert Smith was born in Calumet, Michigan on July 31, 1898. His parents, Albert Smith Sr. and Martha Smith immigrated from Austria and Germany during the late 1800s and settled in Houghton County, Michigan. According to census records, Albert’s father was employed as a saloon keeper in Calumet. By 1910, the family had moved to Keweenaw County, where his father worked as a hoisting engineer in a mine. Soon after, the family relocated yet again to Thompson, Michigan where Albert’s father purchased a farm. The property was located on County Road 149 across from the Thompson Cemetery where Albert Smith Jr. would spend his formative years.
War with Spain
On February 15, 1898 the American battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor. The event would soon become the catalyst for hostilities between the United States and Spain. With growing calls for war from politicians led by Teddy Roosevelt, President William McKinley made his first call for 125,000 troops on April 23, 1898. Michigan responded to the President’s call for troops, by attempting to nationalize the existing Michigan National Guard. The troops were not allowed to be mustered in as units, but instead were required to volunteer individually. Nearly every member of Michigan’s National Guard volunteered for the war.
The Story of the Hat Badge
The above pictured hat badge was generously donated to the Historical Society by Gregory R. Miller in 2015. Mr. Miller writes: “Shortly before the demise of the M. & L.S. R.R. [in 1968], I was taking pictures of the recently painted snow plow. The boxcar color had given way to a bright fire-engine red. I was noticed by an employee of the railroad who asked if I wanted to see the inside. Of Course! He proceeded to show me the snowplow and gave me a tour of their still standing engine house. I was also told of the railroad’s history, shown pictures and given the conductor’s badge as a souvenir.”