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Smith, Hermon Dunlap (1900-) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Smith, Hermon Dunlap (1900-)
Variant Name: Smith, H.D.

Historical Note:

Hermon Dunlap Smith, 1900-1983, was born in Chicago in to Dunlap and Harriet (Flower) Smith.  His mother's father was attorney James Monroe Flower (b. Hannibal, NY, 1835), grad. 1859 from Albany law school; a Madison, WI lawyer and official, 1860-73.  In 1873 Flower came to Chicago and was a director of the Morden Frog and Casting Works.  Harriet Flower Smith later married John V. Farwell, Jr. of Lake Forest (son of the pioneer Chicago wholesale merchant, philanthropist and evangelical--early supporter of the YMCA movement with D.L. Moody). 

Hermon graduated from Harvard in 1921, Phi Beta Kappa.  He had served in 1918-19 in the Army as a lt.  After working for Northern Trust, Chicago, to 1928, he moved to Marsh & McLennan, insurance brokers, and rose there to CEO and Chair.  He held many civic and cultural presidencies, including for the Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society.  At the time of his death he was chair of the Field Foundation of Illinois.  In Lake Forest he was a founder in the 1970s of the Friends of the Lake Forest (town) Library. 

In 1923 he married Ellen Thorne Smith, dau. of Robert J. Thorne, pres. of Montgomery Ward, Chicago mail order merchants, and the family lived in Lake forest with an estate by ca. 1915.  The Smiths lived on Onwentsia Road and in time moved to the J.V. Farwell, Jr. 1894 lake bluff top estate, Ardleigh, on South Stone Gate Road.  When Smith died in 1983 he had three daughters: Deborah Haight, Bethlehem, PA; Ellen Buchan, Belvedere, CA; and Adele Simmons, Amherst, MA.  His son Farwell Dunlap Smith was also a harvard graduate, 1948.  Mrs. Smith died in 1977.

Smith wrote three books:

Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn, 1775-1783.  Chicago: Caxton Club, 1939.

The Des Plaines River, 1673-1940: A Brief Consideration of Its Names and History.  Privately printed, 1940.

The Desbarats Country.  Chicago: Privately printed [Printing Office of Philip Reed], 1950. 

The Smiths, too, were ardent, high-profile supporters of Adlai Stevenson as governor of Illinois and then in 1952 and 1956 Democratic nominee for the presidency. 

Smith was a book collector, with a great collection of midwest maps reflected in his 1940 monograph on the Des Plaines.  This led to his founding the Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library.


Book of Chicagoans....  Chicago: A.N. Marquis, 1905. 

Harvard Club of Chicago.  Alumni Directory, 1967.  Chicago, 1967. 

"Hermon Dunlap Smith dies at 83, Chairman of Insurance firm," New York Times, May 14, 1983. 

"Smith, Hermon Dunlap," Who's Who in America... v. 34 (1966-67), Chicago: A.N. Marquis, 1966, 1982.

Note Author: Arthur H. Miller, ARchivist and Librarian for Special Collections; amiller@lakeforest.edu

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