Site Map | Sources | Contact |

Who’s Who » Biographical Sketches (1930) »

Henry A. Smeed (Printers)

Henry A. Smeed, dean of Rochester printers and proof readers, celebrated his eightieth birthday Wednesday, March 5th, in a spirit of felicitations and greetings seldom seen in a printing office.

The octogenarian observed his birthday at his desk in the composing room of The Times-Union, with which he has been identified 63 years, with few exceptions.

Mr. Smeed was born in Rochester, March 5, 1850, of English descent, a a house on Pearl Street, long since razed to provide a site for Monroe High School. In his boyhood he was a good drummer, but at the age of 11 met his first and only failure, when he was balked in an attempt to enlist as a drummer boy in the Civil War. At 15 the rush was toward the oil district of Pennsylvania and young Henry started for Titusville. Whatever he planned as a prospector was concluded in 1867 for at the age of 17 he entered the plant of the Titusville Herald, where he learned the craft which has held him since.

At 23 the printer returned to Rochester and on July 4, 1873, entered the employ of the old Union & Advertiser, one of the predecessors of The Times-Union as a compositor, and was advanced to proof reader, make-up, and assistant foreman. This was over a period of 45 unbroken years. In 1918 when the Times and the old Union were merged, Mr. Smeed retired, but soon accepted a position on the Rochester Herald. Later declining because of the night hours, he took a position as proof reader in the job department of the Democrat and Chronicle. He left his post in 1921, and for three years resisted the call of printers’ ink, on July 5, 1925, resuming his work on the Times-Union.

He has seen the development of the newspaper publishing from the old Washington hand press to the present mammoth presses, the introduction of cylinder presses, stereotyping and the linotype machines. He has set articles on the Greeley, Tilden and Grant presidential campaigns.

Mr. Smeed, a widower, resides with his married daughter, Mrs. Eliot Dickinson, at 212 Earl Street, where a little surprise was given Wednesday night.

In behalf of the composing room staff of the Times-Union chapel, Julius Loos presented Mr, Smeed with a basket of spring flowers and later in the day a more lasting gift in the form of a pipe was made. Early in the morning Mr. Smeed passed the cigars, and good ones, too. Among his many friends to greet him was Roy C. Kates, who presented Mr. Smeed with a box of cigars.