Publication: Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire
New York, NY, United States
Joseph Brodie Smith was born at Richville, St. Lawrence county, New York, April 6, 1861, being the ninth child of the marriage of William P. and Sarah (Hungerford) Smith. He was educated in the Union Free School of his native village, and subsequently took a course in higher mathematics to fit himself to become an expert electrician. Early in life he became deeply interested in electrical science, and in 1878 constructed a telegraph line between two small villages in New York state. In 1880 he removed to Manchester. New Hampshire, where he has since resided. At first he engaged in the drug business with his eldest brother, Amasa D. Smith. He made himself a thorough master of the business, and passed the state examinations, requisite to become a registered pharmacist in both New Hampshire and New York. During all his career in the drug business, Mr. Smith never for an instant lost his interest in the subject of electricity and still continued his studies, and so laid the foundation of a knowledge of the subject by which he has become a recognized authority in applied electricity. In 1885, finding the field of electrical work more alluring than the mortar and pestle, he retired from the drug business and began to do electrical contracting of all kinds, and was appointed superintendent of the municipal fire alarm telegraph service, a position which he held for about two years.
Mr. Smith has had a hand in the development of most of the electrical business in and around Manchester, excepting only telephones and telegraph. The Manchester Electric Light Company was the pioneer in the business of furnishing electric lights and power, but it was not left alone in the field for any great length of time. The Ben Franklin Electric Light Company was organized as a rival, and Mr. Smith was its first superintendent, and when the consolidation of the two companies was effected, he became superintendent of the Manchester company. This company was afterwards sold out to the Manchester Traction, Light and Power Company, which, by owning all the stock of the Manchester Street Railway, the Manchester and Nashua Street Railway, Manchester and Deny Street Railway, and all the electric light and Power companies in the neighborhood, and possessing valuable water power on the Merrimack and Piscataquog rivers, has acquired control of the electrical situation in Manchester and vicinity. Mr. Smith was superintendent of the Manchester Electric Light Company until 1896, when he resigned and took a trip of several months to Europe. On his return he was chosen general manager of the same company, and in 1901, when the Manchester Traction, Light and Power Company acquired control, he was elected a director and general manager, and in 1905 he was chosen vice president and has since occupied those positions with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the stockholders and the public with whom he deals. He is assistant treasurer and general manager of the Manchester Street Railway, also general manager of the Manchester and Nashua Street Railway, and the Manchester and Derry Street Railway, and is treasurer of the Brodie Electrical Company of Manchester, which is engaged in the manufacture of electrical specialties, of which Mr. Smith is the inventor. He is financially interested in several lighting companies and street railways in other parts of the country. He is an associate member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.
However, Mr. Smith's labors are not limited to the electrical business. He has other interests in Manchester. He is a trustee of the Manchester Savings Bank, one of the largest savings institutions of the state, and vice president of the Manchester Garment Company. He assists in every movement for the welfare of the city. He is one of the foremost workers in the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences. In politics he is a staunch Republican, but has never sought or held an elective office. Socially he is a member and director of the Derryfield Club, a leading social club of New Hampshire. In Odd Fellowship he is a charter member of Ridgely Lodge and a member of Wonolancet Encampment, and of Canton Ridgely. But it is in the work of the ancient and honorable fraternity of Free Masonry that Mr. Smith has found his chief diversion from his daily duties. He is a member of Washington Lodge, Mount Hohreb Royal Arch Chapter, Adoniram Council, and Trinity Commandery of Knights Templar, all of Manchester. He is a past master of Adoniram Council, and a past grand master of the Grand Council of New Hampshire. In the bodies working the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, he has received signal honors. He is a member of the bodies at Nashua, New Hampshire, and received the degrees up to and including the thirty-second. In 1905, at Indianapolis, Indiana, he was given the last degree of the Scottish Rite, the thirty-third, a privilege and an honor which comes to but few Masons. He is a trustee of the Masonic Home, which is located in this city.
Mr. Smith is unmarried, but maintains a comfortable home, where his aged mother and sisters reside with him.