Education and Entrepreneurship

Aaron Smith's parents, though poor, determined to provide their son with opportunities to learn. But country schools of the day often met for only a few months a year, and were inconsistent in their quality. Eventually, the family moved from Arkansas into parts of East Texas, balancing Smith's schooling needs with his father's ability to earn a living for their large family in each area.

"By the time I was 16 we had decided on law as my profession and I began to look around for books," Smith wrote. "Along with the law I studied at home English literature, logic, psychology, but never cared as much for history as I should. This reading was done while continuing my attendance at the country school which lasted only three to four months of the year. At 20 I had read the law course through and was well on the way through a second reading when we moved to Mt. Pleasant. At the April 1889 term of the district court, at the age of 20, I was licensed as an attorney at law."

A true entrepreneur, Smith actively participated in newspaper and magazine publishing. He owned, published and/or edited the Titus County Times (later Mt. Pleasant Times-Review), the Weatherford Democrat, the National Cooperator and Farm Journal, the Transmitter (a telephone journal), Dry Cleaning & Laundry Progress, Automatic World, Southern Display News, and Southern Florist & Nurseryman.

"The two outstanding reasons which took me into the newspaper field were, first, that I found it very inconvenient to appear in court because I had to call on someone to handle the books and papers to be used; and second, I had always wanted to be a writer," he wrote. "I had an idea, too, that I might carry on in both, since neither was a very big job in that county. At least that was what I thought before I got into the newspaper. Then I found that to carry out my idea of making a county paper more than merely a local gossip sheet required much time and a great deal of reading and thought."

Alongside Smith's publishing ventures, he also founded a commercial printing company that became nationally known and continued to operate for several generations after his death.