Documenting the American South Logo
Smith, Hildreth Hosea

Hildreth Hosea Smith (1820-1908) was born in Deerfield, NH, to Martha Ambrose and William True Smith, a farmer. Educated at Foxcroft Academy in Maine, he graduated from Bowdoin College in 1842, taught in Maine and Pennsylvania, and received an MA from Bowdoin in 1845. In 1851 he accepted a professorship of mathematics, natural sciences, and modern languages at Catawba College in Newton, NC, becoming the College's president in 1853. That same year he married Mary Brent Hoke. Joining the University faculty in 1857, Smith held the professorship of modern languages until 1868. Students called him "Old Tige" because in their view he possessed the great physical strength of a tiger. After leaving the University he operated an academy in Lincolnton, NC, for a few years, then organized public schools in Atlanta, GA; Shelbyville, TN; and Houston, TX. Returning to Atlanta, Smith became in 1888 the literary editor of the Atlanta Journal, a post he held for twelve years. The Smiths had four children; a son, Hoke Smith, became governor of Georgia and secretary of the interior under President Cleveland (Battle 1:660; Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 5:377-78).