Before coming to MSNS, Smith worked with the U.S. Coast Survey to construct light houses along the Atlantic coast. It was while doing this work that Smith contracted a fever, and so he came to Baltimore to recover.
Through a mutual friend he met Mary Borgman who was at that time the principal of the Model School and had worked at MSNS since 1867. Borgman also ran a boarding house for MSNS students and held salons on Friday evenings. Smith became a regular guest at these receptions and he and Borgman shared an enthusiastic interest in botany.
It was at Borgman’s urging that Smith applied for the position at MSNS.
Eventually Smith became full Professor, but his work extended beyond the sciences. For a bit, he took over the duties of Drawing instructor. He trained male students in Military Tactics as well as manual training such as carpentry. He was instrumental in the school’s Arbor Day festivities. Outside of his duties at MSNS, he was named Superintendent of the Samuel Ready School, a school for orphaned Maryland girls. He was a member of the Botany Club of Baltimore and Secretary for the Photographic Society of Baltimore. And he became a member and curator for the Maryland Academy of Sciences, the precursor to the Maryland Science Center.
Tragically, Smith was killed in a train accident in June of 1892.
Smith Hall, the first science building constructed on campus in 1965 was named in his honor.
Smith and MSNS
Because of Smith's interest in photography, we have early visual records of life at MSNS. He created a photo album as a Christmas present for Principal M. A. Newell and filled it with photos of faculty, classes, and students.