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Unheralded Union Soldier—L.A. Tycoon Presented by Dean Smith

  • Los Angeles FamilySearch Library @ The Los Angeles Mormon Temple 1591 East Temple Way Los Angeles, CA, 90024 United States (map)

Come to our January 14th meeting to hear our President, Dean Smith, tell the fascinating story of Harrison Gray Otis. Do you know the story of a poor, uneducated boy from Ohio, who bought a one-quarter interest in the “Los Angeles Daily Times,” for $6,000, in 1882, became its editor, and wrote its editorials and local news, for a weekly salary of $15?  Then you might know about his becoming one of the most influential men, of his time, in Los Angeles, and about the financial empire he built; but, do you know why he may be best known for the bombing of the “L.A. Times” building, in 1910; or, why he has a college of art and design named after him? More importantly, have you ever read about this man’s service in the 12th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in the Civil War, where he enlisted as a private, and rose to colonel; or, about his service in the Spanish American War, where he successfully commanded a brigade, in 1899, at the age of 62?

Dean Smith is a third generation Los Angeles native.  He graduated from George Washington High School in 1964, and earned Bachelor of Arts (1968), and Master of Arts (1970), degrees in Political Science, from the University of California, at Riverside. 

His career in public service, with Los Angeles County, began in 1970.  Over his 34 years with the County, Dean managed a variety of administrative functions in five different departments.  After retiring, Dean held several part-time jobs, including consulting, and working on the 2010 Census.

Dean’s interest in the Civil War began on a trip to Virginia, in 1999, where he visited the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville battlefields.  Since then, he has visited battlefields at Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, and Spotsylvania Courthouse, as well as Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Port Hudson, in Louisiana. He is a member of the Civil War Trust; the Commander of the Gen. W. S. Rosecrans Camp No. 2, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the President of the Los Angeles Civil War Round Table, since 2012; and, a member of the Board of Directors, of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum, as their Secretary, since 2017.

He has given presentations to Civil War Round Tables in Los Angeles, the West San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Pasadena, and the Inland Empire; his SUVCW Camp; the Sons of the American Revolution; audiences at the “Battle Drum” play, at the Sierra Madre Playhouse; the Malaga Cove Library History Group; P.E.O. Chapter E; DUVCW Tent 91; and the Solheim Sr. Community’s Men’s Club.  

His topics include: 

  • The Largest Unknown Battle of the Civil War—Pleasant Hill, LA, April 9, 1864

  • Gen. W.S Rosecrans—Forgotten Hero

  • James Garfield—Unsung Hero and Martyred President

  • The U.S. Sanitary Commission

  • Financing the Civil War