Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Eli_Smith
From the Century Dictionary website. http://triggs.djvu.org/century-dictionary.com/histw.php?sub=smith
Benjamin Eli Smith 1857-1913
Fascination with language is a disposition that came naturally to Benjamin Eli Smith, the Managing Editor of the first (1891) edition of the Century Dictionary, Editor of its Cyclopedia of Names, and its Atlas, and Editor-in-Chief of the revised edition of 1911. He was the posthumous son, and sixth child, of Eli Smith, a Congregational missionary born in Northford, Connecticut, noted traveler in Greece, Armenia and Palestine, and scholar of Arabic, who, besides many other linguistic studies, made an important modern translation of the Bible into Arabic, completed after his death by Cornelius Van Dyke.1
Benjamin Smith was born in Beirut, then Syria, and brought as an infant to Amherst, Massachusetts by his mother Mehitable Simpkins Butler Smith. After high school, Smith went to Amherst College, where he was a graduate student and instructor in mathematics, before going to Göttingen, and later to Leipzig. He was an assistant in philosophy at Johns Hopkins before being invited in 1882 to join as Managing Editor the staff of The Century Dictionary and Cyclopaedia then being organized under the supervision of William Dwight Whitney.2
As it turned out, so successful was Smith in this work that he devoted the rest of his too brief life to it. As managing editor he had direct charge of all the details of preparation, revision and publication of the dictionary, which began to appear in 1889. He also had a large share in the definitions, aided, as the biographer says, "by his wide knowledge, logical habits of thought, and command of clear, terse English."
Smith was from the start the editor of the Century Cyclopaedia of Names, hardly rivaled since then by modern compendia of "names in geography, biography, mythology, history, ethnology, art, archaeology, fiction etc" as the title page reads. He also superintended the preparation of the Atlas, and the Supplement bringing the dictionary up-to-date in 1909. After Whitney's death in 1894, Smith was Editor-in-Chief of the new edition, that appeared in 1911.
Benjamin Smith was married in 1883 to Cornelia Shelton, and had one daughter, Miriam, later the wife of Dr. Thomas Russell of New Haven. He lived in New Rochelle, New York, where he participated in civic affairs, mainly education, and in local literary activities. In addition to his much earlier revision (1880) of J. H. Seelye's translation of Albert Schwegler's History of Philosophy in Epitome, he wrote charming as well as learned introductions to a popular series of pocket-size volumes of Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Pascal, Lincoln, and others. He died in 1913.
1 An account of Eli Smith's travels in Armenia is given in "Looking for the Armenians," by Margaret R. Leavy, New Haven, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1992. His contribution to Edward Robinson's "Biblical Researches in Palestine," (2nd ed.) London, John Murray, is amply acknowledged by the author.
2 The Dictionary of American Biography, from which much of this note has been drawn, alleges that Benjamin Smith's appointment to this prodigious task at the age of only 24 was "probably owed to his family connection with Roswell Smith of the Century Company." Unless they had some primordial Smith in common ancestry, there was no such connection.
3 Mrs. Leavy, who generously contributed this article, is the granddaughter of Benjamin Eli Smith.
Arrived as an infant at age 0 on the ship Vanderbilt in 1857 to the USA. "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/27RG-9GS : accessed 14 Dec 2013), B Eli Smith, 1857.
New Rochelle, Westchester Co., New York, USA, "United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M54W-1Y3 : accessed 28 February 2015), Benjamin E Smith, New Rochelle Ward 3, Westchester, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 88, sheet 8A, family 160, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,375,104.
New Rochelle, Westchester Co., New York, USA, "New York, State Census, 1905," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MVBB-9LG : accessed 14 Dec 2013), Benjamin E Smith, 1905.
New Rochelle, Westchester Co., New York, USA, "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MSPW-C3T : accessed 14 Dec 2013), Benjamin E Smith, New Rochelle City Ward 3, Westchester, New York, United States; citing sheet , family 125, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241176.
South Windsor, Hartford Co., Connecticut, USA, "United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MN7Z-4L4 : accessed 14 Dec 2013), Benjamin Smith in household of Hetty B Smith, Connecticut, United States; citing p. , family 107, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000545603.
South Windsor, Hartford Co., Connecticut, USA, "United States Census, 1860," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHRM-9PJ : accessed 14 Dec 2013), Benjamin E Smith, , Hartford, Connecticut; citing "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population," Fold3.com; p. 92, family 758, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 803079.
New York, Manhattan Co., New York, USA, "New York, Births and Christenings, 1640-1962," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FDGF-NLJ : accessed 28 February 2015), Benjamin Eli Smith in entry for Miriam Gray Smith, 26 Feb 1890; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,323,500.
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