Biographical / Historical
James Edward Smith:
James Edward Smith and his family were influential members of Louisville's black community. James Edward, also known as J.E., actively participated in the city's business life. In 1920 he co-founded the Domestic Life and Accident Insurance Company, and while in that capacity served as president of the National Negro Insurance Association. Upon retirement in 1962, he founded the Fidelity Industrial Plan, a loan company. He was a founder and member of the Falls City Chamber of Commerce, and a founder of the National Housewives League, a chamber auxiliary. Also politically active, Smith represented Kentucky's 42nd district in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1964 to 1968. During those same years, he was a member of the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Democratic executive committee and was a delegate to the 1964 Democratic presidential convention. Other memberships include the Urban League, of which he was vice chair, and the NAACP. A lifelong member of the Calvary Baptist Church, located at 1368 S. 25th Street, Louisville, he was on its board of trustees for many years. He was born in 1883 and died in 1969.
Like her husband, Verna Smith fully participated in the Louisville community. She was a member and served as president of the National Housewives' League, and took part in the many activities of her church. She served the Democratic Party on both the local and national level, was an alternate delegate to the 1944 Democratic presidential convention and has the distinction of being the first black president of a local Democratic Club and the first black woman co-captain of a precinct. Verna Smith was born in Lyons, Indiana in 1889 and died, Louisville, Kentucky in 1966.
A Louisville native, Charlotte Smith McGill shared her parents’ participation in government and politics. She was a graduate of Howard University and received her master's degree from Indiana State University. She married Hughes McGill in 1949. Mr. McGill served in the Kentucky legislature and is best known as the sponsor of the McGill Fair Housing Bill advocating open housing. At his death in 1970, Charlotte agreed to serve out his unexpired term and in that capacity was a member of the Governor's Special Committee on Reapportionment. In 1971 she was elected to the first of her own three full terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives. For many years, she was vice-chair of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, active in the Democratic Women's Club and an NAACP board member. Business interests included a real estate and insurance business started with her husband, employment with the city of Louisville Sanitation Department, and a member of St. Charles Catholic Church. She died in December 1988.