Born in the state of Georgia, Smith’s occupations included:
Early in life he volunteered in the service of the Republic of Texas as a soldier, and also took part in the struggle for Mexican independence.
In his autobiography he tells of a growing plague more dangerous than the constant prowling of the murderers and thieves, something he termed the "mob spirit". Smith wrote that "interposing between his own respected friends in protecting the prisoner of the law, to be forced to drop the muzzle of his own pistol covering the face of his nearest advancing friend, crazed with temporary madness, is the most terrible ordeal of an officer."
In 1857 he was elected to the office of assessor. When running for sheriff again in 1871 as a Democratic candidate, Smith was soundly defeated by Republican nominee Nicholas Hunsacker.