NEWARK — It started when the huge sign went up marking the entrance to Pardee Smith Estates on Pardy Smith Road. People started asking why the name, “Pardee,” was spelled wrong. But was it?
Local history buff and Village Trustee John Zornow says no.
Current signs along the road spell it “Pardy Smith,” but historical references to the road’s namesake show the road signs are incorrect.
The late Bob Hoeltzel, a former Newark-Arcadia historian, researched the matter and discovered Daniel Pardee Smith was a prominent man in the early 1900s. Before his death on Oct. 1, 1928, Daniel Pardee Smith was the former president of the First National Bank, Reed Manufacturing Company and Heat, Light and Power Company. According to Hoeltzel’s research, Daniel’s parents, Daniel and Deborah Smith, owned a farm on the road in the outskirts of the old Thompsontown rural school district where Daniel, middle name Pardee, was born. Hoeltzel said it was likely that, without nicknames like Junior or Chip, the young Daniel was called by his first and middle names to differentiate father and son.
“The name given him in childhood, ‘Pardee Smith,’ however, stuck with him throughout his lifetime,” Hoeltzel wrote, “and was the name by which he was known, at least by reputation, by virtually everyone in Newark.”
According to his obituary in an old 1928 Newark Courier, he was “considered one of the best farmers in this vicinity.” He gave up farming in 1894, and together with Ruben Reed and Frank Garlock, they organized Reed Manufacturing, which became a leading industry in Newark. Later, with Garlock, he started the Heat, Light and Power Co., and together they also purchased the First National Bank. Pardee Smith also became a director on the organization of the Mora Automobile Company in Newark.
Many have asked, what difference does it make?
Zornow said it matters.
“It’s important to get it correct,” said Zornow, who recalled as a reporter misspelling Peirson Avenue and receiving a call from a relative for whom the road was named. “He hollered in the phone, ‘There’s no pie in Peirson!’ I’ll never forget.”
Zornow is joined in his belief that the signs should be changed by fellow history buff Barbara Meeks and Arcadia Town Historian Chris Davis. Meeks noted names are identifiers, and in turn, help maintain social structure. To answer what is the importance of a name, Meeks says it’s “everything” and “spelling counts.”
"Having a street or a road named after you by members of your community has to be one of the highest honors a person can receive,” Davis said. “It is only fitting then that the street be spelled correctly on road signs.”
Zornow hopes to also educate the community about the importance of keeping historical facts accurate.
Davis would surmise that Pardee Smith, like anyone else, would be offended by the slight of seeing the name misspelled.
“D.P. Smith's credits in his community of Newark are many,” he said. “It is a discredit to the memory of the man, and to any relatives who may someday their family name not spelled correctly.”