Earl Thomas “Hammer” Smith is the seventh winner of the Patrick Henry Award presented by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Eminence Rotary Club and the Henry County Historical Society. Hammer’s contributions to Henry County cover many years and range from teaching social studies at Henry County High School to being mayor of New Castle and serving on both the volunteer fire department and emergency squad.
Among the many positions he has had since arriving in Henry County in 1961 are director of pupil and personnel from 1966-1989, self-employed contractor of remodeling for the Farmers Home Administration, serving as treasurer and elder of the New Castle Christian Church, director of the Henry County Civil Defense, Fire Chief of New Castle Fire Department, and president of the Henry County Jaycees. He was elected to the New Castle Board of Trustees and served as chair before being appointed mayor by Governor Martha Layne Collins.
Not only has Hammer been active in his community, but his service to people from all over the United States has contributed to Henry County’s Historical Society being known as a “go to” place for genealogical information. Hammer’s volunteer work as curator and genealogist at the History Center has helped many people looking for their roots. He is also the editor of the Quarterly Review, published by the Historical Society. His knowledge of history of the area is extensive, and he has a huge selection of books by Henry county authors that he gladly shares with Leadership Henry County and other groups who want information of the wide variety of material available on state and local history.
Hammer has been married to June Stivers Smith for more than 50 years, and they have one son, Dr. Douglas Clayton Smith who is head of the sociology department at Western Kentucky University.
The Patrick Henry Award was the brainchild of John W. Smith, Jr. who felt that a Henry Countian of the Year award should be established. John asked the Chamber of Commerce to work toward making this happen, and in 2000, Wendell Berry received the first award. Other recipients are Carl L. Rucker, John Berry Jr., John W. Smith Jr., Claude A. Berry Jr., and Martha Tarry Simpson. Former State Senator John Berry Jr. said upon being notified of his selection, “There is no greater honor than being honored by those at home.”
The dinner honoring Hammer will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Eminence Christian Church Fellowship Hall. Our Best Restaurant will cater the meal and the invited speaker is Byron Crawford.
Reservations may be made by calling the Chamber of Commerce at (502) 845-0806, or by stopping by the Chamber at 11 North Main. Tickets are $20. Since the caterer has to have an exact number for the dinner, no tickets will be sold at the door or after Sept. 20. All are invited to attend and help the sponsoring organizations pay honor to this dedicated man who has done and continues to contribute to the positive image of Henry County.