Biography

William Carlton Smith served in World War I for two years as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Corps. From about 1902 to his death in 1930, Smith practiced medicine and surgery in Salem, Oregon.

Born in Salem, Oregon on 1874[i]. Smith received his degree from the University of Oregon, graduating in 1897, and received his medical degree from St. Louis Medical University[ii], from which he graduated in 1898.

Smith met his wife, Carlotta C. Johnston, in Salem, Oregon, they married in 1902. Smith began his medical practice in Salem the same year. Smith taught anatomy at Willamette University for 10 years[iii].

On March 24, 1917, Smith was commissioned as First Lieutenant of the Medical Corps[iv]. On May 25, 1917, Smith was sent to train at Fort Riley, Kansas. On September 8, 1917, Smith was sent to train at Camp Lewis, Tacoma, Washington. Then, on October 30, 1917, Smith joined the 363rd Field Hospital Company, 316th Sanitary Train, 91st Division. The 91st Divisions first operation was in France where they ended the German First Guard Division and pushed through three other enemy lines[v]. During his two years in the army, Smith traveled to France and Belgium.

After serving in the war, Smith was elected commander of the American Legion, a war veterans’ organization. Smith served in the Oregon Legislature[vi] until his death. Smith went to Portland, Oregon for treatment on gallstones, he died suddenly following surgery on December 24, 1930 in Portland, Oregon[vii].

Subject Terms;

          American Legion: an organization chartered in 1919 to provide support and care to veterans[viii]

Sanitary Train: the role of the sanitary train was to provide medical care for the entire division[ix]


[i] “Dr W. Carlton Smith.” Ancestry.com. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60525&h=33668201&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=bfX33&_phstart=successSource.

[ii] 2012.003.0008.

[iii] “School Yearbook.” Ancestry. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=1265&h=253362290&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=bfX22&_phstart=successSource.

[iv] 2012.003.0007.

[v] Denfeld, Duane Colt. “Wild West Division: Washington in World War I.” Wild West Division: Washington in World War I. June 19, 2014. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://www.historylink.org/File/10648.

[vi] “35th Oregon Legislative Assembly.” Wikipedia. October 29, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/35th_Oregon_Legislative_Assembly.

[vii] “25 Dec 1930, Page 1 – Statesman Journal at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/80202343/?terms=w carlton smith.

[viii] “History.” The American Legion. Accessed July 23, 2019. https://www.legion.org/mission.

[ix] George Thompson. “Battlefield Medicine: Ambulance Section.” University of Kansas Medical Center. July 26, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019. http://www.kumc.edu/wwi/index-of-essays/ambulance-section.html.

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 1987.035
William Carlton Smith was born in Salem, Oregon in 1874. He spent most of his life in Salem, aside from a few years spent away for college and a couple oversees serving in World War I. After the war, Smith came back and served as a surgeon until his death in 1930. Along with medicine, Smith served in the Oregon Legislature and was elected commander of the American Legion.

Highlights of the Collection

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 1987.035.0021This uniform jacket was worn by Smith during his service in the army. Smith was commissioned as First Lieutenant of the Medical Corps in 1917. First Lieutenant is a step above Second Lieutenant and a step below Captain[1]. He was given the nickname “the Skipper.”


[1] Bajza, Stephen. “Army Officer Ranks.” Military.com. Accessed August 13, 2019. https://www.military.com/army/officer-ranks.html.

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 1987.035.0041

Smith spent two years in the army serving as a First Lieutenant of the Medical Corps. During his time he traveled around the United States for training at Fort Riley, Kansas and Camp Lewis, Tacoma, Washington[1]. As well as traveling overseas to Belgium and France.

This appears to be related to his time spent during World War I. A church, possibly in France or Belgium, showing the wars destruction across the land. This image and others were donated to the research center along with the W. Carlton Smith collection.


[1] 1987.035

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 1987.035.0044

The 91st Division was successful in destroying the German First Guard Division and pushing through three enemy lines. The division helped drive the Germans east in the Battle of Lys and the Escaut[1] in Belgium from October 20 to November 11 1918.

Another image that was donated with the collection.This image is from Smith’s time in the war, it appears to be a field and what could possibly be a trench.


[1] “”Battle of the Lys and the Escaut”.” Revolvy. Accessed August 13, 2019. https://www.revolvy.com/page/Battle-of-the-Lys-and-the-Escaut.

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 2012.003.0008This is a photo copy of Smith’s medical license. On July 7th, 1897, Smith received his medical license to practice medicine and surgery in the State of Oregon[1]. In 1898, he became an Assistant in the Women’s Clinic for his studies in “gynecology and the diseases of women” from St. Louis Medical College[2]. Smith became a Registered Assistant in the “practice of pharmacy and the sale of poisons” in the State of Oregon in 1914[3].


[1] 2012.003.0010

[2] 2012.003.0008

[3] 2012.003.0004

W. Carlton Smith Collection. 1987.035“When the good steamship Olympic left her moorings at Pier 59, and her propellers began to churn the murky waters of New York harbor, the dream of her human cargo was about to be realized. At last they were off for France and the great world war.” Smith left behind a 39-page handwritten and typed historical telling of the 363rd Field Hospital companies appearance in battle.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The W. Carlton Smith collection includes personal photographs, postcards, letters and journal entries; personal belongings from his time in World War I. The collection also comprises scrapbooks, yearbooks, and other documents providing further documentation of his life.

This collection includes two trunks containing items Smith used while serving in the army; hats, jacket and trousers, socks, scarves, various bags for washing, water, or holding, a canteen, pins, dog tags, and military issued books.

In this collection there are also photographs and postcards that appear to have been taken or collected by Smith. The photographs show scenes from France, some appear to be on the battle field. The postcards in the collection are from different camps that Smith was sent to during his time in the army.

This collection was donated to the Willamette Heritage Center throughout the early 1960’s, the late 1980’s and the 2000’s around 2002, 2006, and 2012.

This finding aide was researched and created by Shaelie Burgess during the fall of 2019.