Born in Fort Defiance, Ohio October 25, 1824, he eventually arrived in Sutter’s Fort, California in 1845. He joined the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma in 1846 and served under Captain Fremont until the U. S. prevailed over Mexico. For his service, General Riley, Military Governor of California, rewarded him with an appointment as Alcalde of Mission San Jose in the year of 1849.

Henry bought 800 acres of land on the Arroyo de Alameda where he later laid out the town of New Haven. In 1851 he took a trip back to Michigan to visit relatives. He returned with 19 people from Michigan and Indiana. While he was away, he had a home built in New Haven.

In May 1852, Henry Smith partnered with A. M. Church in the operation of a general store on the banks of the Alameda Creek in New Haven and continued to prosper. He invested heavily in potatoes, as did many people in township. By the end of year, potatoes were everywhere, the glut ruined many farmers and investors.

Friends encouraged Henry to go into politics; he did, and was elected to the state legislature for Santa Clara County in 1852.

Henry Smith became disenchanted with the representation Washington Township was given from the county seat at San Jose. He felt our needs were overlooked. In the state legislature he found a fellow representative who felt same way about his county, Contra Costa County, just across the Alameda Creek from Santa Clara County. This large county included present day Oakland and its suburbs. But its representation came from Martinez. This gentleman’s name was Horace Carpentier.

On March 10, 1853, Henry Smith petitioned the state legislature to create a new county carved out of Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties to be called Alameda County. On March 25, 1853, the state legislature passed the bill to create Alameda County, although over the next several weeks, slight revisions were made to the original bill.

Next came the task of locating the county seat. Horace Carpentier wanted the county seat in Oakland; Henry Smith wanted it in New Haven. At this time in history, southern Alameda County held a larger population than northern Alameda County. The vote for the county seat went to New Haven 19 – 17.

However, the county seat was named in honor of the former governor of California, Juan B. Alvarado. The name New Haven was dropped and our town became known as Alvarado. The town name of Union City to the west eventually faded away and it just became a district of Alvarado.

The next piece of business for Alvarado was choosing the location of the county seat. The second floor of A. M. Church & Henry Smith’s general store was chosen as the county seat. The store stood on Levee Street at the west end of today’s Smith Street. On June 6, 1853, the first court of sessions was held in Alvarado.

Henry Smith was elected to the Board of Supervisor’s for Alameda County in 1855 and was appointed as chairman of the board. In 1859 he lost in his bid for re-election. He eventually left for Nevada for a few years, returned to Alameda County to live in Livermore where he died on November 24, 1875, at the age of 51.

He will always be remembered for his service to Washington Township and the creation of Alameda County. He is known as the “Father of Alameda County.”