Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous

by Dick B.

© 2007 by Anonymous All rights reserved

[Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Dick B.’s forthcoming book, Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous]


Chapter 2


Dr. Bob’s Birthplace and Boyhood Home


A picture of Dr. Bob’s Birthplace is included in our resource binder with a copy his birth certificate. This chapter simply summarizes the details about the family which lived at the Summer Street home which is now managed by the Kingdom Recovery Center, Inc.


·       Robert Holbrook Smith was born in his family’s home at 297 Summer Street in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.


·       His date of birth was August 8, 1879. His date of death was November 16, 1950.


·       His parents were Judge Walter Perrin Smith and Susan Amanda (Holbrook) Smith.


·       The parents were married in Lyndon, Vermont, on August 15, 1876.


·       Included in the resources are the genealogies of the Smith and Holbrook families. To be noted is the fact that Susan Amanda Holbrook’s father, Perley R. Holbrook, was a physician (M.D.)


·       Bob had an older foster sister named Amanda Northrupp who later became a history professor at Hunter College, New York.


·       Records make clear that Bob:


Regularly attended three North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, services each week, and often attended the Wednesday prayer meeting.


Regularly participated in that church’s Christian Endeavor Society meetings.


Attended St. Johnsbury Academy from 1894 to 1898.


Managed the St. Johnsbury Academy Glee Club and sang in it.


Belonged to the Adelphian Literary Society at the Academy.


Participated in debates at St. Johnsbury Academy.


Delivered the Oration at his own graduation ceremony.


Stated he had received excellent training in the Bible as a youngster. Support for his statement can be identified in his North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, Sunday School participation, and in his involvement in the Bible studies, prayer meetings, and Quiet Hour observances of the Christian Endeavor Society. Also in St. Johnsbury Academy’s required weekly church attendance, Bible study, prayer, daily Chapel, YMCA lectures, religious education studies, and Christian textbooks. Not to be overlooked is the stress which the Congregational church placed on Bible education in the home; and both of Bob’s parents were much involved in teaching at the North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury.


May have been a participant in the Christian revivals, evangelistic meetings, Gospel meetings, YMCA meetings, and Christian Endeavor community outreach that figured prominently in the years of his youth in St. Johnsbury.


Could reasonably be expected to have had contact with the godly Fairbanks family members so deeply involved in Christian activities, Christian education, revivals, the YMCA, and the St. Johnsbury Academy. The Fairbanks family was involved in the church life of North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, from the very first—founding the church; serving as lifetime deacons, and as Sunday School teachers and superintendents; serving on the building committees; participating in the construction of the present church edifice; and actually singing in the choir. Many of the family members were Christian ministers. Many were involved in the YMCA and the town revivals. And most were heavily involved in the Christian setting at St. Johnsbury Academy. Even the deeds to St. Johnsbury Academy property imposed requirements as to religion and Congregationalism..


·       Walter Perrin Smith (Bob’s father) was born at Hardwick in Caledonia County, Vermont, on November 4, 1841, and was:


Prepared for college at the Hardwick and Morrisville academies and graduated from the University of Vermont in 1867. He studied law at the University of Michigan and with Powers & Gleed at Morrisville, and was admitted to the Lamoille county bar at the May term, 1869. He formed a partnership in St. Johnsbury with Hon. Jonathan Ross.


Elected judge of probate of Caledonia County in 1882 and held that position during Bob Smith’s youth.


A lifetime Deacon of the North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, and was listed books of the time as “influential in the political and religious life of St. Johnsbury.”


A Sunday School teacher at the North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, for thirty years.


A regular attendee of church services and meetings, where the family, including Bob Smith, were all members of the church.


With his family (including Bob), a regular attendee of Sunday Morning services, Sunday School in the afternoon, evening services, and Wednesday prayer meetings.


An Examiner at St. Johnsbury Academy, which Bob Smith attended.


A president and chairman of the local YMCA.


State attorney for Caledonia County from 1874-76.


Elected to the legislature from St. Johnbury in 1880 and served on the judiciary and other important committees.


Superintendent of schools.


For several years a director in Merchants National Bank of St. Johnsbury; a  director of the First National Bank; and a trustee, and vice-president, of Passumpsic Savings Bank.


Debater, and delivered addresses on memorial and other public occasions.


President of Carrick Bros. Granite Co.


In politics, he was always a Republican, and in religious faith, a Congregationalist.


June 26, 1855, daughter of Perley Rogers Holbrook, M.D., and Maria Louisa (Lawrence)

Holbrook, and was:


            A student of private schools.


            A graduate of St. Johnsbury Academy in 1874.


            A teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy for two years.


            Member of the Board of Library Commissioners of Vermont.


            President of St. Johnsbury Woman’s Club, 1896-98


            Member of North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury.


            From 1892, superintendent of the home department of the church.


            Later, the head of the intermediate and primary departments of the Sunday School.


            In 1888, a participant in the musical activities of the church, becoming part of a double quartet.


            A “reporter”--at the church’s centennial banquet--on the many activities organized by the church: (1) the St. Johnsbury Female Cent Society--which furnished the church, equipped the pulpit, bought the Bible, furnished the communion table, and donated to the American Board of foreign missions; (2) the Women’s Sewing Society; (3) the Juvenile Sewing Society; (4) the Ladies’ Missionary Society; (5) the Ladies’ Benevolent Society; (6) the Girl’s Benevolent Circle; (7) Christian Helpers; (8) “Do Ye the Next Thing”; and (9) sixty years of young people’s societies, including Pioneer Band, Misses Circle, King’s Daughters, Busy Bee Society, Young People’s Guild, and Round Table Circle.


            One who reported to the church, “The Christian Endeavor Society which started in 1887 has continued throughout the years as the leading young people’s organization. . . .” In 1891, there was a Junior Society of Christian Endeavor.


            Not only a teacher at the St. Johnsbury Academy; but was also a member of the alumni executive committee; and was a speaker at several important historical celebrations at St. Johnsbury Academy.


            Wrote two chapters of the history of St. Johnsbury Academy.


·       Bob Smith met his bride-to-be (Miss Anne Ripley) at a St. Johnsbury Academy dance. Many years later, the two were married and took up residence in Akron, Ohio.

·       Dr. Bob loved St. Johnsbury so much that he made a point of visiting family and friends there each year and was insistent, at the time of his impending death, that he be taken there for one final trip.