French Olin Smith was born August 1, 1871, in Lavaca County, Texas. His father, Robert Lusk Smith, was a doctor and a native of Mississippi. His mother, Theresa Smith (nee Smith), was born in Seguin, Texas. Theresa's family were land surveyors who moved from Virginia to Iowa and then to Texas.
On May 8, 1894, French married Nora Thornton and they had five children. Nora, born September 20, 1876, in Lavaca County, Texas, was the daughter of Wiley Thornton and Johnnie Elizabeth McKinney Thornton who lived at Big Hill before moving to Gonzales. Nora's ancestors were from Mississippi and Kentucky and came to Texas to settle in DeWitt's Colony.
French purchased the lot for this lovely Queen Anne style cottage in April, 1901, and completed the construction that same year. The entire structure is cypress milled in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and shipped in through the port of Indianola. The grading stamp from the mill is still visible on some of the beams. Most of the interior woodwork is original as is the hardware and etched glass panels in the front and back door. It was restored in the late 1970's.
In 1905 French went into partnership with his brothers-in-law, W.H. Kokernot and Stuart Johnson. They operated a wholesale distributorship for Libby, McNeal and Libby, grocery suppliers. The business burned and, having no insurance, French went to work as a bookkeeper for R.A. Walshak who had a mercantile business in Dilworth, Texas.