This post is intended to follow William from his birth to his marriage with what is known, and perhaps mention research yet needed for this period, on the family.
We can start with the 1970 U.S. Census, since William was born 5 May 1869; he usually reported that he was born in Moline, Rock Island Co, Illinois. His family, in the 1870 census, is recorded in Hampton Township (with a Rapid City P.O.), Rock Island Co, which is just immediately east of Moline (the family was in the same Township in 1860, but with a Hampton Village P.O.). In 1870 census there were Michael Smith, 42, farmer, France, and Nellie, wife, 21, Sweden (all parents foreign born) along with three children from Michael's first marriage (wife died): Julia, 12, Mary, 10, Mich, 7 and their son, our William (listed as Willie), 1 (all children born in Illinois). It appears that Nellie's mother, Mary, 53, is also in the household at the time of the census.
The next census in which we can locate this family (nothing his yet been found in 1880... have searched and searched!) is the 1885 Iowa State Census, which has them in Coon Rapids (or Union Township), Carroll Co, Iowa. We do know, however, that they moved to Grand Mound, Clinton County, Iowa, for several years, in between. So, we have "to piece things together" for some more details from various sources. The 1885 census is helpful, to start:
119 124 (from ancestry.com image)
Michel Smith, 55, Germany, Farmer; Alien who has taken out first papers (relates to naturalization)
Nella Smith, 36, Sweden
William Smith, 15, Illinois
Lena Smith, 14, Illinois
Eliseberh Smith, 10, Clinton Co, IA
Benjamine Smith, 8, Clinton Co, IA
Elsaana Smith, 5, Clinton Co, IA
Roberts Smith, 1, Green(e) Co, IA
Grant Smith, 0, Guthrie Co, IA
We can confirm from family records that Johannah Magdalina (Lena) was born 19 Dec 1870 in Moline, as well. Also from family records, we know that the next child in the family was John Joseph Smith, born 31 July 1872, in Grand Mound, Clinton County, Iowa - just across the Mississippi River from Moline, Illinois. I can speculate that since farm land was often rented from March 1 each year, they likely moved in either the spring of '71 or '72 to Iowa. [One other son, Peter Andrew, was born and died in Grand Mound, in 1878, only living a few months.]
Did you notice in the obituary in Post 3 the following: "At the age of 12 years he moved to Carroll County and made his home in this vicinity until the time of his death." William would have been 12 in 1881. From the 1885 census, Eliz, Ben, Elsa were born between 1875 and 1880. Both Greene and Guthrie Counties are adjacent to Carroll County, so that is not contradictory. Looks like we can assume they moved from eastern to western Iowa in 1881 or 1882. At that time, John Joseph would have been ten. When did he move to Nebraska (with whom, why) is a question for more research. Now, consider the three older children by Michael's first wife, Lena.
My notes, from LVene's book: "In early 20's of Black Smallpox on farm south of Grand Mound" regarding son, Michael's death - this would have been about 1882. Perhaps they moved shortly after he died. More research required. Julia married Charles Oehrlein in 1874 and they remained in Grand Mound area. Mary married Adam Mohr in 1878, and they remained in Grand Mound area, as well.
Neither William nor his sister, Lena, married until 1904. From Lena's obituary: "Early in her life she came with her family to Greene County, Iowa, where she has since resided, spending her early years near Old Carrolton before moving to a farm north of Scranton at the age of twenty." That would have been 1890. Ben married a Perry girl in 1900, and lived there. Elsie moved to Nebraska and married and stayed there. Grant, born in Dec 1884, died in May 1885. Robert was married, but his wife (born in 1890), died in 1919 and he apparently moved to California shortly there after and led a long life, dying in Bakersfield in 1953.
We reported, on Labor Day, that William next appeared in the records to date in 1900 US Census as a Well Driller in Coon Rapids. In 1904, he married Ella. We do know from the 1925 census that he completed the eighth grade, which would have likely been prior to 1885. He was probably farming in the area, to help support the family during most of those foggy 1885-1900 years. More information will be sought.
Finally, a few words on the parents, Michael and Nellie, during this latter period. LVene says:
"Michael went to Nebraska in 1886 where he lived for 8 years before he entered (on December 10, 1894, at age 65) Nebraska's Soldiers and Sailors Home at Grand Island, Nebraska because of old age, rheumatism, and general breaking down. Margaret evidently lived south of Carrollton until she moved to Nebraska, in 1898, when she asked for admission into Nebraska's Soldiers and Sailors Home... she had been a resident of Nebraska for only 5 months. A Dr. Hawk from Carroll, Iowa, on December, 1897, stated she had weak lungs, general weakness, her age and unable to learn a living." She died there March 27, 1900, at age 53. He died there April 16, 1902, age 73. Both are buried in the Home Cemetery.
Families are Forever! ;-)