In 1849 Brother James A. Smith and John Neely Bryan were delegates to the Convention for improving the Trinity River. James A. Smith was initiated in Tannehill Lodge No. 52 on May 31, 1851, Passed on June 28 and Raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on July 26,1851. Reverend Smith was known for his contribution to the spread of the Methodist denomination in the Dallas area.
Reverend James A. Smith came to Texas in 1846 and in that year, was the first preacher to establish a Methodist Church in Dallas County. Brother Smith planted the first cotton plant and constructed the first cotton gin in Dallas. It is written in the Dallas Herald Newspaper that Brother Smith floated the cotton down the Trinity River on rafts to Porters Bluff, near Palestine, Texas, then overland to Houston Texas. On December 8th, 1858, Reverend Smith was appointed the first president of the first annual Dallas County fair, which is now the State Fair of Texas.
Brother James A. Smith died in 1863 and is buried in the Tannehill Masonic Lodge Cemetery (Pioneer Cemetery) in downtown Dallas. Brother James A. Smith is the Namesake for James A. Smith Lodge No. 395 A.F. & A.M. in Farmers Branch, TX.