John M. Smyth worked for the John M. Smyth Co., one of the leading furniture stores in Chicago. Smyth started his second-hand furniture store in the 1860s.
The great fire in 1871 burned the majority of Chicago, but Smyth continued to operate his furniture store and lent furniture to people that had theirs destroyed in the fire.
Smith was more than a furniture owner. He was also a strong advocate for the people of Chicago. He became the trustee for the people who donated money to build the city library. He also had a school named after him for his work with the library fund. The school is called the John M. Smyth Elementary School.