George worked in several family businesses while in Ireland, primarily their cloth store and the management of tenant farms. Economic disasters and ultimately the devastation of potato crops in the late 1840s led the family to the decision to immigrate to the United States. Georgeís brother James preceded them there, and apparently gave positive accounts of his experiences. When the rest of the family did come, James had likely met his demise in the wilds of the West between St. Louis and California, perhaps in search of gold.
The Smiths lived for several years in Dublin, although George remained for the most part near Kells to oversee the last of the tenant farms. They sailed on the ship Caleb Grimshaw of the Black Ball line, at the end of June, 1848, and after about 48 days at sea, arrived in New York City (the following summer the ship caught fire and was destroyed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean). They were advised to go to Ohio if they wanted to farm. They traveled on the Canal to Cincinatti. The family may have farmed there. He met Anna Gooch at their church. She was a Sunday school teacher. Not long after they married, they embarked on Annaís quest for the ideal church and minister. They moved many times in the greater New York City area. Son Oscar was born in Brooklyn in 1865 and George appears in the Brooklyn city directory the following year with the occupation "hats" at 743 Myrtle Ave., and a residence on Hart St. near Marcy St. The latter address is given on the death certificate of John Bennett Smith. The family moved to Jersey City, and George appears in the Manhattan city directory of 1867 in connection with the Holbrook Manufacturing Co., a soap-making firm that had been incorporated the year before with Francis Holbrook at its head. There were two business addresses: 57 Broadway and 373 W. 24th St., the former probably being offices.
By 1870, the company was at 34 Church St. and 537 W. 24th St. In the 1876/1877 New York City Directory there is an additional address of 44 West Broadway. The Smiths were living in Yonkers. The 1880 census lists the family at 57 E. 5th St., Plainfield, NJ. "Clara" (Aunt Clarissa (Stoddart) Gooch) was living with them. After the fire, the factory moved to 466-470 Washington St., then to Coles and 18th St. in Jersey City, NJ, in the early 19th century. The family was at 77 Grand St., Jersey City in 1883. About 189-, the family settled for a time in Montclair, NJ. They lived in a large, stone house at the corner of Union St. and So. Fullerton Ave., which no longer stands
Summers were a very active time for the family. George purchased land on Kimballís Island, Maine and began a tradition of summers there for many of his descendants. Stanton Smith says that George and Anna lived in Lakemont, NY, but a letter from Grandma Smith to M. T. Smith was written from "Drumconnell Farm" in Dundee. George and Anna died within eight months of each other in 1911. George's obituary appears in the 21 April issue of the Penn Yan Democrat. Anna's appears in the 1 December issue.
1891 copartnership and corporation directory of NYC, 1891: John Dickson and GRK Smith, HMF Co., not incorporated, 470 Washington
the New York Times reported that on 12 July 1896, the G R K Smith family of South Fullerton Ave. had gone to Maine