Who was Leland Smith? Museum finds unique story

By February 22, 2022May 14th, 2022In The News

Katherine Simpson / Los Altos Town Crier

While staff from the Los Altos History Museum were digging for updates for the new permanent exhibition, researchers uncovered the story of Leland “Lee” S. Smith, a Black man who served as a founding member of the city’s volunteer fire department in the 1930s.

Margie Alving, a collections volunteer at the museum, first discovered a reference to Smith in the book “Early Los Altos and Los Altos Hills” while searching for stories of diverse residents for the “Town and Neighborhoods” section of the permanent exhibition.

“His role as family driver, handyman and early firefighter piqued our interest,” she said.

Alving and fellow volunteers kept digging until eventually they connected the dots between Smith and other references to him associated with the fire departmentcont.


Leland Smith, second from right, was a founding member of the Los Altos Volunteer Fire Department having joined in 1928. Photo 1948