When Lars Olsson was seven years old, the consul Carl Smith came to collect a debt. Smith was a wholesaler and one of Karlshamn’s most prominent people. As Lars was alone at home, he guided the visitor around the farm. Smith was impressed by the boy’s intelligence, and before he left he said “If something happens to your father, you can always come to us.”
Life on the farm was hard. Lars’ father sold spirits but it was not going very well. Soon his expenses were bigger than his income. Only one year after the family had moved to the farm, their belongings had to be used to pay off debts. In 1845, the house was put up for auction and the family moved to Bräkne-Hoby. Well, everyone except Lars. He knocked on Carl Smith’s door and said, “The consul may take me, because it’s over with father”.
Consul Smith kept his promise and welcomed the young boy to the family. Lars moved in to their home on Drottninggatan and started school. Staying with the family proved difficult at times, however. Carl Smith’s wife found it hard to deal with the bright but mischievous boy. During a visit to his parents in Bräkne-Hoby, Lars found out that he was not allowed to return to Karlshamn with the Smith family. Lars was very stubborn, however. He ran after the carriage almost all the way into town. After falling down completely exhausted, Smith’s wife took pity on him and he was allowed to come with them after all.
As an adult, Lars Olsson took the surname of his foster parents, and this is how Lars Olsson became L.O. Smith.