Phillip Smith was born in Watford, England in 1885. He was educated at Harrow. A try at business convinced him that he was not adapted to life in a city. In 1906 he immigrated to the United States, going first to Kentucky. Upon hearing that the International Livestock Exposition was to be held in Chicago, he decided to attend. He got a job distributing feed to the exhibitors. After the show he got work on a Wyoming sheep ranch.
In 1908 Phil came to California and took a job with Bullard Brothers of Woodland, who were among the top breeders of Rambouillet sheep in America. He graduated to running a dairy farm near Woodland, but in 1912 was seized with wanderlust and went to Australia where he worked on a large sheep station near Lonreach, Queensland.
When the first World War broke out, Phil returned to California and joined the infant US Army Air Force. He soon became a Sergeant-Pilot, one of comparatively few men ever to hold such a rank, and served actively in France. He was a part of the first low-level bombing raid in world history.
After the war, he took up a farm near Esparto and was for some years associated with the Bullard Brothers in producing pure-bred Rambouillets. He bought a sheep ranch near Fort Bragg and decided to make this property his home. The Esparto farm was developed into a fruit ranch managed by his son, Henry.
Phil Smith was one of those rare individuals who apparently had no enemies. Everyone who knew him was proud to acknowledge it and to call him a friend. He represented all that is best in the livestock industry.