Lawrence Clapp Smith called Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee home and graduated from high school here. He studied Telegraphy and became a Telegraph Operator for the Western Union and in time was put in charge of the Johnson City office. He moved in early 1917 to Corning, Adams County, Iowa and worked again as a Telegraph Operator, but this time for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
Lawrence completed his Registration Form in Corning on 5 June 1917, but still listed his home address as Johnson City, Tennessee. He also stated on the card that he was born in 1891, but his memorial marker in Johnson City reflects 1890. Lawrence enlisted in the United States Army on 14 July 1917 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri with service number 244177 as a Private.
He was assigned to the Headquarters and Service Company, 5th Field Signal Battalion (FSB), Signal Corps at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and promoted to Private First Class on 1 August 1917. The 5th FSB was later reassigned to the 3rd Division and sailed for France in mid February 1918 right after Lawrence was promoted to Corporal on 16 February. They arrived France on 27 February 1918. Lawrence was transferred to Company B on 2 July 1918 and died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds on 9 July.
Lawrence was initially interred in the Belleau Temporary Cemetery, Cemetery #1764 in Plot V, Row 3, Grave 130. He was reinterred on 13 December 1922 to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Plot B, Row 5, Grave 48. Lawrence participated in the Aisne Defensive Unit Campaign from 27 May to 5 June 1918 and also has a Memorial Marker at Oak Hill Cemetery in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Lawrence was the son of Doctor Charles Edgar Smith and Mary Lillie Clapp. His younger brother Charley also served in the United States Army in France during the Great War.