For seventy-three years Silas Packard has been a resident of Decatur--a record perhaps paralleled by that of no other citizen here. The little village in which his boyhood days were passed has developed into a city of metropolitan proportions and advantages, being among the largest in the state and with its improvement Mr. Packard has kept abreast, always maintaining a place among its leading business men until today he is accounted one of its most prominent capitalists. He early had the sagacity and prescience to discern the eminence which the future had in store for this great and growing country and acting in accordance with the dictates of his faith and judgment, he has garnered in the fullness of time a generous harvest which is the just recompense of indomitable industry, spotless integrity and marvelous enterprise.
Silas Packard claims Vermont as the state of his nativity, his birth having occurred there on the 15th of April, 1829, but when he was only about a year and a half old he was brought to Decatur, Illinois, by his parents, Silas and Lydia (Tracey) Packard, the former a native of the Green Mountain state, while the latter was born in Massachusetts. The family was of English extraction. Silas Packard, Sr., was a farmer by occupation, but he was not long permitted to engage in that pursuit here or to enjoy his new home for in the fall of 1830 he was called to his final rest. Upon his widow devolved the care of a large family of children, namely: Charles, Anson, Edward, Mason, Marietta, Elizabeth and Silas.
Decatur was at that time a mere village and its advantages were proportionate to its size and importance. The public-school system had not been established and Silas Packard, the subject of this review, pursued his education in a subscription school. As the family was left in somewhat straitened circumstances it was necessary that he early provide for his own support and for five years he was employed as a farm hand. Then attracted by the possibilities for the rapid acquirement of wealth in the far west, owing to the discovery of gold in California, he resolved to seek a fortune on the Pacific coast and in 1850 purchased a team and started with a company of twenty-three wagons from the present site of the Transfer House on West Main street, Decatur. They crossed the plains and made their way through the mountains of the west until they reached the mines. Such a trip was fraught with many hardships, but it also brought much valuable experience and knowledge to the young man, making him realize the responsibilities of life and the difficulties incident to a successful business career. It taught him that there is no royal road to wealth, but that perseverance and energy are the surest basis of prosperity. In California he engaged in gulch mining and was fairly successful so that he brought with him upon his return to Decatur enough capital to enable him to embark upon an independent business career. It was in 1855 that Mr. Packard again reached this city. Establishing a lumberyard, he continued its conduct for several years and was afterward in the hardware business, while at the same time he carried on agricultural pursuits, having purchased a tract of land, to the development and imporvement of which he gave his personal supervision. He became a dry-goods merchant of Decatur, continuing his operations in real estate through the purchase and sale of farms and as his financial resources increased he became a factor in the banking interests of Decatur. His greatest success, however, has been achieved through his operations in realty. His purchases have been very carefully made and thus he has been enabled to realize a good profit when disposing of his landed interests. For sixty-two years he was the owner of the eighty acre tract of land constituting Riverside Park. A part of this has been platted and laid outinto town lots and substantially and attractively improved.
In 1856 was celebrated the marriage of Silas Packard and Miss Mary Sawyer, a native resident of Decatur and a daughter of John and Eliza (Ketring) Sawyer, who were numbered among the pioneer settlers in the year 1836. Mr. and Mrs. Packard have had no children of their own, but reared an adopted daughter, who is now the wife of Robert I. Hunt, a prominent business man of this city. Mr. and Mrs. Packard have a beautiful home in one of the finest residence districts of Decatur and its gracious hospitality has been enjoyed by a circle of friends that is constantly increasing. Both are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and its work has received the co-operation and also generous and financial support.
Mr. Packard votes with the Republican party and has ever been firm in his advocacy of its principles, but political honors and emoluments have had no attraction for him as he has preferred to give his time and attention to his business affairs. He began life as a farm hand and now stands among the capitalists of Decatur. Such a history should serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration to others, proving as it does the potency of industry in the active affairs of life. He has always been willing to devote his wealth and his energies to any feasible undertaking that would increase the prosperity of the city and add to the comfort of its inhabitants. His life has been a success. He has accumulated a large fortune and has used only such means as will bear the closest scrutiny. He has bestowed on worthy causes large sums of money, and uses his fortune to the advantage of the community as well as to his own profit. To such men as he is the development of the west due. He has for nearly forty years been an active factor in advancing the city of Decatur, and during that entire time has so conducted all of his affiars as to command the esteem, condidence and respect of all classes. Personally he is sociable, ever willing to accord to anyone the courtesy of an interview. Although a man of great wealth, he is unostentatious in a marked degree, and in this age, when anarchistic and socialistic doctrines are inflaming the masses, the demeanor and actions of such men as he do more to quench the fire of envy and malice than all other means combined.
Mr. Packard's actions have during his life been such as to distinctively entitle him to a place in this publication, and although his career has not been filled with thrilling incidents, probably no biography published in this book can serve as a better illustration to young men of the power of honesty and integrity in insuring success.
Past and Present of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois (1903), pg. 167-169
Henry P. PAGE
Henry P. Page, and attorney-at-law of Decatur, and a member of the firm of Outten & Page, comes from an old family of the Bay State, which was probably established there in early Colonial days. His paternal grandfather was born in that State, and became a well-to-do farmer of Hawley, Mass. His maternal grandfather, John Putnam, was also a native of Massachusetts, and was a sheep-raiser and farmer. Their children, Phineas L. Page and Julia Purnam, who became the parents of our subject, were born, reared and married in Massachusetts. The latter died in 1869, at the age of forty-two years. She was a member of the Congregational Church, to which Mr. Page also belongs. The latter left his old home in 1873, and removed to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he engaged in the practice of law for some time, but is now living retired in Chicago, Ill. He held a number of public offices during his residence in Massachusetts, and was at one time Judge of the City Courts of Pittsfield. He was again married, in 1871, his second union being with Miss Lora A., daughter of Elijah Eldridge, of Springfield. By his first union he had four sons; Henry, of this sketch; Dwight B., who died April 3, 1893, at the age of thirty-one years; Charles S. and William L. By the second union was born a son, Benjamin E.
The subject of this sketch spent the first thirteen years of his life in the State of his birth, and in its public schools obtained his early education. He accompanied his father on his removal to Michigan, and afterward became a student at Ann Arbor, in the University of Michigan, from which institution he was graduated in the Class of '83. When his school life was ended, he came to Decatur, and in this city engaged in teaching for four years. Determining to enter the legal profession, while teaching he took up the study of law, and in 1887 was admitted to the Bar, since which time he has been engaged in active practice. In 1889 he formed a partnership with William C. Outten, under the firm name of Outten & Page, which connection has continued up to the present.
On the 22d of June, 1886, Mr. Page was united in marriage with Miss Anna A. Farrell, daughter of William E. and Anna D. (Ross) Farrell. Two daughters grace this union, Florence S. and Helen. Socially, our subject is connected with Decatur Council No. 92, R.L. In politics he is independent and is not an aspirant for political preferment, desiring rather to devote his time and attention to his profession, in which he will no doubt win an enviable reputation, for he has already secured a liberal patronage.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co, IL, 1893 - p. 213
James S. PARKER
Among the early settlers of Austin township was the Parker family, who came here in the fall of the year 1855. According to family tradition the Parkers came from Ireland, and settled in Monmouth county, New Jersey, at a period early in the history of that state. The great-great-grandfather of W.H. Parker, was the first to emigrate to America. The lady whom he married was stolen from her home when a girl, and nothing was known of her origin, though she is supposed to have been of Scotch descent. She was of large frame and light complexion, and for several generations afterward the family partook of those characteristics. William Parker, grandfather of W.H. Parker, married a woman of English descent, named Shepherd, of low stature and heavy build, and the Parkers have since mostly been of smaller size. Intermarriages with other families of low-statured and dark-complexioned people have contributed to vary the original type. The great-grandfather of W.H. Parker lived and died in New Jersey. From his first marriage this branch of the family is descended, and by his second wife came the Parker family, of which Joel Parker, ex-governor of New Jersey, is a member. William Parker, grandfather of W.H. Parker, was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, in 1769, and died of paralysis in the year 1820. Sarah Shepherd, his wife, was born in 1780, and died in 1859.
James Shepherd Parker, father of W.H. Parker, was born near Freehold, in Monmouth county, New Jersey, on the 12th of May, 1815. He was the eighth of a family of ten children. The school which he attended was a subscription school, two or three miles distant from his home. He was naturally quick at figures, and obtained a good business education. In the year 1835, when he was twenty years old, the family moved to Ohio, settling in Butler county. For four years he worked by the month in Butler and Warren counties, most of the time on a farm, though he was also employed on the Big Miami Canal. On the 11th of March, 1840, he was married near Franklin, in Warren county, to Rachel Hankinson, who was born in Warren county, Ohio, on the 24th of September, 1820. The Hankinson family came from Monmouth county, New Jersey, to Franklin township, in Warren county, Ohio, in the year 1818, when the Indians wee yet plentiful in that part of the state. They traveled through Pennsylvania over the mountains to Pittsburg, and thence came on a raft down the Ohio to Cincinnati, and from there to Butler county. James Hankinson, father of Rachel Hankinson, was born in New Jersey, in 1787, and died in Ohio, at the age of ninety-one. His wife, Sarah Cheeseman, was born in 1796, and died at the age of seventy-one; she was the daughter of William and Lydia Cheeseman. Rachel Hankinson Parker was the fourth of seven children. When James Hankinson came to Ohio he worked for a bushel of corn a day, worth twenty-five cents, and for the same wages cut wood by the cord or split rails by the hundred. He accumulated considerable money, and died well-off.
A few days after his marriage, James S. Parker moved on a farm in Preble county, Ohio. His capital at that time consisted of about nine hundred dollars. After living on a rented farm two years he purchased land, and became the owner of a farm of three hundred and twenty acres. In February, 1853, having sold his farm in Preble county for twelve thousand dollars, he moved to Franklin, Warren county, Ohio. In the fall of 1854, he emigrated to Illinois. He first settled in De Witt county, near the present town of Kenney, where he resided till September, 1855, when he moved to Macon county, settling on section 1, of Austin township. Here he purchased two hundred and forty acres of land, of which eighty were improved. Seven or eight years afterward he built a new house on the same section, in which he resided as long as he lived in Austin township. He increased the amount of his land, and owned, bought, and paid for altogether nearly two thousand acres, eight hundred in Austin township and the balance in Maroa township. Part of this land he set apart in his liftime to his children. He was a man of great industry and energy, worked hard, possessed good business capacity, prompt habits, and each year increased his wealth.. He finally concluded to quit farming and retire from active business life, and in February, 1877, he moved to Maroa, where he lived till his death on the 8th of May, 1880. He had five children, all of whom are living. Their names are as follows: William H. Parker, born May the 1st, 1841; Sarah Jane, now Mrs. Anthony Sloutenborough, born November 10th, 1843; James Hankinson Parker, born November 12th, 1846, farming on the old homestead in Austin township; John P. Parker, born March 14th, 1853, farming in Maroa township; Lydia Eleanor, born May 25th, 1858, now the wife of Abraham H. Bates of Maroa.
The portrait of James S. Parker appears at the head of this sketch. He was about five feet five and a half inches in height, dark complexion, black hair and light blue eyes. His weight was about one hundred and sixty pounds. He was a man well thought of in Macon county He filled several public positions in Austin township; from 1860 to 1872 he was treasurer of the township, and for eight successive years respresented it on th board of supervisors, being the first to fill that office after the adoption of township organization, as he was also the first treasurer. He was also assesor. He was, however, a man who paid close attention to his own business affairs, and cared little about holding public position. He was honest and honorable in all his transactions, and though he was ambitious to acquire wealth, it never came to his hands by any other means than that which was strictly honest and creditable. He possessed a high moral character. About twelve years before his death he joined the Methodist Protestnat Church. He was charitable to any one whom he thought deserving, and contributed frequently to the nesessities of the unfortunate. He had been blessed with a strong constitution, which during his life withstood an immense amount of hard labor. His energy, perserverance and careful attention to business were the secrets of his success. His disposition was cheerful and lively. His first vote for president was cast for Van Buren, the democratic candidate in 1836, but in 1840, he supported Gen. Harrison, the whig candidate, and was afterward connected with the shig party till its disolution. He then became a republican, voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and during the rebellion was an earnest republican and a strong Union man. His death was lamented by a large circle of friends, and his remains now repose in the grave-yard belonging to Wright's Grove church, adjoining the farm on which he spent so many years of his busy life.
History of Macon Co, IL, 1880 - p. 225-226
John S. PARKER
The subject of this sketch was born in Preble county, Ohio, March 1st, 1842. His father, Robert Parker, was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, in 1810; came west with his parents to Ohio in 1834, and remained there until 1856, when he came to Illinois and settled in Maroa township, Macon county, and engaged in the real estate and loan business. He remained in Macon county until 1878, when he removed to DeWitt county, Ill., where he at present resides. He married Lydia C. Hankerson, who was born in Warren county, Ohio.
John S. Parker is the eldest child in the family, and came west with his parents in 1856; he received a fair education in the common schools of the county, and when not at school his time was occupied in working on the farm, which, in short, has been his chief and only occupation since arriving at man's estate. On the 27th of January, 1870, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Pape. She was born in England, but came with her parents to America whild she was yet in her infancy. She was a resident of Macon county at the time of her marriage. Two children have been born to bless and hallow this union--a son and daughter, named Robert Benjamin and Lydia Ann Parker, aged respectively nine and six years. Both Mr. Parker and his estimable wife are members of the Protestant Methodist Chruch. Politically he is a staunch democrat, and cast his first prsidential vote for George B. McClellan for President in 1864, since which time he has remained true to the party of his first choice. There were four brothers in the family of Robert and Lydia C.Parker, two of whom are living, viz., John S. and James B. Garrett, a younger brother, died Jan. 24th, 1865, while in the service during the late war. William T., another brother, died on the same day at home.
History of Macon Co, IL, 1880 - p. 170
William M. PARKER
William H. Parker was the oldest son of James S. Parker, born in Preble county, Ohio, on the 1st of May, 1841. He was thirteen years old when he came to Illinois. The most of his education he received before leaving Ohio. He only went to school sixty days after coming to Macon county, on account of the inconvenience of attending school. No schools had been established when the family first came to Austin township. He lived at home till his marriage, which occurred on the 28th of December, 1864, to Eliza C. Shaw, daughter of William G. Shaw, who resided near Clinton, De Witt county. She was born near Loveland, Claremont county, Ohio, on the 8th of April, 1844. Her father emigrated to Illinois in 1853. In March, 1865, Mr. Parker moved on his present farm, in section 11 of Austin township. His first wife died on the 12th of August, 1869. On the 28th of June, 1871, he was married to Frances M. Cornwell, who was born near Darbyville, Pickaway county, Ohio, on the 27th of January, 1847, and came to this state in 1855. He owns a fine farm of four hundred and eighty acres of land. He has four children living, one by his first, and three by his second marriage: Florence, born October 25th, 1865; James Elliott, born October 4th, 1872; Rachel Eleanor, born April 30th, 1875; Thomas William, born March 1st, 1878.
On child, Lawrence, by his first marriage, died at the age of twenty-four days, sixteen days after its mother's death. In his politics, Mr. Parker was formerly a republican, casting his first vote for President Lincoln in 1864. He was one of the first to take an interest in the Farmers' movement, and assisted in organizing the first Farmers' Club in Austin township, and the first county Farmers' Club in Macon county. On the formation of the National party he was among the foremost in giving his adhesion to the principles of the Greenback organization, believing that both the old parties were wrong in their theories about the currency, and that the finances of the country were managed in the interest of a class rather than the mass of the people. He is a man of liberal and enterprising disposition, and stands well among the representative farmer of Macon county.
History of Macon Co, Illinois, 1880 - p. 226
Jasper J. PEDICORD
Jasper J. Pedicord was not only a witness of the entire business development of Decatur but was also an active participant in its commercial growth and expansion. He came to Decatur in 1838 when the city was but a village, having no railroad communication with other parts of the country. Indeed, it was a frontier settlement, but Mr. Pedicord recognized its possibilities and, improving advantages here offered, made his way steadily upward until he occupied a prominent position on the plane of affluence. His labors, too, were of the greatest benefit in the development and progress of the town for he was identified with many measures for the general good and his efforts were always resultant factors in improvement.
Mr. Pedicord was born in Rockville, Montgomery county, Maryland, on the 8th of November, 1815, and was in his eighty-fourth year when called from this life. He represented one of the old families of his native state. His parents, Allen B. and Catherine (Willet) Pedicord, were both natives of Maryland and were of Scotch lineage. The father was a farmer by occupation, thus providing for the support of his family. He survived his wife for many years, passing away in 1868 at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. Three children survived him at that time: Rebecca, Marian and Jasper, but all have now passed.
Jasper Pedicord spent the first fifteen years of his life in the county of his nativity and his early education was obtained in a country school such as was common at that time, while later he continued his studies in the Rockville Academy. When a youth of fifteen he entered upon his business career and from that time forward made his own way in the world, earning all that he afterward possessed and enjoyed. His first employment was as a clerk in a store in Washington, D.C., and he remained in that city for five years, going thence to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he again found employment in mercantile lines. He had occupied the latter position for two years when in 1838 he sought a home in Illinois, locating in the city of Decatur, where he remained continuously up to the time his death, more than sixty-one years later. Not afraid to cope with the difficulties of the task incident upon the frontier he put forth his best efforts to win success for himself and also to promote public progress and prosperity. His first step after reaching Decatur was to become a landholder for he entered one hundred and sixty acres northwest of the city. Not long after this he became a factor in commercial life by the establishment of a general mercantile store in partnership with Henry Prather. The business conditions of this part of the country at that time may be imagined by the fact that New Orleans was the market for the produce raised in this locality and Mr. Pedicord made frequent trips down the river in flat boats, carrying pork, flour and corn to the Crescent City to exchange for cash or other commodities. It required nearly three months to make the round trip. A little mercantile store of the firm of Pedicord & Prather was opened in a log cabin which stood on the northwest corner of the old square, but Mr. Pedicord kept apace with the growth of the city and development of its interests and its progress, his place of business ever being in accord with its surroundings. In 1849 when his partner wished to go California Mr. Pedicord purchased his interest in the business and afterward entered into partnership relations with Hosea J. Armstrong. He, too, after two years went to California and Mr. Pedicord was once more alone in business. In 1853 he joined Lowber Burrows in business and this relation was maintained up to the death of our subject. They established a bank under the firm style of Pedicord, Burrows & Company and the institution at once took rank with the leading financial concerns of this part of the county. They carried on a general banking and exchange business and their patronage grew continuously because of the excellent business policy which they inaugurated and the straightforward methods they had ever followed in dealing with the general public. The co-operation of Mr. Pedicord was also given to many other business enterprises. He became largely interested in the Decatur Furniture Company and was elected its president. He was also a director in the Decatur Gas Light & Coke Company and in the Decatur Agricultural Works. His business judgment was sound and reliable and his energy and keen foresight proved important factors in the successful control of many interests here.
On the 30th of July, 1842, Mr. Pedicord was united in marriage to Mrs. Adamson, the widow of John A. Adamson and a daughter of Jacob and Isabella (Watson) Oglesby. Her mother was a sister of Governor Oglesby. Five children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Pedicord: Woodford W., Isabelle, Emaline W., Richard O. and Valette O., and the family circle remained unbroken until the death of the husband and father.
In his social relations Mr. Pedicord was a Mason, belonging to Macon Lodge, No. 8, A.F. & A.M. He became one of the charter members of Macon Chapter, No. 21, R.A.M., and his life was in consistent harmony with the teachings and tenets of the craft. During the early years of his residence in Decatur he became a charter member of Stapps Chapel, an organization of the Methodist denomination, and later he was for many years a member of the Grace Methodist Episcopal church, in which he long served as a trustee. This church was organized in one of the big rooms of the bank conducted by the firm of Pedicord, Burrows & Company. To church work he contributed generously and his personal efforts were always felt for good in the development of the church and its work.
In his early manhood he was an advocate of the Democratic principles put forth by Andrew Jackson and he continued to vote with the party until the inauguration of the Civil war. Being a stanch adherent of the Union cause and an opponent of slavery he joined the ranks of the party formed to prevent the further extension of slavery into the north and was allied therewith up to the time of his demise. Political honors and emoluments were never sought by him, but his fellow citizens recognized his fitness for office and his fidelity in public affairs and elected him to a number of positions of public trust and responsibility. Twice he served as mayor the city and his administration of municipal affairs was most creditable and satisfactory to the public, winning him high encomiums. He never ceased to take an active interest in political affairs and his commodious home at No. 226 North Franklin street was long the headquarters for visiting statesmen from Illinois and other sections of the country. In manner he was most genial and cordial and he had a keen sense of humor, appreciating a joke on himself as well as on someone else. Truly he may be called one of the builders of Decatur for he came to this city when it was but a cluster of log cabins and no business man here contributed more liberally toward enterprises tending to improve and develop the city than did Jasper Pedicord. He died on the 27th of July, 1899, and yet the force of his character is still felt in commercial circles and will be a factor here as long as the institutions which he established are representatives of the business life of this city. Every interest of the social, intellectual and moral welfare of Decatur also elicited his attention and hearty co-operation. He was a man of broad mind, generous heart, kindly and sympathetic and his friends were legion.
Past and Present of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois 1903, pg. 864 - 866
Peter Perl is the popular and efficient Sheriff of Macon County. He has filled that office for three years, and performs all of the duties of his important position with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of all concerned. Widely is he known throughout Macon County, and in all circles is recognized as a leading and influential citizen.
Born in Big Spring Township, Seneca County, Ohio, June 24, 1842, our subject is a son of Nicholas and Catherine (Vester) Perl, both of whom were born near Strasburg, Germany. They were also married in the Fatherland, and in 1833 sailed for America, locating in Seneca County, Ohio. The father was a cabinet-maker by trade, but in this country followed farming. His death occurred at the age of eighty-five years. His wife died in her seventy-third year, at the home of her daughter, Elizabeth, in Mankato, Minn. Their eleven children were all born in this country, but only four of the number grew to mature years. Elizabeth is the wife of Frederick Beogen, who is a machinist of Mankato, Minn.; Nicholas was a carpenter and died, leaving a wife and one child; Peter is the next younger; and Louis is a mechanical engineer of St. Paul, Minn.; he is married and has three chidren.
The early days of our subject were spent upon his father's farm, and in his home he was taught to speak the German language, but he associated with his English neighbors and thus learned the language of his adopted country. He was educated in both the parochial and public schools, and afterward secured a certificate and engaged in teaching school in Seneca, Faifield and Stark Counties, Ohio, and in Urbana, Ohio. Later he was employed in the same capacity in Huntington, Ind., and proved a successful teacher. He not only aided others in acquiring knowledge, but his extensive experience in that line proved of great value to him. Coming to Illinois in 1876, he entered a drug store in Peoria, and later was for two years Principal of the public schools of Berlin, Ill.
Mr. Perl has been twice married, his first wife having been Mrs. Mary Meier, by whom he had two children, John and Agnes. In 1878 he was united in marriage with Miss Carrie Luken, daughter of Henry Luken, of Berlin. She has become the mother of two children, Frank and Henry.
At the age of eighteen years, Mr. Perl enlisted in the service of his country as a member of Company H, One Hundred and Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, under Capt. Zimmerman, and was mustered in at Monroeville, where the company drilled for about six months. He then went to the front and served in the Army of the Potomoc in West Virginia, participating in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. He took part in the battles of Fisher's Hill, Opequon and Cedar Creek, and was honorably discharged in 1865, after Lee's surrender, having followed the Old Flag for three years.
In the year of his marriage, Mr. Perl came to Decatur and bought out Charles & Nicholas Laux, undertakers. He then had only $850, which he had saved from his salary as a teacher. His business career in this city has been one of great success, and his possessions now aggregate $50,000, which he has made in his business and in fortunate speculations. In politics he is a stanch Democrat. In religious beliefs he is a Catholic, and his wife is a member of the Lutheran Church. His official career began in 1884, when he was elected Coroner by one hundred and thirty-four votes, overcoming a large Republican majority. In 1889 he was elected by fifty votes as Alderman from the Fourth Ward, and in 1890 was elected by the handsome majority of six hundred and eight votes to the office of Sheriff. No higher testimonial of his popularity could be given than his election in the Republican county. It has been his unpleasant duty during the term to cause the hanging of W.H. Crawford, the murderer of Lina Mathias, but by those who were present and had witnessed other executions it was pronounced to the most perfectly managed affair ever seen. Mr. Perl has faithfully discharged every duty devolving upon him, and has proved one of the most efficient officers that has ever served as Sheriff of Macon County.
Mr. Perl has traveled quite widely over this country, but no place furnishes the attractions of a home to him as does Decatur, where his numerous friends have learned to know him as a business man of strict integrity and sterling worth. Although he comes of German parentage, there is no truer American citizen in Macon County. He believes in the free institutions of this country, and takes a commendable pride in upholding and advancing them. Outside of business and public life he shows a different side to his character, taking great enjoyment in the aesthetic side of life and in branches of higher education. Music has particular attractions for him, and he has considerable ability in that direction.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co., IL, 1893 pg. 226,229
Among the eminent men of Illinois whose life record forms an integral part of the history of Decatur, Hon. Orlando Powers was numbered. In his death they city lost one of its most progressive residents and active and honorable business men, as well as one whose influence was felt in marked degree along the line of intellectual and moral advancement. As the day, with its morning of hope and promise, its noontide of activity, its evening of completed and successful efforts, ending in the grateful rest and quiet of the night, so was the life of this honored man. His career was a long, busy and useful one, marked by the utmost fidelity to the duties of public and private life, and crowned with honors conferred upon him in recognition of superior merit. His name is inseparably interwoven with the annals of Illinois, with its best develpment and its stable progress, and his memory is cherished as that of one who made the world better for his having lived.
The life record of Orlando Powers began on the 21st of May, 1812, near the village of Charlton, Saratoga county, New York, and his youth was that of the usual farm boy who assists in the operation of the fields through the months of summer, while in the winter seasons he pursues his education in the common schools. It was in that manner that Mr. Powers passed his boyhood days until he reached the age of sixteen years, when he started for Havana, Cuba, in response to a request of his brother William that Orlando should go to that island and assist him in carrying on his business there. Making his way to New York, Mr. Powers, of this review, took passage upon the schooner Helen, but was destined never to reach the port for which he sailed, for that ship was wrecked in a severe storm when it had been under way for three days. The rescue of Mr. Powers was almost marvelous. He and Captain Tucker, who commanded the vessel, together with three of the sailors, drigted upon the open sea for eleven days, clinging to the disabled hulk, part of which was out of water. They subsisted upon a scanty supply of sea biscuit and raw potatoes and a very short allowance of water. When nearly famished because of lack of food and almost crazed by want of drink, they were picked up by a French brig bound for Bordeaux and eventually landed at LaRochelle, whence they were taken on to Bordeaux by land. Mr. Powers had no money nor clothing, save that which he wore, and was even without a hat, but found a kind frined in an English gentleman who relieved his immediate wants and cared for him until opportunity came for him to return home. Re-crossing the Atlantic he landed at New York and through the assistance of business acquaintances of his elder brother he was enabled to promptly discharge the indebtedness which it had been necessary for him to incur. He did no tarry long in the metroplolis, but porceeded at once by steamer up the Hudson river to his home, where he had been long mourned as dead. After visiting his people he once more made an attempt to enter the business world, and this time sailed from New York to Mobile, Alabama. For some time he remained in the south, being engaged in business enterprises in Alabama and Mississippi in connection with his brothers and brother-in-law, Chauncey Wilkinson, during which time he conducted operations at Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Prairie Bluff and Aberdeen, and in 1849, on leaving the south, he took up his abode in Decatur.
Mr. Powers had visited this city in 1847, his mother and his two brothers, George and Samuel, having located here some years before. Being favorably impressed with the embryo city and its future prospects he resolved to ally his interests with the place, and up to the time of his death remained a continuous resident of Decatur from 1849 with the exception of a brief period of one decade, which he passed in Jacksonville, Illinois. On locating in Decatur, Mr. Powers became identified with industrial interests as the owner of a saw and grist mill. This he operated for a time and then embarked in commercial pursuits, establishing a boot and shoe store. He became widely known in business circles here and extended his activity into many lines which proved of value to Decatur as well as a source of profit to himself. For many years he was the owner of the only set of abstract books in Macon county. In matters of business his judgment was always sound and reliable and while he was conservative to the point of safety he was also progressive and quick to note opportunities which come to all. In the early years of his residence here was realized that Illinois was destined to become a great and populous state because of the fertility of its soil, which offered splendid opportunitites to the agriculturist. Wisely he made investment in real estate, acquiring large property interests, including both farm lands and city realty. As the years passed he improved and developed his property and as he found good opportunity for sale he disposed of his investments at a very desirable profit. His enterprise was also an active factor in the permanent improvement and material expansion of Decatur. In 1889 he erected an opera house, which would be a credit to a city of much greater size. It is beautifully and artistically decorated and is most complete as to arrangements, thus furnishing a place of entertainment of which Decatur and her people have every reason to be proud. No improvement for the general good sought his co-operation in vain and it would be to recount most of the enterprises of Decatur to give a list of the concerns which have benefited by his assistance.
On the 27th of September, 1849, Mr. Powers was united in marriage to Miss Charlotte E. Given, of Smithland, Union county, Kentucky. It was while he was traveling on horseback from Mobile, Alabama, to Decatur, on his first trip in 1847, that he met this lady, and the friendship that thus originated eventually led to their marriage. She was a daughter of Henry Given, of Smithland, Kentucky. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Powers were born four children: Alice, who was born September 30, 1856, and died on the 22nd of April, 1878; Charles G., born June 30, 1861; Howard William, born June 20, 1864, and now a resident of Decatur; and Anabel, who was born August 18, 1867, and is the widow of Charles Kerney, of Evansville, Indiana. Mrs. Powers died May 3, 1897, and Mr. Powers passed away July 1, 1902, his remains being interred in Greenwood cemetery, by the side of his wife. Charles G. Powers, the elder son was born in Decatur, June 30, 1861, received his education in the schools here, and when thirteen years of age removed with his family to Jacksonville, where he completed his education in the Illinois College, being graduated in the class of 1884. After two years he returned to Decatur and entered the office of Charles A. Ewing, who was the agent for the Powers properties. In this way he gained insight into his father's business. He also read law for two years, but not with the intention of practicing it. On the expiration of that period, the family having in the meantime returned to this city, he joined his brother in business, and they took charge of their father's affairs, comprising business interests unsurpassed in volume and importance. Since that time the brother have continued in the management of the estate. They are gentlemen of excellent business sagacity and foresight, and in the supervision of the property interests have shown marked discrimination and unfaltering diligence. On the 2d of June, 1887, Mr. Powers was united in marriage to Miss Effie Rogers, a daughter of Senator Jason Rogers, and unto them have been born two children: Orlando Rogers, who was born January 10, 1891, and died on the 18th of April, of the same year; and John Howard, who was born August 23, 1895, and is now at home. The parents are members of the Presbyterian church, in which Mr. Powers is serving as a trustee. In politics he has always been a Republican, but has never consented to hold office. Anabel Powers was married June 17, 1890, to Charles Kerney, of Evansville, Indiana, who died August 1, 1902, and she and her brother Howard are living on the old Powers homestead. She has one child, Charlotte Wright, born January 4, 1895. Howard William Powers received his education in Decatur and Jacksonville and is associated with his brother in the management of the estate.
Mr. Powers gave his political support in early life to the Whig party and when Mr. Lincoln was first placed on the Republican ticket as nominee for the presidency he joined the ranks of the new organization, with which he continued to affiliate up to the time of his death. He was a man of generous impulses and gave freely of his means to charitable and benevolent objects, and yet his giving was always free from ostentation or display. He long held membership with the First Presbyterian church of Decatur, and many thousand dollars found its way from his purse to the church exchequer. He contributed very largely toward the building of the two edifices which have been occupied by this organization and in many church offices he labored for the welfare of the denomination and the extension of its influence. Some years ago he founded a scholarship in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest. With Mr. Powers friendship was inviolable and he gained many friends throughout his life, the circle of his frienship being almost co-extensive with the circle of his acquaintances. When those who needed assistance came to him his aid was never withheld, if it could be rendered, and many a business man and firm in Decatur owes its prosperity in large measure to the generous assistance received from Mr. Powers in time of need. His own business career was unassailable. Honor and integrity characterized his every act and he was never known to take advantage of his fellow men in any business transaction. He enjoyed to the fullest extend the respect and esteem of those with whom he was long associated.
Past and Present of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois (1903), pg. 165-167
When Decatur was a village upon a wild western prairie Samuel Powers established his home here and for many years remained a resident of this city. Its advancement and growth were the source of deep interest to him and he belonged to that class of progressive and typical American men who are never so engrossed with their own affairs — however extensive — that they cannot aid in measures for the general good. Decatur classed him with its leading men and benefited by his efforts in her behalf. At the same time he found in the business opportunities of the growing west the advantages he sought and by the improvement of these he worked his way steadily upward to a commanding position in financial circles.
Mr. Powers was a native of the Empire state, his birth having occurred in Saratoga county on the 18th of May, 1816. He lived through the center of the world's greatest progress and advancement along commercial and educational lines. In New England at a very early day the Powers family was established. The paternal grandfather of our subject was reared in Connecticut and William Powers, the father, was there born. He spent the days of his youth in Bridgeport, that state, at the home of Colonel St. John, whom his mother married after the death of her first husband. She bore the maiden name of Abigail Hendricks and was likewise a native of Connecticut and of Scotch and English lineage. William Powers devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits for some time after his marriage, carrying on general farming and stock-raising. He made his home in Saratoga county, New York, when it was a new and unsettled district and when it required two or three weeks to make a journey by sloop down the Hudson river to New York city. He died in the prime of life, passing away at the comparatively early age of forty-two years.
Samuel Powers of this review was then a lad of eight summers. His youth was passed in the county of his nativity, while his time was devoted to farm work and to attendance at the district schools. He pursued his studies during the cold season when it was impossible to engage in farm labor, but with the early spring planting he took his place in the fields and there worked until after crops were harvested in the late autumn. He was but fourteen years of age when the management of the home farm fell upon him and he continued its cultivation until he attained his majority when the property was sold.
Mr. Powers then determined to go to Alabama, where his brothers were successfully engaged in business, one of them being a prominent commission merchant and exchange agent in the city of Mobile. Samuel Powers, therefore, made his way to Tuscaloosa, where his brother Orlando Powers was conducting a mercantile establishment, but he found that commercial life was not congenial to him as he needed the freedom of outdoor occupations. His taste and inclination was decidedly in favor of agricultural pursuits and he determined to come to Illinois, for its broad prairies offered excellent opportunities to the farmer and stock-raiser. Accordingly in company with his next elder brother, George Powers, he made the journey from Alabama through Tennessee and Kentucky to Illinois. They traveled on horseback and crossed the Ohio river at Shawneetown, reaching Decatur in July, 1839. The traveler of to-day who visits this city with its extensive industrial and commercial interests, its splendid advantages and its beautiful homes would see no point of resemblance to the little village which greeted the sight of Mr. Powers as he neared the county seat of Macon county. However, with marked foresight he made investments in this part of the state. Several railroads had been surveyed with Decatur as one of the points upon the proposed line and Mr. Powers recognized that the promises for the future were very favorable and found that the little village was destined to become a city of considerable importance. Time proved the wisdom of his opinions.
Mr. Powers and his brother made investments in real estate and though their cash capital consisted of only a few hundred dollars land values were then very low and they were able to acquire a considerable amount of realty. From the time of his arrival in this locality up to the time of his demise Mr. Powers was the owner of a tract of land adjoining the corporation limits of Decatur on the east and which became very valuable owing to the improvements placed upon it and because of the growth of this city. For six months after establishing his home here Mr. Powers carried the mail between Decatur and Homer and also other points in Champaign county. He worked earnestly, indefatigably and energetically and as the result of his labor he had in a few years accumulated sufficient capital to enable him to engage in the stock business on a small scale. Prices, too, for stock were also very low in comparison with the amounts given at the present day, hogs selling for only two dollars, while a four year-old steer brought from eight to ten dollars. Mr. Powers was an excellent judge of stock and made his purchases so judiciously that he was enabled to realize good profit on his sales. He soon established for himself a reputation for fair dealing and honesty and also for promptly meeting his obligations, which made his name a prominent one in trade circles and also a valuable one upon commercial paper. It was found that when the country became involved in financial panic dealers preferred to sell their stock to Mr. Powers because of his known reliability, all feeling sure that they would receive their money. Throughout his business career he continued one of the most prominent and extensive stock dealers of this portion of the state and it was through this avenue of activity that he won the splendid success which made him a wealthy man of Macon county. He did much to improve the grade of stock raised in this section of the state, and was especially well known as a breeder of fine horses, in which regard he gained a national reputation. He was the breeder of some of the best horses that had been seen in America and, by improving the grade raised and thereby advancing prices, his labors were a direct benefit to those engaged in similar enterprises.
On the 3d of March, 1846, Mr. Powers was united in marriage to Miss Caroline M. Giles, a native of Massachusetts, and they became the parents of eight children: William, Myra, Carrie, George, Theron, Frank, Edward and Chauncey. The two oldest children are deceased. The family home is always maintained in Decatur and its representatives have for many decades figured prominently in social as well as business circles.
On attaining his majority Mr. Powers proudly cast his first presidential vote in behalf of the candidate of the Whig party and continued one of its supporters until its dissolution, when he joined the ranks of the new Republican party, continuing to follow its banners until his death, which occurred February 7, 1885, his remains being interred by the side of his children in Greenwood cemetery. The magnitude and importance of his business interests so occupied his attention that he never cared for political preferment, but he was elected and served as a member of the board of supervisors from Decatur township. Long ere death came to him he rounded the Psalmist's span of three score years and ten and in the evening of life with his mental and physical vigor unimpaired he overcame the customary and usual infirmities and weaknesses of age by active participation in the living issues and events of the day. In his home and in the city of his adoption he was surrounded by a circle of friends who appreciated his true worth and admired and esteemed him for his many excellent traits of character. His name will be honored for many generations as that of one of the most enterprising of the early settlers of Decatur — a man who acted well his part and who lived a worthy and upright life.
Past and Present of Decatur and Macon County, IL., (1903) pg. 201-203
Henry Prather was born November 26, 1802, in Montgomery county, Maryland, and removed to this state in 1836, and settled in Macoupin county. His first wife was a Miss Ratcliff, whom he married before leaving Maryland, who died in Macoupin county. He came to Macon county in 1837, and in 1838 married Amanda Oglesby, who still resides in Decatur. He was killed accidentally by being thrown from a buggy in 1869. He was an honest, upright citizen, prominently connected with all the public enterprises tending to advance the interest of Macon county and the city of Decatur. He was public spirited, and nothing calculated to advance the material prosperity of the city or county escaped his earnest solicitation and support in both means and influence. He was a member of the legislature in 1852. He left no children. A fond recollection in the hearts of the people with whom he associated will last during their lives.
History of Macon County, 1876, pg. 297
Thomas A. PRITCHETT
Among the gentlemen wwho have been most prominently identified with the interests of the western part of the county, is Thomas A. Pritchess, of Niantic. He is a native of Kentucky, and was born in Bourbon county, in the heart of the celebrated blue grass region, seven miles from Paris and nine from Lexington, on May 23d, 1830. The Pritchett family were early settlers of the state of Kentucky. Esquire Pritchett's father, Wm. Pritchett, was born in one of the southern counties, and married Lydia Wilson, a native of Fayette county, of the same state.
The Wilsons were among the pioneer settlers of the state. They were originally from Maryland, and at an early day located near Bryant's Station--the scene of many a bloody conflict between the white pioneers and the hostile savages.
Thomas A. Pritchett was the seventh of a family of nine children. Of these, one died in infancy; the others grew to be men and women. He now has one brother and two sisters living. His father was a farmer in good circumstances, and owned about three hundred acres of choice land. When he was about twelve or fourteen his father died. The part of Kentucky in which he lived was settled, and for that day had good schools. He lived at home until he was about twenty-one, during which time he acquired the substantial elements of an education. On the twenty-first of June, 1851, he married Mary E. Ingles, daughter of Wm. Ingles, who was born and raised in Bourbon county. He learned the trade of a saddle and harness maker, and from 1853 to 1856 carried on a harness and saddle shop at Paris, the county-seat of Bourbon county. He concluded to remove to Illinois, and in May 1856 arrived at Springfield, where he remained about a year. In the spring of 1857 he purchased Sec. 28 T. 17, R. 1 W., from the Illinois Central railroad company, and at once began the work of bringing it under cultivation.
At that time there were few settlements on the prairie in Niantic township. Improvements had been made along the timber, but the prairie lay open and uncultivated. The Wabash railway had recently been put in operation through the western part of the county, and the town of Niantic had just begun its growth.
In 1864 he entered into the mercantile business, which he has carried on ever since. He first started in the business of selling dry goods, with which he has since been more or less connected. He has been in business as long a time, consecutively, as any other business man now in Niantic.
He has had nine children, of whom five are now living. The oldest daughter, Clara B., is the wife of James H. Chamberlain. The others now living are--James H., Mamie, Nettie C., and Ada S. The remaining four died in infancy.
Esquire Pritchett is a man whom the citizens of his part of the county have entrusted with several public positions. He was elected justice of the peace in 1860, and has filled that office from that time to the present with the exception of a few months, during which time he laid down the office voluntarily. He has made an acceptable magistrate. He possesses a thorough knowledge of the legal points usually arising in the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace, and has enough ability and fairness to apply the law in justice to all parties.
For the last eight years he has also acted as notary public. After the adoption of township organization, he was elected the second member of the board of supervisors from Niantic township, filling the position during 1862. He has filled several other offices in the township.
In his political opinions, like most Kentuckians, he was originally a member of the Whig party. After the Whig party went ot pieces, he became a democrat, voted for Douglas in 1860, the first vote for President he cast in this state, and has been a democrat ever since. He is not however, so strongly devoted to party that he can see no excellence in men of opposing views, and in local elections has generally cast his vote for the candidate whom he considered best qualified for the position. He is a man whose private character, and reputation for honesty and integrity have been above reproach. He has been connected with the Christian church for a number of years, and has served the church of that denomination at Niantic in the capacity of elder. He is now among the old residents of Niantic township, and with its business affairs has probably been as closely connected as any man in that part of the county.
History of Macon Co, Illinois, 1880 - p. 176
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