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Biography of Henry Hickman Harris

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Henry Hickman Harris, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer and cattle feeder, and who, accepting the character and principles which his father had introduced into the First National Bank of Champaign at its founding, took it upon himself to apply these principles and broaden them for forty years, was born on the Sangamon Paver farm in Champaign County, where his father first settled.

He was born on April 27, 1844, and lived seventy useful years, passing away July 15, 1914.

Henry H. Harris was a stalwart citizen and under his skillful hands the fortune of his father had greatly increased and he had managed his varied interests and affairs, including the First National Bank in which he succeeded his father as president, in such a way as to justify his stewardship, and all that came to him in the way of fortune and influence. His good judgment and wise administration carried the bank successfully through several financial panics. He was one of the organizing members of the Illinois Bankers Association and served as its president in 1908-09.

He was for many years a member of the city council of Champaign and to his aggressiveness and good judgment the city is indebted for many of its best improvements. He served for a number of years as president of the Champaign County Fair Association and established that organization on a sound financial basis, having taken it in a bankrupt condition.

While he was a man of decided opinions and a patriot, he was of a rather retiring disposition, never accepting any political office and refused some possible opportunities to become a public servant. He was especially helpful to young men, recognizing business acumen and honesty, and encouraging it in a substantial way.

Henry Hickman Harris married Melissa Megrue, who was born near Cincinnati, Ohio, April 19, 1846, and is still living at Champaign. To them were born two sons, B. F. and Newton Megrue Harris, respectively president and vice-president of the First National Bank and worthy sons of a worthy father.

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