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Biography of Edwin S. Swigart

Edwin S. Swigart, a former mayor of the city of Champaign, is a thorough business man, and his reputation as a successful manager of large and important interests was one of the chief reasons why the people of Champaign desired him as their mayor. A native of Illinois, he was born near Farmer City in DeWitt County, December 11, 1861. His parents, Jacob and Rebecca (Davis) Swigart, were both born in Ohio. Jacob Swigart, who was born in 1827 and died in 1907, removed to DeWitt County, Illinois, in 1847. Rebecca Davis was taken to DeWitt County in 1837, when a small child, and she is still living, being now one of the oldest settlers of that county. Jacob Swigart followed farming during his active career, and became well known in politics and business affairs. In 1868 he was elected a member of the State Legislature. In a family of nine children, Edwin S. Swigart was the sixth in order of birth. His early advantages were those of the common schools of DeWitt County and for three years he was a student in Lombard College at Galesburg. He had considerable experience as a farmer, and after his marriage in 1885 he remained on the home place for a year. Mr. Swigart was one of the organizers of the Creamery Package Company, then located at Morrison, Illinois, and for a time he gave this business his entire time and energies. The company has since grown to very large proportions, and now has its main offices in Chicago. For six years Mr. Swigart was associated with his father in the management...

Biography of the English Brothers (Richard and Edward)

English Brothers. Former students of the University of Illinois, where both were thoroughly trained in the technical branches of their profession, the English Brothers, Richard Caleb and Edward Carey, Jr., have for the past sixteen years been general contractors and structural engineers at Champaign, with offices in the Lincoln Building, they have developed a splendid prestige and reputation and their clientage constitutes a business that is one of the largest and most valuable of its kind in this section of the state. Of the two brothers Richard Caleb English, the older, was born March 1, 1873, at Jonesboro in Union County, Illinois, while Edward Carey, Jr., was born November 19, 1876, at Anna, in Union County, Illinois. Their parents were Edward Carey and Marga Ann (Hartline) English, the former a native of St. Johns, Newfoundland, and the latter of Union County, Illinois. Both parents are now deceased. The Hartline family came from Eowan County, North Carolina, and have been residents of the State of Illinois since 1798. It was in 1898 that the English brothers came to Champaign County as students in the University of Illinois. Edward C. was graduated in 1902. In the previous year they had engaged in business together as general contractors and builders, and with maturing experience they have extended their work to cover a large field and they have an immense amount of capital and equipment and a perfected organization for carrying out the most involved contract of construction. Both are practical engineers and have fully deserved their success. Politically they are active democrats and in fraternal affairs are members of the Benevolent and...

Biography of Henry Hickman Harris

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...

Biographical Sketch of Newton M. Harris

Newton M. Harris, vice-president of the First National Bank of Champaign, was born in that city July 27, 1872, a son of the late Henry H. Harris and a grandson of B. F. Harris, Sr. He was liberally educated, being a graduate of Yale University with the class of 1895, and for fully a quarter of a century has been actively identified with the interests of the Harris family as farmers, stock raisers and bankers. During his father’s life he shared the responsibilities of vice-president with his brother of the First National Bank, and still fills that post. Newton M. Harris married Mary Bruce Burnham, of the well known Burnham family of Champaign County elsewhere referred to. Mr. and Mrs. Harris are members of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, respectively. Their three children are Bruce, Barbara B. and Mary Julia. Mr. Harris is a member of the Sons of American Revolution and is a thirty-second degree Mason and a...

Biography of Samuel P. Atkinson

Samuel P. Atkinson. Perhaps Champaign has no more sturdy and progressive citizen than is found in Samuel P. Atkinson, manager of the S. P. Atkinson Monument Company. He is a thorough American, with a backing of colonial ancestry and Revolutionary stock; and is a veteran of the great struggle which prior to 1914 the people of the United States has called the saddest page on the world’s history. Mr. Atkinson is a vigorous and able business man, but he is much more, for he has the true welfare of his city at heart and is zealously working to advance movements that will be of the greatest permanent benefit to the whole community. His entire life has been a busy, useful and interesting one. Samuel P. Atkinson was born in Central Ohio, November 26, 1844. His parents were Peabody and Marenda (Elliott) Atkinson, both of whom were descendants of Revolutionary heroes and natives of New Hampshire. The old Atkinson homestead situated ten miles from Concord, New Hampshire, was the cause of a pilgrimage made by Samuel P. Atkinson in 1916, and in the vicinity, with other kindred of generations gone, rest the ashes of his grandfather, Joseph C. Atkinson. To Peabody Atkinson and wife seven children were born, namely: Henry and Mary, both of whom are deceased; Joseph, who is living in Ohio; George, who is deceased; Samuel P.; and Annie and Nettie, both of whom are deceased. The father of the above family died from an accident in August, 1863, and the mother passed away in 1866. Samuel P. Atkinson completed his junior year at Marietta College of Ohio,...

Biographical Sketch of William B. Keusink

William B. Keusink is one of the younger business men of Champaign, has been a resident of the city most of his life, and since 1910 has conducted a very successful drug business. He was born at Bloomington, Illinois, September 20, 1879, a son of William and Elizabeth (Lynch) Keusink. His father was a native of Schenectady, New York, and his mother of Utica, New York. William Keusink for a number of years conducted a laundry business in Champaign County, but is now living retired. He and his wife had two children, William B. and Wilhelmina, the latter the wife of H: C. Johnson, of Champaign. His early education William B. Keusink obtained in the grammar and high schools of Champaign. After some preliminary experience he definitely determined on a vocation as a pharmacist and entered the University of Illinois Pharmacy School in Chicago, where he was graduated in 1904. Returning to his home city he became a pharmacist with a local drug house until 1910, and at that date went into business for himself at the corner of West University Avenue and South Neil Street. He has a fine store, well equipped, and has always emphasized and sought in every way to improve the service of the pharmacy department. Mr. Keusink is a Republican in politics. He is a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine, belongs to the Elks Lodge and the Country Club, and is a member of the Episcopal Church. He married November 21, 1910, Miss Hazel M. Elliott, who was born at Arcola, Illinois. They have one child, Virginia...

Biography of F. C. Amsbary

F. C. Amsbary, superintendent and manager of the Champaign Waterworks, has been superintending waterworks plants in different parts of the country for upwards of thirty years. It has in fact been his regular profession, though some of his younger years were devoted to railroading. Mr. Amsbary has numerous connections that identify him with the substantial interests of his home city. A native of Illinois, he was born at Pekin, January 24, 1863, a son of William Wallace and Harriet E. (Harlow) Amsbary, both of whom are natives of New York State. William W. Amsbary moved to Champaign in 1907, and for several years was connected with the waterworks here. He died in 1911, and his widow is still living at Champaign. Their five children are: George E., of Urbana; F. C.; Wallace Bruce, of Chicago; Don H., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Cordelia, still at home with her mother. When F. C. Amsbary was four years of age his parents removed to Delavan in Tazewell County, Illinois. He attended the local schools there, and at the age of fifteen he left home and worked as clerk in a store at Tremont in the same county for two years. He then went to Peoria and acquired his initial experience in railroad offices, where he remained about three years. He was next at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the Chicago Northwestern Railway offices a year and a half, then for two years a railroad clerk at Burlington, Iowa, and returning to Pekin, Illinois, engaged in the grocery business for two years. Mr. Amsbary began his career as a waterworks superintendent at Pekin, Illinois,...

Biography of William Keusink

William Keusink was for many years actively engaged in business in Champaign, but is now living retired in that city. His family came to Champaign County before the Civil War. Mr. Keusink was born in Schenectady, New York, August 19, 1856, a son of Benardus and Wilhelmina (Hall) Keusink. His parents were both natives of Holland, where they were married, and soon after their marriage they immigrated to America. About 1860 they came’ to Champaign, where the senior Keusink followed his trade as a machinist in the employ of the Illinois Central Railway Company. His death occurred in April, 1869. His widow survived him until July, 1913. Of their twelve children, six survived the father, and William Keusink was the third in age. William Keusink grew up in Champaign, attended the local schools, and in 1872, at the age of sixteen, began to learn the cabinet maker’s trade. He followed that as an occupation until 1884, and then entered the laundry business. For twenty years Mr. Keusink conducted the leading laundry of this city, known as the Champaign Steam Laundry Company. He sold out in May, 1914, and has since retired and has merely looked after his private interests. On June 28, 1879, he married Elizabeth Lynch, who was born in Cooperstown, New York, a daughter of William and Catherine (Lennon) Lynch. Her parents were both natives of Ireland, were brought to the United States as children, and lived first in New York City and afterwards in Utica, New York. The Lynch family removed to Champaign in 1875, but after three years returned to New York State, where Mrs....

Biography of John I. Groves, M. D.

John I. Groves, M. D., was born in Cass County, Illinois, May 2, 1854, a son of Isaac and Mary E. (Coal) Groves. His father was born in England and his mother in the State of Maryland. Isaac Groves was for many years an active minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1878 he removed to Champaign, and died there December 12, 1906. By his first marriage he had two children, Elizabeth J., wife of Hugh Mitchell, of Fisher, Illinois; and Harriet A., wife of Thomas M. Foster, of Dickens, Iowa. Rev. Mr. Groves’ second wife died March 22, 1905. She was the mother of two sons: Dr. John Groves; and Charles W. Doctor Groves remained at home with his father until he was twenty years of age. In the meantime he had acquired a substantial education, and he then took up teaching and followed that profession for four years in country districts. For three years he was a teacher in Vermilion County, Illinois. He then entered the Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago, from which he was graduated M. D. in 1880, and spent seven years. in the practice of medicine in Indiana and Illinois. His first practice was done in Indiana, and after two years he removed to Gibson City, where he practiced for four years before coming to Champaign, and since locating here he has devoted his time to real estate interests. Doctor Groves has membership in the Homeopathic Medical Society, and was a charter member of Hesperon Lodge No. 123 of the Knights of Pythias of which he is a Past Chancellor Commander. He also belongs...

Biography of Fred Hess

Fred Hess. On the roster of the energetic men who are discharging the duties connected with public positions in Champaign County is found the name of Fred Hess, whose incumbency of the office of county clerk goes back over a period of more than six and one-half years. The county clerkship is an office which carries with it some of the heaviest responsibilities and most onerous duties, the important character of which demand the presence and labor of a man of strong intellect, who can combine accuracy with industry and fidelity. The fact that Mr. Hess has retained the office during the long period that he has should be sufficient proof that he is possessed of the qualities mentioned, or at least that he has satisfied the people in this respect. He is one of the native sons of the county who have made excellent records in public life. Fred Hess was born in the city of Champaign, Illinois, May 19, 1871, and is a son of Isaiah H. and Sarah A. (Hardin) Hess, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Pennsylvania. His father was still a young man when, in 1857, he left his native state and came to Illinois. As a youth he had learned the trade of plasterer, and after following this occupation as a journeyman for a number of years developed into a contractor in the same line, and for a long period carried on a large and successful business at Champaign. His death occurred October 12, 1875, when he had reached only a little past middle age. Among the older...
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