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Biography of Martin Schoonmaker

Much has been written in this historical work of the banks and bankers of Rock Island and Moline. However, in estimating the financial strength of Rock Island County the banks and bankers of its smaller municipalities are deserving of very prominent mention, for they are the tributaries of larger financial institutions and have an important part in swelling the stream of the county’s prosperity. To the village bank comes the farmer from the surrounding countryside and deposits the golden fruits of his toil. From the proprietor of that bank its customers may ask and receive sound financial advice. He is their friend and adviser as well as their banker. The farm loan, that solid rock of financial investment, is placed with him, or is negotiated through some larger banking institution through his agency. Upon the stability and security of these smaller banks, as well as upon the honor and integrity of those in control of them, rests the whole superstructure of the confidence and trust reposed in them. With these thoughts in mind we are now to consider the life and character of Martin Schoonmaker, the banker at the Village of Reynolds in this county, one of Rock Island County’s most influential citizens. He was born October 21, 1834, in Green County, New York, his parents being Christian and Sylvia Schoonmaker. Both Mr. Schoonmaker’s parents were natives of this country. His paternal grandfather came to America from Germany at a very early date. Martin Schoonmaker received such education as was afforded at that early time in the common schools of his native county, receiving sound instruction in the common...

Biography of Rufus Walker

Rufus Walker, one of the most extensive fuel dealers in Moline, was born in Williamstown, Orange County, Vermont, December 10, 1839, his parents being Rufus and Susan Walker. Eleven children, seven boys and four girls, were born to this couple. The father, who was a shoemaker by trade, died December 22, 1839, when the subject of this sketch, the youngest of the large family, was only twelve days old. The seven sons all learned the same trade as the father, that of shoemaking. Rufus Walker obtained a common school education in Williamstown, and in November, 1860, he left his native state and came west, settling in Rock Island County, where he obtained a clerkship in the general store of Ainsworth & Walker at Edgington. He was employed in this store until July, 1864, when he purchased the business and conducted it until February, 1873, when he removed to Rock Island, and in company with C. E. Dodge purchased the business of E. H. Smyth, which they conducted for three years under the firm name of Walker & Dodge. In the spring of 1876, together with Mr. Meigs Wait, he secured the right of way and about $22,000 in money for the Mercer County Railroad Company. Mr. Walker ran a general store furnishing supplies during that same year. They also purchased the land where the village of Reynolds now stands, and laid out that town, later going into the lumber business there, and continuing in that business until the winter of 1887. In February, 1882, Mr. Walker moved from Rock Island to Reynolds. When the firm discontinued the lumber business...

Biography of Mansfield M. Sturgeon

One of the most brilliant and astute attorneys practising at the Rock Island County Bar is Mansfield M. Sturgeon, senior member of the legal firm of Sturgeon. Stelck & Sturgeon, a man whose great ability and profound learning as an attorney has been demonstrated in the trial of many important suits, as well as in sound counsel and legal advice. He was born September 10, 1843, at Letart Falls, Ohio, his parents, being Oliver Hazard Perry Sturgeon and Mary Ellenor (Summers) Sturgeon. The father was born March 14, 1818, at Sistersville, Virginia, the date of the marriage of the senior Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon being December 25, 1839. The death of the father occurred at Windom, Kansas, in 1902, he being then in his eighty-fifth year. The mother was born in Morgantown, Virginia, June 11., 1819. She is still living, and is in her eighty-eighth year. The grandfather of our subject, William Sturgeon, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was with the land forces at Lake Erie when Commodore Perry won the memorable naval battle there. Hence when his son was born he bestowed upon him the somewhat lengthy name of Oliver Hazard Perry Sturgeon, in honor of his hero. This rather cumbrous cognomen was abbreviated by his boyhood companions to simply “Perry “, and by this name he was known throughout his life. The Sturgeons were of Scotch-Irish ancestry, one of the members of that family settling in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in an early day. The great-grandfather of our subject was born in Uniontown. When a young man he erected a grist mill on the banks...

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