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Biography of Hon. William McMaster

He who possesses a good name, a well earned reputation for probity, integrity, and high moral character, and of whom it can be said that all he has attained is attributable to perseverance and pluck, individual enterprise and sagacity, is far worthier a place in this volume than he who simply boasts a long genealogical record. In this liberal age and country, ancestry, no matter how ancient or honorable, amounts to little in comparison with personal worth. Such a man, possessing these qualities, is the subject of our sketch, whose present high position, commercially, socially, and politically, is almost exclusively due to his own indomitable energy, coupled with abilities above the average, and an amount of tact and shrewdness in business affairs such as few possess. He has been fortunate because he has known when and how to use to the best advantage, that flood in the tide of men’s affairs, which the immortal bard has truly said, comes, sooner or later, to all. Mr. McMaster was born in the County of Tyrone, Ireland, where his father, the late William McMaster, was a linen merchant, on the 24th of December, 1811. He was educated at a private school, the best the neighborhood afforded, presided over by a Mr. Halcro one of the most eminent teachers in the North of Ireland. In 1833, bidding farewell to his native land, he set sail from Londonderry, bound for more promising fields, where the fruits of honest industry would be more apparent. Perhaps he had high aspirations, but however great his hopes, they were certainly below the realization, for long before reaching the...

Biography of Sylvester Washington McMaster

Almost the only living individual among those earliest settlers who came to Rock Island County in the thirties and forties, when the present City of Rock Island was a small village, known as Stephenson, is Sylvester Washington McMaster, a man whom nearly every man, woman and child throughout Rock Island County knows, either personally or by reputation. He was born October 8, 1811, near Watertown, in Herkimer County, New York, and died January 22, 1908, at the age of ninety-six years. His early life was spent upon a farm and he received such education as he could in the country schools of that time. At the age of nineteen years he himself was a school teacher, having charge of the same school which he had formerly attended as a pupil. Mr. McMaster came West in 1833, traveling by water from the City of Buffalo in his native State. The canal at that time was completed from Cleveland, Ohio, to Portsmouth, in the same state, and connecting with the Ohio River. Coming first to Cairo, Illinois, Mr. McMaster proceeded to St. Louis, and from thence to Galena, Illinois, on the Mississippi. At that early day there were but few houses in the village of Stephenson, and but one in what is now Davenport, that of Antoine LeClaire. Mr. McMaster spent two years (1833 and 1834) at Galena and then returned to St. Louis, where he spent about two years, from there coming to Stephenson again, and here he made his home until 1841. During this time he was engaged in the mercantile business. He also served one term as assessor....

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