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It is a pleasure for the writer to take up the career of men who, through long years of residence in Rock Island County, have by their upright lives and splendid deeds won for themselves the enduring respect and regard of their fellow citizens. In this class the Honorable George W. Vinton stands prominent. He was born at Middlebury, Vermont, December 5, 1834. His father was John A. Vinton, who served as a drummer boy during the War of 1812. After the close of that war the father received from the United States Government a tract of land for his services. The elder Vinton was a good father, and gave his son splendid advantages for that early day. At the age of fifteen years George W. Vinton graduated from the Randolph Academy in his native State. Here he was a classmate of the late Judge Austin Adams, a former Judge of the Iowa Supreme Court.
After his graduation from the Academy he was engaged in teaching for six terms. Tiring, however, of the life of a pedagogue, in 1855 he went west, settling in what was then the Territory of Minnesota. Here he learned the carpenter’s trade. In the fall of the same year he came to Moline, where he took the contract to build the Riverside Academy. Afterward he entered the employ of his uncle, John Deere, and remained with the firm until 1885. The scope of his employment necessitated his traveling from ocean to ocean establishing agencies to absorb the output of Mr. Deere’s constantly expanding business. For fifteen years he was also a stockholder and director in the firm.
In 1875 Mr. Vinton removed to Burlington, Iowa, where he erected the Buffington Wheel Company’s works. He owned a considerable interest in this industry for some time. In 1887 he returned to Moline.
In political conviction NIB. Vinton was for a number of years one of the leading Republicans of Illinois. At one time he was that party’s candidate for Lieutenant-Governor. However, when Horace Greeley was a candidate for President of the United States Mr. Vinton gave his support to the Democratic party, and this latter party has been the one of his choice ever since.
While a resident of Burlington he served as Alderman for four years. He was for many years chairman of the old Town Board of Moline, and was also president of he School Board. In 1892 Mr. Vinton was elected a member of the Illinois State Legislature. He received a majority of more than seven thousand, although the district he represented had always been strongly Republican. While a member of the Legislature he was chairman of the following important committees: Public charities, State institutions, and militia. During the session in which he was one of the representatives from this district, he introduced a bill for the establishment of a hospital for the insane, that would be located west of the Illinois River. This bill passed, and the asylum was located at Watertown in this County. He also introduced a bill appropriating one million dollars to the World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. By the terms of the bill introduced by Mr. Vinton, nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars of this amount was to be used in the general expense fund, and fifty thousand dollars was for the erection of the Woman’s Building. The State Board of Agriculture selected Mr. Vinton as manager of the Illinois Building during the Exposition. Afterward he was for a long time deputy collector of internal revenue for the Peoria District.
In his fraternal allegiance Mr. Vinton is connected with the Masonic Order and the Knights of Pythias.
During his long residence in Rock Island County he has won and merited the regard and esteem of his fellow citizens. As a public official he was always intrepid in performing his duty as he saw it, and his public career was one of unblemished integrity, as was his private life.