Hon. Willard P. Naramore, the veteran physician and surgeon of Lena, is probably the most prominent of the older pioneers who have witnessed the development of the county from the open prairies to the present highly cultivated agricultural and manufacturing community. He combines two qualifications seldom found in the medical profession-a high proficiency in the art of healing and exceptional financial ability. Too often the practitioner devotes his time and strength to his clientage for many years neglecting the financial side of the profession and finds himself late in life with little to sustain his declining years and the old families that he had attended from birth to maturity forgetting him when in need of the services of a physician.
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Dr. Naramore is descended from old New England stock that had its origin in Old England. His father, Ezra Naramore, was a native of Vermont where he attained his majority and married. Soon after that event he emigrated to what was then the western wilds, Seneca county, New York, where he secured a farm in Clyde township. Here he was employed in agricultural pursuits until his death in 1831 while yet in early manhood. He was a man of strong force of character such as push out to the frontier and, braving the dangers and hardships of a wilderness, blaze the way for others of a less forceful nature to follow.
The mother of our subject was Elizabeth McBride, of Scotch-Irish descent, a daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Watson) McBride. On the death of her husband she returned to her father’s house and soon after joined them in their emigration to Ohio where she resided until her demise in 1845. Of her two children, Sarah the elder, married Orin Pulsifer, an architect who moved to the Pacific coast where he died. Mrs. Pulsifer still makes the city of San Francisco her home.
Willard Parker Naramore was born in the town of Junius, Seneca county, N. Y., December 19, 1824 and was a lad of some eight years when the family moved from his native state to Geauga county, Ohio. Here he attended the common schools of the time until the age of sixteen when he entered the Twinsburg Academy, pursuing the higher branches for two years. Shortly after he began the study of medicine under the tutelage of Dr. William R. King of Chardon and attended lectures at Willoughby Medical college, supplementing this with a term at the Starling Medical college of Columbus. Shortly after he became a citizen of the Prairie state, beginning the practice of his profession at Oneco in 1846, since which time he has been a continuous resident of the county and enjoys the distinction of being the Nestor of the profession not only in age but in years of practice as well. In 1850 he became a resident of Freeport and seven years later removed to Orangeville residing there some nine years. In 1851, after several years practice in the new country, he returned to Columbus and, completing the prescribed course, graduated from the institution and received his diploma and license to practice his profession in that state. About 1865 Dr. Naramore became a citizen of Lena where he soon built up a large practice that extended into the adjoining county and state. As a practitioner no one in the profession ranks higher in the northwest. His practice yielding him more than a competency soon enabled him to enter the field of finance in which he has made as great a success as in the practice of his profession. He was largely instrumental in organizing the Second National Bank of Freeport and is a large stock holder and president of the leading bank at Lena.
Dr. Naramore was first married in March 1848 to Miss Lucy A. Jones a native of Union county, Pa., where her birth occured in 1825. She died in 1858 leaving two children: Willard W., a dealer in agricultural implements at Mason City, Iowa, and John M., now a resident of Oklahoma Territory.
Dr. Naramore’s second marriage occured in November 1859, when he was united to Miss Mary Bower, also of Union county, her birth occuring in 1835 and her death in 1895. The children of this marriage are as follows : Milton O. after teaching successfully in the county for several years took up the study of law and is now a rising attorney in Chicago. Martha Lincoln house-keeper and home maker for her father; Susie wife of Dr. W. F. Tucker, dentist of Lena; Lottie May, deceased; George H., proprietor of a cattle ranch in South Dakota.
Dr. Naramore has been as prominent in politics as he has been in professional and financial circles. Prior to the war he was a staunch Douglas democrat but when the enemies of the government fired on Sumter his party affiliations changed and he was heart and soul for the preservation of the Union. In 1852 he represented his district in the legislature where he came to know and appreciate John A. Logan, and as a member of the constitutional convention in 1861-2 he became intimately acquainted with Melville W. Fuller, now chief justice of the United States supreme court, and many other men of force and character who have risen to high walks in public life. Had he chosen to make his mark in political life as he did as a professional man, Dr. Naramore would have attained a relatively high place in the councils of the nation as he has in the walks of life in which he has been pleased to cast his lot. In local politics he has been unusually prominent and for many years was chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, and as chairman of the building committee took a prominent part in the construction of the new courthouse and county jail. His opinions have always been eagerly sought in the councils of his party and he has repeatedly been called upon to represent his fellow citizens in conventions, both in the county and state. He has been a guardian of the cause of education having served on the board of education upwards of twenty years, and as a member of the Christian church for nearly a lifetime has served the cause of religion equally as well, giving liberally to all departments of the church’s field of work.
The changes since the advent of Dr. Naramore to the county if all were told would make quite an interesting romance. One may now travel to the city of Chicago in as many hours as at that time it required days. Beginning with a capital of ninety-five cents, his all when he reached this country, the good doctor has by his own efforts and industry accumulated a fortune far beyond that acquired by the average man and stands as a light to encourage the younger generation to put forth every effort to succeed, knowing that what has been done may be done again.