Location: Champaign County IL

Biographical Sketch of Egbert Davison Burnham

Egbert Davison Burnham is the only surviving son of the late Albert C. Burnham, long prominent as a pioneer lawyer and banker at Champaign and whose career is more fully noted on other pages. Robert Davison Burnham learned banking with his father, but for many years has been actively engaged in the farm loan business, with offices in the First National Bank Building. He was born in Champaign, February 19, 1872, one of the five children of the late A. C. Burnham and wife. Three of these children died in infancy. Mr. Burnham was the oldest and the second in age was Mary Bruce, now wife of Newton M. Harris. Mr. Burnham was liberally educated, though he did not complete a university course. He attended the University of Illinois and also the famous college preparatory school at Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He left school to take a position in his father’s office in the Burnham, Trevett & Mattis Banking Company. He was well trained in the details of banking, but in a short time left his father’s office to form a partnership with his brother-in-law, Newton M. Harris, in the farm loan business. Mr. Burnham has the public spirit of his honored father, has been a member of the Park Commission of Champaign, and is now serving on the Public Library Board. He is a member of the Episcopal church....

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Biography of Albert C. Burnham

Albert C. Burnham. Even the most casual visitor in Champaign is accustomed to associate the name Burnham with that city, where two of its most prominent institutions bear the name. It is true in a broad sense that the good or evil men do in their days lives after them, but seldom does this continuing influence take a better form of concrete benefit than in the Burnham Athenaeum Library and the Julia F. Burnham Hospital in Champaign. They are memorials with a purpose, and a reaction for good day after day upon the lives of thousands in the community which the late Albert C. Burnham did so much to enrich and improve. There was little significance attached at the time to the quiet advent of Albert C. Burnham into the law office of J. B. McKinley as a student in the spring of 1862. He was “practically unknown, but a’t the end of thirty-five years of labor as a lawyer, banker and business man his work was firmly entrenched in the esteem and the business fabric of the community. Albert C. Burnham was born at Deerfield, Michigan, February 20, 1839, and died at Champaign, September 13, 1897. He had the training of a Michigan farm boy. His early education was from the public schools. During the years 1860-61 he taught school during the winter months in Iroquois County, Illinois....

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Biography of Judge Joseph Oscar Cunningham

Judge J. O. Cunningham. The publishers and editors of this work feel that only a meager tribute can be paid to the memory of Champaign County’s most beloved citizen in the following brief review of his life. Judge Cunningham was a great historian. He contributed liberally to historical literature, was himself the author of a History of Champaign County, and in the closing months of his life he gave generously from the riches of his great collection and from his experience and memory in an advisory capacity to the compilation of the present work. Joseph Oscar Cunningham was born at Lancaster in Erie County, New York, December 12, 1830, and died at his home, 922 West Green Street, Urbana, on April 30, 1917, when in his eighty-seventh year. He was a son of Hiram Way and Eunice (Brown) Cunningham. Some of his early life was spent in northern Ohio, where he attended Baldwin Institute at Berea and also Oberlin College. In June, 1853, at the age of twenty-two, he came to Champaign County, and from that time forward his home was at Urbana. He had previously taught in the village school at Eugene, Indiana, but a month after his arrival at Urbana became associated as one of the proprietors and editors of the Urbana Union. He was a member of this firm of Cunningham & Flynn until 1858, and...

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Biography of William W. Earnest

William W. Earnest. Firmly entrenched in the American heart is the public school system, which, while not perfect perhaps, is continually being improved, largely as the result of the efforts of conscientious, intellectual leaders. The city of Champaign in its superintendent of schools has a well qualified, constructive man, a graduate of the University of Illinois and a thorough teacher as well as executive. He is William W. Earnest, who has occupied this responsible office for the past nine years. William W. Earnest was born in Mississippi, October 1, 1863, one of a family of three children born to his parents, who were John W. and Julia J. (Woolley) Earnest. Both parents were natives of Illinois, the father born in Sangamon and the mother in Greene County. Both are now deceased, the death of the father occurring in 1902. He was one of the Argonauts who, in 1850, went to California in search of gold, of which he found enough to pay for his time, and he had many interesting experiences and adventures. From California he returned to Illinois, but afterward went to Mississippi and was engaged in managing sawmills there at the outbreak of the war between the states and found it impossible to escape from a situation embarrassing to a northern man until the opening of the Mississippi and Yazoo mines in the spring of 1864. Later...

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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...

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Biography of G. W. Hartsock

G. W. Hartsock. The record of a true and upright Christian gentleman, a man of more than ordinary business acumen fortified by years of industry, is that of G. W. Hartsock, who with his noble wife is now spending years of retirement at their home on Belle Avenue in the City of Rantoul. Mr. Hartsock was born in Greene County, Ohio, son of David and Sarah J. (Cornell) Hartsock, both natives of Ohio. His grandfather, Sylvanus Cornell, was a soldier of the War of 1812 under General Harrison, and for many years he drew a pension until his death. G. W. Hartsock had a district school education. He was one of the following families of sons and daughters: Jessie L., Sylvanus, Ruth A., Elizabeth, Flora, Eli and G. W. Flora and Eli are both deceased. As a young man G. W. Hartsock, hoping to obtain better conditions in the region of cheaper lands, made a visit to his uncle at Clinton in DeWitt County, Illinois. His investigations extended as far as Rantoul, where he was particularly impressed with the outlook, and he bought eighty acres of land at $13.50 an acre. Having made this purchase he went back to Ohio and then came on with a covered wagon and his only companion was “Dash,” an English terrier dog. This dog was a most faithful animal and in a way...

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Biography of Louis Arthur Busch

Louis Arthur Busch. The legal profession of Champaign County and the civic government of Urbana have a worthy representative in the person of Louis Arthur Busch, state’s attorney. A native of the city of Urbana, he has passed his entire life here, and his career among its citizens is looked upon as particularly worthy, as he has trod the hard self-made road to success and has triumphed over a number of discouraging obstacles which have arisen in his path. A member of the legal brotherhood since 1908, he has made rapid advancement in his calling, and since 1912 has been the incumbent of the official position which he now occupies. Louis Arthur Busch was born June 4, 1886, at Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois, and is a son of Carl T. and Carolina S. (Hank) Busch. His father was born in Prussia, Germany, and was a child when brought to America in 1868, the family originally locating at Champaign, where he was reared and received his education in the public schools. Upon his removal to Urbana, in young manhood, he embarked in the furniture business, and continued to be identified with that enterprise during the remaining years of his life, his death occurring June 8, 1896. Mr. Busch was a Democrat in his political views, but not an active participant in politics. He religious faith was that of the Lutheran...

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Biography of James A. Talbott

James A. Talbott has not only achieved that success represented by large land holdings and rich and prosperous farms, but also the riches of friendship and community esteem. All this is well indicated by the title affectionately bestowed upon him and most people know him as “Uncle Jimmie” Talbott. Mr. Talbott and his family reside in Harwood Township, in section 36, near Gifford, but his farm possessions spread over a large area and include 1,600 acres of choice Illinois soil. Mr. Talbott is a native of West Virginia, and was the fourth of eight children born to J. V. and Sarah (Parsons) Talbott. He is of English stock on both sides and the families have been in America for many generations. Mr. James A. Talbott grew up in West Virginia and attended a school known as the Wise school, from the name of the land owner there. He was still young when his parents, in April, 1865, left West Virginia, soon after the surrender of Lee’s army, and migrated to Illinois. They heard the news of Lincoln’s assassination on arriving at Danville. J. V. Talbott bought ninety acres of land in Middle Fork Township in Vermilion County, paying $25 an acre. The family encountered many hardships and privations. J. V. Talbott had always suffered somewhat delicate health and the change of climate not agreeing with him he died in...

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Biography of Heber Judson Morehouse

Heber Judson Morehouse. In acknowledging the valuable services of Mr. Morehouse as a member of the advisory board of editors in this publication, the publishers are but doing justice in presenting an appropriate sketch of his career. Mr. Morehouse has been a resident of Champaign County for over forty years, has always taken a keen interest in the county’s affairs and can speak with authority on the many varied developments of his time, especially in and around Mahomet. Mr. Morehouse was born in Ionia County, Michigan, May 18, 1856, a son of Albert F. and Sarah C. (Freeman) Morehouse. He was next to the youngest in a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters, five of whom are still living. He is the only member of the family in Champaign County. His father was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1818 and died in 1901. He had limited education and as a youth was apprenticed to learn the trade of carpenter and joiner. He became an expert carpenter and he also possessed that judgment and energy which ^made for a successful business career. He married at Troy, New York, and afterwards moved west to Portland, Michigan, where he did a large business as carpenter and contractor. Many houses in that section of the state still stand to testify to his skill and ability. He acquired considerable farm...

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Biography of A. P. Johnson

A. P. Johnson. Among the learned professions there are, probably, none that demand so much tact, judgment, patience, natural executive ability and specialized knowledge as that of the educator. The individual who enters into this field, selecting it as his chosen life work and calling, must be prepared to make many sacrifices, to endure numerous disappointments, to often spend himself for others without apparent return of gratitude, and to give the best years of his life often without the emoluments that equal efforts would in all probability bring in any other profession. It is a vocation for which there are no weights and measures. The material with which it deals is the youth of our land upon which impressions are often eternal and which affords the man who would serve the race an opportunity than which there are none greater. Of the men of Champaign County who have dedicated their lives to this work, one of the best known is A. P. Johnson, superintendent of the public schools of the city of Urbana. Born December 16, 1863, in Sussex County, Delaware, A. P. Johnson, is a son of Benjamin and Sarah (Smith) Johnson. On both sides of the family he is descended from English ancestors, and his ancestors lived for many years in Delaware, where both his parents were born. Benjamin Johnson was a fanner by vocation and in...

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Biography of Lewis D. Oliver

Lewis D. Oliver. Bankers and financiers have been happily compared to pendulums of commerce and progress, and it is very true that they furnish the stability and the steadiness chiefly required for the business world. Every financial institution acquires estimation and influence in its community largely through the character and reputation of the men whose names are most intimately associated with the undertaking. One of Champaign County’s most prosperous banks is the First State Bank of Fisher and the success and prosperity of that institution are in no small degree a reflection of the personal integrity and business standing of its vice president, Lewis D. Oliver. Mr. Oliver has been identified with Champaign County many years, and his activities have been of such character as to merit the confidence reposed in him by a large community. He was born in McLean County, Illinois, January 20, 1857. He is the fifth in a family of seven children, five sons and two daughters, born to Jackson and Clarissa (Courtright) Oliver. Four of these children are still living. Henry is a retired agriculturist living at Hennessey, Oklahoma, is a Democrat in politics and is married. Leroy P. is a resident of Morristown, Indiana. John W. is an agriculturist, live stock breeder and dealer living at Ottawa, Kansas. Jackson Oliver was born in Ohio in 1817, grew up in that state, was educated...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Biography of Benjamin Franklin Harris

Benjamin Franklin Harris. Love of land, of peace and industry, cardinal virtues in the lives of men and nations, were ever present influences in the long life of the late B. F. Harris of Champaign County. To say that he left “a good name” as a legacy to his family, is to state only part of the truth. It was a strong name, one that is vital today, and the memory of it has an inspiration to all those who have the resolution and the will to labor in order to secure worthy places in their respective spheres. Without disparaging the remarkable material achievements associated with the name in Champaign County, there is need to emphasize the wonderful virility of the family stock and its permanence. America, and this is particularly true of the Middle West, can show comparatively few families who can take root and grow and flourish generation after generation in one spot. In fact mobility in population has been exalted in some quarters almost to a virtue. Of the Harris family five generations have lived in Champaign County, beginning with the father of B. F. Harris, Sr., and coming down to his great-grandchildren. More important still, each generation has amplified and expanded the interests of the preceding. The word virility is as applicable to the family today as it was when Champaign County was on the...

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