Location: Champaign Illinois

Biographical Sketch of William B. Keusink

William B. Keusink is one of the younger business men of Champaign, has been a resident of the city most of his life, and since 1910 has conducted a very successful drug business. He was born at Bloomington, Illinois, September 20, 1879, a son of William and Elizabeth (Lynch) Keusink. His father was a native of Schenectady, New York, and his mother of Utica, New York. William Keusink for a number of years conducted a laundry business in Champaign County, but is now living retired. He and his wife had two children, William B. and Wilhelmina, the latter the wife of H: C. Johnson, of Champaign. His early education William B. Keusink obtained in the grammar and high schools of Champaign. After some preliminary experience he definitely determined on a vocation as a pharmacist and entered the University of Illinois Pharmacy School in Chicago, where he was graduated in 1904. Returning to his home city he became a pharmacist with a local drug house until 1910, and at that date went into business for himself at the corner of West University Avenue and South Neil Street. He has a fine store, well equipped, and has always emphasized and sought in every way to improve the service of the pharmacy department. Mr. Keusink is a Republican in politics. He is a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of...

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Biography of F. C. Amsbary

F. C. Amsbary, superintendent and manager of the Champaign Waterworks, has been superintending waterworks plants in different parts of the country for upwards of thirty years. It has in fact been his regular profession, though some of his younger years were devoted to railroading. Mr. Amsbary has numerous connections that identify him with the substantial interests of his home city. A native of Illinois, he was born at Pekin, January 24, 1863, a son of William Wallace and Harriet E. (Harlow) Amsbary, both of whom are natives of New York State. William W. Amsbary moved to Champaign in 1907, and for several years was connected with the waterworks here. He died in 1911, and his widow is still living at Champaign. Their five children are: George E., of Urbana; F. C.; Wallace Bruce, of Chicago; Don H., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Cordelia, still at home with her mother. When F. C. Amsbary was four years of age his parents removed to Delavan in Tazewell County, Illinois. He attended the local schools there, and at the age of fifteen he left home and worked as clerk in a store at Tremont in the same county for two years. He then went to Peoria and acquired his initial experience in railroad offices, where he remained about three years. He was next at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the Chicago Northwestern Railway offices...

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Biography of William Keusink

William Keusink was for many years actively engaged in business in Champaign, but is now living retired in that city. His family came to Champaign County before the Civil War. Mr. Keusink was born in Schenectady, New York, August 19, 1856, a son of Benardus and Wilhelmina (Hall) Keusink. His parents were both natives of Holland, where they were married, and soon after their marriage they immigrated to America. About 1860 they came’ to Champaign, where the senior Keusink followed his trade as a machinist in the employ of the Illinois Central Railway Company. His death occurred in April, 1869. His widow survived him until July, 1913. Of their twelve children, six survived the father, and William Keusink was the third in age. William Keusink grew up in Champaign, attended the local schools, and in 1872, at the age of sixteen, began to learn the cabinet maker’s trade. He followed that as an occupation until 1884, and then entered the laundry business. For twenty years Mr. Keusink conducted the leading laundry of this city, known as the Champaign Steam Laundry Company. He sold out in May, 1914, and has since retired and has merely looked after his private interests. On June 28, 1879, he married Elizabeth Lynch, who was born in Cooperstown, New York, a daughter of William and Catherine (Lennon) Lynch. Her parents were both natives of Ireland,...

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Biography of John I. Groves, M. D.

John I. Groves, M. D., was born in Cass County, Illinois, May 2, 1854, a son of Isaac and Mary E. (Coal) Groves. His father was born in England and his mother in the State of Maryland. Isaac Groves was for many years an active minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1878 he removed to Champaign, and died there December 12, 1906. By his first marriage he had two children, Elizabeth J., wife of Hugh Mitchell, of Fisher, Illinois; and Harriet A., wife of Thomas M. Foster, of Dickens, Iowa. Rev. Mr. Groves’ second wife died March 22, 1905. She was the mother of two sons: Dr. John Groves; and Charles W. Doctor Groves remained at home with his father until he was twenty years of age. In the meantime he had acquired a substantial education, and he then took up teaching and followed that profession for four years in country districts. For three years he was a teacher in Vermilion County, Illinois. He then entered the Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago, from which he was graduated M. D. in 1880, and spent seven years. in the practice of medicine in Indiana and Illinois. His first practice was done in Indiana, and after two years he removed to Gibson City, where he practiced for four years before coming to Champaign, and since locating here he has devoted his...

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Biography of Fred Hess

Fred Hess. On the roster of the energetic men who are discharging the duties connected with public positions in Champaign County is found the name of Fred Hess, whose incumbency of the office of county clerk goes back over a period of more than six and one-half years. The county clerkship is an office which carries with it some of the heaviest responsibilities and most onerous duties, the important character of which demand the presence and labor of a man of strong intellect, who can combine accuracy with industry and fidelity. The fact that Mr. Hess has retained the office during the long period that he has should be sufficient proof that he is possessed of the qualities mentioned, or at least that he has satisfied the people in this respect. He is one of the native sons of the county who have made excellent records in public life. Fred Hess was born in the city of Champaign, Illinois, May 19, 1871, and is a son of Isaiah H. and Sarah A. (Hardin) Hess, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Pennsylvania. His father was still a young man when, in 1857, he left his native state and came to Illinois. As a youth he had learned the trade of plasterer, and after following this occupation as a journeyman for a number of years developed...

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Biography of Joseph E. McGurty

Joseph E. McGurty is one of the successful business men of Champaign, where in the past seventeen years he has built up a large livery enterprise and also a well conducted automobile business. He comes from the country district and was a farmer prior to his business career. Mr. McGurty was born at Colfax, Illinois, December 11, 1869, a son of Hugh and Sarah (Reagan) McGurty. Both parents were natives of Ireland. His father when six years of age went with his parents to Canada, locating near Montreal, where he grew up, and about 1859 he came to Illinois and soon afterward located on a farm in Champaign County. In 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army, in Company E, Ninety-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served three years and six months. He lived a long, useful and honorable life and died at Champaign, June 2, 1897. The widowed mother is still living in Champaign. There were six children: Anna, of Champaign; Catherine, at home; John, deceased; Joseph E.; Agnes, at home; and James, deceased. Joseph E. McGurty grew up on the farm, was educated in the local schools, and was a practical farmer on the old homestead until he was twenty-five years of age. For three years he had some mercantile experience in the department store of F. K. Robeson, and then engaged in the livery business at Champaign....

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Biography of Archie Ernest Strode

Archie Ernest Strode. One of the important industries of Champaign is the tent and awning business which for a number of years has been carried on by the Strode family. The owner and proprietor of the business at present is Archie Ernest Strode, who gave up his active trade as a boiler maker to take charge of this business at the time of his fathers death. Mr. Strode was born in Bristol, England, May 11, 1879, but was brought to this country when a child of about four years. His parents, George and Elizabeth (Frank) Strode, were both natives of England. His father died March 4, 1915, and his mother in 1901. The family came to Champaign in 1883, and George Strode established the present tent and awning business in 1905. There were five children in the family: Frank, of Champaign; Celia, widow of Thomas Dodsworth of Champaign; William, who died in 1892; Bessie, wife of W. E. Lott, of Flint, Michigan; and A. E. Strode. In 1895, at the age of sixteen, and after completing his education in the local schools, Archie E. Strode began learning the boilermaker’s trade. He still has his card of active membership in the Boilermaker’s Union. He spent about four and a half years in the shops of the Illinois Central, one year with the Santa Fe, and two years with the Big...

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Biography of Frank Kern Robeson

Frank Kern Robeson. Of the many business establishments in Champaign County perhaps none has a wider connection with the families of this section of Illinois and a better reputation due to many years of successful business relations than the Robeson Department Store, founded and built up by the veteran merchant Frank Kern Robeson, who has the distinction of having developed the first real department store in the city of Champaign. While his success and position in the community are now so well established, it is noteworthy that Mr. Robeson did not always have an easy course and one free from obstacles. He was born in the state of Pennsylvania. His parents, Alexander M. and Jane (Kern) Robeson, were natives of the same state. Their ancestors had come to America prior to the Revolutionary War. Both the Robesons and the Kerns were engaged in the great iron industry of Pennsylvania until a short time before the Civil War. In 1863 Alexander M. Robeson and his family moved to the pineries of Northern Michigan. During the next winter they and four other families endured the hardships of frontier life. When navigation closed in the fall there was no communication with the outside world except mail every two weeks brought in on sledges drawn by dogs. When navigation opened in the spring the Robesons took the first boat, a sailing vessel that...

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Biography of Thomas H. Leathers

Thomas H. Leathers, who for a number of years has stood second to none among the competent dental surgeons of Champaign County is an instance of a self-made man who came almost to the age of manhood without schooling or education and by sheer force of will and ambition qualified for a profession requiring a high degree of skill and intelligence. Doctor Leathers was born in Glensboro, Kentucky, June 30, 1870, son of William and Mary (Royalty) Leathers. His parents were both born in Kentucky, were thrifty farming people but of modest means. The mother died at the age of thirty-one and the father is now living in Montana. There were only two children, Doctor Thomas being the older, while his brother, Alfred, is manager of the Standard Oil plant at Nashville, Tennessee. The childhood of Thomas H. Leathers was spent on a Kentucky farm, also in the logging camps, and when he was seventeen years of age he began his education. He determined to get an education and he worked constantly to pay his tuition and his support while in school. He first attended school at Palmyra, Illinois, and subsequently completed a four years course in the Danville Normal in Indiana. When he had made up for early deficiencies in the way of a literary training, he entered the Louisville College of Dentistry at Louisville, Kentucky, and in...

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Biography of Roger E. Zombro

Roger E. Zombro is one of the live and enterprising business men of Champaign, and after a number of years of practical experience as an employee graduated into the ranks of independent merchants and now conducts one of the most popular men’s furnishing goods stores of the city, drawing his trade from the best classes of people. Mr. Zombro was born at Midland City, Illinois, October 16, 1880, a son of Jacob W. and Mary M. (Cheney) Zombro. His parents were both born at Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Jacob Zombro spent the last twenty years of his life in the insurance business, and he died at Weldon, Illinois. The mother died at Champaign in July, 1916. They were the parents of five children: Minnie, wife of B. F. Peltz, of Clinton, Illinois; James B., of Logan, Utah; Janette, wife of J: H. Alsbury, of Maroa, Illinois; Edna, wife of George Reddick, of Clinton, Illinois; and Roger E. Mr. Roger E. Zombro began life with a fair equipment of education. He attended the common schools and lacked only three months of graduating from the high school at Weldon, Illinois. On account of poor eyesight he had to give up his studies, and soon afterward at the age of fifteen, he began acquiring a mercantile experience as an employee of William Gushard & Company at Decatur, Illinois. He was in that company’s dry...

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Biography of Louis Mittendorf

Louis Mittendorf. A number of the solid old business houses of Champaign perpetuate in their ownership old pioneer names of Champaign County, the undertaking establishment of Louis Mittendorf being a case in point. For more than sixty years the name of Mittendorf has been known and respected in this section, ever representing honest methods and sturdy industry, and every one who has business transactions with Louis Mittendorf can testify that he has dealt with an honest man. Louis Mittendorf was born at Champaign, Illinois, June 13, 1860. His parents were Christian and Hannah (Schneber) Mittendorf, both of whom were born in Germany. Early in the ’50s the father came to Champaign County in company with Emil Dunlap, for whom he worked for nine years as gardener and nurseryman and then went into the same business for himself, purchasing five acres of land north of the town. This he improved and brought to a high state of cultivation, making of it a very profitable market garden and utilizing every inch in his frugal, efficient way, thereby accumulating a competency. To his marriage with Hannah Schneber eight children were born, as follows: Frank, who is deceased; Lottie, who is the widow of William Kiler, of Champaign; Christie, who is the wife of Jacob Ort, of Wahoo, Nebraska; Reka, who is deceased; Annie, who is the wife of J. J. Dallenbach; Henry,...

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Biography of Capt. Thomas Jefferson Smith

Capt. Thomas Jefferson Smith, of Champaign, is one of the few men still living in Illinois who made their first briefs and arguments in a court room prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. In many ways his has been a remarkable life. He began practice before the war, enlisted soon afterward and gave the best in him to the perpetuation of the Union, came out of the war with the rank of captain, and at once began practice at Champaign, where he has now lived for over half a century. Captain and Mrs. Smith never had any children. They were devoted companions during the long journey they had together in this vale of tears, and while they began struggling young people, they lived to enjoy much and the memory of their companionship is the sustaining thing in Captain Smith’s life today. Future generations will know of the many ties that linked together Captain Smith and his wife because just recently Captain Smith has donated a fund of $215,000 to the University of Illinois for the erection of a building on the campus to be named the Tina Weedon Smith Music Hall. That building will be used exclusively as a home of music, and for years to come ,it will be a source of inspiration and a source of artistic culture to the thousands of students who yearly...

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Biographical Sketch of Fred S. Bailey

Fred S. Bailey, member of the well known Bailey family of Champaign, now vice president of the Champaign National Bank, was born at Champaign April 19, 1871, and is a son of Captain Edward Bailey, one of the founders of the bank who is elsewhere mentioned in these pages. Mr. Bailey attended the common and high schools of Champaign, graduating from the latter in 1889, and continued his studies at the University of Illinois until failing health obliged him to leave. For a year he worked in Colorado for an uncle and having recovered his health returned to Champaign and entered the Champaign National Bank as a clerk. He has been through all the grades of service and is now vice-president of that institution. Mr. Bailey is a charter member of the Elks Lodge at Champaign and in politics is a Republican. He was married August 12, 1901, to Miss Mabel Bennett, a native of Pontiac, Illinois. Her parents removed to Champaign in 1892 and her father was formerly agent of the Illinois Central Railway here and afterwards in the land business in Mississippi. Both her parents are now...

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Biography of Alvin E. Huckins

Alvin E. Huckins is head of the leading clay products business of Champaign County. A mechanical engineer by profession, Mr. Huckins has been identified with several large industrial corporations in the United States, and now gives his time and energies to a plant at Urbana which is capable of turning out any form or class of product from clay. It is a big business, and Mr. Huckins is considered one of the big business men of this community. He was born in Chicago, July 31, 1884, and as a young man made his way through difficulties to success. His parents, Clarence L. and Flora E. (Ryans) Huckins, were both natives of Canada and both are now deceased. His father was for many years in the wholesale tobacco business in Chicago. Mr. Huckins was the youngest of their five children, the others being: William A., of Miami, Florida; Albert C., of Chicago; Webster Lee, of Chicago; and Luella R., wife of Walter Quinn, of Chicago. Mr. Huckins had a grammar school education in Chicago, and sold papers in order to pay his way through the English High and Manual Training School of that city. He also did night work in an architect’s office and subsequently had some valuable experience with Pierce, Richardson & Neiler, a prominent firm of consulting engineers. For a year and a half Mr. Huckins was assistant...

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Biography of Mark Carley

Mark Carley was one of the founders of the city of Champaign: His name appears again and again in connection with the early annals of that city and of Champaign County, and always he appears as a man of force, of almost unlimited enterprise and of a public spirit that was in keeping with his many successes in private life. He knew much of the world by experience and had come to Champaign County soon after returning from an excursion to California during the great gold excitement on the Pacific Coast. His own life was to a large degree the expression of those forces’ accumulated and inherited by him from a notable American ancestry. The Carleys were staunch and patriotic New Englanders. Mark Carley was born at Hancock in Hillsboro County, New Hampshire, August 24, 1799. He was a son of Elijah and Agnes (Graham) Carley and a grandson of Joseph and Sarah (Washburn) Carley. He was thus related to the Washburns whose names appear frequently in New England history, and from the same family came the Washburns who were conspicuous in the early days of Illinois. The Carleys were of Scotch-Irish ancestry. They settled in America long before the Revolution, and one of the cherished possessions of the descendants is a discharge paper signed by George Washington and granting release from the Continental Army to Jonathan Carley, an...

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