Biography of William H. Cecil
Discover your family's story.
Enter a grandparent's name to get started.
WILLIAM H. CECIL. The calling of the merchant is one of the most hon-orable lines of industry, and one of its most worthy exponents at Harrison is William H. Cecil, who is a native of Jasper, Newton County, Arkansas, where he first saw the light of day July 9, 1854. His parents, Riley and Sarah (Harrison) Cecil, were born in Tennessee, and the former was a son of William Cecil, who became a resident of Newton County, Arkansas, during the early history of the county and settled on what is called the Cecil Fork of the Buffalo River. There the grandfather died at an early day, and his widow in 1857 started on the overland journey to California, and was in the wagon train that was massacred in Utah by the Mormons and Indians, known in history as the Mountain Meadow Massacre, but fortunately two days before that event she and her sons had left the train and taken another trail and thus escaped a horrible death. She was the mother of six sons and several daughters, of whom Riley was but a lad when his parents came to Arkansas. He was married in Newton County, and for some time thereafter lived on Big Buffalo River, the father dying there in 1856. He was a successful tiller of the soil, and to him-self and wife two children were born: William H. and Mary J., wife of John Wammock, of Harrison. The mother is still living and resides with the subject of this sketch. Her parents were Robert and Clarinda (Austin Harrison, who were early settlers of the county of Newton, where the grandfather died. Grandmother Harrison is still living and makes her home in Harrison with her daughter, Mrs. Davis.
William H. Cecil attained manhood in Newton County, and after the death of his father he and his widowed mother went to live with the grandfather, Robert Harrison, who moved to Bluff Springs in 1858, the school center of the country at that time, and there William H. Cecil and his sister obtained a good common-school education. At the opening of the war they moved back to Jasper County, and there remained until 1863, when they located in Springfield, Missouri In the winter of 1865 they returned to Jasper. William H., his mother and sister came to Harrison, and he became an assistant in the post office, over which Mr. Baker presided. In 1880 Mr. Baker and Mr. Cecil bought a stock of groceries, which business they carried on until the fall of that year, when they put in a stock of dry goods. In 1882 Mr. Cecil sold his interest to Phillips & Baker, after which he clerked for them for two years, and in 1886 opened the dry goods emporium of which he is now the proprietor. In 1891 his store was burned to the ground, but he succeeded in saving his stock of goods, and in 1892 he erected his present fine store building, 22×80 feet. He is doing a very prosperous business, amounting to from $12,000 to $15,000 annually, and the stock of goods that he keeps amounts to about $6,000. His goods are all well chosen from reliable houses, and no more prosperous business than that which is carried on here can be found. He is one of the leading men of the county, and besides his valuable town property is the owner of an excellent farm near Harrison, all of which has come into his possession through his own good management. A stanch Republican in politics, still he is no politician, although he has held a number of city offices. He led to the altar Miss Letitia, daughter of Andrew and Polly Baker (see sketch of F. S. Baker). Mrs. Cecil was born in Virginia October 20, 1854, but has been a resident of Arkansas from childhood. Her children are as follows: Hattie, Riley, Mintie (who died at the age of three months), Walter, Troy and Lulu V. Hattie teaches in the public schools of Harrison. Mr. Cecil and his family attend the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in which he is an elder, and all measures-educational, religious and moral-are heartily supported by him.