Richland County

Biography - Henry Spring

This biographical memoir has to do with a character of unusual force and eminence, for Henry Spring, whose life chapter has been closed by the fate that awaits us all, was for a long lapse of years one of the prominent citizens of Richland county, having come to this section in pioneer times, and he assisted in every way possible in bringing about the transformation of the county from the wild condition found by the first settlers to its later day progress and improvement. While he carried on a special line of business in such a manner as to gain a comfortable competence for himself, he also belonged to that class of representative citizens who promote the public welfare while advancing individual success. There were in him sterling traits which commanded uniform confidence and regard, and his memory is today honored by all who knew him, and is enshrined in the hearts of his many friends.

Henry Spring was born near Sheffield, England, December 2, 1806, the son of Thomas and Margaret (Bishop) Spring, also natives of England. Thomas Spring was a professional landscape gardener. He was the father of five sons, namely: Sidney, Archibald, Henry, John and George. The family emigrated to America in 1819, the father dying in Pennsylvania on the overland trip to Illinois. The mother and children located on a farm in Edwards county, near Albion, this state. Henry and John remained on the farm during the lifetime of their mother. Henry Spring, our subject, was thirteen years old when he came to Illinois, and where he received most of his education in the subscription schools. However, he began his education in England. The mother was highly educated and taught at home. Henry was in business a short time near Evansville, Indiana, later returning to Edwards county, where he married in January, 1842. He came to Olney and was the second merchant to engage in business. His store was located in a small room belonging to T. W. Lilley, being a part of his residence. He was a typical pioneer and had a country stock of goods which he bought on credit, which proved to be the foundation of a later fortune. In the fall of 1842 he built a frame building at the corner of Main and Fair streets, with living rooms in the rear. About 1855 he sold out to P. P. Bower. In 1856 he built a brick building at the southwest corner of Main and Boone streets, and about 1859 again engaged in the merchandise business. The ground on which the building stands was bought from the government by T. W. Lilley, transferred to John Allen and then to the subject of this sketch, and is still owned by his family. In 1848 he built a two-story frame building for a residence at the southeast corner of Main and Fair streets, which was very pretentious for those days. In 1866 he retired from the mercantile business and in the store building now owned by his sons, plans for the organization of the First National Bank were consummated in December, 1865, he being one of the instigators and the leading spirit in the enterprise, and Mr. Spring was made its first president, which position he held with great credit to his ability for a period of twenty years, with the exception of one year. In the same store room in 1883 plans were formulated for the organization of the Olney National Bank, and our subject having severed his connection with the First National Bank, became president and principal stockholder of the new bank, remaining at the head of the same for six years. He became known as a man of the strictest integrity, his word being as good as his bond, and those dealing with him were required as much. His life was devoted to his family, for he avoided society, not caring for any public display, and he belonged to no secret orders and was affiliated with no church, neither had he any political aspirations except to vote the Republican ticket, having originally been a Whig. He was a very successful businessman, being conservative, careful and exercised various English traits of character, and he accumulated an honest fortune. He was a patriotic man and served in the Black Hawk war.

After a long, honorable and successful career, Henry Spring was called from his labors August 20, 1890, being nearly eighty-four years old, having been active and in possession of all his faculties up to within a few years prior to his death. He was a man of great strength and vitality in his prime.

Henry Spring was united in marriage December 31, 1841, to Caroline Russell Mount, a native of Nantuckett Island, the daughter of Freeman Marshall and Mary Ann (Russell) Mount, natives of Massachusetts.

Twelve children were born to the subject and wife, four of whom died in infancy. The eight living children are as follows: Mary, who was the first white child born in what is now the town of Olney, having been born November 22, 1842; she married Thomas W. Scott, who was in partnership with her father in 1865. He is now Attorney General of Illinois. Florence is the second living child, and is the wife of John H. Senseman, cashier of the Olney bank; Edward M., is a business man in Olney; Caroline M. is living at home; Elizabeth is the wife of Medford Powell, of Olney: Laura is a member of the family circle; Harry B. is in business in Olney: Kate L. is the wife of Doctor Watkins, of Olney.

Mrs. Spring, a woman of gracious personality, survived her husband until June 20, 1904, when she passed to her rest, being past eighty-three years of age.

Edward M. Spring, son of our subject, was born in Olney, Illinois, July 30, 1852, being reared in Olney, where he received his education in the public schools. He also attended Asbury College, now DePauw University, but he did not graduate from that institution, however, he made a splendid record for scholarship. When eighteen years of age he went to Kansas, where he spent two years. In 1872 he engaged in the seed and produce business, and has successfully continued in the same ever since, being in the store room formerly built and occupied by his father. James G. Hollister was his partner for sixteen years, and in 1888 the firm became Spring Brothers, which is still the name of the firm. A very large business has been built up and a good trade is carried on throughout this locality.

Edward M. Spring was united in marriage December 25, 1873, to Kate Radenscroft, a native of New Albany, Indiana, the daughter of William E. and Anna C. (Jackson) Radenscroft, formerly of England, who came to Philadelphia. The father of the subject's wife was formerly a Methodist minister. Both are now deceased. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Spring: Lawrence E., who lives in Owensboro, Kentucky, in the milling business; Ethel is living at home. She was educated at Olney and in Indianapolis, and received a musical education in Cincinnati and Chicago, becoming a proficient musician. She is at this writing (1909) supervisor of music in the public schools of Olney. Mr. Spring is a Republican but not a politician. He served one term as Alderman. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Modern Woodmen and the Knights of Pythias. He has a beautiful home and there is a large oak tree in his yard under which John A. Logan made his first speech in behalf of the Republican party, October 12, 1866, as a candidate for Congressman at large. At that time the place of residence of the subject was a part of the splendid grove adjoining the village of Olney, where picnics and rallies were held.

Harry Bishop Spring, son of Henry Spring, our subject, was born in Olney, Illinois, where he was reared and where he received his education in the public schools. He was also a student of the University of Illinois at Champaign. He obtained a good education, and after leaving school spent six or seven years in the South and West, being on the coast for some time. After returning to Olney he engaged in the seed and produce business in 1888, with his brother, under the firm name of Spring Brothers.

Harry B. Spring was united in marriage June 17, 1890, to Victoria Eckenrode, a native of Sumner, Illinois, the daughter of Sylvester J. and Mary Eckenrode, a former business man of Olney. One daughter was born, a winsome little girl named Marjorie. Mrs. Spring was called to her rest January 4, 1905. Harry Spring is a Republican in politics, and is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

The family of our subject has long been recognized as leaders in industrial affairs in Richland county, being people of the highest integrity and worth, for when Henry Spring passed away he left his family the priceless heritage of an untarnished name, to the county the value of good citizenship, and to the young an example well worthy of emulation. Public opinion in passing judgment upon his life work, classed him with the men of honor and worth, and with the pioneers of Richland county his name is forever inscribed, shinging out with peculiar luster.

Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 162-164.

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