Calhoun County

1891 Biography - George Child

HON. GEORGE B. CHILD. It is doubtful if a more popular man could be found within the limits of Calhoun County than the Hon. George B. Child, whose portrait is presented on the opposite page. He was born in Hardin and as the most of his life has been spent here he is well known throughout the community. His reputation has extended into the surrounding country, his qualities of mind and traits of character have been thoroughly canvassed, and his election to positions of public trust and responsibility is therefore an unmistakable compliment to his personal worth. Mr. Child is still quite a young man, his natal day having been June 12, 1851.

Some facts regarding the ancestors of our subject will be of interest in connection with his own life history. His grandfather, Stephen Child, was born in Roxbury, Mass., and was descended from one of the Pilgrim Fathers who arrived on American shores in the “Mayflower." An arm chair brought by the sturdy Puritan is now in the possession of our subject. Stephen Child followed the life of a farmer near Roxbury. He married Sarah Weld, who was also a native of the old Bay State. To the good couple was born a son, Benjamin F., whose birthplace is now included in the city of Boston, but was at that time an outlying farm. Benjamin Child was educated in Roxbury and served an apprenticeship in the wholesale grocery store of John W. Thayer on Central Wharf, Boston.

After working there three years Mr. Child came to Illinois in 1835, locating on the present site of Hardin and at once engaging in mercantile pursuits. The locality became known as Child's Landing, and when some time later Mr. Child donated the land to Calhoun County and the county-seat was removed from Gilead to this point, he named the village Hardin in honor of Gov. Hardin of South Carolina. He continued his career as a merchant until his death, which took place February 11, 1872. His widow then carried on the business until 1887, manifesting a degree of business ability seldom shown by women. Mr. Child was one of the charter members of Calhoun Lodge No. 444, I. O. O. F. In politics he was always a Republican.

The marriage of Benjamin F. Child and Ellen Brown was solemnized in St. Louis, Mo., August 17, 1836. The bride was born in Roxburyshire, Scotland, April 4, 1816, and in the same shire her parents, Thomas and Margaret (Thompson) Brown had opened their eyes to the light. Mr. Brown, accompanied by his wife and four of his children, set sail from White Haven, England, in 1832, and landed at Quebec after a voyage of eight weeks and three days. He went directly to Little York, as Toronto was then called, made that place his home for fourteen months and then came to Alton, this State. In that city he resided until his death, at the age of sixty-seven years. His widow died in the same city at the ripe old age of eighty-eight.

The mother of our subject is still living in Hardin. She has two children living — our subject and his sister Sarah, who is the wife of the Rev. Harlan Page Carson, D. D. The family of which Mrs. Child made one included also the following members: Archibald, a farmer who settled at Smith's Falls, Canada; Alexander, a wagon-maker whose home was in Hannibal, Mo.; Samuel, a cabinet-maker who lived in Peterboro, Canada; Margaret, who married J. R. Stanford, of Griggsville; James, a machinist who lived near Memphis, Tenn.; Thomas, a blacksmith whose home was in Alton; George, an attorney and editor, Sergeant-at-Arms of the United States Senate for seven years and also Mayor of Alton; Joseph, now City Auditor of St. Louis, Mo. The last-named, and Mrs. Child are the only members of the family now living. George T. Brown was in his office on the night of the assassination of E. P. Lovejoy, with whom he was associated in business.

The second born in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin F. Child was a son, Stephen. He entered the army as Second Lieutenant in Company E, Sixth Missouri Infantry, was promoted to be First Lieutenant and transferred to Gen. Palmer's staff as Aid and was mustered out as Captain. When his term of enlistment expired he was honorably discharged and returned to his home. In the latter part of Lincoln's administration he served as messenger in the Senate at Washington, being appointed to that position by his uncle, George T. Brown, who was Sergeant-at-Arms from 1861 to 1868. Mr. Child continued to act as messenger until 1868, and then made his home in Hardin, where he breathed his last October 8, 1876. His remains are deposited in the Alton Cemetery, near those of his respected father whose ability, good citizenship and fine character make the name honored by all who knew him.

The gentleman who is the subject of this biographical sketch was reared in his native place and attended the village schools until ten years of age. He then became a student in the city schools of Alton and in 1871 entered Bryant & Stratton's College in St. Louis, remaining there until called home by his father's last illness. He assisted in the management of the business until 1887. His father was appointed Postmaster in 1847, and with the exception of one year during Buchanan's administration, the office was held in the family until 1885.

Our subject has served as a member of the village Board, as Justice of the Peace, and in 1882 was elected Sheriff with a large political majority against him. He was the first Republican ever elected to that office in the county and the first ever sent to the Legislature. These facts afford satisfactory proof of the extreme popularity of the man and the very high opinion held by the people of his mental ability, interest in the public welfare and trustworthiness. In 1890 Mr. Child was elected to the Legislature and all who know him will watch his career there with great interest. He has served as a delegate to numerous county, district and State conventions, and has always been a stanch Republican, his first vote having been given for U. S. Grant. He belongs to Calhoun Lodge No. 444 I. O. O. F., and occupies the Secretary's Chair.

The wife of Mr. Child bore the maiden name of Martha A. Edwards. She is one of those noble woman whom "to love is a liberal education" and is as popular among her acquaintances as is our subject among his. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Child was solemnized in 1876 and has been blessed to them by the birth of two daughters — Mary R. and Bertha Brown (deceased.)

Extracted 16 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 500-503

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