Biography - Thomas Banks

THOMAS BANKS, of the firm of N. F. Keim & Co., general merchants at Findlay, has long been variously identified with the interests of Shelby County, and is connected both with its mercantile and agricultural affairs. Vaughn Township, York County, Province of Ontario, Canada, is the place of his birth. His father, who bore the same name as himself, was a native of Yorkshire, England. He learned the trade of a stonemason and that of an oatmeal miller. On coming to America he settled in Vaughn Township, Canada, and devoting himself to his trade as a miller, he ground the first oatmeal that was ever exported from Canada to England. He continued his residence in York County many years, and then, after spending a few months in the United States, returned to Canada, and passed his last years in Elgin County. The maiden name of his third wife, mother of our subject, was Janette Jeffrey. She was born in Scotland, and died at Richmond Hill, York County, Canada.

The subject of this sketch was reared in his Canadian birthplace, and in his youth served a three years' apprenticship to Thomas Harris, a well-known carpenter and builder. After acquiring a thorough knowledge of his trade in all its branches, he went to Elgin County and did journey work there until 1859. In that year he crossed the border and came to the "States," and for some twelve months was engaged as a carpenter in Indiana. In 1860 he started on his return to his old home, and on his way came to Illinois to collect a small bill due him by a person living in Todd's Point Township, this county. This proved to be the turning point in his life, for he became favorably impressed with the country and resolved to settle here permanently, perhaps influenced to this decision by the matrimonial alliance that he contracted soon after with the daughter of one of the pioneer families of the county. He found work at his trade as a carpenter and builder, and was thus employed until 1863,when he rented a tract of land and gave his attention to farming. He was successful in his operations and soon purchased eighty acres of land on section 34, in that part of Okaw Township now included in Todd's Point Township, to which he subsequently added eighty acres adjoining, and he also bought fifteen acres of timber land on section 35. He has his farm well improved, under admirable tillage, and provided with two sets of conveniently arranged frame buildings. In 1889 Mr. Banks formed a partnership with his son-in-law, N. F. Keim, to engage in the mercantile business at Findlay. They have a well-appointed store, carry a fine assortment of general stock, and have already built up a thriving trade.

Mr. Banks was first married in 1861 to Mrs. Cassandra (Waller) Beck, daughter of Eli and Mary (Stanaford) Waller, and widow of Nathaniel Beck. She was a native of this county. She departed this life in June, 1883. Four children were born of her marriage with our subject, all of whom are living: Priscilla, who married Xavier Wernett, and has two children — Joseph and Henry; Ella married Warner H. Mauzey, and has two children — Eva and Adda: Cynthia married N. F. Keim, and has one child— Irus; Effie May, the youngest daughter, is at home with her parents. Mr.Banks was married a second time in 1890 to Mrs. Tabitha Robertson. She is a member of the Christian Church, and shares with her husband the respect and esteem of the entire community. Mr. Banks is well known in this part of the county, and is looked up to as a man of solid worth, whose dealings are always fair and above board, and whose word is as good as a bond.

Extracted 29 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 627-628.

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