Biography - Henry F. Day

HENRY F. DAY. Mayor of Moweaqua, and its leading merchant, has long been preeminent in the commercial, public, political and social life of Shelby County, and has been an important agent in raising it to its present position as one of the foremost counties of Central Illinois. He is of English birth and ancestry, born March 7, 1835, in Birmingham, his father, John Day, being a prominent business man of that city. His grandfather was a manufacturer of fine guns, and was a life-long resident of Birmingham. The father of our subject died in his native city in 1849, and his mother died in 1851. Her maiden name was Rebecca Crane, and she spent her whole life in Birmingham. The following are the five children that she reared: Rebecca, Betsy, John, Henry and Thomas. John died in Birmingham, and the others followed our subject to this country. Rebecca married James H. Elsum, and settled at Moweaqua; Betsy married Thomas Hudson, and also located at Moweaqua; Thomas, who first settled in Boston, and later at Moweaqua, served in the late war in the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, and now resides at Memphis, where he is engaged in the mercantile business.

Our subject was fourteen years old when his father died. He was at that time an independent, self-reliant lad, with a full share of the pertinacity and pluck common to the English stock, and he soon set forth in the world to see life for himself. He set his face toward the United States of America, and embarking December 5, 1849, on the vessel "Parliament," he was soon out on the ocean, sailing toward Boston, where he landed the 24th day of the following January. He had been well educated in the schools of his native city, and immediately after his arrival in Boston he secured a position as clerk in a bookstore, and subsequently became one of the book-keepers of Nash, Callender & Co. In 1854 he took up his residence in New York, where he engaged for a time in the insurance business. In the latter part of 1855 he went back to his old home in England, and after spending several months amid the scenes of his boyhood, he returned to the United States in the spring of 1857.

He was undecided where to locate and what to do, when good fortune led him to ask the advice of his friend, Tom Ponting, to whom he went in Chicago. That gentleman told him that he thought that the then newly founded village of Moweaqua presented many advantages to an energetic, wide-awake young man, who desired to establish himself in business. A hint is sufficient to the wise, and our subject was not long in acting on his friend's suggestion. He arrived here in May, 1857, and the following February found him fairly started in a lucrative mercantile business, which he has conducted ever since, with remarkable financial success. He began in a small way, gradually increased his stock, and has built up a large trade, that is by no means confined within the limits of the city, but extends far beyond, much patronage coming to him from the surrounding country. He now has two stores at Moweaqua, one for the sale of clothing and gentlemen's furnishing goods, boys' wear, etc., and the other for the sale of groceries, dry goods, hardware, agricultural implechma, glassware, etc. Both establishments are fitted up in good style, are well managed, and are stocked with first-class goods and a large assortment in every line, at reasonable prices.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Louisa M. March, of Jacksonville, Ill., was celebrated June 3, 1862. Mrs. Day is a daughter of Edward and Harriet (Stevenson) March. She understands well how to preside over her home, and has helped her husband and children to make theirs the scene of true hospitality and a pleasant abiding-glace, replete with every desirable luxury and comfort. These are the names of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Day: William L., Henry M., Claire, Harriet M., Mary Crane, Edna L., Aileen and Bessie Eleanor. William, a resident of Concordia, Kan., married Grace Hinman, and they have two children — Eloise and Vance.

Not only has Mr. Day borne an important part in extending the business interests of Moweaqua, but he is a conspicuous figure in its public life as the present Mayor of the city, to which position he was called in 1891 by his appreciative fellow-citizens, who recognize his talent for affairs, and know that with him at the head of the local government all enterprises inaugurated for the benefit of the community will receive every needed encouragement, and that all matters of civic import coming under his jurisdiction will be given careful attention. Our subject is a leader among the Democrats of this section, and has represented them at numerous county, district and State conventions. Mr. Day is prominently known in social circles for his connection with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows as one of its foremost members in Shelby County. He belongs to Shelby Lodge, No. 271, and to Moweaqua Lodge, No. 1013, K. of H. He has represented the Shelby Lodge at the Grand Lodge several years, was for ten years Assistant Secretary, and has been Grand Reporter of the State Lodge of K. of H. since 1886.

Extracted 09 Apr 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 495-496.

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