Biography - Henry L. Hart

CAPT. HENRY L. HART, who won military honors during the Civil War as an officer of an Illinois regiment, is a prominent citizen of Shelbyville, Shelby County, where he has for some time conducted business as a furniture dealer, and he has also been a conspicuous figure in the municipal government. He was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, October 20, 1837, a son of Barnhart Hart, who was born in Pennsylvania in February, 1812.
The grandparents of our subject removed from Pennsylvania to the Buckeye State during the first quarter of this century, and were among the early pioneers of Fairfield County, where they both died soon after they located in its primeval wilds. Their son Barnhart was very small when he was thus orphaned, and he early had to work for a livelihood. At the age of fourteen he was bound as an apprentice to Mr. Beck, a blacksmith, of Lancaster, and served with him seven years to learn the trade, receiving his board and clothes in repayment for his assistance. At the expiration of that time he did journey work for a while, and then opened a smithy in the village of Jefferson, and carried on business in his line in that place until 1851. In that year he bought a farm in Violet Township, and has since devoted his time to farming, being one of the prosperous, well-to-do farmers of his neighborhood. In early manhood he took unto himself a wife, whose name prior to their marriage was Mary Wooster, and she was born in Germany in 1812. The following are the names of the eight children that this worthy couple reared to maturity: Francis C., Henry L., Anna M., Charles, John, Elizabeth, Susan A. and Irvin M. John, who was a member of Company K, One Hundred and Fourteenth Ohio Infantry, died opposite Vicksburg while bravely fighting for his country.
In the county of his nativity he of whom these lines are written grew to man's estate, and in its schools he gained a good practical education, he remained with his parents until his twenty-second year, affording his father valuable help on his farm, and he then came to this county, he was employed in farming here until 1861, and then the restless spirit of adventure and the prospects of gain sent him to the gold fields in the Rocky Mountains. In company with others, he started in the month of March on the long and tedious journey across the plains, going with a team to St. Louis, and there embarking team and all on a river steamer bound for Atchison, Kan., whence they proceeded across the prairies to their destination. At that time buffaloes were plenty on the plains, and Indians, who were sometimes hostile, had full sway. Denver, which was then in its infancy, had a population of but three or four hundred people.
Our subject engaged in mining until fall, then returned to this county with the proceeds of his labors. In the month of December he volunteered for service in the Union Army, having determined to join his patriotic fellow-countrymen at the front to help defend the stars and stripes. His name was enrolled as a member of Company H, Fifty-fourth Illinois Infantry, and he went South with his regiment. In all its campaigns, marches and battles, he was an active participant, and on all occasions displayed true valor, coolness in danger, and promptness in action that mark the genuine soldier, which traits finally won for him deserved promotion from the ranks to the position of First Lieutenant, his commission being received in 1864. From that time he had command of his company, although he was not appointed its Captain until February, 1865. His men fought well under the inspiration of his leadership, and did their part bravely in every battle in which they met the enemy, continuing in the service until after the close of the war, when they and their gallant Captain were honorably discharged.
After leaving the army Capt. Hart returned to Shelbyville, and for some years was engaged here in the grocery business until failing health obliged him to wind up his affairs and take a much needed rest. After selling out, he spent one year in the South and in his native State, and he then came back to Shelbyville. He was employed as a clerk until 1885, and then established himself in his present business, in which he has been eminently successful. He has a large and well-appointed store, stocked with a full line of furniture and house furnishing goods, our subject making it a point to carry every article used in the fitting up of a modern home demanded by the needs and tastes of his many customers.
In 1866 Capt. Hart was united in marriage to Miss Isabella Fishbaugh, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Mordecai and Isabella Fishbaugh. Their wedded life has been one of mutual felicity, and has brought them four sons — Francis C., Lewis H., William R. and Walter E.
The Captain is a man of sound business principles, is prompt in his dealings and methodical in the management of his affairs. His fellow-citizens, recognizing these facts, and knowing their value in a civic official, at one time called him to the head of the municipal government, and for four years he served with distinction as Mayor of Shelbyville. He is a true Democrat in his politics, and in his religious faith a firm Presbyterian, both he and his wife being active members of the church of that denomination in this city.

Extracted 09 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 261-262.

Templates in Time