Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.
Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.
BENJAMIN H. HAILEY, who is engaged in the grocery business in Palmer, is one of the veterans of the late war, having enlisted for the defense of the Old Flag when he was only twenty years of age. He saw much active service, taking part in many of the important battles and skirmishes. He may justly be proud of his army record, for few men were called upon to do more active duty and suffer more hardships. In local affairs he has been prominent for many years, and has always been esteemed as one of the most public-spirited citizens of the place. He was the genial and efficient Postmaster for four years under Harrison's administration, retiring from that office in June, 1893, of his own accord.
Born in Sangamon County, Ill., January 9, 1841, Mr. Hailey is a son of Thomas J. and Melvenia M. (Higgins) Hailey. They were the parents of two children, our subject, and Edward, who died in 1864, shortly after being discharged from the army, on account of disease contracted while in the service. He had enlisted and was a member of Company A, Third Illinois Cavalry.
Thomas J. Hailey learned the trade of a carpenter and followed that occupation in early life. He was born in Virginia, and removed to Tennessee when a boy, with the family of the man to whom he was apprenticed. In 1830, he came to Illinois, and settled in Sangamon County. He as
sisted in putting on the first shingled roof in Springfield, and served in the first Black Hawk campaign, in 1832. In 1871, he came to this county and made his home in Palmer until his death, which occurred in 1887, at the age of eighty-two years, lacking one month.
His first marriage was with a lady by the name of Narcissa Moore, by whom he had two children, only one of whom is now living, Emeline E. Thomas, who is now a widow. Mr. Hailey afterward married Miss Melvenia Higgins, whose death occurred in 1885, at the age of sixty-eight years.
Our subject's paternal grandfather, Edmund Hailey, was a native of the Old Dominion and participated in the War of 1812. He was twice married, and lived to be about seventy-six years of age, dying in Virginia. William Higgins, the maternal grandfather, was also born in Virginia, and served in Anthony Wayne's campaign. He was twice married, and was the father of eighteen children. He emigrated to Illinois in 1831, and died when seventy-five years of age, in Sangamon County.
Benjamin H. Hailey, whose name heads this sketch, lived until his twentieth year on a farm in Sangamon County, six miles from Springfield. He enlisted in Company A, Third Illinois Cavalry, and served three years and fourteen days. He participated in the battles of Pea Ridge, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, Champion Hills [ed., Champion Hill], Big Black Ridge, the sieges of Vicksburg and Jackson, and participated in over forty skirmishes. For thirteen successive days he was engaged in the skirmishes of Green's cavalry. He was very fortunate in never meeting with injury and was never in a hospital. Indeed, he has always been extremely healthy and robust, and perhaps to this fact is due much of his success in life.
Returning to Sangamon County after the war, our subject engaged in farming for one year, and, feeling the need of a better education to qualify him for his future life work, he attended the Illinois State University at Springfield [ed., Illinois State University was located in Springfield from 1852 to 1867] for three terms and also took a commercial course in the Bryant & Stratton Business College [ed., Bryant & Stratton College] of that city.
In partnership with George E. Stake, he next opened a general store at Cotton Hill, and was soon afterward appointed Postmaster, acting as such for a year and a-half. In 1869, he came with his partner to Palmer, where they did business together for about two years, at the end of which time our subject bought the interest of Mr. Stake and has since continued in business alone, with the exception of a year and a-half during the panic of 1873. He was soon on his feet again financially, and has an extensive trade.
Mr. Hailey was united in marriage on the 29th of June, 1871, with Miss Mary E. Wood, whose birth occurred in Ohio. Mrs. Hailey is a daughter of George and Sarah (Hodge) Wood, of Blue Mound, Ill. Mr. Wood is a native of Virginia, while his wife claims Ohio as her birthplace. Two children born to our subject and his wife died in infancy, Frances E. and Eleanora E. They have three daughters living, namely: Lilian C., Stella M. and Cora E.
In his social relations, Mr. Hailey holds membership with William A. Higgins Post No. 400, G. A. R., Department of Illinois, and has served as Commander of the post for seven years. He is a Republican in politics and has filled several local positions of trust and honor. He was Town Clerk for two years, and was President of the Village Board at one time. In 1887, he was made a candidate for the position of Sheriff, and only missed the nomination by one vote. For several years he has been Notary Public. In the various capacities of his public life his work has been conducted with fidelity and zeal. In addition to his business and store in Palmer he owns a pleasant modern residence.
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