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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy

   

Biographies


SAMUEL F. BARNUM, one of the self-made men of this county, and at present residing at Leroy, is a member of the firm of Barnum & Keenan, proprietors of the Leroy Flouring Mills. He was born at Canton, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., Aug. 11, 1824, and his father, Samuel B. Barnum, was a native of the Green Mountain State. The father was reared to manhood in his native State, and was there engaged in a woolen mill and also learned the trade of a cooper. He moved to Canton, N. Y., while yet a young man and there followed his woolen trade and continued to reside there until his marriage with M. Rhoda Farwell. She was a daughter of Jeduthan Farwell, a merchant and manufacturer in Canton, who also owned a flouring and saw-mill, and a large stock farm in that county. He was a Vermonter by birth, and about 1835 removed to Erie County, N. Y., and followed his business as a merchant and potash manufacturer. About 1846 Mr. Farwell removed to Defiance County, Ohio, where he passed the remainder of his life. In 1834 our subject's father removed to that county and settled in Eden Township, where he erected a mill and engaged in the manufacture of cloth, following that business until 1846. He then rented his mill and removed to Defiance County, where he took another mill, and in 1847 removed the machinery from the mill at Eden to the one in Defiance County. He continued in that business for two years when he purchased a farm near town and devoted the remaining years of his life to agricultural pursuits. He died on the farm in September, 1864. His widow spent the last years of her life at the home of our subject, her demise occurring in July, 1882. There were five children born to the parents of our subject, of whom he is the eldest: Harriet married S. A. Moore, and departed this life in 1872; Eliza married George Bruner, a resident of Bloomington; Jeduthan died in Indiana: John is a resident of San Francisco, Cal.

The subject of this notice attended the common schools of his native county until he was ten years of age when he commenced working in his father's mill and there learned the trade of a cloth dresser. He continued to work for his father until twenty-one years old, when he was taken into partnership. This relation existed for one year, when our subject rented the mill and ran it for his own profit. In 1847 he moved the machinery of the mill to Defiance and assisted his father in setting up the same, when he returned to New York. His father, however, sent for him to return to Ohio, as the family were all sick and our subject soon after arriving there was taken sick himself. After convalescing he went back to New York and remained there during the winter of 1847. In the spring of 1848 he moved his family to Defiance County and engaged, in company with his father, in the manufacture of cloth. This relation existed only until the fall of that year, when our subject went back to York State, and once more settling at Eden embarked in the lumber business. He soon, however, went back to Defiance, and purchasing a lot in that place erected a building thereon. The climate did not agree with him and the doctor ordered him to return to York State, which he did, and for three years was more or less afflicted with chills and fever and unable to do any manual labor. In 1852 he was elected Constable and performed the duties of that office for one year. About this time he purchased twenty-five acres of land and was also elected Justice of the Peace, and attended to the duties of that office while cultivating his little farm.

In 1855 our subject came to Leroy on a visit to his sister and accompanied by his father. The latter purchased 160 acres of land about one mile north of Leroy, for which he paid $11 per acre. They returned East, and the following spring our subject with his family came here and located and improved a part of the land which his father had purchased. It was an exceedingly dry summer and in consequence thereof the crops were a failure and our subject lost his all. He returned to New York $1,500 in debt and began life anew by working at anything he could find to do until the following spring. He then engaged as clerk and bookkeeper in a wholesale fruit, feed and vegetable establishment and remained with the firm one year. In 1858 he went on his father-in-laws' farm and assisted him until the fall of that year. Then in company with an old schoolmate our subject engaged in mercantile business, his partner furnishing the capital. Their store was located at Eden Valley, and they continued the business for two and a half years when they sold out, and from that time until 1865, our subject performed the duties of Justice of the Peace.

In the spring of 1865 Mr. Barnum came to Bloomington where he engaged as book-keeper in a lumber-yard for Bruner & Whitmer. He was with this firm five years and then, moving to Leroy. he, in partnership with Mr. Bruner, embarked in the same business. He soon thereafter added the coal business to that already established, and one year was engaged in buying grain for E. H. Rood.

In the fall of 1871 our subject commenced buying grain on his own account. In 1872, in company with Bruner & Keenan, he purchased the flouring mill at Leroy, and in 1876 our subject and Mr. Keenan purchased Mr. Bruner's interest in the mill, and the firm has since been Barnum & Keenan. Mr. Barnum is also interested with Mr. Keenan in farming and stock-raising, and they own in partnership 380 acres of good land.

Samuel F. Barnum was married to Clarinda Bunting in 1854. She was born at Eden, Erie Co., N. Y., and was a daughter of Levi and Christine Bunting. She departed this life in 1861, and in 1865 Mr. Barnum was married to Eliza A. Patterson. Of our subjects' first union three children were born: Matilda M. married Charlton Waters, and they are living at Leroy; Henry C. died in Leroy in 1856, and Henry I. is a book-keeper for Barnum & Keenan. The second union of our subject was blest by the birth of two children Percy Davis and George Perrin. Mr. Barnum is a Republican in politics and has served the city of Leroy as Mayor, and at present is Supervisor of Empire Township. He was President of the Empire Loan and Building Association during its entire existence, eight years, and has been President of the Leroy Loan and Building Association since its organization. Socially he is a member of the Masonic fraternity, holding fellowship with Leroy Lodge No. 221.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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