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McLean County, Illinois
ARTHUR RODMAN, secretary and manager of the Bloomington Store Fixture Company, is a well-known and successful business man of Bloomington. He is a native of McLean county, born in Old Town township August 17, 1865, and is a son of Francis A. and Angelina (Matthews) Rodman, who were among the early settlers of the county.
The Rodman family trace their ancestry back to John Rodman, a Quaker, who was expelled from England on account of his extreme democratic views, and who located on the island of Barbados, where he became a large sugar planter, owning the entire island. Some of his children later settled in New England, and the family have since been prominently identified with the history of this country, some occupying high stations, furnishing to the country eminent politicians, members of congress and of the legislature, ministers of the gospel, lawyers and military men.
During the Revolutionary war representatives of the family took a prominent part in the struggle on the American side. One of the family is the celebrated Captain Rodman, inventor of the Rodman gun. Scammon Rodman, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania, about 1811, and from there removed to Ohio, where he became an extensive farmer and stock raiser. He there married Eliza Wolf, by whom he had ten children.
He became quite prominent in Ohio, but with the thought that he could better himself and give his children better opportunities for advancement, he came to McLean county in 1853 and located in Old Town township, where he purchased a large tract of land, and again engaged in general farming and stock raising. He became very well-to-do, and was quite prominent in local and state politics, serving his township as supervisor and in other positions.
He was first a Whig, and on the death of that party became a stanch Republican. He died in Old Town township in 1895. His wife preceded him some fifteen years.
Francis A. Rodman was born in Zanesville, Ohio, June 20, 1837, and there spent his boyhood and received his education in the public schools. He came with the family to this county in 1853, and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. He yet remains an honored citizen of the township, and is well known and universally respected.
He was married in Old Town township to Angeline Matthews. Mrs. Rodman died in March, 1870, leaving four sons. Henry H. residing near Bloomington. Samuel, now deceased. Arthur, our subject, is next in order of birth. Bert, a twin brother of Arthur, is now deceased.
The parents are members of the Methodist Protestant church, and in politics the father is a Republican. Arthur Rodman was reared on his father's farm, and was educated in Old Town, receiving a good common-school education. He was enabled to pass a successful examination for a teacher's certificate, and for five successive years taught the home school.
By a coincidence he was brought into the manufacturing business; having invented a number of convenient devices in the line of store fixtures, he engaged in their manufacture. The demand for them was much greater than was expected, and in order to increase the facilities for their manufacture in 1893 he organized the Bloomington Store Fixture Company, with a capital stock of twenty thousand dollars, and of which S. R. White is president. By the company he was made secretary and general manager, a position that he still holds.
The company occupies much the larger part of the White building, 76x112 feet, using four floors and the basement. The factory is supplied with all modern and up-to-date machinery, and manufacture a superior line of bank furniture and store fixtures, and having a trade that extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the gulf to the Dominion of Canada. Mr. Rodman has had the sole responsibility and management of the company since its inception, and has made of it a fine success.
Employment is given to about fifty skilled workmen in making the furniture, which is the finest manufactured in the country, and is now one of the noted industries of the city. Mr. Rodman has made all the designs and drawings for the work, and while he had no advantages in the way of instruction in this line, he is an excellent designer, as is shown by his work and the demand for the goods. One of the secrets of his success is that his designs are all original. He devotes his whole time to his work and has traveled all over the country in the interest of the business.
On the 25th of June, 1896, Mr. Rodman was united in marriage with Miss May Leaton, of Bloomington, daughter of J. H. Leaton, who was clerk of the circuit court for twelve consecutive years. She is a highly educated woman, a graduate of the State Normal, in the class of 1894. She is possessed of artistic ability of a high order and is a good painter in water colors, and her pen sketches are fine. The walls of their beautiful home are decorated with specimens of her artistic work. Their fine residence on East Graham street was built from designs furnished by Mr. Rodman, and is constructed of finely selected woods, being very attractive to the eye.
Mr. and Mrs. Rodman are members of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Bloomington. Fraternally he is a member of Bloomington Lodge, No. 43, A. F. & A. M.; Remembrance Lodge, No. TJ, I. O. O. F.; Jesse Fell Lodge, No. 164, K. P. He is a representative of the younger business men of Bloomington, and is deserving of the respect in which he is held.
[The Biographical record of McLean County, Illinois - S.J. Clarke Publishing Company - (1899)]
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