Biography - JOHN C. AMES
If those who claim that fortune favored certain individuals above others will but investigate the cause of success and failure, it will be found tha.t the former is largely due to the improvement of opportunity, the latter to the neglect of it. Fortunate environments encompass nearly every man at some stage of his career, but the strong man and the successful man is he who realizes that the proper moment has come, that the present and not the future holds his opportunity. The man who makes use of the Now and not the To Be is the one who passes on the highway of life others who started out ahead of him and reaches the goal of prosperity far in advance of them. It is this quality in John C. Ames, of Streator, that has made him a leader in the business world of his county and won him a name in connection with commercial and political interests that is known throughout tlie state. He is now occupying the responsible position of United States marshal for the northern district of Illinois, and at the same time is closely allied with the business affairs of Streator.
A native of LaSalle county, Mr. Ames was born on his father's farm in Freedom township, July 17, 1852, his parents being Isaac and Arilla (Mooar) Ames, natives of Maine and pioneer settlers of LaSalle county, where they took up. their abode in 1848. In the usual manner of farmer lads, among richly cultivated fields and verdant meadows, Mr. Ames spent his youth, assisting in the labors of the farm through the summer months, while in the winter season he attended the district school of the neighborhood. Subsequently his educational privileges were extended by a twoyear course in the Illinois State Normal School, at Normal. On laying aside his text-books in 1872, in order to learn the more difficult lessons in the school of experience, he joined John Dickerman in the drug business in Streator, under the firm name of Dickerman & Ames. The following year, however, he sold his interest, and in 1873 engaged in the hardware business in connection with his father, under the firm style of I. Ames & Son, which connection was continued until 1875, when their store was destroyed by fire. The subject of this sketch then resumed business alone and became the proprietor of an extensive hardware store, which brought to him a handsome income. He conducted it successfully until the 1st of July, 1885, when he disposed of his stock in order to give his attention more entirely to the lumber business, in which he had embarked in 1878. In that year he organized the J. C. Ames Lumber Company, of which he is still president, and under his able direction the enterprise has been carried forward, yielding a handsome return to the stockholders.
Mr. Ames has by no means limited his efforts to one line of undertaking, but has been a promoter of many enterprises which have contributed not only to his personal prosperity, but have also advanced the general welfare through the promotion of commercial activity. He was one of the incorporators of the Plumb Hotel Stock Company, and was made a member of its board of directors. He was also a director and vice president of the Streator Loan & Building Association, which was organized in 1874. In 1891 he organized the City National Bank of Streator, and remained its president until he resigned his position to take that of United States marshal, to which he had been appointed by President McKinley.
With the growth of the city Mr. Ames grew in influence, affluence and in public esteem, and not only became a leader in commercial circles, but was also called into prominence in political life and ably fulfilled many public trusts reposed in him. He has filled many local offices, has been alderman and county supervisor, and in April, 1885, was elected mayor of Streator, which position he filled for two terms, when he declined a third nomination. His administration was at once practical, progressive and beneficial, he using his official prerogatives for the substantial improvement and advancement of the city. Under Governor Fifer he served as one of the canal commissioners of Illinois for four years, and by President McKinley he was appointed to his present position of United States marshal for the northern district of Illinois. This was an honor well merited, for he has not only been a recognized leader in the ranks of the Republican party in the state for many years, but also in every official position which he has filled he has discharged his duties in a manner which has won him the highest commendation by reason of his fidelity to duty and his faithfulness to the trust reposed in him.
On the 2d of March, 1875, Mr. Ames was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Ross, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Hunter) Ross, of Lacon, Illinois. They have one child living, Isaac Carlos, now doing service for his country in the Philippine islands. One daughter, Aurelia Elizabeth, died at the age of fourteen months, and a son, Walter Cope, died December 28, 1895. at the age of eleven years. In Streator, where they have so long made their home, Mr. and Mrs. Ames are held in the highest regard, and their residence is the center of a cultured society circle. In his social relations Mr. Ames is connected with the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Streator Lodge, No. 607, F. and A. M., to Streator Chapter, No. 147, R. A. M., and to Ottawa Commandery, No. 10, Knight Templars. He is a man of fine personal appearance, of courteous deportment and social disposition, and, above all, of that sterling worth of character which wins recognition everywhere and commands respect in every land and every clime.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 304-306.