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Biography - EZRA H. BAILEY

A quarter of a century has passed since Ezra H. Bailey came to Streator, and in the intervening years he has been actively interested in everything affecting the progress and upbuilding of the city. He has been especially prominent in financial circles, and is to-day the cashier of one of the leading banking institutions of LaSalle county, - the Union National, - which owes its present prosperity in no small degree to the executive ability, keen discernment and sound judgment of Mr. Bailey. He has always been a man of action rather than theory, and determined purpose has characterized his entire career, enabling him to overcome difficulties and work his way steadily upward.

A native of Massachusetts, he was born in the town of Milford, December 25, 1853. His father, James D. Bailey, was a descendant of the John Bailey who in 1635 left his home in Chippenham, England, and, crossing the Atlantic to America, took up his residence in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The family was loyal to the cause of the colonists through the struggle which brought independence to the nation, Eliphalet Bailey, the great-grandfather of our subject, having faithfully served in the American army during the war of the Revolution. On the maternal side Mr. Bailey is descended from one of the oldest and most prominent families of the Bay state, his mother, Abigail (Tyler) Bailey, tracing her ancestry back to Job Tyler, who was one of the first settlers in Andover, Massachusetts, the date of his arrival there being 1640. She also was descended from Thomas Dudley, the second governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, through his daughter Anne, who was the first American poetess and who married Simon Bradstreet, who was governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony for ten years. Fortunate is the man who has back of him an honored ancestry, and happy is he if his lines of life be cast in harmony therewith. Prominent in the affairs of the colonies the ancestors of our subject engraved their names on the pages of our early American history, and to-day, with equal loyalty and faithfulness, Ezra H. Bailey is performing the duties that fall to him in the walk of life in which lie is found.

In the town of his nativity he was reared to manhood, acquiring his education in the excellent schools of the Bay state, for which Massachusetts is justly famed. When fifteen years of age he began working for his father in a boot and shoe factory, remaining in the east until January, 1874, when he came to Streator and secured employment in the office of Ralph Plumb, then largely interested in railroads and railroad construction. In November of the same year he accepted the position of bookkeeper for the Streator Coal Company, remaining with them as bookkeeper and cashier, and with their successors, the Luther & Tyler Coal & Coke Company, until 1887, when he was offered the position of cashier in the Streator National Bank. He remained with that concern until 1890, during which time he gained a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the banking business and the methods pursued therein. In the year mentioned he associated himself with the newly organized City National Bank, as cashier, and in 1892, upon the death of George L. Richards, he was unanimously elected by the directors of the Union National Bank to the vacant cashiership, which position he accepted and still occupies. To his able and conservative management of the finances of the bank its prosperity is directly traceable in a large measure.

On the i8th of January, 1879, Mr. Bailey was united in marriage to Miss Laurett Benson, of Streator, a daughter of Sylvanus H. and Laurett (Howard) Benson, whose ancestors were among the early settlers in and near Blackstone, Massachusetts. One daughter, Edith Laurett, was born to them, January 19, 1881, and she is now a student in Lasell Seminary, in Auburndale, Massachusetts. Among- her ancestors were thirteen Revolutionary soldiers. The wife and mother died July 3, 1883; and on the 23d of October, 1884, Mr. Bailey married Gertrude Canfield, of Streator, who, on the paternal side, is a direct descendant of the Canfield family, of New Milford, Connecticut, and the Ten Broecks, who were among the early Knickerbockers who settled New York, while on the maternal side she is descended from the Luthers, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, and the Stouts, of New Jersey. Mrs. Bailey is a lady of fine mental and social attainments, being well qualified to grace any station in life to which she might be called. She is a valued member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the local chapter of the Eastern Star, the Callere Club and other societies in the city in which she resides.

Though great responsibility rests upon Mr. Bailey in a business way, he finds time, amid the multiplicity of his cares and duties, to properly discharge the obligations and duties of a patriotic citizen. He uses his franchise in favor of the nominees of the Republican party, but has never sought political preferment, and the only public office he has ever held is that of school treasurer, to which position he was elected twelve years ago, and still retains. He is a Knight Templar Mason, belonging to Streator Lodge, No. 607, F. & A. M.; Streator Chapter, No. 168, R. A. M.; and Ottawa Commandery, No. 10, K. T. His life history exhibits a long and virtuous career of private industry, performed with moderation and crowned with success. It is the record of a well-balanced mental and moral constitution, strongly marked by those traits of character which are of especial value in such a state of society as exists in this country. A community depends upon business activity, its welfare is due to this; and the promoters of legitimate and leading business enterprises may well be termed in its benefactors, in which relation Mr. Bailey stands to the commercial interests of Streator.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 90-92.

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