Biography - SAMUEL PLUMB
The man who has been born a financier is as truly a genius as the man born a poet or a painter. If he be a man of honor and loves mankind, his work will be useful to many other men who have not his talent for moneymaking. He may even be a philanthropist by attending strictly to his own business. Hon. Samuel Plumb, of Streator, Illinois, went further than that. He took an interest in the affairs of his townsmen that inured greatly to the public good and made him loved and trusted by many.
Mr. Plumb was born in New York, January 15, 1812, and died at Colorado Springs, June 23, 1882. He was a son of Theron and Harriet (Merry) Plumb. He gained his primary education in the public schools near his home in New York state, but the greater part of his education was obtained by study while at his work-bench. He was the president of a bank at Oberlin and later became identified in a prominent way with Ohio business and politics, and being an abolitionist (a Whig and later a Republican) he had as personal friends such men as Hon. Benjamin Wade, Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, Governor Salmon V. Chase and many others of prominence in different parts of the state. He represented Ashtabula county in the Ohio legislature and was active and influential in public affairs generally. At the time of the civil war his sympathies were enlisted by the needs of the soldiers in the field and of their families left at home, and he did much to better the condition of both classes. He was a member of a committee appointed by the governor of Ohio to go south to investigate the condition of Ohio troops after the first battle of Bull Run and to devise and suggest means for its improvement.
After the war ]Mr. Plumb and others established a bank at Oberlin and he was connected with the enterprise officially until 1869, when he removed to Streator, Illinois. A recent writer said: "Streator is not a beautiful city. It is a town in the making - not yet a finished product. Its wealth and energies are devoted to deepening and broadening the foundations of its industrial life, rather than to smoothing out the wrinkles of toil from its face or adorning itself with the fruits of its labor. It is still in its iron age: its golden age is yet to come. The rude framework that supports the social fabric stands out bare and grim, as vet uncovered by the accretions which in older cities soften and mellow, if they do not conceal, the rough beams which knit the structure together; and the play of those elemental energies which propel the industrial mechanism, and thereby vivify and vitalize the social life, is still plainly visible." Thus was Streator described in a popular magazine in 1898. Perhaps the writer was too aesthetic. What would he have thought of the Streator of 1869, as Mr. Plumb first beheld it? Then it was a crude, unsightly, embryo village of small wooden buildings, and not many of them, and was familiarly known as Hardscrabble. In that year Mr. Plumb opened a private bank and later associated others with himself and organized the Union National Bank of Streator, of which he was president for quite a number of years and until his death. He took an interest in Streator and was influential in promoting, and generous in supporting financially, all measures and enterprises which in his judgment promised to benefit the town and its people.
He was a member of the Congregational church of Streator, and was interested in a helpful way in furthering all religious work without much question as to what Christian sects had it in hand.
Miss Levancia Holcomb, who married Mr. Plumb, and survives him. was born in the state of New York, a daughter of Hiram and Jane (Richards) Holcomb, and was brought to Ohio by her parents on their removal to that state when she was twelve years old. She was graduated at Oberlin College in 1 86 1, and while a student there met her future husband, whom she married in 1865. They had children thus named: May E., wife of R. A. Harris, M. D., of Redlands, California; Jessie, who married H. A. Schryver of Wheaton, Illinois; S. Walter, vice-president of the Union National Bank of Streator; and Bertha M., wife of L. B. Frazier of Aurora, Illinois. The grandchildren are: Harold R. Harris, son of R. A, and May E. (Plumb) Harris; S. Walter Plumb, Jr., son of S. Walter and Anna D. Plumb; Donald Plumb Frazier, son of L. B, and Bertha (Plumb) Frazier. Mrs. Plumb occupies the position as president of the Union National Bank of Streator, and has one of the handsome residences of Streator and dispenses a refined hospitality as becomes a lady of such culture as hers. She is a member of the Presbyterian church of Streator and is liberal in its support and in assisting in the charitable work of the town.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 26-28.