For forty-five years Samuel Hastings has been numbered among the
influential citizens and leading business men of Mendota, but is now living
retired. As a representative of commercial circles he has borne an important
part in securing the material development and substantial progress of the
city with which his family name has so long been interwoven. The substantial
residence which is to-day his home, located at the corner of Monroe and
Michigan streets, was erected by his father in 1854, and is thus one of the
landmarks of the town.
Samuel Hastings was born in Moorfield. Harrison county, Ohio, September 11, 1829, and traces his ancestry back to John Hastings, who was a native of Ireland, but of English descent. He came to the United States, locating in Harrison county, in 1822, and there continued his accustomed vocation of farming. His death occurred when he was about seventy-two years of age. His brothers, Thomas and James, accompanied him to this country, the former settling near Washington, Pennsylvania, while the latter became a resident of Jefferson county, Ohio.
The Hon. John Hastings, a son of John Hastings, the emigrant, and the father of Samuel Hastings, of this review, was born in Inniskillen, Ireland, and was one of five children. In 1822 he came to these hospitable shores with his father and for some time pursued his studies in a seminary in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, while later he engaged in teaching for several years. After his marriage he settled upon a farm which his father gave him, and a few years later embarked in the mercantile business near Cadiz, Ohio. After managing that enterprise with ability for a number of years he was nominated and elected to the state senate, where he served his constituents with credit for two terms. For a long period he was a justice of the peace, and in 1850 he held the office of census enumerator. In 1854 he came to Illinois and was associated with his son Samuel in the dry goods and lumber business in Mendota until his death, which occurred September 12, 1857, when he was fifty-three years of age. He married Miss Jane Knox, who was born in Stribane, county Tyrone, Ireland, a daughter of Samuel Knox, a wealthy gentleman who was born and reared in Scotland and became connected with agricultural pursuits. That he carried on an extensive business may be inferred from the fact that he employed thirty servants. About 1817 he came to the United States, locating in Harrison county, Ohio, where he died at the age of seventy-six years. He was one of the typical "old-school" gentlemen, quiet and severe in manner and a strict Presbyterian in religious faith. For a number of years he was an elder in the church and took an active part in its work. Mrs. Jane Hastings, together with her five brothers and sisters, were reared in the same belief, but in her later years she identified herself with the Methodist denomination, to which Mr. Hastings likewise belonged. She preceded her husband to the better land, dying January 9, 1855, when in her fiftieth year.
Samuel Hastings, whose name introduces this review, is one of twelve children, seven of whom were sons. The surviving members of the family are: Mary Ann, a resident of Lee county, Illinois; Jane, of Mendota; Mariah, widow of S. Newton Barton, who died during the civil war; Harry, of Lee county, Illinois; and James, of Seattle, Washington. They were reared upon the paternal homestead in Harrison county, Ohio, and in the town where their father carried on business, and were provided wath good educational advantages. John Hastings, the eldest brother of our subject, was associated with him in business in an early day, and died in Mendota, in 1858, at the age of thirty-two years.
After he had completed the common-school course, Samuel Hastings entered the commercial college in Columbus, Ohio, where he obtained a knowledge of business forms and banking. In 1853 he came to Mendota, while upon an inspecting tour seeking a settlement in a desirable location. Pleased with this town, he returned to his native state and the following June, accompanied by other members of his father's household, took up his abode in the city which has since been his place of residence. He was associated with his father in the dry-goods business until the latter's death and afterward accepted a clerkship in the employ of W. T. Black, under the firm name of W. T. Black & Company. In 1867 Mr. Hastings withdrew, and as a member of the firm of W. F. Corbus & Company was engaged in the drug business until 1876, when he bought out the interest of the senior partner and continued alone in the enterprise for eighteen years. In 1894 the firm became Hastings & Wylie by the admission of Robert A. Wylie to the business, and finally, in December, 1898, after this extremely long and successful commercial career, Mr. Hastings sold out his interest and has since practically lived a retired life. He owns a valuable farm of eighty acres situated about ten miles north of the town and has other property and investments which yield good returns.
In 1865 Mr. Hastings was appointed and afterward elected secretary and treasurer of the Mendota Cemetery Association, which was organized several years ago, but to him was left the task of systematizing the business. He has since continued in this office, and to his ability and excellent business ideas may be largely attributed the development, extension and adorning of this beautiful city of the dead. During the war Mr. Hastings was an ardent worker in the Union League of America, which organization was formed to encourage loyalty to the Union and give aid and succor to the loyal citizens throughout the land and to further promote the general welfare of the public and to furnish such aid to the Union soldiers as they needed in the way of clothing, shelter, food and other supplies. In the interest of the league Mr. Hastings labored very actively and effectively, and was a warm friend of the Union cause.
In his political affiliations he is a stalwart Republican, unswerving in the principles of the party. For years he has been a leading member of the Mendota Lodge, No. 176, F. and A. M., Mendota Chapter, No. 79, R. A. M., and Bethany Commandery, No. 28, K. T. He and his sister, Jane K., live together in the old family residence, which has sheltered them for so many years. They have the care of two nephews, — Harry Hastings Wright and Roy Knox Wright, — whose parents are deceased. Miss Hastings is a lady of excellent education and amiable qualities, and an active member of the Methodist church. Both she and her brother have many friends, and are highly esteemed by all who enjoy their acquaintance.
Extracted 17 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 472-474.