Hiram HUNTER, prominent among the energetic, far-seeing and successful business men of central Illinois, is the subject of this sketch. His life history most happily illustrates what may be attained by faithful and continued effort in carrying out an honest purpose. Integrity, activity and energy have been the crowning points of his career and his connection with business enterprises has been of decided advantage to Henry and this part of the state, promoting its commercial and material welfare in no uncertain manner. He is the senior member of the firm of H. and E. F. Hunter, dealers in lumber, coal, lime and building materials. The firm operates extensively throughout this portion of Illinois, maintaining business houses in various places and also dealing in farm lands.
Mr. HUNTER is a native of the state of New York, born in 1837. The family is of Scotch lineage and was established in America at an early epoch in the history of the new world. The father, Andrew HUNTER, was born in Vermont and upon his removal to Illinois in 1846 settled upon a farm in Bureau county, becoming one of the prosperous agriculturists of this portion of the state. There he remained until called from this life by death. He was a member of the Congregational church, in the work of which he took an active and helpful interest, and in politics he was an old-line whig until the dissolution of the party, when he joined the ranks of the new republican party. In early manhood he wedded Hulda HASKINS, also a native of the Green Mountain state, and she died in Milo, Bureau county, in the faith of the Congregational church, of which she was a consistent member. Her father was of Irish lineage. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew HUNTER became the parents of seven children, of whom Hiram is the youngest. Three of the number are now living. His sister Mary is the wife of H. H. ALLEN, a retired farmer living in Henry, while Robert is a retired farmer of Tiskilwa, Illinois.
Hiram HUNTER was reared to farm life, no event of special importance occurring to vary the routine of such work for him in his boyhood days. He acquired his education in the district schools and also in the public schools of Henry and for seven years following his marriage he engaged in farming in Bureau county. It was in 1858 that he was joined in wedlock to Miss Adelia C. STEVENS, who was born in the Empire state in 1838, a daughter of S. K. and Katherine (MARICLE) STEVENS, who came from New York and located on a farm in Bureau county in 1856. Unto Mr. and Mrs. HUNTER were born two sons: Elmer P., who is- a member of the lumber firm of H. & E. F. Hunter, and who is stationed at Chillicothe, having charge of several branches of the business; and Clarence, who died in infancy.
For his second wife Mr. HUNTER chose Philena STEVENS, who was born in Bureau county in 1862. This marriage was blessed with five children: Harold S.; Alden; Lloyd H.; Newell, who died in infancy; and Esther L.
After carrying on general farming for a number of years in Bureau county Hiram HUNTER removed from his farm to Wyanet, Illinois, where he was engaged in the hardware business for seven years and also conducted a drug store there for a similar period. He came to Henry in 1881 and here engaged in the lumber business under the firm name of Hunter & Houghton, his partners being E. W. and E. F. Houghton of Wyanet. After two years they sold out the business and Mr. HUNTER then became connected with the Hanna Wagon Company and was in Peoria for two years. On the expiration of that period he again purchased the lumber yard and admitted his son, Elmer F., to a partnership in the business under the firm style of H. & E. F. Hunter. From time to time they have enlarged and extended the scope of their activities and are now owners of various lumber yards in different points in central Illinois. Their business embraces the yards at Henry, Chillicothe, Sparland, Edelston, Winchester, Lacon, Chapin, Bluffs, Meredosia, South Wilmington, Chebanse, La Salle, Varna, Magnolia, Urbana and Marseilles. They handle lumber, coal, lime, cement, sash, doors, blinds, mouldings and other building materials and the firm are also interested in farm lands in Scott county. Their business has thus constantly increased in volume and importance until it has reached considerable magnitude, making the firm one of the most prominent in commercial circles in central Illinois.
Mr. HUNTER holds membership in the Presbyterian church and is one of its trustees, taking an active part in its work, contributing generously to its support and doing all in his power to advance its interests. He is likewise an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity and his political allegiance is given to the republican party. His business ability has been by no means limited to one line of undertaking and he has demonstrated his powers as a successful financier in the enlargement and capable management of the enterprise of which he is now the head. He has made an untarnished record and unspotted reputation as a business man. In all places and under all circumstances he is loyal to truth, honor right, justly valuing his own self respect as infinitely more preferable than wealth, fame or position. In those finer traits of character which combine to form that which we term friendship, which endear and attach man to man in bonds which nothing but the stain of dishonor can sever, which triumph and shine brightest in the hour of adversity in those qualities he is royally endowed.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties