This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Celia Snyder. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of William Park

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


WILLIAM PARK (deceased), pioneer manufacturer, Urbana, Ill., was born on a farm in York County, Pa., December 19, 1812, and lived in that State until he was nineteen years of age, when he came west to Greene County, Ohio. He obtained a public school education in his native State, and afterwards learned the miller’s and wheelwright’s trades, at which he worked in Greene County, Ohio, until 1849, when he moved to Urbana, Ill., then a village of about 100 people. He built the first flouring mill and the first sawmill in Urbana, which he operated until about the beginning of the Civil War. In the early days, some of the patrons of this mill came a distance of thirty miles, to have their grinding done.

After the war, Mr. Park owned and operated a large flouring mill at Sidney, Ill., although he continued to reside in Urbana until his death, which occurred December 12, 1889. With Judge Archibald Campbell and a capitalist from Rome, N.Y., named Randall, he built the Urbana & Champaign Street Railway, connecting the two cities. This was the first street railway operated in the State, outside of Chicago. Later, with his son-in-law, Francis G. JAQUES, he bought a controlling interest in the line, and they operated it until it was purchased and absorbed by the present system in 1899. Besides his grain-milling interests, Mr. Park was identified, at different times, with woolen mills and an iron foundry, and was engaged in the manufacture of reapers and mowers in Urbana. While he never applied himself to farming, he was an extensive land-owner throughout Champaign County. Mr. Park was one of the founders of the Universalist Church in Urbana, and one of those who did most to build up and support that organization. Although he never took an active interest in politics, he was one of the early members of the Republican party, and was always identified with it.

The subject of this sketch was married, in Ohio, to Miss Margaret HAINES, who was born near Xenia, in that State, in 1814. Mrs. Park died in Urbana, in 1898. Their only children were David E. Park and Mrs. Eliza Park JAQUES, both of whom are still residents of Urbana.

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