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Biography - Henry Wait

HENRY W. WAIT. A very prominent farmer residing near Greenville, Bond County, Ill., is the subject of the present sketch. He belongs to a family that made its mark in the State during its earliest settlement, and has been a resident in this place since 1835.

Henry W. Wait was born in Boston, Mass., October 4, 1834. His father, William S. Wait, was born in the State Of Maine, March 5, 1789, and his grandfather, Thomas B. Wait, was also a native of Maine. The family was descended from Welsh parentage, and the grandfather was a printer by trade and was also a publisher in Portland, Me., and in Massachusetts, to which State he removed about the year 1800. His death occurred in Boston Mass., when he was quite old.

The father of our subject learned the printer's trade with his father when he was quite young, and was connected with the business until the winter of 1817-18, when he came to this county and to St. Louis on a prospecting trip. He then entered land near Ripley, in this county, and returned to Boston in 1820, and brought his family to the new country near the great river. Many preparations were made, for this was the breaking up of old ties, but at last all was packed and loaded upon the wagons, the last farewells were said, and the family started out into the wilderness. Some months were consumed in this trip, and when the location was reached the cabin of logs had to be erected. This was soon done, and here the family lived until 1824, when the father returned to the busy life of the city and continued in his former business of publishing; however, he came back here in 1835, shipping his household goods via New Orleans, but he with the family came down the Ohio River and up to St. Louis. The Indians were in the country when he first came here, deer roamed at will, and wolves howled outside the cabin at night.

Upon his return in 1835, Mr. Wait settled just south of Greenville, where he owned about seven hundred acres, and he developed the most of it. He was a good business man, raised a great deal of stock upon the land, and was considered one of the best-informed- men of his time and place. He was required to fill many of the positions in the county, and his death occurred July 17, 1865. A Republican in politics after the formation of that party, he became prominent in public affairs. His interest was great in political matters, and he wrote many articles for the leading journals and was tendered the nomination for Vice-president on the Liberal ticket in 1844, but would not accept. His acquaintance with prominent men throughout the State was large, and he did much to advance the growth and development of the country. He was the author of a great part of the constitution of the State of Illinois which was adopted in 1848, and spent much time at the State Capitol, but not in seeking honors for himself.

The mother of our subject was Sarah Newhall, who was born at Salem, Mass., January 31, 1797. She was the mother of eight children, six of whom she reared. Louisa and Mehitabel (deceased), Louisa (second), William, Richard, Spurzheim, Henry W. and Foster. The mother died December 14, 1865. Our subject came here in 1835 with his parents when a babe, and was partially educated in the pioneer schools, conducted on the subscription plan, but received most of his instruction at home under private tutors. He spent two terms at Marshall, Ill., in a private academy. In his childhood he remembers seeing great droves of deer and prairie, chickens in flocks.

Mr. Wait of this notice lived at home until the death of his parents, and assisted in managing the estate, but since that time he has made his home mostly with his sister, Mrs. Ravold, who lives east of Greenville. He has three hundred acres of land and has farmed it, and has raised great numbers of sheep, but in late years he has rented his farm. In politics Mr. Wait is a Republican and has served as County Surveyor, being in office during 1864-65. Several township offices have been under his care as Clerk and also Collector, and he has seen a great deal of the growth of the county.

Extracted 21 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 486-487.

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