Biography - William Bain

WILLIAM B. BAIN, a young man of more than ordinary energy and business capacity, who is popular in social circles and influential in local politics, is one of the leading merchants of Vienna, the city of his birth, where he conducts a well-appointed dry-goods establishment, he was born January 8, 1861, and is a son of the late John Bain, who was for many years one of the foremost business men of this city.
John Bain was a native of Hopkinsville, Ky., and was born January 11, 1817. His father, who bore the same name as himself, was a native of North Carolina, whence he removed to Tennessee, and from there to Kentucky in the early years of its settlement. In 1821 he again emigrated, and journeying to this State with his wife and eight children, he selected for his future home a tract of government land in the forests, six miles northeast of the present site of Vienna. He thus became one of the advance guard of those brave and sturdy pioneers who faced the dangers and hardships of life on the frontier with intrepid courage, and began to develop the rich agricultural resources of this region, which under them and their successors has been transformed into a valuable farming country, he worked diligently at clearing and tilling his farm, and there his well-spent life was rounded out by death at a venerable age. His wife, who in her maiden days was Martha Brooks, is supposed to have been a native of North Carolina, and she too died in this county.
The father of our subject was four years old when his parents brought him to their new home in the wilds of southern Illinois. As soon as he was large enough to be of any use, he began to help his father on the farm, and remained with him until he attained his majority. He was of an enterprising disposition, with a decided talent for business, and his tastes for mercantile pursuits led him to open a store for the sale of merchandise a mile and a-half from his father's home. There were no railways in the vicinity, and his goods had to be transported with ox-teams from Metropolis. A few years later he removed his business to Vienna, as a more advantageous location, and was a resident of this city until his death, December 28, 1886. He was a man of marked force of character, clear-sighted, far-seeing, prompt to act, shrewd and wise in money matters, and one of the most successful business men of Johnson County, exerting a marked influence in the promotion of its interests.
The wife of John Bain, to whom he was married September 2, 1841, and with whom he lived in true wedded happiness forty-five years, is quietly passing her declining years in the old home in Vienna. She bore the maiden name of Winnie Harrell, and was born September 29, 1824, in Johnson County, coming of one of its earliest pioneer families. Her father was Elias Harrell, who was a native of North Carolina, where he was reared and married. After the birth of four children he and his wife concluded to seek a new home for themselves and offspring in the wilds of the far western frontier, and set out with a team on the long and weary journey overland, camping and cooking by the wayside whenever tired of travel, or night overtook them. Mr. Harrell was one of the first to take up land in what is now Bloomfield Township, and he erected a hewed-log house for the shelter of his family, that humble dwelling being afterward the birthplace of his daughter, Mrs. Bain. He and his wife spent their remaining days on the farm that he reclaimed from the forests. There being no convenient markets for the purchase of what were considered in those days the luxuries of life, and no railways leading out into the great world beyond, they had to live in a primitive manner, subsisting chiefly on home produce and wild game, such as deer and wild turkeys, which were very plentiful. The children were dressed in homespun, the handiwork of their mothers, who had to spin and weave all the cloth used in the family. Mrs. Bain is an earnest Christian and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which her husband also belonged. In politics, he was a Republican for many years, but during the last part of his life was a Prohibitionist, being a man of strong temperance views.
Our subject has five brothers and sisters living, namely: Fanny, James Preston, Sidney Ann, Medora and James C. He had fine educational advantages in his youth, which fitted him for any walk in life that he might enter. Obtaining the preliminaries of his education in the city schools of Vienna, he was afterward a student at the Southern Illinois University, from which he was graduated in the Class of '83, with a good record for scholarship. When a mere boy he had learned the details of business by clerking in his father's store, and after his father's death he formed a partnership with Samuel Jackson and his son, A. G., they succeeding the firm of Bain & Jackson. They continued the business together under the firm name of Samuel Jackson & Co. until the store and stock were destroyed by fire December 26, 1891. After that catastrophe our subject was out of business until August 4, 1892, on which date he bought his present establishment of the Chapman Store Company. He has a neat and attractively arranged store, completely stocked with a varied and extensive assortment of dry and fancy goods, boots, shoes, etc., and from the start has been well patronized by the people among whom he has always lived, and who take a personal interest in one who has grown up in their midst to an active and useful manhood. He is a bright young man, of ready wit and sound common sense, and with firm convictions on all subjects with which he is conversant. In politics, he is an ardent Republican, and his counsels are valued by his party in this section, which has sent him as a delegate to different district and State conventions, and to the National Convention at Minneapolis in 1892 as an alternate. He has many friends and is one of the leading spirits of Vienna Lodge No. 248, K. of P.
Mr. Bain was married January 15, 1890, at McPherson, Kan., to Miss Lotta C., daughter of J. M. Pancoast, and a native of Lincoln, Neb. Their home is one of the pleasant social centres of Vienna, and is brightened by the little child that has been born to them, and whom they have named June.

Extracted 17 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 174-175.

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