Lee County Biography


Hon. Benjamin Franklin Downing, conducting a real-estate, loan and insurance business at Dixon. with a clientage that makes his interests extensive and important, has in the midst of his business affairs also found time for public office, in which connection he has made an equally creditable record. Dixon claims him as a native son, his birth here occurring in 1880. His father, Colonel 0. J. Downing, is a well known citizen and, ambitious for his son, provided him with liberal educational opportunities, his high-school course being supplemented by study in the University of Wisconsin. In 1899 he entered business circles of Dixon in connection with mercantile interests and for eleven years was active as a representative of commercial affairs here, conducting one of the leading stores of the city. In 1910, however, he sold out. In 1912 he established a real-estate, loan and insurance business, since which time he"i has largely handled western lands, making extensive sales. He has thoroughly informed himself concerning property values in thei sections of the country in which he operates and he is equally well known as a representative of some of the strongest insurance companies of the country. He likewise places loans and his clientage in each department of his business is large and gratifying.

In 1903 Mr. Downing was married to Miss Mary L. Graves, of Dixon, and they have one child, Mary Louise. Theirs is an attractive and hospitable home and its good cheer is greatly enjoyed by a circle of friends that includes the leading residents of the city. Mr. and Mrs. Downing hold membership in the Episcopal church and are actively interested in its work, Mr. Downing serving as one of its vestrymen. He has attained high rank in Masonry, becoming a Knight Templar in the Dixon commandery while also crossing the sands of the desert with the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His name is likewise on the membership roll of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He has always taken a great interest in community and state welfare and progress, and appreciation of his loyalty and public-spirited citizenship has come to him in election to several offices. In 1906 he was chosen alderman from has ward and in 1908 was elected to represent his district in the state senate. While a member of the upper house he gave careful consideration to all questions which came up for settlement and left the impress of his individuality upon a number of measures which now find a place on the statutes of the state. Mr. Downing is widely recognized as a high type of our American manhood and chivalry and it is a known fact that no plan or movement for the benefit of the city along lines of advancement and improvement seeks his aid in vain.

History of Lee County - Frank E. Stevens 1914


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