Lee County Biography

SAMUEL COOK EELLS


Samuel C. Eells has made Dixon his home for many years, occupying an honorable place among its leading business man,and for thirty-eight years has been connected with its banking interests, assisting in the organization of the Lee County National Bank, and acting as its Cashier until its charter expired and it was merged into the City National Bank, with the same list of officers, and he still retains his old position.

Our subject first saw the light in the town of Walton, Delaware County, N. Y., March 19, 1822. His father, Nathaniel G. Eells, was born in Cincinnati in 1800, his birthplace being in the town of Now Canaan. He in turn was a son of Samuel Eells, who was also a native of that New England State, and was descended from one of the old Colonial families that had crossed the Atlantic to found a new home on these shores. The grandfather of our subject was an independent farmer, and for several years was engaged in his calling in his native town and in the town of Canaan. In 1800 he left the latter place and, making his way to New York, became a pioneer of Delaware County. He leased a tract of heavily timbered land, cleared a farm, and was a resident of Walton until his death. His wife also died at Walton. Her maiden name was Hannah Grey, and she was a native of Connecticut.

Nathaniel Eells was reared to the life of a farmer, and after he attained his majority he adopted that vocation, and also engaged in the lumber business. His career was cut short by his untimely death while yet in the prime of early manhood, and his community lost a citizen who would undoubtedly have been a potent factor in its upbuilding, as he had displayed an enterprising spirit and keen business capacity in the few years in which he was engaged in business. He had married when quite young, taking as his wife Betty St. John, who was born in Connecticut in 1800, and was a daughter of Cook and Polly (Seymour) St. John, who were natives of Connecticut and pioneers of Delaware County. By her husband's death she was left in straightened circumstances with four children to care for. She returned to her father's home, and lived with him some years. She then went to reside with her daughter in Walton, and died there in 1878. She was the mother of these four children: Hannah, wife of Henry Fancher; Samuel C; Ann, who married Jetur Gardiner; and Nathaniel G.

Our subject passed his boyhood on a farm, and as soon as large enough had to assist in the work of carrying it on. He received his early education in the district schools of his native county, and afterward attended Delaware Academy, where he made rapid progress in his studies, and was so well advanced by the time he was sixteen years old that he was amply qualified to teach, and entered upon the duties of that profession. He made his home with his grandfather and uncle until he was sixteen years old. At nineteen years of age he accepted a position as clerk in a general store at Walton, and was employed in that capacity the most of the time until 1854. In that year he came to Dixon, winch was then a nourishing village of about two hundred inhabitants, but without any railway communication with the outside world. Mr. Eells at once entered the employ of Robertson, Eastman Co., bankers, as an accountant. In 1855 Mr. Eastman withdrew from the company, and our subject stepped into his place as a member of the firm, which assumed the title of Robertson, Eells the Co. In 1859 another change was made, and the business was henceforth carried on under the firm name of Eells & Coleman until 1860, when they helped to organize the Lee County National Bank, of which Joseph Crawford was elected President, and he himself was appointed Cashier, and John Coleman assistant Cashier. He held that responsible position until the charter of the bank expired in 1885,at which time the City National Bank was organized with the same list of officers that had made the old bank so successful.

At the death of President Crawford, Mr. Eells was made President in 1891. By his course as Cashier of this institution he has been very helpful in making it one of the leading monetary establishments in this section of Illinois, and his connection with it enhances the confidence of the people in its stability, so well do they understand and appreciate the honest and straightforward nature of one who has walked among them uprightly and with spotless reputation for so many years.

Mr. Eells was married in 1854 to Miss Anna More, and they have a cheerful, attractive home, whose pleasant hospitalities are well known to their -many friends and acquaintances, and no stranger enters their door who does not receive a kindly, courteous welcome. Mrs. Eells is a native of the same county in New York as her husband, her birthplace being in the town of Delhi. She is a daughter of Henry and Betsy A. (Farrington) More, natives of New England. Her marriage with our subject has brought to them these three children: Caroline W.; Anna, wife of Charles C. Upham, of Salt Lake City, and Bessie.

Mr. Eells and his family are among the leading members of St, Luke's Episcopal Church, and he has been a vestryman for many years. He was formerly a Whig in politics, but has been a stanch Republican ever since the formation of the party.

Portraits and Biographical - Lee County 1892

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President City National Bank, Dixon, 111., was born at Walton, Delaware County, N. Y., March 19, 1822, son of Nathaniel G. and Betty (St. John) Eells, natives of Connecticut. He came to Dixon, Ill., in 1854, and engaged as bookkeeper with Robertson, Eastman & Company, bankers. In the spring of 1855 the firm was changed to Robertson, Eells & Company; in 1860 to Eells & Coleman; in 1865 to Lee County National Bank, and since 1885 has been known as the City National Bank. Mr. Eells has been President of this institution since the death of Joseph Crawford, August 11, 1891, although he has been manager of the business since April, 1855. On October 12, 1854, he married Anna Moore, and they have three children— Caroline W., Anna S., and Bessie P. In political relations Mr. Eells is a Republican, and in religious faith is a member of St. Luke-'s Episcopal church in which he has served as vestryman since 1855.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1904 History of Lee County Illinois edited by Mr. A.C. Bardwell

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One of the most venerable and honored citizens of Dixon passed away when death called Samuel C. Eells on the 23d of September, 1913. He had passed the ninety-first milestone on life's journey, his birth having occurred in Walton, New York, March 19th, 1822. His father, Nathaniel G. Eells, was born in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1794 and was a son of Samuel Eells, and descended from one of the old colonial families. He served in the War of 1812 and died in 1826. The mother of Mr. Eells bore the maiden name of Betty St. John and was born in Connecticut in 1800, a daughter of Cook and Polly (Seymour) St. John, who were also natives of the Charter Oak state and who became pioneer citizens of Delaware county, New York.

Samuel C. Eells was reared upon a farm in the Empire state and after mastering the branches of learning taught in the common schools he attended Delaware Academy, manifesting notable aptitude in his studies, so that when but sixteen years of age he began teaching, which profession he followed until the age of nineteen. He came west to Dixon at the request of John S. Coleman, who had removed to Illinois from Walton, New York, and who sent for Mr. Eells to join him at Rockford, where he had established and was conducting the Winnebago National Bank. Removing to Dixon, Mr. Eells was placed in charge of the banking business in Robertson, Eastman & Company. Later the name of the firm was Robertson, Eells & Company and in 1859 the bank became the property of Eells and Coleman, at which time Mr. Eells became a partner of his former fellow townsman, John S. Coleman. In 1865 the business was reorganized under the name of the Lee County National Bank with Joseph Crawford as president and Mr. Eells as cashier. The business was conducted under that name for twenty years, when in 1885 another reorganization was effected, bringing into existence the City National Bank with the same officers. Mr. Eells had been made president of the bank in 1881 and so served until the time of his demise. He established the safety deposit boxes in the bank in Dixon and introduced many progressive methods in keeping with the modern ideas of banking. Moreover, he always recognized the fact that the bank is most worthy of support that most carefully safeguards the interests of its depositors. He ever tempered progressives with a safe conservatism and the bank was conducted along substantial lines leading to its present prosperity.

It was in 1854 that Mr. Eells was united in marriage to Miss Anna Moore, a native of New York and a daughter of Henry and Betsy A. (Farrington) Moore. They became the parents of three children: Caroline W.; Anna, the wife of Charles C. Upham, vice president and manager of the New York Steam Company, New York City; and Betsy Pauline.

In politics Mr. Eells was ever a stalwart republican and kept well informed concerning the vital questions and issues of the day, but did not seek or desire public office. He was a member of the Episcopal church and his religion found exemplification in all of his life 's relations. He never deviated from the highest standards and in all of his business affairs followed constructive methods, never seeking success at the price of another's failure. He came to the west a young man, attacked his duties with the deepest enthusiasm and by the steps of an orderly progression steadily advanced until he was one of the chief figures in financial circles of the northwest.

Transcribed by Karen Holt -- History of Lee County by Frank Everett Stevens

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