Lee County Biographies

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HARRY L. FORDHAM

In financial and political circles of Lee County the name of Harry L. Fordham is well known. For an extended period he was actively connected with banking interests and at the same time he found opportunity to discharge the duties of citizenship and to study those questions which are a vital force in promoting the welfare and progress of city, state and nation. He was born in Green Ridge, Pennsylvania, January 6, 1869, and is a son of Albert P. and Eliza (Litts) Fordham, who in the year 1874 left the Keystone state and removed to Compton, Illinois.

Spending his boyhood days there under the parental roof, Harry L. Fordham attended the public schools and in early manhood was called to public office, being clerk of the village, in which capacity he served for three years. His fidelity and capability in that connection led to his selection for other offices. He was assessor for five years, was township clerk for three years and for five years was president of the village board. Even before age conferred upon him the right of franchise he was an interested student of political problems and for six years he was chairman of the democratic central committee, while for three years he was its secretary. His position has never been an equivocal one. He has ever fearlessly and frankly announced his opinions upon the questions affecting the commonwealth and in 1912, upon the organization of the progressive party, being in sympathy with its purposes and its principles, he joined its ranks and was made a member of the executive committee of Illinois and chosen treasurer of that committee. In all his public life he has made personal aggrandizement subservient to the general good. While undoubtedly he is not without that honorable ambition which is so powerful and useful as an incentive to activity in public affairs, he regards the pursuits of private life as being in themselves abundantly worthy of his best efforts and the energy, perseverance and keen sagacity which have characterized his conduct of his business affairs have given him prominence in financial circles. His initial step, however, was made in connection with the profession of teaching, which he followed for seven or eight years, and later he devoted two years to merchandising in West Brooklyn. In 1898 he organized the Farmers & Traders Bank, of which he was the first cashier, remaining in that connection until he came to Dixon in 1911. The bank has since been converted into the First National Bank of Compton. At the time of his removal to Dixon he also resigned his position as supervisor of Brooklyn township, which office he filled for five years, being chairman of the board at the time he presented his resignation. Seeking a broader field of activity, he took up his abode in Dixon and has since been connected with the Union State Bank as its cashier. He has been a close and discriminating student of the involved and complex problems of banking and few men are better informed concerning questions of finance.

Mr. Fordham was married on the 29th of March, 1893, to Miss Addie B. Cole, a native of Compton and daughter of Frank and Margaret Cole. Mr. and Mrs. Fordham now have two children: Frank A., who is associated with his father in the bank; and Harry L., at home. The religious faith of the family is that of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which they are loyal adherents. They are generous in its support and take an active part in its work. In fact Mr. Fordham has ever manifested due recognition of all duties and obligations of life. The subjective and objective forces of life are in him well balanced. To make his native talents subserve the demands which the conditions of society impose at the present time is his purpose and by reason of the mature judgment which characterizes his efforts he stands today as a splendid representative of the prominent financiers to whom business is but one phase of life and does not exclude active participation in and support of the other vital interests which go to make up human existence.

Contributed by Martha Fuller
From: Stevens, Frank E., History of Lee County Illinois,
Vol. II, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1914, pp. 77-79

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