Lee County Biography


Isaac Means, a dealer in coal, lime, cement, salt, etc., is distinguished in the history of Lee County, as one of the oldest established business men of Dixon, who has been closely connected with its interests, and has had a hand in its upbuilding for over half a century, and no name is more deservedly held in honor by the citizens of this city than his.

Mr. Means was born October 14, 1814, in County Tyrone, Ireland. His father, John Means, was also a native of that county, while his sire, who bore the same name as our subject, was of Scotch birth. In early manhood he left his native heath in Scotland, to engage in farming on the rich soil of the Emerald Isle, and the remainder of his life was passed in County Tyrone.

John Means was reared to the life of a farmer in the place of his birth, and in due time was married taking as his wife Margie Taylor, who was likewise a native of County Tyrone. In 1848 the family came to America, and the good old father and mother spent the remainder of their days at Dixon. They reared fourteen children, of whom seven are still living.

The subject of this biographical review passed his youth in the county of his nativity, where he grew to a hale and self-reliant manhood. In the year 1840, when in the prime and vigor of life, he set forth from his old home into the wide world to see if in far-away America fortune would bless his efforts to acquire a competence. He embarked on a sailing-vessel at Liverpool, and twenty-one days later landed at New York. From there he went to Boston, but after a visit of a few weeks in that city returned to the metropolis, and from there started Westward by the way of the Hudson River to Troy, from there by the Erie Canal to Buffalo, thence by lakes to Chicago, where he secured a ride to Dixon, his final destination, which he found to be a small town, with a population of about two hundred people. The surrounding country was still in the hands of the pioneers, and was but thinly inhabited, the land being mostly owned by the Government, and deer, wolves and various other kinds of animals roamed where are now beautiful farms, happy homes and busy towns. After his arrival in Dixon, Mr. Means invested in village property, and then set himself to work with characteristic energy to learn the trade of a stone, brick and plaster mason with a Mr. Austin. A year later, be having acquired a thorough knowledge of his trade and much skill in carrying it on, that gentleman look him into partnership, and they engaged in contracting and building together some ten years. At the end of that time, our subject went into the lumber trade, and later into the mercantile business as a dealer in coal, lime, cement, salt, etc., and has been prosperously and extensively engaged in that line ever since. His business has increased with the growth of the city, was long since established on a firm foundation, and is known as one of the oldest concerns in Dixon. When he came to Dixon fifty or more years ago, Mr. Means was unmarried, but life had in store for him a better fate than to go to the end of the journey in single blessedness, and in this city he met and wedded Mrs. Mary A. Clay. Her father was a captain in the British army, and she was born on the ocean when her parents were en route to America.

In all his transactions Mr. Means has always displayed a scrupulous regard for the rights of others, has never been known to willfully wrong or defraud another, and his reputation is unspotted in financial circles. He has witnessed with pride the growth of the city with which he so early identified himself, and has manifested true public spirit by doing whatsoever he could to advance its welfare, materially, socially and morally. lie is prominent in social circles as a Mason of forty-seven years standing, and is the oldest member of Friendship Lodge, No. 7. A man of broad outlook, in his religious views he is cheerful and optimistic, and is a consistent and valued member of the Universalist Church.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

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