Clay County

Biography - HARVEY F. PIXLEY

The able and popular president of the First National Bank of Flora, Illinois, is most consistently accorded recognition in a work of the province assigned to the one at hand, since it has to do with the representative citizens of Clay county, of which number he is a worthy member. He has had a prominent part in the financial and commercial development of the county, during the long period of years in which he has been identified with the business world of this part of the state. Not only have the interests of business claimed his time and attention but politics have also found him wide awake and interested. He is particularly active in any movement for the civic betterment of the town, as is shown by the leading part he took in the founding of the Carnegie Library.

Harvey F. Pixley was born in Ingraham, Clay county, Illinois, on the 25th of November, 1869. He is the son of Osman Pixley, who was a native of New York, having settled in Edwards county at an early date. In 1852 he moved to Clay county, and became well known as a merchant. For years he was president of the First National Bank of Flora, and his ability and strength of character won the confidence of his fellow citizens to such an extent that they elected him their representative in the lower house of the legislature for 1871-1872. For the long period of forty years he was post-master of Ingraham. He received a request from Postmaster General Wanamaker for his photograph, to be used in the Chicago "World's Fair, he being the fourth oldest postmaster in point of service in the United States. After an active and useful life he was called to rest on the 7th of April, 1903. His wife was Frances Wood, who was born near Allendale, Wabash county, Illinois, on the 29th of June, 1832. She was a woman of beautiful character, and to her influence is due many of the fine qualities to be found in Harvey Pixley. She was the daughter of Spencer Wood, who was born near New Haven, Vermont, on the 14th of February, 1788, and died on the 5th of December, 1846. Her mother was Matilda Flower, who was born in Hardinsburg, Kentucky, on the 19th of March, 1791, and died on the 12th of March, 1855, the mother being the last surviving member of the family. Mrs. Pixley was one of a large family of children nine in number, and she in turn became the mother of nine children. Of this number four girls and one boy are dead. Harvey is the seventh in order of birth, and of his two brothers, Dewitt C. is living in Orange, California, where he is a prominent business man, .being married and having five children, while Arthur H., who lives in Chicago is associated with the firm of Ware and Leland, and is a member of the Board of Trade. The mother of these boys passed to her rest on the 16th of May, 1907.

The grandfather of Harvey Pixley was Asa Pixley. He was a native of Vermont, but moved to western New York and finally came still further west and settled near West Salem, Edwards county, Illinois, about the year 1830. This was during pioneer days, and Asa Pixley showed the spirit of his Puritan ancestors, who also braved the dangers of an unknown country. Asa Pixley was born on the 26th of March, 1805, and died on the 9th of February, 1883. He was married to Amanda Ingraham, the daughter of Philo Ingraham and Arvilla (Barney) Ingraham. Her father was born on the 28th of June, 1768, and died on the 21st of April, 1842. The date of her mother's birth was the 12th of September, 1782, and her death occurred on the 19th of September, 1854. They are supposed to be the first white people buried in Clay county, and now lie at rest in Ingraham Cemetery. Amanda Ingraham Pixley was born on the 22nd of February, 1806, and died on the 26th of September, 1844. The town of Ingraham was named for this fair dame of the early eighteenth century who scarcely lived to reach her prime. The township of Pixley was also named for a member of this family, that is, her son Osman.

Harvey F. Pixley spent his life up to 1899 in Ingraham. After receiving an elementary education in the common schools he attended Eureka College, where he made an excellent record. He spent two years at this institution, and then came home to work in his father's store. For twelve years he assisted his father, and while he was helping to build up a fine trade for his father he was at the same time gaining a valuable training in the twists and turns of the business world. In August, 1899, he came to Flora, and went to work in the First National Bank, becoming its cashier on the 1st of January, 1900. He held this position for four years, at the end of this time being elected vice president of the institution. After four years spent in this capacity he was made president of the. bank by the vote of the board of directors at their meeting in January, 1909. He has done much to increase the prestige of this bank and to place it on a solid foundation. It is today recognized as one of the most reliable banks of Southern Illinois. His financial ability may be gathered from cold statistics. When he first became associated with this bank there was a surplus of only $12,000. This has been more than doubled, being now $25,000. The undivided profits were less than $1,000. They are now $25,000. The dividends are now five per cent, payable semi-annually.

Among the other interests that occupy Mr. Pixley are the Breese, Trenton Mining Company, of which he was treasurer for some time, and of which he is now president. This company operates three coal mines, at Breese, Beckmeyer and Trenton, and the business transacted by the company is one of considerable magnitude. He is also treasurer of the Ebner Ice and Cold Storage Company, operating four plants, at Vincennes, Seymour and Washington, Indiana, and Flora, Illinois. In addition to his official connection with the above corporations he is a director and large stock-holder in both of them. Mr. Pixley also has an interest in the Flora Canning Company, and is a stock-holder, as well as one of the organizers, of the Flora Telephone Company. He has quite a bit of money invested outside of his home town, notably the stock which he holds in two of the large wholesale houses of St. Louis. His ability as an investor and his unquestioned integrity brought him the responsibility of being made an executor of the late General Lewis B. Parsons, of Flora. The estate which he was called upon to administer was over $100,000, and the responsibility was not a light one. He is a member of the directors of the Flora Mutual Building, Loan and Homestead Association.

Mr. Pixley has always had a keen interest in the public welfare, and was at one time president of the school board. He is now one of the trustees of the Carnegie Library, having held this position ever since the opening of the library. He was a member of the building committee and is now in charge of the financial affairs of the institution, being treasurer. Politically Mr. Pixley is a Republican, and has done his duty by the party in serving on the county central committee.

Mr. Pixley was married on the 22nd of October, 1891, to Gallic Cisel, daughter of John Cisel, of Allendale, Wabash county, Illinois. She was born on the farm adjoining the one on which Mr. Pixley's mother passed her girlhood. Mr. and Mrs. Pixley have one son who was born on the 10th of December, 1892. After completing his elementary education he was sent to the Western Military Academy at Upper Alton, Illinois, where he made a fine record as a bright student and a manly boy. He is at present acting as private secretary to his father.

In his fraternal relations Mr. Pixley is a member of blue lodge, No. 204, of the Masonic order, and also of the Royal Arch Chapter, No. 154. He and his wife are both members of the Eastern Star. They are members of the Christian church, Mr. Pixley being a member of the official board. He was also a member of the building committee that had charge of the erection of the new church. This is a splendid edifice, of which a larger city might well be proud.

Mr. and Mrs. Pixley have one of the finest homes in the county. It contains every modern comfort and many luxuries, but best of all it harbors a gracious and dignified hostess, and is consequently a center for the social life of the community. Mrs. Pixley is a woman of much refinement and taste, who enters into her husband's interests with a whole-heartedness and an understanding that is rare. Mr. Pixley has won his success through putting to good use the gifts with which he was endowed by nature. He has a strong character, that is not easily turned from a path he thinks is right, and his varied experiences have given him the power of discriminating between the false and the true. He has a fidelity of purpose, but with this a kind heartedness that would bring hurt to no one, and so he has won the respect of all, be they friends or enemies. He takes first rank among the prominent men of his locality, and is a leader in every field in which he has become interested, be in business, finance, education, society or civics.

Extracted 09 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1265-1268.

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