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Jessie Cummings

CUMMINGS, Jessie Henry (deceased), formerly a very prominent business man and greatly-esteemed citizen of Macomb, McDonough County, Ill., was born in Cecil County, Md., December 29, 1834. His parents, James and Rachel Cummings, were natives of that county, and his father was a farmer and ship carpenter by occupation. Both were worthy and substantial people and devout Christians, being members of the Rock Presbyterian Church, in Cecil County. The family lived in that county until the death of James Cummings in 1837, when his widow with six children moved, first, to Harrison County, Ohio, and afterward, to Butler County, Pa. In his youth Jesse H. Cummings received his education in the public schools of Butler County, Pa., and in the domestic circle was taught habits of industry, economy and morality. On reaching early manhood he was first employed in carrying the mail on horseback through a thinly populated country in Mercer, Butler and Venango Counties, Pa., and next worked as clerk in a country store in North Washington, Butler County, Pa., for Charles Newlan. Later he was engaged in the same capacity in a store in Canonsburg in the same State. Subsequently, in company with a young man named Andrew Gourley, he went to Kansas, and after spending a few months there, came to Illinois and located in Macomb in 1855. His first employment in Macomb was as clerk in the hardware store of T. H. Beard, and his next was as clerk in the banking house of William H. Randolph. He then entered the banking establishment of Charles Chandler & Company, and when that institution was changed to the First National Bank of Macomb, became the Cashier and one of its Directors. Thus he remained until the bank went into voluntary liquidation in 1885, and sold its business and quarters. A year afterward he bought an interest in the banking house of Q. C. Ward & Company, which succeeded the First National, and with this officially was associated until 1893. Mr. Cummings was also a director of and stockholder in the banking house of Cummings, Ward & Company at Good Hope, Ill. At the time of his death he was President, Director and Treasurer of the Macomb Pottery Company, and a Director and Secretary of Frost's Sewer Pipe Company. He was one of the originators of the Macomb Building & Loan Association, organized about 1880, and up to the date of his death, was its Treasurer and a member of its Board of Directors.

On November 3, 1857, Mr. Cummings was united in marriage with Elvira Pearson, near La Harpe, Ill., a sister of Hon. I. N. Pearson, of Macomb. Of this union three children were born, namely: Jessie, wife of Charles W. Kettron, Superintendent of the Macomb Pottery Company, May and Harry Wilbur. In politics, Mr. Cummings was a prominent and influential Republican. He served as Alderman of his ward for many years, also represented the city of Macomb on the Board of Supervisors, and was a member of the Board of Education. In his religious associations he was a member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he officiated as Elder and Treasurer for many years, and which he held at the time of his death. He was also Sunday-school Superintendent, and was foremost in charitable work. He was one of the founders of the Y. M. C. A. of Macomb, and was always a member of its Board of Directors. It was largely through his influence that that noble woman, Mrs. Marietta Phelps, gave her money for the building of the hospital which bears her name, and stands as a monument to her memory, Mr. Cummings having had charge of her affairs after her husband's death for many years previous, and that without remuneration. He was a firm believer in that passage of Scripture which says. "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Many were the beneficiaries who came to his widow after his death and. mingling their tears with hers, told of the aid they had received at his hands in times of need.

Mr. Cummings died April 1, 1900. Besides his family, already mentioned, he left a sister, Mrs. S. A. Hamilton, of Emlenton, Pa, and a brother, John B., of Chicago, Ill., to lament his departure. As far as human limitations permit, he was a model man and his career reflected credit upon the community with which his life was indentified as one of the most useful and exemplary of its citizens. Mrs. Cummings died March 18, 1907.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907.

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