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Isaac N. Pearson

PEARSON, Isaac N. — Among the prominent citizens and politicians of Illinois is Isaac N. Pearson, of Macomb, McDonough County, who was born in Centerville, Butler County, Pa., July 27, 1842, the youngest of the seven children of Isaac S. and Lydia (Painter) Pearson, also natives of Pennsylvania. Both the paternal and maternal families were connected with the dawn of American history, arriving from England in 1686, and settling in Philadelphia among the Society of Friends. Isaac S. Pearson was a merchant during the greater part of his active life, and he served with distinction in the Legislature of Pennsylvania as a representative of the Whig party. Shortly after his death, in 1845, his widow moved with her children to Newcastle, Pa., and in 1849 came to Illinois, settling near La Harpe, Hancock County. In 1858 she moved to Macomb, where her death occurred in 1872, at the age of sixty-six years. The youth of Isaac N. Pearson was characterized by a hard struggle for existence, and by a degree of responsibility which brought into the limelight the qualities which have accomplished his business, political and social success. Educated primarily in the district school near La Harpe and at Macomb, he did much to assist his widowed mother, working on the farm, on the streets, chopping wood, making gardens, and resorting to other honorable but humble means of securing money for his schooling and the support of his mother. In 1861 he secured a position in the Circuit Clerk's office, and upon reaching his majority, was appointed Deputy Circuit Clerk. Upon the Democrats coming into power in 1864, he lost his clerkship, and the following spring he became Cashier in a bank in Bushnell, retaining the position until the fall of 1868. The same year he was again appointed Deputy Circuit Clerk, and in 1872 the party honored him by a unanimous nomination for the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court, to which he was elected by a greater majority than any other candidate on the ticket. In 1876 he was re-nominated by acclamation, and again was elected, running three hundred votes ahead of the ticket. In June, 1880, six months before the expiration of his term, he was elected Cashier of the Union National Bank, of Macomb, which position he occupied until January, 1883, when he resigned to accept the office of Representative in the Thirty-third General Assembly from the Twenty-seventh District comprising the counties of McDonough and Warren, to which he had been elected the previous November. Upon resigning his position in the bank he was elected its Vice-President. In the Legislature Mr. Pearson introduced, among other important bills, the original bill for the appointment of State inspectors of coal mines, out of which grew the present excellent law on the subject. During the session he was chairman of the Committee on Fees and Salaries, a member of the Committees on Corporations, Banks and Banking and Finance, and several special committees. Declining a re-nomination for the House, in 1886 he was nominated by acclamation for the office of State Senator, and was elected over the Democratic Greenback candidate by a majority of 581. During the session of the Thirty-fifth General Assembly he was Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining, member of the committees on Appropriations, Banks and Banking, Railroads, Fees and Salaries, Military, State Library and Roads and Highways, and several special committees. In the State Convention of 1888, Mr. Pearson was a candidate tor Secretary of State, the opposing candidates being General J. N. Reece, Hon. W. F. Calhoun, ex-Speaker of the House, and Hon. Thomas C. McMillan. After an exciting contest Mr. Pearson was nominated on the fifth ballot, and upon immediately resigning his office as State Senator, entered into the State campaign, and was elected by a majority of 25,287, the largest given any candidate on the ticket at that election. In January, 1889, he assumed the duties of Secretary of State, and was an efficient and popular public servant. In 1892 he was renominated with but slight opposition, receiving 1,081 out of 1,232 votes in the convention on the first ballot. The Democrats carrying the state that year, he, with all of the other ReIjublican candidates, was defeated, but his popularity was shown by his running nearly six thousand votes ahead of the Presidential ticket. Upon the expiration of his term, Mr. Pearson returned to Macomb and devoted his energies to his various business interests.

The marriage of Mr. Pearson and Jennie M. Robinson was solemnized in Springfield in 1894, Mrs. Pearson being a daughter of the late Hon. James C. Robinson, at one time a prominent Democratic politician and member of Congress from Illinois. Mrs. Pearson's death occurred the September after her marriage, and in 1901 Mr. Pearson was united in marriage to Mary E. Kerman, of Macomb. Mr. Pearson is one of the stock-holders and directors of the Macomb Pottery Company and the Macomb Electric Light & Gas Company, and a stock-holder in the Union National Bank of Macomb. He also is a large landowner. Fraternally, he is connected with the Masonic Veteran Association and Knights Templar, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Ancient Order of United Workmen and Knights of Pythias, in all of which he is a faithful and helpful worker. He also is a member of the Macomb Business Men's Club and the Hamilton Club, of Chicago; is President of the Board of Education of Macomb, and for a number of years has been a Trustee in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of Macomb. Mr. Pearson is a man of excellent business ability and of strict integrity. He has a genial and interesting personality, is invariably tactful and courteous, and whether as a financier, politician or citizen, impresses by his moderation, good judgment and intellectual reserve. There are few charitable or generally enlightening projects which do not meet with his generous and hearty co-operation.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 974-975, extracted 17 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass.

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