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Nathaniel P. Tinsley

TINSLEY, Nathaniel P. (deceased), who was in his day the most enterprising, progressive and prosperous merchant and miller in McDonough County, Ill., was born in Amherst County, Va., November 1, 1810, a son of David and Mahala Tinsley, who were natives of Kentucky. When he was six years old Nathaniel P. was brought by his parents from Virginia to Kentucky, where he was reared to manhood. At the age of nineteen years he became clerk in a store at Columbia. Ky., where he acquired his first business experience. He came to Macomb, Ill., in 1836, and opened a store which was among the earliest business concerns in the place. Mr. Tinsley began his business career in Macomb in a small building on the east side of the public Square. The venture proved so successful that in 1837 he was enabled to build a two-story frame store on the North Side, which he occupied until 1857, when he erected the large brick block where he carried on merchandising during the remainder of his life. In 1849 he built his mill on South Randolph Street, which he sold in 1856 to Clisby & Trull. He built another mill in 1857, in the northern portion of the town, which he subsequently disposed of to David Scott. He started the first large flour mill in McDonough County and shipped the first flour out of the county. It is a lasting honor to the memory of Nathaniel P. Tinsley, that his prompt and public-spirited action at a critical juncture induced the railroad company to build the depot on its present convenient and desirable site. To the timely and unselfish intervention of this sturdy merchant is, doubtless, attributable the fact that the county-seat of McDonough County was not transferred from Macomb, as he personally pledged $5,000 toward the erection of the county building at the point originally selected. For this amount his fellow townsmen afterward decided, by formal vote, that he should not be held responsible, as he had already done far more than his share in advancing the interests of his city and county.

It is generally conceded, all things considered, that Mr. Tinsley was more intimately identified with the early development of Macomb and its vicinity than any other merchant of his time, as he was a man of ample means, high ideals, great force of character and pure motives. He was generous to a fault in the matter of individual necessities, and never withheld his financial aid from any movement designed to promote the public weal. In manner and general deportment, he was plain and unassuming, and, in speech, reserved. On occasions when public meetings were convened for the purpose of promoting improvements, he was wont to rise from his chair and simply say that he could not talk but would furnish his share of the money.

Mr. Tinsley was married in 1838, to Telitha C. Walker, daughter of Joseph Walker, a farmer of McDonough County, and native of Kentucky. She died June 24, 1847. Four children resulted from this union, of whom but one survives — Mary C. — now the wife of Albert Eads, a sketch of whose life appears in another part of this volume. Mr. Tinsley died July 20, 1882, leaving the impress of his noble character and worthy deeds upon the community to which his life was so great a boon.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 1021-1022, extracted 07 Aug 2020 by Norma Hass.

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