WILLIAM A. GRANT. Kind-hearted, affectionate, obliging, forgiving, strong of mind, but though willing to listen to reason, but never showing quarters to a business adversary; willing to risk his own judgment in business affairs, and has shown by his success that his judgment is good, such is the record of William A. Grant. Having started with nothing but his good name at the age of thirty-three, he has attained some distinction as a businessman, being the leading jeweler of the city of Harrisburg and owning large tracts of farm and coal land in Saline county. Being of a rugged type of citizen, he naturally enjoys outside life. He enjoys his farms and is greatly interested in stock raising, also finding pleasure in his elegant saddle horses and thorough-bred cattle.
The subject of this sketch was born in Carmi, Illinois, June 24, 1870, the son of Alexander and Ruth Grant, and of Scotch ancestry. Born, bred and educated in Forfar, Scotland, Alexander Grant lived there until his first family were grown, when, in 1854, he sailed for America, landing in New York. He made his way westward, where he might have the benefit of the vast range for the raising of stock, in which he had always been very much interested, and his principal business was raising and dealing in stock, which he marketed in Evansville, Indiana, and Shawneetown, Illinois. At that time there were no railroads and he drove or hauled by wagon his stock to market. Of his first family there were thirteen children, one of whom, William, had preceeded him to America, but father and son never met after they reached America.
A few years after Alexander Grant came to this country his first wife died, and he afterward married Ruth Brazier, to which union there were five children born: Ellen E., John, William A., James and David. The reason for this second son, the subject of this sketch being named William was that in as much as the father had never heard of the William who preceded him to America up to the time of the birth of the subject of this sketch he naturally concluded that he was dead and named this son for the lost one. The second William was one of twins, and the father named the other one James, in memory of another son of the first family who was killed in the Union army, in the battle of Shiloh. Many years after the death of his father the first William was found in Oregon, where he had lived for many years. After finding that he had a brother Simon, also of the first family, at Carmi, William visited Simon and it was the pleasure of the second William to introduce the two own brothers after they had been separated for more than thirty-five years. One of the most striking things about these two brothers after being separated for so many years was the fact that both had the same movements and swing in their walk, as if they had trained together every day of their life.
Alexander Grant's long and useful life was brought suddenly to a close in 1875, by being thrown from a horse, he having been so injured that typhoid fever made him an easy prey. He died at the age of sixty-six, being up to the time of this accident one of the strongest men in the county and almost as active in every way as in his younger days. He was known as one of the strongest men of his day, and at the same time he was known as one of the kindest, most obliging and most fearless. There is
a record in Forfar, Scotland, of one of the most daring deeds in its history of this gentle man rescuing two men from a caved well, where it required three days work without sleep or rest to perform the awful task, and when it was so hazardous that even the brother of one of the unfortunate men would not undertake it. It is a well established fact that he would leave his own affairs to minister to a neighbor in distress; such men are greatly missed by a community, and in the death of Alexander Grant the family lost a kind father and husband and the community a benefactor. The wife sustained this great loss only two years, leaving John, Ellen E. and William A., very small, to battle for themselves. John died at the age of fourteen, Ellen E., at the age of 29, and William A. is left as the only survivor of the last as well as the first family.
Simon, of whom mention has been made in this sketch, was one of the younger of the first family. He was only seventeen years of age at the time he enlisted in the Union army, and he served to the close of the war, after being discharged he re-enlisted in the U. S. standing army and served five years. Being stationed in the West, he saw some hard service there as well as in the rebellion. After finishing his service with the army he went back to Carmi and became engaged in the manufacture of brick, at which he continued all his life, and at the same time he became interested in the affairs of the times and was quite active in political matters and served two terms as mayor of the city of Carmi and in many other positions of trust. He also possessed many of the traits of his father, and was very kind, always seeking to help those in need of his assistance. He died in 1896, in the prime of his manhood, leaving the subject of this sketch and William, the lost son, as the only survivors of a family of eighteen children.
William who has been spoken of as the lost son, was a rather peculiar character never having taken the time to try to find his father in his younger days one would conclude that he cared little for friends, but the contrary is true; he loved friends and, while he seemed to appreciate the friendship of the gentler sex, he never married and yet always had a nice home and for many years was proprietor of a large hotel in Corvallis, Oregon. He was a social man and liked Masonry, and many years before his death, which occurred in December, 1909, he had attained to the honorable distinction of being made a thirty-second degree Mason. With the death of the older William the subject of this sketch is left the only one of this large family of long lived people. William, the elder, was eighty-five years old at the time of his death and a vigorous man.
William A. Grant, left an orphan at the age of seven, went to Hamilton county, near Broughton, and lived on a farm with Thomas J. Porter for eight years, where he had a very hard time as a boy. At the age of fifteen he left Porter and went back to Carmi and worked for his brother Simon in his brick yard in summer and went to school in winter. Up to this time he had had little advantage for schooling, being scarcely able to read or write, but after four years of hard study he was able to secure a certificate to teach school, which he did for some time and then attended college at St. Louis, Missouri, the Christian Brothers College, from which institution he graduated on his twenty-first birth anniversary, standing second in a class of twenty-two, and he having accomplished three years work in one, while all of the other members of the class had spent the full time on the course.
After completing his studies he went back to Carmi and took charge of his brother Simon's business, and afterward was a partner in the brick business with his brother for two years. From 1894 until 1903 he was engaged in the sewing machine business an as employe of the Singer Manufacturing Company, in which occupation he gathered a vast fund
of business experience, and in 1903 he went to Harrisburg, Illinois, and engaged in a mercantile enterprise.
In 1892 W. A. Grant was married to Eliza R. Brandt, of Carmi, Illinois, a daughter of Henry and Catherine Brandt, who came to America in 1856 and settled at Parkersburg, Illinois, where the daughter Eliza R., was born in 1871. To this union there is one child, a son, J. Glenard Grant, who is a sturdy, rugged boy, inheriting the strong physical make-up of his Scotch father and German mother.
Since 1905 Mr. Grant has been engaged in the retail jewelry business, having built up one of the largest enterprises of the kind in this section by his attention to business and the policy of dealing with all alike, dealing on the principle that one man's dollar is as good as the other's and insisting that in his store all shall be accorded the same treatment. At present Mr. Grant is also interested in farming and stock raising, having acquired a large tract of Saline county land. He takes great pride and pleasure in his high bred cattle and horses and is a great lover of the standard bred horse, both harness and saddle types. One of his great pleasures is in his saddle horses.
Politically Mr. Grant is a Democrat, and is proud of the fact that he has three times voted for the Hon. William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. He is also a fraternal order man, having membership in the Knights of Pythias, Elks, and Masonic lodges. Masonry is his favorite lodge, and he has attained the honorable rank of the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, holding his membership in Medinah Temple at Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Grant is a Presbyterian in religion and takes great interest in the church to which he belongs and is also a ruling elder of his church. He has his faults_who has not? but when the last chapter of this sketch is closed may it be said, he lived to bless mankind, tried to be of some service to some one, and leaves the world some better for having lived in it.