THOMAS B. NEEDLES.
Pre-eminent among the men of Nashville who are the authors of large and worthy accomplishments in a public way is Thomas B. Needles, president of the First National Bank of Nashville and the possessor of no little fame as a member of the Dawes Commission, which wound up the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians and thus prepared them for full entry into civil relations as citizens of the United States. As marshal of the Indian Territory district at one time he took an important part in the actual opening up of that territory to settlement, and he has in many and various ways given valuable service to the state in an official capacity.
Born in Monroe county on the 26th of April, 1835, he is the son of James B. and Lumima (Talbert) Needles. The former was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1786 and came to Illinois in 1820. He had received the advantage of an exceptionally good education, and during the first six years of his residence in Monroe county he taught school
there. He later served as sheriff of the county for six years, but withdrawing from public life he engaged in mercantile business in Waterloo, Illinois, remaining there until 1851. He then made several moves, being two years in Keokuk, Iowa, two years at Mt. Sterling, Illinois, and two years at Belleville, Illinois. He then moved to Richview, Washington county, Illinois, in 1857, where he carried on a mercantile business until his death, which occurred in 1860. He was reared in the Quaker faith, but late in life he became an adherent of Methodist principles and died as a member of that church. He was thrice married. His first wife, Lumima Talbert, was a daughter of Elijah Talbert, who came to Illinois from Virginia and settled in Monroe county. When Mrs. Needles died she left three children: Thomas B., of this review, Sarah E., who passed away in Washington county as the wife of S. P. Cooper, and James B., who died in 1862. Mr. Needles next married Sarah Decker, who died, leaving a son, Edward Needles, of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois. The third wife of Mr. Needles was Miss Christina Mace, and of this union one son was born, Henry Needles, a prominent lawyer of Belleville, Illinois.
Thomas B. Needles was liberally educated in so far as the common schools were able to advance him, after which he attended a seminary at Mt. Sterling, Illinois, spending two years in study there. When he had finished his training he joined his father in business and continued with him until 1860, when he started a mercantile business in Nashville, Illinois, on his own responsibility. The following year he became active in the political life of Nashville, and he was elected county clerk of Washington county, filling that office by successive elections for sixteen years. He was the first Republican to be elected county clerk of the county, and in 1876 he was elected state auditor of Illinois. One political honor followed another, and in 1880 he was elected to the upper house of the general assembly, and while a member of that body was chairman of the committee on revenue. In 1889 he was appointed by President Harrison to the marshalship of the district of the Indian Territory and filled the office until he was succeeded by J. J. McAlester, the appointee of Grover Cleveland when he entered the presidential office. It was during Mr. Needle's term of service that Oklahoma was opened to settlement, and the police arrangements for the management of the famous horse race were made by him and the actual opening of the country to settlement was accomplished under his management.
Resuming his active connection with home affairs once more. Mr. Needles was elected in 1894 to the lower house of the general assembly was given the chairmanship of the committee on appropriations. He was returned by the Republicans in 1896 as his own successor and continued to work at the head of the same important committee. In 1899 he was appointed to the Commission of the Five Civilized Tribes, otherwise known as the Dawes Commission, and he served throughout the eight years of the life of that Commission. The immense and important work done by this body was of far-reaching consequence to the Indian and to the nation, and will be written in history as among the great pieces of work done under and for the government. As a member of that commission, if he had done nothing else to establish his name in the history of Illinois, he would have succeeded admirably in that one respect.
Throughout the course of his political life Mr. Needles was closely affiliated with the affairs of the Republican party in Illinois, and he was a member of its state conventions on many occasions, and possessed a wide acquantance among the more prominent men of the state. In 1872 he became interested in banking and it was about that time that he
assisted in organizing the Washington County Bank, with which he has been connected continuously since that time. Following its conversion into the First National Bank on June 1, 1903, Mr. Needles was made president, the office which he now holds, and since his retirement from public life he has devoted himself completely to the welfare of that institution. Mr. Needles is one of the oldest Odd Fellows in the state. He has served as grand warden and grand master; he is a member of the Grand Lodge and was a member of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, and has been grand treasurer of the order for twenty-eight years and which office he still holds. He is a Royal Arch Mason.
On December 16, 1860, Mr. Needles was married at Richview, Illinois, to Miss Sarah L. Bliss, a daughter of Augustus Bliss, who came to Illinois from Ohio. Mrs. Needles passed away March 4, 1905, as the mother of Jessie, who died in Nashville in 1902 as Mrs. Frank Genung, and Winnie, the wife of Paul Krughoff, of Nashville.