Biographies of Whiteside County, IL 1885
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Biographies Whiteside Co 1885 > Henry Rollins Sampson

Transcribed by Deb Thormahlen
7 Jun 2008

p. 201

            Henry Rollins Sampson, mayor of Morrison, is a descendant of one of the company of devoted pilgrims who came to Massachusetts in the Mayflower, in 1620.  He is descended from a later generation, which included children of Miles Standish and John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who intermarried.  Henry Sampson, his first recorded ancestor, was a child when he came to Plymouth, and was a member of the family of his uncle, Edward Tilley.  This fact became known through the record made by Governor Bradford himself, and which was not discovered until 236 years afterward.  Governor Bradford speaks of “the youth, Henery Samson,” which accounts for the absence of his name from the compact which was made in the cabin of the Mayflower, and also shows that its original orthography omitted the letter “p,” which was incorporated therein by subsequent generations.  The lines of descent are remarkably well defined, and in but one single instance are clouded by lack of direct evidence.  This, however, is obviated by accumulation of negative testimony to an extent that substantiates the unbroken lineage.  Henry Sampson married Ann Plummer, and they became the parents of 10 children.  His youngest son, Caleb, married Mercy Standish, the grand-daughter of Captain Miles Standish, and the daughter of Alexander Standish, who married Sarah Alden, daughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens, whose courtship is the subject of one of the sweetest poems in the English language.  David, eldest son of Caleb and Mercy Sampson, was born in Duxbury, and married Mary Chaffin.  Chapin, their youngest son, was born in Marshfield, Sept. 21, 1735, and married Elizabeth Clift.  He was a shipmaster, and is the first of the family on record as following a seafaring life.  Job Sampson, his son, was born in Duxbury, Sept, 19, 1766, and married Betsey Winsor.  They had four children, three sons and a daughter.  Henry Briggs, the eldest child, was born July 14, 1787, and married Nancy Turner, who was born in Scituate, Mass., May 8, 1787.  They had eight children.  Francis E. is the wife of W.S. Wilkinson, one of the prominent citizens of Morrison, and now living there in retirement.  Ann B. is deceased.  Henry Rollins was born Sept. 6, 1819, in Duxbury, Mass.  John T. is deceased.  Julia T. is the wife of Charles N. Russell, a retired merchant in Sterling. Georgiana married Charles P. Mallett, son of Colonel Mallett, of New York, and grandson of James Fenner, Governor of Rhode Island.  They are living at Joplin, Mo.  Florence H. married E.H. Whitman, a farmer near Como, Whiteside County.  Albert S. is a merchant at Sterling.  Henry Briggs Sampson also became a shipmaster, and after following a seafaring life some years, was associated with his brother in a mercantile enterprise for a few years, after which he removed with his family to Gardner, Maine, and resumed his former position as a captain in the merchant service.  Two years later, in 1836, he came West to Tremont, Ill., whence he came, about 1839, to Hopkins Township, and was one of the earliest settlers on the present site of Como.  His mother was the oldest of the colony who located there, and died at Como, Oct. 5, 1854.  The senior Sampson located on a farm, where he kept hotel for the accommodation of the many travelers and prospectors in the county.  He died at Como Dec. 31, 1865.

            Mr. Sampson is the third child of his parents, and remained under their authority until he was 15 years of age.  He obtained a good practical education at the academies at Duxbury, Mass., and Gardner, Maine, and, possessing a reflective temperament, was at an early age the master of the limited curriculum of the schools of the period.  In 1835 he obtained a clerkship in Boston and later entered a large shipping establishment in the same city, as general assistant, where he was employed several years.

            He came to Morrison in 1858 and entered upon the duties of position of deputy-clerk, under his brother-in-law, W.S. Wilkinson.  He was re-appointed, and served an aggregate of eight years.

            In 1865, in partnership with Col. D.R. Clendenen, he embarked in a mercantile enterprise, which relation was in existence about one year.  In 1872, associated with A.W. Warren, he opened an abstract office at Morrison, and they operated in partnership until July, 1882.  Soon after the termination of their relations, Mr. Sampson formed his present business association with his nephew, Henry B. Wilkinson, and they are the owners of the only set of abstracts of Whiteside County.  They are also transacting a popular and profitable business in real estate and loans.

            Mr. Sampson has been an active and useful citizen of Whiteside County since the beginning of his residence therein.  In 1861 he was elected Town Clerk and served three successive terms.  In 1861 he was elected to his first term as Supervisor of Mt. Pleasant Township, and has since been re-elected until the aggregate period of his official terms in that capacity is eight years.  He was a member of the State Board of Equalization about two years, and has officiated six years as Councilman of Morrison.  Among other important services which he has rendered was that of Chairman of Water Works Committee, in which he accomplished a permanent benefit to the city of Morrison.  At the point where the water works are now located there was a seemingly exhaustless natural spring, and it was in his opinion a desirable location for the purpose.  He proved the value of his judgment by experiment, sinking a well of sufficient dimensions to thoroughly test its capacity.  The necessary excavation led through the soil to bedrock, on which the foundation of the masonry is placed; and in this a basin has been blasted, into which the water flows through interstices in the rock, and of remarkable purity.  He superintended the construction of the works until their completion, and they form one of the attractions of Morrison, as well as one of the most valuable acquisitions of the place. 

            Mr. Sampson was elected Mayor of Morrison, April 21, 1885, receiving an unanimous vote.

            His marriage to Emma L. Dickinson took place at Boston, Sept. 27, 1858.  Kate Power Sampson, their only child was born in July, 1859.  She died suddenly of heart disease March 27, 1878, going from life before a taint of worldliness had touched her glad young spirit and while existence was in its silvery bloom of hope and joy.  She is

                        Safe from all sin and all sorrow,

                        And safe from the world’s luring strife.

Mr. and Mrs. Sampson are members of the Universalist Church.

            The portrait of Mr. Sampson appears on a preceding page.  His character is plainly apparent from the data given of his course of life since he became a citizen of Morrison.  His entire record is one of probity, integrity and ability, the quality of his judgment and mental rendering him an efficient factor in all public enterprise.


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