2 Sep 2005
Source: Past and Present of Bureau County, IL
Originally published 1906 Pioneer Pub. Co. Chicago, IL
Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society
JOHN H. OLDS, in whose death Wyanet lost one of its prominent and valued business men, was a leading hardware merchant of the town for many years. He was, moreover, a native son of Bureau county, having been born in Princeton, on the 21st of May, 1847. His father, Justin H. Olds, was a native of Massachusetts, born September 6, 1806, and was there reared, becoming a resident of Bureau county in 1834. Here he was married on the 15th of June, 1837, to Miss Louisa C. Bryant, a daughter of Dr. Peter and Sarah (Snell) Bryant, natives of Massachusetts, and theirs was the first marriage ceremony performed after the organization of Bureau county, Mrs. Olds' brother, John H. Bryant, officiating. The newly wedded couple located at La Moille, where they remained for two years and then removed to Princeton, where Mr. Olds engaged in merchandising. He was also editor of the Evening Post, a local paper, and was one of the prominent early settlers, not only figuring actively in business life, but also serving in various official positins, including that of cirucuit clerk. He was well fitted for leadership and did muchto mold public thought and action in an early day and to influence the policy of the county in its formative period. He was a stallward abolitionist and took an active part in conducting the undergroaund railroad, thus assisting many a poor negro on his way to freedom in the north. As a sincere and faithful member of the Congregational church he made his religion a part of his daily life and gave exemplicfication of his faith in his kindliness, consideration and helpfulness to his fellowmen. He died at the age of seventy-two years, while his wife passed away at the age of sixty-two. In their family were five children, two sons and three daughters, all born in Princeton, namely: Sarah S., now the wife of Newell Matthews,, of Los Angelos, California; Julia L., who married James Bartman, now deceased, of Baltimore, Maryland; Bryant O., who has passed away; John H., of this review; and Lucy W. deceased.
John H. Olds, the fourth in order of birth, remained a resident of Princeton to the age of fifteen years, when he accompanied the family to Peoria, the father having been apponted United States inspector of distilleries there, which position he held for seventeen years. When eighteen years of age Mr. Olds of this review was graduated from the public schools of Peoria and subsequently he pursued a commercial course in Bryant & Stratton Commercial College of that city, becoming thereby well equipped for life's practical and responsible duties. It was in 1867 that he came to Wyanet, and for ten years thereafter he was engaged in faarming on section 33, Wyanet township, a pusuit which he followed with good success. He then removed to the village, where he carried on the hardware business for several years and was equally prosperous in that undertaking. His waas one of the oldest establishnments and he enjoyed a large and profitable trade, owing to his earnest desire to please his patrons, his reasonalbe prices and his straightforward dealing.
Mr. Olds was happily married on the 15th of April, 1869, to Miss Annabel Kimmel, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Bureau county with her father, Samuel Kimmel, in 1856 and was therefore reared in this part of the state. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Olds were born eight children: Bryant, who married Anna Smith, a daughter of William Smith; Howard; Edna, the wife of Elmer Sapp, cashier of the Bank of Wyanet; Blance; Guy; Lucy W.; John C.; and Myra D.
Mr. Olds politically was in sympathy with the men and measures of the party. He filled some positions of honor and trust in the county, acting as a collector and treasurer of his township. He was a member of Wyanet lodge, No. 231, A.F. & A.M.; Belmont camp, No. 25., M.W.A.; and the Knights of Pythias lodge, all of Wyanet. He died July 8, 1901, and his widow still resides in Wyanet. He was valued as an influential, progressive and publi-spirited citizen and was held inhighest regard by all. No trust reposed in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degree. The men who knew him best respected him the most, a fact whcih is indicative of an honorable upright life. With the exception of the brief period passed in Peoria he was always a resident of Bureau County and his worth as a man and citizen were widely acknowledge. At his death he left to his family a comfortable competence, also the priceless heritage of an untarnished name.