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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HERMON C. COLE. Success is the creature of energy and tact. Men may sometimes blunder into fame or fortune, but unless they possess sterling qualities, the sequel to their lives is apt to prove that they were unworthily intrusted with great advantages. Opportunities come to every man, but only a few seize upon them and rise with them to success. It is not because their opportunities are greater, but that they possess the qualities which in all ages have been recognized as masters of success, and by which they are enabled to take advantage of that

“Tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Neglected, all the voyage of their lives
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

These truths, which have been happily expressed in the saying that “every man is the architect of his own fortune,” are perhaps nowhere more decidedly manifest than in the business activity of new countries. It is there that energy, enterprise and administrative ability come to the front. The field lies open to everyone alike, and the highest success is reached by the man of greatest energies and strongest purpose. Such a man was the late Hermon Camp Cole. As a business man he was known prominently, not only throughout southern Illinois, but elsewhere; and while by his enterprise he built up an extensive business and acquired an ample fortune, he at the same time developed the resources of a large section of country, and was of material aid in promoting the interests of Randolph County.

The family with which Mr. Cole was connected was of English and Welsh descent, and its first members came to America early in the history of the Colonies. For several generations they lived in New York State, and in Dutchess County, that state, Nathan Cole, our subject’s father, was born March 7, 1783. His second wife, the mother of Hermon C., was Sarah Scott. She was born in Ridgefield, Conn., in 1790, and at the age of four years was taken by her parents to Orange County, whence in 1801 they moved to Seneca County. Nathan Cole and Sarah Scott were married in 1807, and became the parents of seven sons, some of whom became prominent in business and politics.

In 1821 Nathan Cole, accompanied by his family, removed to St. Louis, and there engaged in business, being the first regular pork-packer in the Mississippi Valley. He died in Chester in 1840. Hermon C., the third of his sons, was born in Ovid, Seneca County, N. Y., May 9, 1813, and was eight years old when the family took up its residence in St. Louis. His education was commenced in that city, and was finished in Shurtleff College, at Alton. At the age of twenty, without capital, he began in business as a merchant in East St. Louis. In 1837 the family came to Chester, where the father erected the first flouring mill of the town, while H. C. opened a store and engaged in merchandising. About 1840 he became interested in the mill as a partner of Abner Cole, and such was his energy and activity, that within a few years the brands of the establishment gained the highest reputation throughout the west. For a time he was sole proprietor of the mill, but later took into partnership his two sons, Charles B. and Zachary T., and extended his business by opening the banking house of H. C. Cole & Co. In 1867 he disposed of his mercantile business to William Schuchert.

In June of 1844, Mr. Cole married Miss Emily Cocks, of Stamford, Conn., who died in October, 1859. In February of 1862, he married Mrs. Sarah J. Flannigan. His children, six by the first wife, and five by the second, were named as follows: Charles B., Zachary T., Alice E., Henry C., Eunice E., Edward E.; and Cora V., Grace, Hermon, Newell and Nathan. Mr. Cole died at his residence in Upper Alton, Ill., October 20, 1874. The business of the firm is now carried on by the sons, Charles B. (of whom mention is made on another page), Zachary T. and Henry C. A general banking business has been carried on since 1872, and in 1875 a commodious bank was opened on the hill in Chester, where this branch of the business is now carried on.

The part Mr. Cole performed in promoting the agricultural interests of southern Illinois was most important. He was mainly instrumental in developing the growing capacity of a section that now produces the finest quality of wheat raised in the United States. Few men in Randolph County have acquired a reputation so extended. His name was a synonym for all that was honest and sincere, and with an unstinted hand he aided every work of charity and religion. Of slight but handsome physique, his face spoke most eloquently the warmth of a true heart, and his eye sparkled with kindness. He was loved, honored and trusted by all who knew him, and his calm and peaceful death was cheered with the hope of the humble and child-like Christian.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Randolph County, Illinois family biographies here: Randolph County, Illinois Biographies

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