Biography - Henry Niles

Henry Clay Niles, master in chancery, local historian and an old and well-known resident, is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and a son of Hezekiah and Sally Ann (Warner) Niles, the former was born near Wilmington, Delaware and the later being of Quaker extraction and the daughter of John Warner, one of the leading Quakers of that state. Hezekiah Niles was an intimate friend of Henry Clay, and prominent in Whig politics of his day; in 1811 he was editor and proprietor of the Niles Register, which was a strong Whig and pro-slavery paper and always supported the candidacy of Clay. It was one of the most influential newspapers in the eastern country, being one of the acknowledged organs of the Whig party. The International Cyclopedia says of him that he was born in 1777, in Pennsylvania, recieved an ordinary education and became a member of Bonsal & Niles in the newspaper business at Wilmington, Delaware, which was not a success. He then became a newspaper correspondent and in 1811 founded Niles Register at Baltimore, and died in 1839.
H.C. Niles was reared to manhood in the city of Baltimore, where he attended school up to the age of fourteen years. He then became a clerk in the Baltimore post-office for seven years. He was then engaged in the drug business up to 1850, when he came to what is now Douglas county and located at Bourbon, where he became a salesman for his brother-in-law, L.C. Rust, who was one of the early merchants of this county, and with whom he remained for two years. After Douglas county was formed in 1859, he was elected to the office of county surveyor, since which time he has served several terms in this office, and is one of the best known surveyors in central Illinois. He is still actively engaged in the business. Various acts of the legislature making any correct survey by a competent surveyor perfectly legal (thus destroying all inducements to hold the office), he, like many other experienced surveyors in the state, has since refused the position. In 1881, he was appointed master in chancery of the Douglas county circuit court, which position he has continuously held thus attesting his popularity with all classes of people who have business in his court.
In 1858 he married Miss Rebecca Brown of DeWitt county, Illinois. They have five children, four of whom are living. Mr. Niles was made a Mason, in Baltimore, in 1854, and is one of the oldest members of that craft in the county. He has materially assisted in the making of both county atlases and is the author of the old Douglas county history, published in 1884, and in this completion this volume, I am under permanent obligations to Mr. Niles for his unselfish help.

Extracted by Linda Lang from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, pages 174-175.

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