WILLIAM B. BLAKE. Within the limits of Franklin county probably no name is better known or more suggestive of enterprise and progress than that of William B. Blake, vice-president of the Benton State Bank, who is known as one of the wealthiest citizens of the county. Mr. Blake was born December 20, 1851, on a farm near Benton, Illinois, a son of Aaron and Clarissa (Tinsley) Blake.
Aaron Blake was born in Virginia, where his parents spent their whole lives, and at an early day came to Illinois, where he purchased a tract of forty acres of land and settled down to agricultural pursuits. He traded in cattle and horses to such good purpose that he accumulated one thousand acres of land and eight hundred head of cattle, stock and horses, and was one of the wealthiest farmers in the state. In 1863, when only forty-five years of age, he was murdered by a highwayman. He was one of the most ardent Democrats in this community, being well known for his activities in the political field, and in every walk of life had the full confidence and esteem of all with whom he came in contact. Mr. Blake mated Miss Clarissa Tinsley, who was born in Tennessee, daughter of William and Rebecca (Mulkey) Tinsley, natives of that state, who came to Illinois at an early day and settled on a farm in Franklin county, where they spent the remainder of their lives. They were pioneer citizens of this section, coming here when nearly all of the country was still in its primitive state, and making the journey in a wagon drawn by oxen, which animals Mr. Tinsley used almost entirely in his agricultural work.
William B. Blake was educated in the district schools in the vicinity of his father's farm, and also attended the Benton public schools for one term, and was reared to the life of an agriculturist, which he followed until he was thirty-nine years of age. In 1890 he was elected to the office of sheriff of Franklin county, and acted in that capacity to the satisfaction of all concerned for four years, and on the expiration of his term of office began dealing in cattle, horses, mules, etc., buying and shipping all over this part of the state. At this time he also embarked in the money loaning business, and eventually became a director in the Benton State Bank, one of the most solid and substantial financial institutions in Franklin county, of which he was elected vice president in 1907. He has since had charge of the bank loans and also loans private funds, and while advancing the bank's interests has also made himself one of the wealthiest men in Franklin county. He owns an excellently cultivated tract of three hundred and fifty acres of farming land in the county, in addition to which he holds considerable town property.
In 1883 Mr. Blake was married to Ann Snyder, daughter of Isaac Snyder, one of the earliest settlers of Franklin county, where his life was spent in agricultural pursuits. Mr. and Mrs. Blake have had no children. She belongs to the Christian church, and he is socially connected with the Elks. Mr. Blake, like his father, has been a stanch supporter of Democratic principles, and for six years served as master in chancery. Admitted to be one of the brightest business men of this part of Southern Illinois, Mr. Blake has found time to bring a part of his ability into play in forwarding the civic interests of Benton, and some of the most progressive movements inaugurated here have been due to his farsightedness and public spirit.