The subject of this brief sketch was born at the village of New London, Huron County, Ohio. April 28. 1840. He was the eleventh child of a family of twelve, and the youngest male.
The father, Alva Truman Bates, was a native of Vermont. The mother, Elizabeth (Bowman) Bates, was born near Cherry Valley, in the great Mohawk Valley, New York. They were married in 1817, and soon moved to a point near the foot of Lake Seneca, Western New York, where they resided until the early twenties, when the prospects offered to new settlers in the great Ohio country were too flattering to be resisted. So the Bates family formed a part of the colony which constituted the first settlers of New London.
The promised opportunity for betterment caused the senior Bates to again listen to the wiles of “Westward Ho!” and about 1843 found the Vermont millwright, builder and farmer, with a family large enough to please the enthusiastic President Roosevelt, residents of Terre Haute. Vigo County Ind. The panic of 1844 somewhat cooled the ardor of the sire to continue the westward movement.
Early in 1848 the family moved to LaFayette, Tippecance County, the then young and growing “star” city of Indiana. William Henry still holds in kind remembrance the worthy pedagogues, Messrs. Shaw. Snow, Bedford. and Headly, under whom he mastered the three great “R.’s”. In 1853 he left the school-room for the printing office, serving alternately in the LaFayette “Argus,” “Courier” and “Journal” daily offices.
During the early summer of 1858, he started on his first “tramp,” going to Chicago, Illinois, via Michigan City. Ind. The season being dull, after a few weeks he continued his pilgrimage through Southern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Eastern Iowa, and finally landed at Peoria. Ill., with but twenty-four cents left. Fortunately he lost but, one meal, until occupation came to his relief. Being favorably impressed with the outlook at Peoria, in 1859, he built a small cottage, sent for his aged mother and went to housekeeping.
In April, 1861, while engaged on the “Illinois Teacher,” a monthly publication, edited and published by N. C. Nason, the assault on Fort Sumter fired his patriotic blood, and caused him to join the first “awkward squad” for drill in the old Peoria court-house square. The entreaties of his aged mother held him to paternal fealty, until about the first of June, when there appeared upon the scene one F. C. Barr, a recruiting officer for, as the posters read, “The only American Zouave regiment being raised in the United States.” The attraction was so strong he could not resist; so walked into the recruiting station in the old Dervein building on Adams street, Peoria, and became one of seven, who, a few days later, took steamer for St. Louis, Mo. The grief-stricken mother, remembering her parents’ part in the Revolutionary War with England, dried her tears, and prayed that her boy might be spared to return and aid her tottering steps to the grave. The mother’s prayers were answered, for the subject of her intercession is engaged in writing this sketch at sixty-five years of age.
William Henry Bates, on his arrival at the United States Arsenal, St. Louis, became a member of Company C, Eighth Missouri Infantry (American Zouaves), and took part in the engagement at Wentzville, Mo., July 16. 1861, and the several skirmishes prior to, and after the occupancy of City of Mexico, Mo., where, on the 19th, the printers in A. B. and C. companies of the Eighth Misouri, issued the first Union half-sheet newspaper printed in the Confederacy, and named it “The Star Spangled Banner.” The Union loss at Wentzville was seven wounded, one fatally. The Eighth Missouri companies returned to St. Louis, then in a few days the full regiment was on board steamer, bound for Cape Girardeau, Mo., which they occupied and fortified. They were soon ordered to Paducah, Ky., arriving at the latter place on Sept. 8th. While at Paducah, the Eighth boys aided in its fortification.
During the brief stay at Cape Girardeau, William Henry was transferred from Company C. to Company H. which was known as the Peoria-Pekin, Illinois, Company, and as a member of Company H, took part in the following battles and sieges: Fort Donelson, Shiloh. Monterey, Russel House and first siege of Corinth, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, Steele’s Bayou, Champion Hills; assault, siege and capture of Vicksburg; siege and capture of Jackson, including several skirmishes. Then came the return to Camp Sherman east of Vicksburg, but the Fifteenth Corps was soon ordered on board steamers whose prows were turned northward. On arrival at Memphis the Union forces were immediately taken by cars to Corinth, where they went into temporary camp for equipment for the long overland march to Chattanooga, Tenn., to relieve Gen. Rosecrans, who was hemmed in by the Confederate army under General Bragg. Then came the Battle of Missionary Ridge and the forced march to the relief of Gen. Burnside at Knoxville, Tenn.
The first battle in Gen. W. T. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign in 1864 was at Resaca, Ga., thence to Dallas, Ga., where the Eighth Missouri Infantry fought its last battle. By the middle of July, 1884, the regiment, excepting the veteran battalion, had returned to St. Louis for muster out.
October, 1864, found the subject of this sketch an employe on “The Tazewell County Republican,” edited by William W. Sellers. In 1868 the job and book firm of Sellers & Bates was organized and continued until 1870, when Mr. Bates retired with his job plant. On May 30, 1871, the latter began the publication of “The Pekin Weekly Bulletin,” which was enlarged several times. Mr. Bates next formed a partnership with Jacob R. Riblett, and purchased the “Tazewell County Republican,” merging his “Bulletin” office into the new purchase. At the end of three months he persuaded Mr. Riblett to purchase his interest, and again commenced an independent business.
On January 3, 1876, Mr. Bales enlarged his printing plant and began the publication of a morning daily, “The Pekin Daily Bulletin,’’ which was suspended October 5th. On November 3, 1876, he bought “The Tazewell County Republican” from David Lush, who had become the successor of J. R. Riblett, and merging his “Bulletin” Plant with it, again donned the editorial toga and closed the campaign for the Republican cause. On February 3, 1879, the newspaper part of the “Republican” printery was sold to Joseph B. Bates, of the “Lincoln (Ill.) Republican” (See history elsewhere in this volume).
In 1886, Joseph B. Irwin, a former publisher of the “Pekin Times,” bought the “Republican,” but antagonized Republican interests to such an extent as to bring W. H. Bates into the newspaper field with “The Tazewell County Tribune.” Mr. Bates soon sold the newspaper interests of the “Tribune” to Joseph Reed, his associate editor, who continued its publication for about six weeks, when it was discontinued. Joseph V. Graff, who held the subscription list and newspaper effects through mortgage, shortly afterward sold his holdings to Wells Cory, who revived “The Tribune” (See continuation of its history Elsewhere in this volume). Mr. Bates still continues in business with an up-to-date book and job printing plant.
On September 18, 1865, William H. Bates and Filener (Sleeth) Haberfield, were joined in holy wedlock. Seven children were born to them, four of whom survive and have grown to womanhood and manhood: Ida B., William H., Jr., and Teenie F. (twins), and Roy S.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 975
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