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WILLIAM ALLEN BANKS, who is now capably serving as postmaster at LaPorte and is one of the worthy citizens here, was born in Schoharie county, New York, October 28, 1836, his parents being Orrin and Olive (Brown) Banks. His father was born in New York state and came to Ohio in 1838, locating in Madison township, Lake county. In 1845 he removed to LaPorte county, and in 1854 took up his residence in Hobart, Lake county, Indiana, where he died in 1856. Throughout his entire life he carried on farming. He was related to the family of which Dr. Nathaniel P. Banks was a member. His wife, who was of Scotch descent, was born in New York and died in 1895 in Hobart, Lake county, Indiana. In the family were four sons who were soldiers in the Civil war: Elisha, Morgan, Nathaniel and George L. The last named was color-bearer for the Fifteenth Indiana Infantry and was wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge. For his bravery and valor in times of danger he was voted a medal of honor by the United States Congress. The other two brothers and three sisters of Mr. Banks are Charles W., Parley A., Betsey, Mary C. and Sarah.
William Allen Banks has resided almost continuously in LaPorte county since 1845, and is therefore one of its oldest settlers, familiar with its history from the period of its early development down to the present. He worked on the railroad for a few years, but during the greater part of his life has carried on farming and stock dealing, following those pursuits in Scipio township. He still owns his farm there, it having been in his possession since 1859. It is located on sections 29 and 30 and comprises four hundred and twenty-six acres of fine land. He also owns a home in LaPorte at 912 Maple avenue. His attention is still given to some extent to agricultural pursuits, although in 1887, he left the farm and took up his abode in the city. For a number of years he was a well known importer of horses, and made four trips to Europe in order to purchase fine horses there. He brought back large numbers of full-blooded stock from England, Scotland and France, and he is still engaged to some extent in breeding fine horses, cattle and Shropshire sheep. Mr. Banks has been very active, influential and helpful in advancing the interests of the farming community of Indiana. He was a member of the state board of agriculture for fourteen years, and for two years was its president. He has also been connected with the LaPorte County Agricultural Society since 1862, and for a number of years was its chief executive officer.
Mr. Banks has been three times married. He first wedded Miss Marion Chandler, who died in 1870. By this union there was one daughter, who is now Mrs. Lura E. Cosser, a resident of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In 1875 Mr. Banks was joined in marriage to Miss Jennie Crane, who died in 1895, leaving four children: Mrs. Eda Weaver, Mrs. Cora E. Barnum, William Ray and Catherine. In 1897 Mr. Banks was married to his present wife, who was formerly Mrs. Marian Bundy. By her first husband she had two children: Mrs. Susan Bowers and Beatrice Bundy.
In 1880 Mr. Banks was elected a trustee of Purdue University, which position he still holds, and the cause of education has ever found in him a warm friend deeply and actively interested in its progress. At the age of twenty-one years he was elected justice of the peace in Scipio township, filling the position for six years, and he has also served as township trustee. In October, 1897, he was appointed postmaster at LaPorte, by President McKinley, was re-appointed in January, 1898, and on the expiration of the regular term of four years was again appointed in January, 1902, by President Roosevelt, so that his incumbency will continue until January, 1906. He is proving a splendid officer, and has made the LaPorte postoffice a pride to the city. Its affairs are conducted under strict business principles, and he has worked hard to increase the business of the office, which amounted to about fourteen thousand dollars when he assumed the duties of the office and which in 1902 reached twenty thousand dollars. At the end of the present fiscal year it will probably reach the sum of twenty-four thousand dollars. Mr. Banks has remodeled and improved the office, which is splendidly equipped for the transaction of a large business and supplied with many metropolitan features. He is now working for the establishment of a government building here. Mr. Banks is president of the LaPorte county Mutual Insurance Company, of which he was one of the organizers.
He is an old and prominent Mason, having been raised at Crown Point, Indiana, in 1857. He afterward became a charter member of Union Mills Lodge in LaPorte county and is now a member of LaPorte Lodge No. 41, F. & A. M. He has likewise attained the Knight Templar degree and is eminent commander in LaPorte. He holds membership in the Baptist church, of which he is one of the trustees, and he has been a cooperant factor in many measures pertaining to the public good and to the material, social, intellectual and moral development of the community. Mr. Banks is a self-made man and is deserving of much credit, for he started out in life not only empty-handed but with an indebtedness of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
His success has been the result of honest, persistent effort in the line of honorable and manly dealing. His aims have always been to attain to the best and he has carried forward to successful completion whatever he has undertaken. His life has marked a steady growth, and now he is in possession of an ample competence, and, more than all, has that contentment that comes from a consciousness of having lived to a good purpose.
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