Biography of Frank King

Frank King’s remarkable journey from a spirited youth on Staten Island to a famed ’49er and successful lumberman in Washington before settling as a distinguished farmer and stockman in Lee County in 1881, epitomizes the quintessential American dream of perseverance leading to prosperity. Born into a family of modest means, King’s adventures began with his daring move to California’s gold fields in 1849, evolving through years of hard work into a lucrative lumber business near Puget Sound. His transition to agriculture in Illinois, transforming over two hundred acres into a flourishing farm and stock haven, illustrates his enduring spirit and savvy. King’s life story, marked by self-reliance and success, serves as a testament to the possibilities that await those willing to venture beyond familiar horizons.

Frank King, who is one of the famous ’49ers who sought wealth in the gold fields of California after the discovery of the precious metal in that State, and who afterwards made his fortune as a lumberman in the forests of Washington, near Puget Sound, where he formerly carried on an extensive business in his line, has been identified with the farmers and stockmen of this county since 1881. In that year, he purchased a tract of more than two hundred acres of valuable farming land on section 16, Nelson Township, and has placed upon it substantial modern improvements and stocked it with fine herds of horses, cattle, and swine of standard breeds.

Our subject was born on Staten Island, in New York Harbor, and passed the early years of his life amid its pleasant scenes. His father, William King, was a native of England, and was reared and married in the land of his birth, Miss Catherine Simmons becoming his wife. In his youth, he became a mechanic and acquired great skill in his vocation. He was in the prime and vigor of a stalwart manhood when he decided that the United States promised to be a better field of labor than his old home, and he migrated to this country with his wife and the two children that had previously been born to them. He settled on Staten Island, where he found employment at his trade, and there he passed the remainder of his life in peace and contentment. His wife survived him some years, and was quite aged at the time of her death. She was a woman of true Christian character and a devoted member of the Church of England.

Our subject is one of twelve children, seven of whom are living, and all are well-to-do, although their sole inheritance from their parents was an untarnished name and thrifty habits. He of whom we write was young when his father died, and he has since made his own way in the world. He was a bright, manly lad full of spirit and resolution, and though thus early thrown on his own resources made a brave struggle against heavy odds, and ere long was independent. He was but a boy when he left his island home to join the adventurers who were going to cruise to California in search of gold. He secured passage on a vessel bound around Cape Horn to the Golden State, obtaining a situation as cabin boy, and on August 8, 1849, entered the Golden Gate at San Francisco. After landing, he accepted a good office to go to the gold fields as a driver of an ox-team up the valley of the Yuba River. He mined some, and afterward drove team for some time. He had a full experience of all the various phases of frontier life in the mining camp and elsewhere, and during his residence on the Pacific coast occasionally revisited the East, returning once by the Isthmus, and making three trips across the plains. He eventually went into the lumber regions in Kitsap County, Wash., near Puget Sound, and for twenty-two years was in the lumber business in that and other counties. He made money by his transactions, and desirous of locating permanently in some more eastward locality, he came to Illinois, and selecting Lee County as the seat of his future home, bought the fine farm that he now occupies in Nelson Township, and is very pleasantly situated here. His farm consists of more than two hundred acres of land that is exceedingly fertile, and under his able management it has become one of the most valuable estates in the vicinity, and it is also a fine stock farm. Mr. King is a man of high personal standing, and his many genial social qualities have gained him the goodwill and friendship of the people among whom he has come to make his home. He is a Republican of no uncertain tone, who takes a genuine interest in local politics, and he is regarded by his fellow-townsmen as a decided acquisition to the citizenship of this locality.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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