THAYER, EDWARD RAYMORE, a veteran merchant of Springfield, Ill., was born at Amherst, Mass., July 7, 1815, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Thayer. When he was about one year old, his parents removed to Petersburg, Va., but after remaining there about seven years, they returned north to Boston, Mass., which continued to be their home for several years. In 1835 - this being a period of large emigration from the Eastern States to the West - the family came to St. Louis, Mo. The father contemplated entering the mercantile business there, in which he had previously been engaged, but finding the field apparently overcrowded, and having made the acquaintance at a St. Louis hotel of Mr. James L. Lamb, a prominent business man of Springfield, Ill., he was induced to come to the latter place, then a town of some 1200 inhabitants. Here he at once engaged in mercantile business, which he continued during the remainder of his life, his death finally occurring in the later 'seventies at the age of more than ninety years. Mr. Thayer was one of the contributors to the $50,000 fund for securing the location of the State Capitol at Springfield.
In 1837, at the age of about twenty-one years, Edward R. entered into partnership with his father, which lasted during the remainder of the life of the latter. During much of this time he was practical head of the concern and for many years before the period of railroad connection with the East, was accustomed to make two trips each year by stage-coach to Philadelphia and New York for the purchase of stocks of goods. At this time the well-known Thayer store was located on the west side of Fifth Street opposite the Capitol Square and was the popular trading point of many of the older and historic families of Springfield. In 1863 the store was removed to its present location at 520 East Adams Street, south of the public square, which it has since occupied for nearly fifty years.
Mr. Thayer was also one of the founders of the Springfield Woolen Mils, which grew under his administration to be one of the large manufacturing concerns in the city of Springfield, occupying nearly one-half of an entire block on South Fourth Street opposite the Bettie Stuart Institute, but was discontinued some years ago. Hugh Armstrong, an early operator in this line, was an original partner and manager of the concern for a number of years after its establishment.
A man of quiet temperament, reserved manner, high moral character and business integrity, Mr. Thayer has devoted his life closely to his vocation, but has always been interested in issues tending to the local and public welfare. An original Republican in political opinions, he is one of the few now surviving who knew Abraham Lincoln intimately and as a personal friend, and whose reminiscences in connection with the life of Springfield's greatest citizen and America's greatest statesman, have had a constantly increasing interest and value to the present generation. A historic event of national interest of which Mr. Thayer has some personal recollection, was the laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument at Charlestown, Mass. (Now a part of the city of Boston), by Gen. Lafayette in 1825, which Mr. Thayer witnessed as a boy at ten years of age.
Never married, Mr. Thayer has uniformly made his home, successively at different hotels in the city, for more than two generations - from the old Spottswood Hotel, the Globe, the American and the Chenery, down to the Leland for the last quarter-century - and is widely recognized as a leading historic character of the city which has been his home, and where he has been a leading business man for more than three-quarters of a century, at all times enjoying the confidence and respect of the entire community.