FRANK P. BLACK - Frank P. Black, who now makes his home in Springfield, was born in Decatur, Illinois, on the 30th of August, 1864, and is a son of John H. and Elizabeth (McDonald) Black, natives of Ireland, who are represented in the historical and biographical work entitled The Past and Present of Macon County. He attended the Catholic parochial schools of Decatur and also the public schools and for one year pursued his studies in the high school and the Decatur Business College. In 1882-3 he was a student at Notre Dame University, where he won first prizes in elocution, artistic penmanship and drawing, as well as in athletics.
During his boyhood Mr. Black carried the Decatur morning and evening papers and on Saturdays also sold the Chicago and St. Louis papers, earning in this way from four to six dollars par week. After leaving school in 1884 he clerked in a furniture store for a few months and then entered the employ of W. F. Busher & Company, a shoe firm of which his father was a partner. When this partnership was dissolved in 1885 he and his father embarked in the same line of business under the firm name of J. H. Black & Son, but although a very liberal patronage was extended them they failed in business in 1887, owing to a chain of unfavorable circumstances. Our subject then established a Catholic newspaper entitled The Catholic Eye, but for lack of capital was forced to discontinue it. In 1888 he opened a market for the sale of poultry, fish and vegetables under the name of the Blax Green Grocery and also had huckster wagons in the country selling notions and buying produce. On disposing of that business in 1 889, Mr. Black accepted a position as traveling salesman with a Boston shoe house, with which he remained until 1891, when he took up advertising and began taking contracts to furnish programs for trotting and racing associations and fairs. He soon established a national reputation in this line and furnished programs in nearly every large city of the United States, Canada and Mexico, often paying, as high as one hundred dollars per day for the privilege of selling the programs at the racing meetings. At that time the programs as furnished by Mr. Black were a novelty, being hand painted, the colors and numbers on the cards corresponding to the colors an numbers worn by the drivers or jockeys. He was often employed as clerk of the race course and starting judge. His services were not only in demand in America, but he received requests from Australia and France to furnish programs and assist in conducting their races. At the American races held in the city of Mexico he furnished programs printed in both Spa nish and English. While engaged in this business Mr. Black spent the winter months in Decatur as reporter and advertising solicitor for the newspapers of that city and he sold many thousand dollars worth of advertising space in various forms. In 1894 he gave up traveling to take the management of a shoe store at Decatur for the 0. & W. Shoe Company of Springfield, but a year later the firm sold out and in the summer of 1895 he conducted the amusement resort known as the Riverside Park Theater and during the following winter had charge of the Crown Roller Skating Rink. He was next interested in the trading stamp business, establishing stores at Decatur, Galesburg, Quincy, Kankakee, Champaign and Burlington, Iowa.
In 1896 Mr. Black removed to Shelbyville, Illinois, where he accepted the management of the store of B. P. Dearing, a dealer in men's furnishing goods and shoes, and held that position until the death of his first wife. He next traveled for the Hendricks Vance Shoe Company of Indianapolis. Having had considerable experience in advertising and liking that work, he later turned his attention to that line and wrote up the industrial and business interests of the various towns that he visited. In this enterprise he formed a partnership with H. C. Hyer, of Philadelphia, in 1899, and together they visited many towns in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. In 1900 they both entered the employ of the S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, of Chicago, compilers of county historical and biographical works, and are still connected with that firm. Mr. Black has traveled quite extensively in America, having visited every state of the Union, and also Canada and Mexico.
On the 27th of October, 1886, at Shelbyville, Illinois, was celebrated his marriage to Miss Mary Louise Dilley, who was born in Trenton, New Jersey, September 5, 1863, a daughter of Mathias and Mary Ann (Kinsley) Dilley. Her father was also a native of New Jersey, but her mother was born in Dublin, Ireland. They were married in Trenton. After his removal west Mr. Dilley was connected with the Big Four Railroad at Shelbyville, Illinois, for some time and later engaged in the hotel business. Subsequently he conducted the only transfer line there for many years and afterward devoted his attention to farming upon a tract of one hundred and twenty acres of land just outside the corporate limits of Shelbyville, which was presented to him by his brother, George M. Dilley, who is one of the wealthiest men of Texas, residing at Dallas, and engaged in the building of railroads in the south, where he has large locomotive works and lumber interests. Mathias Dilley was an earnest Democrat and was a convert to the Catholic faith, while his wife also affiliated with that denomination. He died in Shelbyville, Illinois, and Mrs. Dilley passed away at the home of her son George in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in January, 1902. In their family were six children, namely: Ella is now a stenographer residing in St. Louis; Thomas died in Dallas, Texas; Mary Louise was the wife of our subject; Mathias, who is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and a resident of Shelbyville, is married and has one daughter, Marguerite; George, who is engaged in the grocery business in Guthrie, Oklahoma, is married and has two sons, Bruce and Glenn; and Letha is the wife of John Barrett, a grocer of Kankakee, Illinois, and has one son, Neal. Mrs. Mary Louise Black died November 1898, and of the five children born of that union two died at birth: Francis, born July 26, 1887; and Gertrude, born March 23, 1888. Those still living are Ethal L. M., born February 12, 1889; Grace G. E., born January 1, 1891; and Francis Ruth Cecelia, born September 18, 189 2. They are now attending the Sacred Heart Seminary for young ladies at Springfield.
At St. Malachi's Catholic church of Geneseo, Illinois, Mr. Black was married November 20, 1901, by Rev. Father Foley to Miss Minnie Schaefer, who was born in Hampton, Illinois, August 12, 1877, a daughter of Adolph and Catherine (Doudt) Schaefer. Her father is a native of Hanover, Germany, and was three years of age when he came to America with his mother. Mrs. Schaefer was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, and when only a year old was brought to the United States by her parents. They were married in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Mr. Schaefer being then a musician with the United States Fifth Infantry band, which accompanied President Grant on his tour through the states. General Nelson A. Miles was a student on the flute under Mr. Schaefer while the band was at Fort Leavenworth. For over twenty-five years Mr. Schaefer has been engaged in the music business in Geneseo, Illinois, and a leader of several musical organizations of Henry county. In his family were seven children, but three died in infancy. T he survivors are Minnie, now Mrs. Black; Henrietta S., wife of H. M. Hopkins, of Burlington, Iowa, one of the professors and owners of the German and American Policlinic; Marie Pauline, wife of Charles Patton, an engineer of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, residing in Rock Island, Illinois, and the mother of three children, Morris, Mildred and an infant; and Frances, wife of H. C. Hyer, previously referred to, by whom she has one son, Richard. Mr. and Mrs. Schaefer are members of the Unitarian church and he is a Republican in politics. Mrs. Black has inherited her father's musical talent and she and husband are now members of St. Agnes Catholic church choir of Springfield, both being communicants of that church. They have a little daughter, Catherine Leonora, born December 21, 1902.
For eight years Mr. Black served as a member of Company H, Fifth Regiment Illinois National Guards and saw active service during several different strikes, especially during the great railroad strike of 1885 at East St. Louis. There he received honorable mention for meritorious service and was honorably discharged in 1887. At the time of his first marriage he was given a reception by Company H and the famous Goodman's Concert Band of Decatur. At one time Mr. Black was a member of the Knights of Pythias and held different offices in his lodge, and also of the Travelers' Protective Association. He is now connected with the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of the Maccabees and the Tribe of Ben Hur. Politically he is a Democrat but at local elections votes for the men and measures he believes are for the best interests of all the people. He has never sought office.