PHINEAS EDGAR TAINTOR - In this enlightened age, when men of energy, industry and merit are rapidly pushing their way to the front, those who by their own individual efforts have won favor and fortune may properly claim recognition. A quarter of a century ago Phineas Edgar Taintor came to Sangamon county and here he has worked his way upward until he is now the leading cement contractor not only of Springfield, but also of central Illinois. He was born in Harford, Cortland county, New York, February 16, 1852, the youngest child of Erving E. and Eliza (Burgess) Taintor. The father was born in Massachusetts in 1809 and became a preacher and school teacher. He was a man of broad and liberal education and was prominent in public affairs, serving as a member of the board of supervisors of Cortland county for a long period and acting as its chairman for a number of years. He was also pension agent of New York for the Mexican war soldiers. His wife was born in Maine in 1811 and when about four years of age was taken by her parents to Cortland county, New York, where she was married. After the death of his first wife, Mr. Taintor wedded Sylvia (Gray) Fox and they removed to Oxford, where she died. He afterward came to Illinois, where his sons were living and died in Sangamon county in 1895. He has one brother who survives him, Albert J. Taintor, a resident of Massachusetts. Unto Erving E. Taintor and his wife were born ten children. Burgess, born December 30, 1834, is now living retired in Springfield. Albert, born February 1, 1836, became a soldier of the Civil war and died in the service May 20, 1862. Abigail, his twin sister, died on the 15th of February, 1836. Emeline, born January 12, 1839, was married January 21, 1866, to G. F. Harris and died September 16, 1869. Erving, born September 23, 1840, died August 10, 1860. Jane E., born October 9, 1842, was married in 1862 to Eri Rice and after his death became the wife of G. P. Corbin and is now living in Roanoke, Virginia. Charles P., born November 9, 1844, died February 22, 1866. Horace M., born February 17, 1847, was married November 30, 1870, to Lois Wilcox and died January 25, 1875. Byron, born December 12, 1848, died July 7, 1850. Phineas E. completes the family. All were born and reared on the old home farm in Cortland county.
After acquiring his preliminary education in the common-schools of his native county Phineas E. Taintor entered the Homer Academy, but did not graduate, for his mother died while he was in that institution and he then had to go to work. Subsequently when his labors had brought to him some capital he purchased his father's farm in Cortland county. In its operation he met with a fair degree of success. In the meantime his eldest brother had removed to Sangamon county, Illinois, becoming one of its pioneer settlers and as he made favorable reports of the country Phineas E. Taintor decided to come west. Accordingly, in 1875, he sold his farm in Cortland county and paid a visit to his brother in this portion of Illinois. Shortly afterward he went to Iowa, where he purchased a farm, but soon afterward he disposed of this and returned to Sangamon county, where he bought a small tract of land of his brother and thereon began the cultivation of fruit. His efforts were attended with a fair degree of success and his place was located about a mile north of the city. He had been a resident of this locality for but a brief period when in 1876 he was elected collector of Springfield township and for twelve years he filled that office, serving for eleven consecutive years. He was also appointed by the village board of North Springfield to the office of marshal, acting in that capacity for several years and for a year after the village was annexed to the city he was a member of the city police force and he likewise served as a deputy collector for a year after the annexation. For seven years he continued horticultural pursuits and then sold out, removing to his present home in Springfield in 1882. Mr. Taintor was largely instrumental in securing the annexation of North Springfield to the capital city and as a member of the commission that went before the board of supervisors to have a division made which would constitute the city of Springfield a township by itself. This was done and it was called Capital township. His public service has been so inseparably interwoven with his private business interests that it is almost impossible to mention one without the other, for while carrying on his business affairs he has at the same time been mindful of his duties and obligations of citizenship and has assisted materially in many movements for the general good and for the substantial improvement of this portion of the state.
In June, 1891, Mr. Taintor embarked in the cement contracting business as a manager for a business firm of Springfield. The following year he put an interest in the business and still served as manager. The style of E. L. Martin Cement Company was that under which contracts were taken and executed for a number of years. In 1896 Mr. Taintor purchased a still larger interest and the business was known as "P. E. Taintor, manager of the E .L. Martin Cement Company." The growth of the enterprise and the financial return which Mr. Taintor received made it possible for him to become sole proprietor and on the 21st of January, 1902, he purchased the entire business, including the patents and plant. He then admitted his only son, Charles E. Taintor, to a partnership and the firm of P. E. Taintor & Son is now widely known in central Illinois. They do a general cement contracting business and have been extremely successful in securing large and lucrative patronage. Mr. Taintor always gives his personal attention to the details of his business and he has executed a large amount of work for the state at Champaign and Urbana. He has also secured many contracts made by the city of Springfield. He constructed the first combination curb and gutter ever built here and he has also done work for many private firms. His business has been steadily increasing every year and during the past three years Mr. Taintor has maintained the reputation of being the oldest contractor in his line in central Illinois. The firm does all kinds of cement work and the business is now a very important one.
On the 8th of December, 1875, in Sherburne, Chenango county, new York, Mr. Taintor was united in marriage to Miss Ella S. church, who was born April 26, 1855, a daughter of Benjamin and Caroline M. (Knapp) Church. Mrs. Taintor is a lady of culture and refinement. Prominent in social and club circles in the city, she is now a valued member of the Royal Neighbors of America, of Lilla Lodge, No. 63, D. of R., the American Home Circle, the Court of Honor, and the Women's Relief Corps. By her marriage she has become the mother of four children: Cora DeEtte, who was born May 12, 1877, and is a graduate of the Converse school; Charles Erving, who was born February 28, 1879, and took a course in the Springfield Business College, since which time he has been in partnership with his father; Pearl Elizabeth, who was born February 10, 1882, and was a member of the class of 1901, the first class graduated in the new high school; and Ruth Irene, who was born February 28, 1885, and was graduated in the high school in June, 1903. All of the family are members of the Baptist church and Mrs. Taintor is very active in the church societies. They have a well appointed residence at No. 1303 North Ninth Street, where hospitality reigns supreme.
While not a member of the church Mr. Taintor contributes liberally to its support and is a co-operant factor in many public measures of benefit to the community. He votes with the Democracy and he is a member of Sangamon Lodge, No. 6, I.O.O.F., and is a charter member of Liberty Camp, No. 1534, M.W.A., in which he has served on the board of managers since its organization February 4, 1890. He was also for three years on the board of managers of Capital City Lodge, NO. 113, R.N.A., and he holds membership relations with Banner Lodge, No. 1, of the American Home Circle; the Court of Honor, No. 25; Royal Circle, No. 2, of which he was one of the board of managers for three years; and Head Camp, Fraternity of Crystal Light, of which he became a charter member. His business career is such as any man might be proud to possess. He began business on a small scale, but has greatly enlarged his business and has an extensive patronage among the leading cement contractors throughout the
country. The growth of his business has been steady and rapid. He may truly be called a self-made man, for his prosperity is the crown of his own labors. Industry has been the golden key that has opened to him the portals of success. Perseverance, hard work, mastery of the details of his business and a determination that has overcome all obstacles are numbered among his chief characteristics. Success in life is something to be proud of, and the world is better for the life of every successful man.