W. F. WORKMAN. - Labor is the common lot of man and he who recognizes this fundamental truth in the great law of the universe and shirks not his duty will eventually win the success which comes through persistent and consecutive effort. Standing as one of the representative business men of Springfield, W. F. Workman in his life record proves that success is not a matter of genius but may be attained through persistency of purpose when guided by sound common sense. It is these qualities which the American people hold in higher regard than any other, for they have been the basic elements upon which the greatest fortunes and most lasting reputations have been made.
Mr. Workman has a very wide acquaintance in insurance circles and is recognized as one of the ablest representatives of what has become a most important department of business activity. He belongs to one of the pioneer families of Illinois. His paternal grandfather, William Workman, was born in Allegheny county, Maryland, April 8, 1799, and after residing in Kentucky for a time came to Illinois in 1836, traveling with a two-wheel cart drawn by oxen. He was accompanied by his wife and five children and six more were added to the family in Loami township, Sangamon county. William Workman, Sr., died January 1, 1876. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Bilyeu, was born in Tennessee, November 16, 18091, and died in 1888. As stated she became the mother of eleven children. The fourth born in this county was W. B. Workman, whose birth occurred in Loami township, August 14, 1837. He was educated in an old time log school house and was reared amid the wild scenes of frontier life, becoming familiar with the arduous labors necessary to the development of a new farm in a pioneer district. He was married on the 22d of May, 1857, to Miss Lydia Bilyeu, who was born in Overton county, Tennessee, May 5, 1845, and was a daughter of Andrew Bilyeu, whose birth also occurred in Tennessee and who died in 1846. Her mother, Mrs. Susan bilyeu, was likewise a native of Tennessee and both were members of the Christian church. After his marriage W. B. Workman resided upon his farm in Loami township until 1875 and was engaged in merchandising in the town of Loami. For a number of years he was a member of the school board. His influence was ever on the side of progress and improvement and he contributed to both the material and educational advancement of his community. In his family were ten children, of whom three are now living, namely: W. F., of this review; Callie, the wife of C. L. Vincent, of Loami; and Mildred, the wife of W. F. Parkin, of Waverly, Illinois.
W. F. Workman was born in Loami Township, Sangamon County, February 25, 1866, and the first fifteen years of his life were spent on the home farm, while in the district schools near by he acquired his education. After leaving school he clerked in his father's store, but received no financial assistance form him as he started out in life for himself. He was appointed postmaster of Loami under President Harrison and he became connected with the insurance business as local agent in the fall of 1889, representing the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York. He brought to bear upon his position careful consideration of its practical side and made a thorough and systematic study of the business, resolving that advancement should come to him because of merit. He worked his way upward to the position of general agent with that company and as a personal writer in 1894 he stood fourth highest in the United States. In January, 1895, he was first in the Untied States, the figures indicating that he had risen to the highest position in this way above six thousand men. He had charge of the northern and central portions of Illinois and he remained with the Equitable Life Assurance Society until July, 1898, when he accepted a position as manager of agencies with the Franklin Life Insurance Company, with headquarters at Springfield. He has made a splendid record as a personal writer and organizer of the business of the Franklin Life Insurance Company. Through his thorough understanding of its departments of activity, his capable management and his enterprise he has greatly developed the business of the corporation which he represents. He is a member of the Life Underwriters' Association of Chicago.
Mr. Workman was married at Loami to Miss Ada Stansbury, now deceased. Mrs. Workman was educated in the schools of Loami and Springfield and by her marriage has become the mother of one daughter and one son. The former, Florence, is a graduate of the Waterman Hall Seminary of Sycamore, Illinois, an Episcopal school, in which she completed the literary and scientific course and was graduated with high honors in the class of 1901. She finished her education in Washington Seminary, of Washington, D.C., having graduated in June, 1903, with the highest honors. The son, Howard, died in July, 1895.
Mr. Workman is the owner of valuable farm lands in Sangamon county, town and city property in Loami and Springfield. His residence on South Sixth street is one of the finest in the state capital. That he has become one of the substantial taxpayers of the city is an indication of his business capacity and the exercise of untiring industry. It has been said that the best inheritance that a young man can receive is the opportunity for work, as it is only in this way the strongest and best in his character and nature are brought out and developed. Such an inheritance was that which came to Mr. Workman and the utilization of his innate powers has advanced him from humble surroundings to a position of influence.