Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
HENSLEY, WILLIAM SHERMAN , a well known business man of Sangamon County, is a member of the firm of Hensley Brothers, furniture dealers and undertakers at Tallula and Pleasant Plains. He was born in Island Grove Township, July 4, 1865, a son of John and Lee Ann (Lynch) Hensley. Mr. Hensley's youth was spent on a farm in Cartwright Township, whence the family had moved when he was but one year old, and he began his education in the Franklin District school. Until twenty-two years of age, he remained on the home farm, and on November 9, 1887, he was united in marriage with Rebecca J. Griffin, who was born in Pike County, Ill., January 14, 1864, a daughter of William Blair and Malinda (Farris) Griffin, the former a native of Georgetown, Ohio, and the latter of Highland County, that State. Mr. Griffin was what was known as a singing master in his young manhood, and after coming to Illinois in 1874, he became widely known throughout the State. He located in Pleasant Plains and here his wife died March 13, 1895, while he still survives and makes his home with Mrs. Hensley. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was one of the first to offer his services to his country, enlisting in Company C. Twenty-eighth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry and serving throughout the war. He received an honorable discharge and has a war record of which any man might well be proud. There were eight children in the Griffin family: Frances, who was the wife of A. Q. Irwin; Amanda, the wife of A. L. Irwin of Springfield; Litta, the wife of S. A. Hensley, of Hensley Brothers; Henry, of Oklahoma City, Oka., a contractor and builder; Charles, a farmer near Dawson, Sangamon County, Ill.; two died in infancy.
After his marriage, Mr. Hensley settled on a farm in Cartwright Township and for twelve years carried on agricultural pursuits there, and on that farm his two sons were born: Charles Reed, born January 22, 1890, who was educated in the schools of Pleasant Plains and The James Millikin University of Decatur, has a fine musical education and is a graduate of the Barnes College of Embalming of Chicago, and will assist his father as funeral director; and John Russell, born September 28, 1894, is in the Sophomore class at Springfield High School. On account of the failing health of his father, Mr. Hensley went to live on the latter's farm and continued there until 1899. In 1904 Mr. Hensley purchased his present home in the eastern part of Pleasant Plains and here he and his wife have resided to the present time.
Mr. Hensley went to Chicago in June, 1898, and there took a full course in undertaking and embalming at the Chicago College of Embalming, secured a diploma, returned to this place and engaged in business, also operating a branch at New Berlin, the latter of which was sold in 1907 to Mr. Wilcox. In 1904, Mr. Hensley and his brother, S. A., formed a partnership, engaging in undertaking and in dealing in furniture and farm implements. Later the implement department was closed out on account of the growth of the undertaking department, and a branch was established at Tallula, of which S. A. Hensley has charge. The Hensley Brothers have one of the finest equipped undertaking establishments in the State, and every possible convenience has been installed for the benefit of patrons. They have their own private ambulances as well as an elegant funeral car, and both brothers have made their work a study, keeping constantly in touch with all inventions and innovations in their line.
Fraternally Mr. Hensley is connected with the Odd Fellows, the Masons, the Court of Honor and the Eastern Star, of which latter his wife is also a member. In political matters he is a Republican, with Prohibition tendencies. He and Mrs. Hensley are connected with the Presbyterian Church, in the work of which both are prominent.