William Goodman, a merchant and banker of Kempton, whose enterprise has contributed in substantial measure to the business activity and development of the village, was born in Erie county, Ohio, April 28, 1856, and in September of the same year was brought by his parents to Ford county. He is a son of John and Sarah (Bellamy) Goodman, both of whom are now deceased. The father was born in Huntingdonshire, England, July 6, 1818, and was a son of William and Mary (Russell) Goodman, also natives of that country.
Upon a farm John Goodman spent the days of his boyhood and youth, and being left an orphan at an early age he started to provide for his own support when a youth of ten years, eagerly accepting any work that would yield him an honest living. At length he determined to make America his future home, and after one month spent on the Atlantic arrived at New York. He made his first settlement in Erie county, Ohio, where he worked at farm labor by the month until 1856 and then brought his family to Brenton township, Ford county, Illinois, where he purchased eighty acres of railroad land at eight dollars per acre. He had been married March 17, 1852, to Sarah Bellamy, daughter of John and Susan Bellamy, and they became the parents of four children: Susan, who is the widow of Joseph McKinney, of Kempton; William, of this review; Samuel, who was a hardware and lumber merchant at Deland, Piatt county, Illinois, where he died August 8, 1903; and Sophia, the wife of John W. Herron, a resident of Gifford, Illinois.
For a long period the father carried on general farming in Brenton township, there residing until 1882, when he removed to Piper City. Eight years later, in 1890, he took up his abode in Kempton, where he lived retired until his death on the 6th of September, 1903. His wife survived for about three and a half years and passed away March 25, 1907. A contemporary biographer said of him: "His name was an index to his character and his honorable, upright life won him the high regard of all with whom he was brought in contact." His religious faith was indicated by his membership in the Methodist church, and his political belief by the stalwart support which he gave to the republican party.
William Goodman of this review was reared upon the old home farm on section 32, Brenton township, and lessons of industry and enterprise were early instilled into his mind. He continued upon the farm until the 14th of December, 1880, and then came to Kempton, where he entered the employ of his brother-in-law, Joseph McKinney, a hardware and lumber merchant, with whom he continued for three years, or until the death of Mr. McKinney in January, 1883. His sister, Mrs. McKinney, then became his equal partner in the ownership of the business, which was continued under the firm name of McKinney & Goodman. Mr. Goodman remained as manager of the enterprise until the 1st of May, 1903. He then organized the Bank of Kempton, in which he became an equal partner with his sister, Mrs. McKinney, while their nephew took the management of the lumber and hardware business, Mr. Goodman, however, retaining a third interest in the business. He has been cashier and general manager of the bank since its organization. It is conducted as a private banking institution and has been of much value to the town, while proving at the same time a profitable business investment for the owners. His business methods are such as neither seek nor require disguise, but on the contrary will bear the closest investigation.
On the 14th of May, 1891, Mr. Goodman was married to Miss Alice Cloke, who was born in Danforth township, Iroquois county, Illinois, January 15, 1870, a daughter of Richard and Mary Cloke. Her father was born in Canterbury, England, December 15, 1821, and was reared on a farm in that country. On the first of April, 1852, he was married there, and in the spring of that year crossed the Atlantic to New Jersey on a sailing vessel, seven weeks being required to make the trip from Liverpool to New York. He and his wife remained in New Jersey for four years, and for one year they "worked out" in order to get money with which to start in life in the new world, for they had a capital of only fifteen dollars when they landed. For three years Mr. Cloke cultivated a rented farm in the east and in the year 1856 made his way westward to Champaign, Illinois. For several years thereafter he cultivated rented land, and then purchased eighty acres of land in Ashkum township, Iroquois county, to which he afterward added another tract of eighty acres. He carried on the Work of improving and developing his farm and made it his home until 1886, when he returned to England, this being the fifth trip that he had made. There he died in the fall of 1898, after which his remains were brought back to this country for interment in Ashkum cemetery. He wedded Mary Ann Stupples, who was born in Dover, England, March 23, 1829, and died on the home farm in Iroquois county, November 23, 1879. After her death Mr. Cloke left the farm and spent the greater part of his time in England until his demise. He gave his political support to the democracy. While in his native land he was a member of the Church of England and after coming to the United States joined the Methodist church in 1869. In his family were nine daughters and two sons and with the exception of one daughter all are yet living. Six of the children became school teachers in Iroquois county and four of the number were educated in the Valparaiso Normal School (Ind.) and two in Onarga (Ill.) Seminary. Mrs. Goodman, who was the youngest of the family, completed her education in the Ashkum (Ill.) high school.
In his political views Mr. Goodman has always been a stalwart republican since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. He served as township clerk in Mona township, being appointed thus to fill a vacancy in 1884, after which he was reelected in 1885, 1886, 1887 and 1889 and after that for every year until 1904. No more capable official has ever occupied the position and the endorsement of the public was indicated in his long retention. Active and prominent in the Methodist Episcopal church, he is serving as one of its trustees and as treasurer, and in the work of the church has taken a most helpful part. He belongs to the Modern Woodmen camp and is a representative of our best type of American manhood and chivalry. By perseverance, determination and honorable effort he has overthrown the difficulties which have barred his path to success and reached the goal of prosperity, while his genuine worth, broad mind and public spirit have made him a director of public thought and action.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 760-762.

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