HE greatest of English historians, Macaulay, and one of the most brilliant writers and profound thinkers of the present century, has said: "The history of a country is best told in a record of the lives of its people." This is a fact which is becoming more and more recognized as our people advance in education and intelligence, and our own great Emerson, whose name stands at the head of American writers of his day, in carrying forward and emphasizing the great fact expressed by Macaulay, says: "Biography is the only true history." It was for the purpose of gathering and preserving this biographical matter in enduring form that the design for this volume originated.
COMPENDIUM OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY.
Regarding the fore part of this volume, "Part I," which is devoted to a "COMPENDIUM OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY," but little need be said. The lives of the great men and celebrities of America are so inaccessible to the general public, and are so often in demand without being accessible, that it has been deemed wise to gather together a vast number of the biographies of our nation's greatest men and include them in this work as a fitting preface to the life histories and biographies of the local parties which follow and embrace the latter part of the volume. It is not given to all men to become great in a national sense, but the life history of those who do, makes up the history of our nation, and as such the history of their lives should be in every home and library as a means of reference and education.
COMPENDIUM OF LOCAL BIOGRAPHY.
That portion of the volume devoted to a "COMPENDIUM OF LOCAL BIOGRAPHY," or "Part II," is of the greatest value, and its value will increase as the years go by. In this department of local biography is carried out the object which led to the compilation of this work, in gathering together and placing in enduring form, before it becomes too late, the life history of those who have helped to build up this region and who have taken part in the progress and development in business, political, social, and agricultural affairs. The rank that any county holds among its sister counties depends largely upon the achievements of its citizens. Some add to its reputation by efficient public service, some by increasing its manufacturing or commercial
interests, and some by adding to the general wealth and prosperity in cultivating and improving its lands. To give a faithful account of the lives of old settlers and representative citizens of this region is to write its history in the truest sense. Each year, as it rolls its endless way along the mighty pathway of time, is thinning the ranks of those hardy pioneers and old settlers whose lives are so thoroughly identified with this region. The relentless hand of death, pursuing its remorseless and unceasing avocation, is cutting down, one by one, those whose life histories should be preserved as a part of the history of the growth and development of this region. The necessity for the collection and preservation of this matter, before it becomes too late, is the object of this work.
Instead of going to musty records and taking therefrom dry statistical matter and official generalities, which can be appreciated by but few, our corps of writers have gone direct to the people, to the men and women who have by their enterprise and industry, brought about the development found in this region, and from their lips have written the story of their life struggles. No more interesting or instructive matter could be presented to an intelligent public. In this department, devoted to LOCAL BIOGRAPHY, will be found a record of many whose lives are worthy the imitation of coming generations. It tells how some, commencing life in poverty, by industry and economy have accumulated wealth. It tells how others, with limited advantages for securing an education, have become learned men and women, with an influence widely extended. It tells of men who have risen from the lower walks of life to eminence, and whose names have become famous. It tells of those in every walk in life who have striven to succeed, and records how success has usually crowned their efforts. It tells, also, of many, very many, who, not seeking the applause of the world, have pursued "the even tenor of their way," content to have it said of them as Christ said of the woman performing a deed of mercy,--'they have done what they could." It tells how many, in the pride and strength of young manhood, left the plow and the anvil, the lawyer's office and the counting room, left every trade and profession, and at their country's call went forth valiantly 'to do or die," for the cause and principles they held so dear. In the life of every man and of every woman is a lesson that should not be lost upon those who follow after.
Coming generations will appreciate this volume and preserve it as a sacred treasure, from the fact that it contains so much that would never find its way into public records, and which would otherwise be inaccessible and lost forever. Great care has been taken in the compilation of this work, and every opportunity for revision possible given to those represented to insure correctness in what has been written, and the publishers feel warranted in saying that they give to their readers a work with very few, if any, errors of consequence.
In closing this brief introductory the memorable words of Carlyle fittingly express the hope, aim, and desire of the publishers in the compilation of this volume: "Let the record be made of the men and things of to-day, lest they pass out of memory to-morrow and are lost. Then perpetuate them, not upon wood or stone that crumbles to dust, but chronicled in picture and in words that endure forever."