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William Thomas Perkins
THERE could be no more comprehensive history written of a community or of a State and its people, than that
which deals with the life work of those who, either in the past or the present, by their own endeavor and
indomitable energy, have placed themselves where they well deserve the title of "progressive," and in this sketch will be found the record of one who outstripped the less active and wide-awake plodders on the highway of life, one who was not subdued by the many obstacles and failures that came to him, as it comes to every one, but who made them stepping-stones to higher things, and at the same time that the late William Thomas Perkins was winning his way to the front in the world of industry, journalism and civic affairs, he gained a reputation for uprightness and honor. He was one of the worthy native sons of Ohio who, having had the sagacity to foresee the great future of this nature-favored commonwealth, wisely decided to spend his life on his native soil, rather than seek uncertain fortune elsewhere, and he was thus for a half century or more identified with the growth of the same and played well -his role as a citizen.
Mr. Perkins was born at Xenia, Ohio, December 8, 1834. He was a son of John Sale Perkins and Elizabeth Charlton (Beal) Perkins, both deceased. To these parents the following children were born: Mary, William Thomas, Charles Grover, John James, Cornelia, Ella, and Otway C., all of whom are deceased. Charles had a large family of children, namely: Sarah, Elizabeth, Ella, Mary, Royal, Charles, and Edwin, seven in all. John had two children, namely: Laura, deceased, and William Rhoads Perkins. The latter is engaged in the life-insurance business. He has two daughters.
Our subject was always solicitous of the welfare of his parents during their lifetime and he was careful to see that their every want was supplied as they grew old, and after their deaths he honored them by placing a memorial window in one of the leading churches at Walnut Hills, then a suburb of Cincinnati.
William T. Perkins spent his boyhood in his native city, and when fifteen years of age removed with his parents to Cincinnati, Ohio, and this city remained his home the rest of his life, although he was often absent for long periods. He received his education in the Xenia Academy and in the common and high schools of Cincinnati. He began life for himself as an errand boy in a dry-goods store at one dollar per week; but he was ambitious, alert, courteous and honest, so by close observation, promptness and home study he became a successful man of affairs and educated himself. Later he was employed by the Conklin White Lead Company, of Cincinnati, also was a clerk in the Franklin Bank on Third Street, Cincinnati, and in 1862 went in the banking business on that street for himself. Two years later he organized and started the First National Bank of Knoxville, Tennessee, and he made both ventures successful, notwithstanding the paralysis of trade due to the great conflict between the Northern and Southern
States. Subsequently he became cashier of the Central National Bank of Cincinnati, finally went to one of the Southern States and became a cotton planter. Upon his return to Cincinnati he became the local writer and editor and later the Washington correspondent of The Times-Chronicle; then was a regular contributor to the Cincinnati Enquirer for some time. After his career as journalist he became assistant to the United States sub-treasurer, N. E. Davis, and also to A. W. Stem, after which he was associated with John J. Perkins & Company, becoming a member of this firm in 1891. About this period he took an active interest in public affairs and was elected auditor of the city of Cincinnati. He was the representative of a surety company in that city, the president and a director in The Southern Ohio Loan and Trust Company, president, treasurer, and a director in The American District Telegraph Company. He also was treasurer of the Young Men's Insurance Company. In May, 1893, Mr. Perkins was appointed a fire trustee in Cincinnati by Mayor Mosby. He was secretary of the first Young Men's Republican Club. He was later appointed by Mayor Fleischman city auditor to fill a vacancy which existed by reason of the resignation of City Auditor Milliken to become chief of police. In 1904 our subject was elected city auditor and served in that capacity until January 1, 1908. He is remembered as one of the best auditors the city of Cincinnati ever had, having been very prompt, conscientious and strictly honest in his career as a servant of the people, so that he won and retained the good will and confidence of all concerned, irrespective of party alignment. Politically he was a Republican and always loyal in his support of the party and active in its affairs. Unselfishly he looked very carefully to the interest of the general public in the discharge of his duties as auditor, always desirous of bettering the city's condition in any way he could, and he was a stanch advocate of honesty in politics as well as in business and social circles. His example in this respect had a far-reaching effect.
Mr. Perkins was married May 3, 1859, to Sarah Elizabeth DeCamp, a daughter of Hiram and Elizabeth DeCamp. The father is now deceased, but the mother is living at this writing, August 2, 1915, in Cincinnati, having attained the remarkable age of over one hundred years. Mrs. Perkins had five brothers and two sisters, namely: Caleb B. DeCamp, deceased, married and had a son, Stanley C. DeCamp, who was city radiographer and resides in Cincinnati; Ella DeCamp, who is the wife of J. E. Q. Maddox. She has one son living, Dr. Robert D. Maddox, an orthopedic physician of prominence in Cincinnati; Phoebe De-Camp, deceased, was the wife of James C. Moores, and to them four children were born, namely, Carrie E., who is practicing osteopathy in Cincinnati, is unmarried, Mary C., Alice, and Jessie Phoebe, all three deceased; Hiram, who is deceased, was married and the son, George M., is now deceased; John, John the second, and George were unmarried and are now deceased.
To William T. Perkins and wife, the following children were born: William DeCamp, deceased; George Bascom, the only living child, married Olive C. Reamy, niece and adopted daughter of Dr. Thaddeus A. Reamy, a noted surgeon of Cincinnati of his day, widely known and beloved. As a result of this union, eight children have been born, as follows: Reamy DeCamp Perkins, born July 10, 1896; Ann Elizabeth Perkins, born February 9, 1901; Margaret Bascom Perkins, born October 4,1905; William Thomas Perkins, born March 7, 1907; George Charlton Perkins, born June 7, 1909; Pembroke Carpenter Perkins, born April 1, 1911; Phyllis Bonnifield Perkins and Doris Chappelear, twins, born December 2, 1913. These children are all living with their parents in Alameda, California, where Mr. Perkins is employed by the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States government. Hiram Homans Perkins, third son of the subject of this biographical memoir, is deceased; Elizabeth, only daughter and youngest child of our subject, is also deceased.
William T. Perkins had a distinguished career, and he was very highly esteemed by all who knew him. He was a man of wonderful will power and stability of character. He was a hard and industrious worker all his life. His fondness for noble and edifying literature was very marked, and he delighted to spend his spare hours among his library books, which were well selected and covered every phase of literature. By reading he was thus an exceptionally well-informed man, in fact, was a fine example of a self-made and self-educated man, for it will be remembered that he took advantage of his early opportunities. He had little assistance, from early boyhood on to the close of his eventful and varied career, being ambitious and industrious. He was a ready and versatile writer and his powers as a public speaker were unusual. He was at all times a high-minded Christian gentleman, very generous and kind, a good citizen and neighbor in the best sense of the terms. He had a strong love for the sanctuary and a regal capacity for friendship, and was a great home man. When the light of his brilliant intellect went out, on April 24, 1906, the flag on the city hall of Cincinnati was placed at half-mast and remained so for thirty days in memory of ex-City Auditor Perkins, whose death was deeply deplored throughout the city, all realizing that the city had lost a man of talent and one who possessed admirable traits of character.
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