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William L. Hearn obituary, 1895

William L. Hearn obituary, 1895

William L. Hearn


Wheeling Intelligencer, Feb. 14, 1895:


One of Wheeling's Most Prominent Citizens Passes Away.


Ended Peacefully, with a Large Circle of Friends Left Behind to Mourn -- A Prominent Manufacturer and Active Philanthropist, Whose Loss will be Deeply Felt in the Community -- His Career.

Mr.William L. Hearn died yesterday morning in the McLure house, after a brief illness of pneumonia. He had been ill, or at least not in good health, for about two years, but considering his advanced age, was remarkable hale until Monday, when he was seized with the fatal malady which resulted in his death yesterday.

Mr. Hearn had been for years one of the most prominent manufacturers of Wheeling. Perhaps no name was better known in the country at large as identified with Wheeling industries than was his. He came here soon after the war, and was from that time on actively identified with the leading interests of the community, until within a very few years, when he retired from active life, though he never ceased to take a lively interest in everything for the good of the community or the elevation of the human race.

Though Mr. Hearn was best known as actively engaged in manufactures and though he was largely instrumental in building up some of the most important industries of the town, perhaps his best monument -- the one which most truthfully records his character for posterity -- is the Hearn Tabernacle, on South street. This he built but a few years ago, intending it to be a church for the people, non-sectarian, devoted to the practical as well as religious uplifting of the people. Its work is too new in the community to require that it be dwelt upon now. The force it has already exerted has done great good among that class of people whom the other churches do not reach, and in future years, through the ministrations of those whom he chose to have charge of this church, thousands will arise and call him blessed.

During his brief illness he was tenderly attended to by his sons, Messrs. Frank J., William H., Julian and Garth, and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. William H. Hearn.

When Mr. Hearn's death was announced yesterday it created profound sorrow in business and social circles. Few residents of this city ever held as high a place in the esteem of the entire people as did Mr. Hearn.

He was a native of Delaware, and was born September 24, 1818. In 1837 he was married to a sister of Governor Ross, of that state, In 1857 he removed to Missouri, engaging in the tobaco business at Hannibal. Five years later he removed to New York, conducting a similar business there until 1865, when he went back to Hannibal for two years. He came to Wheeling in 1867, becoming a partner in the firm of Dewey, Vance & Co., owners of the iron works now known as the Riverside.

During his connection with the company the plant has been from time to time enlarged and improved until it now gives employment to 2,500 men. Upon the reorganization and incorporation of the company in 1874 Mr. Hearn became general manager, holding this position for two years, being succeeded by his son, Frank J., but still remaining a director and stockholder. He was also the leading spirit in the organization of the company which built the North Wheeling pottery, and he finally acquired nearly all of the the stock. He was also a stockholder and director in the Woodward iron interests, in Alabama.

He was chosen a member of the house of delegates in 1877, serving his county to the best of its interests. He was a member of the Second Presbyterian church, of which he has been a trustee for 25 years. Eleven children were the result of his first union. His first wife died in 1864, and in the latter part of 1865 he was married to the daughter of Col. J. B. Ford, to which union five children were born. The children still living are: Edwin R. Hearn, of New York; Mrs. George H. Nettleton, Mrs. E. W. Smith, Mrs. K. B. Armour and Robert A. Hearn of Kansas City; Frank J., William II, Julian G. and D. Garth, all of this city.

Mrs. Hearn, his wife, was in Delaware visiting relatives, but was advised o Mr. Hearn's illness before the end came. She arrived home at noon yesterday, acompanied by Edwin R. Hearn. Mrs. Frank J. Hearn, and William. L. Hearn, jr. are expected to arrive in the city this morning and the relatives living in Kansas [    ] arrive today in Mr. Nettleton's private car. The arrangements for the funeral are not yet complete, but it is probable that the interment will take place Saturday, in Greenwood cemetery.

The trustees of the Tabernacle named by Mr. Hearn are: William L. Hearn, president; H. K. List, W. M. List, N. E. Whitaker, N. B. Scott, J. J. Jones, W. A. Wilson, Clement Smith, Rev. W. H. Cooke, G. W. Adams, J. N. Vance and J. M. Bruhn. These gentlement will continue the good work for him.

Mr. Hearn was brought up a staunch Democrat, but was always a conscientious protectionist, and when, in the first Harrison campaign, he finally became convinced that the Democratic free trade policy was wrong, he actively engaged on behalf of the Republican party, with which he has ever since been identified. Intelligent, genial, progressive, he was a rarely useful man to the community, and his loss will long be felt.

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