Biography of Matthew Wales Busey

Matthew Wales Busey. Of the native sons of Champaign County who have been factors in the development of the county’s resources, one of the most prominently known is Matthew W T ales Busey, president of Busey’s State Bank at Urbana. As one of the leading bankers of his section he has contributed to the advancement of the agricultural interests of Champaign County, and in his capacity of private citizen has ever been found ready to lend encouragement and support to the movements which have made for progress in his fertile and enterprising part of the State.

Matthew Wales Busey was born at Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois. December 7, 1854, being a son of Simeon Harrison and Artimesia (Jones) Busey. His paternal grandfather was Matthew W. Busey, who was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, May 15, 1798, a son of Samuel and Catherine (Siegler) Busey. The family removed to Washington County, Indiana, when Matthew W. Busey, the elder, was still a youth, and there he learned the trade of brick mason, later becoming a contractor and builder, a business which he followed with success from 1823 to 1847. In 1832 he visited the region of Champaign County, which was then a part of Vermilion County, and entered land from the United States Government on the site of what is now a part of the city of Urbana. In 1836 he removed with his family to Champaign County, and continued to make this section his home during the remainder of his life, his death occurring here December 13, 1852. Mr. Busey had married Miss Elizabeth Bush while residing in Washington County, Indiana, in 1821. She was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, March 6, 1801, and died in 1880. She was the mother of eight children, Simeon H., John Simpson, Samuel Thompson, Mathew D., Mary C. Kirkpatrick, Sarah A. Sim, Elizabeth F. McClain and Louisa J. Romine, all of whom survived their parents.

Simeon Harrison Busey was born October 24, 1824, at Greencastle, Indiana, and was twelve years of age when brought to Champaign County, Illinois, where, as his father had at that time taken up farming and stock-raising, the youth was reared in an agricultural atmosphere. He also had influences that were an incentive to the highest degree of effort to realize his individual capacity. His father was an active member of the Baptist Church and had served as a colonel in both the Illinois and Indiana State Militia, was for two terms a member of the State Legislature and had also acted as judge of the County Court. Simeon H. Busey, as he grew older, adopted farming and stock-raising, and eventually acquired extensive holdings in the rich farm lands of this section and did his work on a large scale. The competence he thus acquired led him into the financial and industrial development of a new country and he assisted in the organization of the First National Bank of Champaign. Soon afterward, however, he disposed of his interest in that institution and in 1868, with his brother, Colonel Samuel T. Busey, organized Busey’s Bank at Urbana, with which he was connected until a short time prior to his death, which occurred at Urbana, June 3, 1901. He was a born financier, and upon entering the banking business soon became known as such, and his judgment was much sought and relied upon in business matters.

On September 22, 1848, at Greencastle, Indiana, Simeon H. Busey married Miss Artimesia Jones, and brought his young bride to the Illinois home which he had prepared for her and where the young people soon became important factors in the social and intellectual life of the community. Artimesia Jones was born at Greencastle, Indiana, October 26, 1826, was reared in that State, and after a residence at Urbana of nearly sixty-six years she passed away July 18, 1914. Her father, John Wesley Jones, was born in England, November 16, 1794, and married Alice Allen, who was born October 20, 1798. They were married in Indiana.

Nine children were born to Simeon H. Busey and wife: John Wheeler Busey; Matthew W.; George W. Busey, who is president of the First State Bank of Fisher, Illinois; James B. Busey, a farmer and a banker at Mahomet; Alice J. Freeman, wife of Gus T. Freeman of Urbana; Ann Augusta Morgan, a resident of Urbana, Illinois; Elizabeth Frances Riley, wife of Ozias Riley of Champaign; Lucy Ann, who died in infancy; and William H. Busey, who died aged forty years.

Simeon H. Busey was a member of the First Baptist Church of Urbana, was a charter member of the local Masonic Lodge, and in politics a Democrat. He served as a member of the State Legislature and besides his local banking connections was one of the organizers and a director of the Bankers National Bank of Chicago up to the time of his death. He was one of the active workers in securing the location of the University of Illinois at Urbana, as well as in securing the location of the railroad running from Peoria to Indianapolis, now part of the Big Four System.

Matthew W. Busey was well educated for his work in life, both theoretically and practically. He attended the Urbana schools and in 1875, at the age of twenty-one, became bookkeeper in the bank of Busey Brothers. In November, 1879, he bought his father’s interests, and in 1888 became president of Busey’s Bank, a position he has held until the present date, almost thirty years. He is also president of the Ogden Bank of Ogden, Illinois, the Exchange Bank of St. Joseph, Illinois, and the Commercial Bank of Champaign. Mr. Busey has in many ways used his position and influence as a banker to promote agricultural prosperity and the solution of the many problems connected with the betterment of country life in America. He has acquired extensive interests in Champaign County farms and also owns a large amount of land in Mississippi and other sections of this State. In 1905 Mr. Busey was appointed treasurer of the University of Illinois. He has also been a member of the executive committee of the Illinois Bankers’ Association.

On November 15, 1877, at Tolono, Illinois, he married Miss Katherine W. Richards. She was born at Warm Springs, Virginia, October 20, 1857, and was educated at the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Busey have two children. Paul Graham Busey, the son, was born at Urbana October 5, 1880, was educated in the public schools, the University of Illinois, the Art Institute at Chicago, and is now vice-president of Busey’s State Bank, with his home at Urbana. He married Miss Clara Blanche Black, of Urbana, and they have one child, Patricia Blanche. Virginia Busey, the daughter was born at Urbana, November 4, 1883, and was also liberally educated, attending the Urbana public schools, the University of Illinois, the National Park Seminary at Washington, D. C., and Smith College. She is now the wife of Dr. James F. Churchill, of Chicago, and they reside at San Diego, California. They have one son, Robert Busey.

Mr. Matthew W. Busey is a Democrat in his political affiliations, but his business interests have been so extensive that he has not found time to enter actively into politics. He is well known in fraternal circles, being a thirty-second degree Mason, a member of the Knight Templar body and Medinah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. of Chicago, Illinois. He is also a member of Urbana Lodge, B. P. O. E. When a young man he served his time in the National Guard.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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