Biography of Thomas J. Colvin

Thomas J. Colvin. One of the substantial commercial enterprises of Urbana, with forty years of successful and reliable business history back of it, is the meat market conducted by Thomas J. Colvin. When Mr. Colvin entered upon his career in this venture, he had little to back him save the experience he had gained as his father’s assistant, his ambition, determination and industry, but out of these he has developed a paying and prosperous business, which has become so well known at Urbana as to be accounted a necessary commercial asset. The proprietor, with a supreme faith in the future of the city, has invested heavily in real estate holding here, so that he is one of the substantial property owners of the place. Both in his own interests and those of the city, he has always staunchly supported measures making for local improvement and civic betterment.

Thomas J. Colvin was born February 14, 1858, in Scott County, Indiana, and is a son of John and Catherine (Goben) Colvin. His father, a native of County Down, Ireland, came to the United States in young manhood and engaged in working at the cabinet-maker’s trade in Scott County, Indiana, where he met and married Catherine Goben. She died there in 1860, and in 1867 Mr. Colvin brought his family to Champaign County, Illinois, and settled on a farm in the vicinity of Tolono. He became one of the leading citizens of his community, won an honorable standing in business life, and finally became interested in public affairs and was well known as one of the staunch workers in the ranks of the Democratic Party. Under both of President Cleveland’s administrations he served Tolono as postmaster, and eventually was chosen mayor, in which office he was serving at the time of his tragic death. On the day of his demise a fire had broken out, and Mayor Colvin, hastening to the scene of the conflagration, was struck and instantly killed by an Illinois Central train, the approach of which he had failed to note because of an umbrella which he was carrying. His death was considered a great loss to the community, in the interests of which he had labored so faithfully. There were five children in the family of John and Catherine Colvin, namely: Martha, of Los Angeles, California, the widow of Ebenezer Gordon; Mary Jane, who is the wife of B. B. Salberry, of San Francisco, California; John M., a resident of Spokane, Washington; Thomas J., of this notice; and Edward, who enlisted in the army when a mere youth, and of whom the family has completely lost track.

Thomas J. Colvin was educated in the public schools of Tolono, and as a youth assisted his father in conducting a meat market at that place. When he had $100 saved, at the age of nineteen years, he embarked upon an independent venture, which, starting in a necessarily small way, rapidly developed into a substantial house. In 1882 he bought the business establishment which he now conducts, and which is accounted one of the leading markets of the city, it having been built up through a policy of honorable conduct, honest representation and straightforward methods of doing business. In investing his profits Mr. Colvin has been loyal to his home city, and now has numerous holdings in a realty way, business and residential. His standing in business circles is of the best, and as a citizen he has contributed freely of time, ability and means in furthering worthy projects. Mr. Colvin is a Democrat, but not a politician.

In December, 1882, Mr. Colvin was united in marriage at Urbana to Miss Sadie Marks, who was born in Champaign County, and to this union there have been born three children: John T., who is associated with his father in the market business, one of the enterprising young business men of Urbana; Don Otto, who is now residing in Arizona; and Ernest M., whose place of residence is Middletown, Ohio.



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

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