JEFFERSON COUNTY IL 
BIOGRAPHIES
Christopher Devalcourt Ham
Christopher Devalcourt HAM
Standing out distinctly as one of the central figures in the history
of Jefferson county is the name which introduces this sketch, a name better
known perhaps than any other in the specific line of endeavor with which
it was so long and so honorably identified. Prominent in local business
circles and equally so in other than his own field of effort, with a reputation
in one of the most responsible and exacting callings which won him a name
for distinguished service, second to none of his contemporaries there was
not in his day a more enterprising and successful man than Christopher
D. HAM, and t is with pardonable pride that the people of his native
county revere his memory and ascribe to him high honor as one of their
leading citizens. Mr. HAM, for many years an influential factor
in the financial affairs of Jefferson county, belonged to an old and widely
known family whose earliest representatives in Illinois appear to have
been Moses and James HAM, natives of Virginia, who migrated westward
in the pioneer period and settled in Jefferson county where in due time
both became large cattle owners and prominent in public affairs. Moses
HAM, the father of James, and grandfather pf our subject, took an active
part in county affairs, accumulated a handsome competency and stamped his
individuality upon the community in which he lived as one of the influential
men of his day and generation. James HAM was in the prime of life when
he came to Jefferson county and like his father bore a prominent part in
the settlement of the country and the development of its resources. He,
too, became a noted figure in the early history of the county and for a
number of years was one of its leading citizens and well-to-do men. In
addition to large agricultural interests he conducted for some time a very
successful mercantile business and later established a tannery, one of
the first in the county, which like his other enterprises proved the source
of a very liberal income. 

Christopher Devalcourt HAM, son of James and Frances (CRISEL)
HAM, was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, September 10, 1838, and
spent his childhood on the family homestead at HAM's Grove near the site
of the present town of Opdyke. His early environment was conducive to moral
as well as mental development, his home influence being such as to implant
in his mind and heart those principles of rectitude which make for strong
character and well rounded manhood, and while still young he laid broad
and deep the foundation upon which his subsequent career was so solidly
built. With the object in view of fitting him for the legal profession
his parents gave him the best educational advantages the country afforded
and after the usual intellectual course in the schools of his own county
and higher institutions elsewhere he entered the Law School of Cincinnati
and in due time was graduated therefrom with a creditable record and was
licensed to practice by the Supreme Court. Having no taste for the profession,
however, he did not engage in the practice, but turning his attention to
a pursuit more in harmony with his inclinations he soon became one of the
leading merchants of Mount Vernon and made an honorable name in the business
world. In connection with merchandising be was also engaged in the manufacture
of woolen goods, and during the period of the Civil war conducted a very
profitable business in this line in partnership with James D. JOHNSON,
the firm thus constituted operating for several years the woolen mills
at Mount Vernon. After a long and remarkably successful career as a merchant;
Mr. HAM turned his attention to another important business enterprise,
having been one of the leading movers in the organization of the old CarlinCross
Bank, which subsequently became the Mount Vernon Bank and still later was
re-organized as the HAM National Bank. He served as president of the institution,
always kept in close touch with its affairs and to him as much as to any
other man was due the rapid growth and continued success of the bank, during
the early years of its history. 

 Mr. HAM was remarkably successful in his business affairs and everything
to which he devoted his energies appears to have worked to his advantage.
He was not only fortunate in a monetary sense but also manifested an abiding
interest in whatever tended to advance his city and county materially and
otherwise and for a number of years took an active part in public matters,
serving several successive terms as a member of the local school board
besides filling other positions of responsibility and trust 

The maiden name of Mrs. Christopher D. HAM was Helena Ann GRANT. She was the daughter of Angus McNeil GRANT, who came to Illinois from Kentucky about the year 1835 and subsequently became one of the leading business men of Jefferson county. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. HAM, only three of whom survive, namely: Mrs. Martha HAM PAVEY, of Mount Vernon, whose husband, Louis G. PAVEY, is cashier of the HAM National Bank; Sidney Breese HAM, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere, and GRANT TAYLOR HAM, president of the Mount Vernon Brick Company and one of the city's most enterprising citizens. Three children died in infancy and Bernadine after reaching the age of young womanhood. Mr. HAM's distinguished business career has few parallels in the history of Jefferson county and he will live in the memory of his fellow citizens of Mount Vernon as one who contributed liberally toward the growth of the city and gave stability to its business and financial interests. He died at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, April 1 7, 1899, and left to his family and the community the heritage of a well spent life and an honorable name.  Christopher was one of three children, a sister having died while still quite young; and O. M. D. HAM, of Mount Vernon, the only surviving member of this old and highly esteemed family whose history during the last three quarters of a century has been closely identified with that of Jefferson county.  Angus McNeil GRANT, father of Mrs. C. D. HAM, was an early settler of Jefferson county and one of her men of influence. His arrival, as already indicated, was about the year 1835, and in the course of a few years he became the possessor of a large amount of land, which soon increased greatly in value and to him also belongs the credit of adding very materially to the growth and business interests of the county seat. Soon after locating at Mount Vernon he engaged in merchandising which he carried on with marked Success for a number of years and at one time he held the office of County Judge, besides being honored with various other positions and taking an influential part in public affairs. He was one of the organizers and first president of the Carlin-Cross Bank, the first institution of the kind in Mount Vernon and for a number of years thereafter kept .in close touch with monetary affairs and was long regarded as one of the sound, far-seeing and successful financiers of Jefferson county, and Southern Illinois. Despite his frail physique and modest demeanor he was an influential factor in promoting the advancement of Mount Vernon and the welfare of the people and to him as much as to any one man is the city indebted for its continuous growth and the prosperity for which it is now distinguished. Mr. GRANT possessed business ability of a superior order and was also noted for his inflexible integrity and the high sense of honor which characterized all his relations with his fellow men. A man of noble aims and high ideals, he made his influence felt for good in business as well as in social and religious circles and for many years he was a noted character in his city and county and as a leader in the world of finance.  When a young man Mr. GRANT married Miss Martha ANDERSON, of Tennessee, who proved a true wife and helpmeet until her lamented death in the year 1883, and who bore him three children: Mrs. Helena Ann HAM, of Mount Vernon; Mrs. M. M. POOL, of the same place, and Mrs. W. C. POLLOCK, who lives in Washington, D. C. Mr. GRANT's long connection with the banking interests of Mount Vernon added much to the financial credit of the city and gave it an honorable reputation as a safe place for the judicious investment of capital as well as a desirable and attractive place of residence. He was always enterprising and public-spirited and gave his hearty support to all enterprises that tended to the advancement and progress of his fellow men.  Source: Walls History Of Jefferson County 1909 pg 399-403 Submitted By: Misty Flannigan  Dec 27, 1997 



C.D. Ham, the popular and well known cashier of the Mt. Vernon Bank, ranks among 
the representative citizens of this place, being very prominent in business circles.  
He was born on a farm eight miles southest of Mt. Vernon, September 10, 1838, and 
is a son of James Ham, a native of Virginia, who came to Illinois with his father, 
Moses ham, when he was only a child, being among the early pioneers of Jefferson County.  
The family is of English origin, and at a very early day in the history of this country 
was founded in Virginia.  Its members were mostly farmers. Moses Ham was quite a prominent 
citizen of Jefferson County, and held a number of offices, including that of Associate Judge.

James Ham was a soldier in the Black Hawk War and died in 1848.  He had several brothers 
but all are now deceased, and we know but little of their history.  The mother of our 
subject was in her maidenhood Frances T. Criesel.  She was born in Hamilton County, ILL., 
where her father, Henry Criesel, was a pioneer settler.  He was a great hunter and in that 
way mainly earned his livelihood.  The family was of German origin.  After the death of 
her first husband Mrs. Ham became the wife of Jeremiah Taylor, now one of the wealthiest 
citizens of Mt. Vernon, and a large stockholder in the bank of which our subject is cashier.  
Mrs. Taylor died in 1888.   She had two sons by her first marriage, the younger being Orlando, 
a prominent farmer of Jefferson County, who has held several local offices, including those 
of Township Collector and Supervisor.  In the usual manner of farmer lads C.D. Ham spent 
the days of his boyhood and youth, and after attending the common schools entered the 
Cincinatti (Ohio) Commercial College, from which he was graduated. Later he was graduated 
from the Cincinnati Law School and was admitted to the Bar, but has never practiced since 
to any great extend.  He was for ten years engaged in merchandising and at the same time 
was interested with his stepfather in a flouring mill and a woolen mill.  In 1872 he helped 
to organize the Mt. Vernon National Bank and was elected its cashier.  This bank gave up 
its charter in 1886 and ws superceded by the banking house of C.D. Ham & Co., which has 
since carried on business under the name of the Mt. Vernon Bank.  In it Mr. Ham has filled 
the same position, and the success of the institution is largely due to his able management, 
his foresight and progressive, yet conservative, policy.

In 1865 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Ham and Miss Anna Grant, of Mt. Vernon, the 
cultured and accomplished daughter of the late Judge A.M. Grant, a native of Kentucky and 
a pioneer settler of Jefferson County.  Her mother, Mrs. Martha Grant, was a sister of 
Lieut.-Gov. S.A. Anderson, and an aunt of Gen. William B. Anderson, ex-Member of Congress, 
who at this writing is serving as United States Pension Agent at Chicago.  To Mr. and Mrs. 
Ham have been born four children: Martha; Sidney B., who is employed in his father's bank; 
Bernadine Frances and Grant Taylor.

Socially, Mr. Ham is a Royal Arch Mason and was Secretary of the blue lodge, but his 
business cares have so occupied his time of late years that he has given little attention 
to the fraternity.  He has held several local offices -- was Township Collector to three 
terms, served as Township Clerk, was Alderman for three terms, was a member of the Board 
of Education for twelve years, and during the greater part of that time was its President.  
He served as Deputy county Treasurer, and in the year 1875 was elected Treasurer of 
Jefferson County for one term.  He has ever discharged his duties with promptness and 
fidelity, and has therefore won the high commendation of all concerned.  He had ever been 
a warm advocate of Republican principles, and served as a delegate to the national convention 
when R.B. Hayes was nominated for the Presidency.  He, however, was a strong Blaine man.  
Other business interests have occupied his attention, he being interested in the Mt. Vernon 
Roller Mills and in the Jefferson County Fair Association.  He was the first secretary of 
the Mt. Vernon Water Works, and is now President and one of its stockholders.



Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson 
Counties, Illinois
Published by Chapman Publishing Co, Chicago - 1894
Page 328 & 329

Submitted By: Sandy Bauer

 
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