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Herschel B. O'Hair



Herschel Beauregard O'Hair, was born on September 11, 1862, seven miles north of Charleston, Illinois, a son of James and Dian Daugherty O'Hair. He was reared by his Uncle J. Ogden O'Hair in Symmes Township, Edgar County, Illinois, because his father was killed when he was three years old and his mother remarried.

When a young man of about 21 years of age he went into business for himself on the northwest corner of the square in Paris, Illinois. Since that time he demonstrated a remarkable versatility in business as he had engaged in no less than 13 different lines, he, at different times, had been a tavern keeper, liveryman, hay and straw dealer, Paris sprinkling contractor, billiard ball proprietor, local oil distributor, harness race-horse breeder and driver, farmer, hotel keeper, owner of amusement resorts, wholesale liquor dealer, and operator of a chain of 35 service stations and 14 bulk plants.

He became interested in the oil business many years ago when he purchased the interests of Mr. F. M. Wood, a local distributor, and later disposed of the bulk plants and service stations to the Ohio Oil Company. For several years he was interested in trotting horses, both as a breeder and driver. His best known trotters were Dora H. and. Miss Logan, both ultimately being sold to Sam Fleming of Terre Haute. He competed at Washington Park, near Chicago, in the early 1890's; at the opening of the race track in Indianapolis in 1894; and at Springfield, Illinois the first year the state fair was held at the state capital.

For years he was a power in city and county politics and his support was counted on by leaders of both major political parties. He had an uncanny faculty of gauging public sentiment and anticipating election results. Adeptly shuffling silver dollars in the palms of his hands, he did his political prognosticating.

He was a life member of the Paris Elks, his only lodge affiliation. He built the first home of the lodge. He was a member of the board of directors and building committee when Hotel France was built and was active in financing the project. In 1927 he built the armory building. Due to his benevolence Sunrise Park, was added to the city's park system and he requested that the completion of this public playground be financed by his estate. He had one son, Karl R. O'Hair.