WILLIAM RICHARD GRANT
WILLIAM R. GRANT, Supreme Secretary and one of the Directors of the American Friendly Society of Urbana, was born in London, England, July 16, 1862. His parents were Charles and Sarah (Harris) Grant, natives of England and of Scotch and Irish extraction, respectively. The father was a railroad contractor and built the first railroad in Hungary, Roumania and the Balkan principalities. He was later appointed contracting engineer for the Egyptian Government. He was educated in Greenwich College, London, and died in Egypt, in March 1886, at the age of fifty-four years. His wife's death occurred in Roumania in 1902, when she was sixty-two years old.
His father was a midshipman on the Bellerophon, under the command of the famous Lord Nelson. With another midshipman and five sailors, forming a prize crew, he was intrusted with the duty of taking a captured French ship to England; but during the voyage the French crew mutinied, and killed all of the prize crew except William R. Grant's grandfather and two sailors, who succeeded in navigating the ship to England. For this service three medals, two and a half inches in diameter, were awarded them in commemoration of their service. The two sailors pawned their medals, which were melter for the gold. The medal of Mr. Grant's grandfather is the only one of the three now in existence, and on it is engraved a full bust portrait of him, together with a brief history of the event.
William R. Grant was the fourth of six children, five of whom are living. He was educated in Little Queen Street College, London, from which he graduated in 1882, receiving the degree of Mechanical Engineer. He then traveled through Europe, and was subsequently appointed Civil Engineer and Meteorologist for the European Commission of the Danube River, his headquarters being at Sulina, where he remained for three years. He was then employed by the Anglo-Egyptian Dredging Company, as Civil Engineer in dredging the River Nile, and was thus engaged for two years. Coming to Urbana in 1888 he accepted a position as mechanical engineer and draftsman for the "Big Four" Ry. Co., which he retained for five years. He next became State and supervising deputy for the Modern Woodmen of America, with headquarters at Philadelphia, a position he held for eight years. At the end of this period, he organized the American Friendly Society, of Urbana, a sick and accident benefit association, the chief officers of which are Urbana citizens.
Mr. Grant was elected County Surveyor of Stutsman County, N. D., for one term. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic order, belonging to the Blue Lodge and Chapter, of Urbana, and is Super-Excellent Master in Urbana Council. He is also affiliated with the Knights of the Maccabees and the Modern Woodmen of America. Politically, he is an adherent of the Prohibition party.
Mr. Grant was married on his birthday, July 16, 1889, to Florence Blair, a native of Champaign County, and a step-daughter of Nelson Samson, of the same county. They have two children -- Helen Winifred and Ruth Margaret. Religiously Mr. Green is a member of the Episcopal Church, while his wife adheres to the Methodist faith.
Joseph O. Cunningham and Frederick A. Schlipf, The history of Champaign County, (Urbana, IL: Champaign County Historical Archives, Urbana Free Library, 1984), 935
W. R. GRANT, 70, DIES; MASONIC RITES PLANNED
Prominent Urbana Lodge Worker, Formerly an Engineer, Was Born in London
William Robert Grant, 70 years old, longtime resident of Urbana, died at his home, 602 West Illinois Street, at an early hour Wednesday morning, after a long illness due to a complication of diseases.
The funeral will be held at 3 o'clock, Friday afternoon, from the Renner Funeral Home. Services will be in charge of Rev. Sidney A. Guthrie, assisted by Rev. Olin L. Sherburne.
Urbana Lodge 157, A. F. & A. M. will have an emergency meeting at 2:30 o'clock, Friday afternoon, for the purpose of attending the services. Burial will be made at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The deceased was a son of Charles and Margaret Harris Grant and was born in London, England, July 16, 1862. He spent his early life in London, but while a young man went to the region of the Danube, where he was engaged in engineering work. Later, he did the same work in the region of the Nile.
Came to Visit Uncle
He came to Urbana, about 47 years ago to visit his uncle, the late Rev. Robert Harris, then pastor of the First Christian Church of Urbana, and decided to remain here.
On July 16, 1889 he was married to Florence C. Blair, of near Urbana. Two children were born to them, Helen, wife of Clyde H. Parr, of Chicago Heights, who preceded her father in death and Ruth, wife of E. E. McCoy, of Elgin, who with his wife, survive. There is also a grandson, Robert E. McCoy.
For many years, Mr. Grant was engaged as a draftsman with the New York Central Railway, then known as the Big Four. Later, he entered insurance work, and at the time of his death was state manager for the Masonic Protective Association of Worcester, Mass.
Mr. Grant was a member of the First Methodist Church of Urbana, and all of the Masonic Orders of Urbana, as well as Mohammed Temple of Peoria.
Mr. Grant's obituary appeared on page 2 of the Champaign, Illinois, News-Gazette for August 24, 1932: