Burton F. Hales Biography

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Biography Sketch of Burton F. Hales
(1853 - 1930)

"For nearly fifty years a distinguished business man of Chicago, Burton F. Hales was born on a farm near Henrietta, Lorain County, Ohio, June 26, 1853, the youngest son of William and Laura (Blackman) Hales. His family had been farmers all their lives and he was the only one of his generation who left the land for the city.

Burton F. HALES

Originally named Burton Orville HALES, but changed his name to Burton F. HALES. Born 26 JUN 1853 in Henrietta Township, Lorain, Ohio the son of William HALES and Laura BLACKMAN. Married (1) Hattie VAN NOSTRAND.


  M- DeWitt Van Nostrand "Dewey" HALES; born in 1880; married about 1905 Bessie LEWELLYN; died 23 JAN 1936.

Burton F. HALES married 2) 28 JUN 1893 Frances Howard SIDDELL in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was born 15 MAY 1862 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the daughter of James SIDDELL and Ann HOWARD. Burton F. HALES died 16 MAY 1930 and is buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Frances Howard SIDDELL died in 1950 at Evanston, Cook, Illinois and is buried in forest Home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


  F - Laura HALES; born 13 MAY 1896 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; died 3 NOV 1988.

  M- James Howard HALES; born 16 APR 1898 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois; married (1) 15 SEP 1926 Edythe KNISELY, (2) Dorothy HALES; died 1967.

After attending the district school of his neighborhood he entered the academy at Oberlin, where he was a classmate of Harry King, who subsequently for many years was president of Oberlin College. As a young man Mr. Hales taught district school in his home county. In 1875, at the age of twenty-two years, he came to Chicago, where his first venture was in the restaurant business, and then designed and patented a reclining chair, manufactured by the George F. Child Chair Company, which received a medal at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. In 1885 he became associated with the Bemis & Curtis Malting Company, of which he became president in 1888, and throughout the ensuing years devoted his time to the grain and grain products business. For more than forty years he was a member of the Board of Trade. In 1899 he incorporated the Northwestern Malt Grain Company, with elevator at Cragin. In 1910 he organized the Minneapolis Malt & Grain Company and in 1912 the Interstate Malt & Grain Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, having plants also at Waterloo and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the same year purchased the Kasota Elevator Company at Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1916 he helped to organize the Hales & Edwards Company, the name of which was later changed to Hales & Hunter Company, with a plant at Riverdale, Illinois, for putting up feeds, and became one of the largest manufacturers of animal food.

In national affairs Mr. Hales was a republican, an ardent admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, and a stanch supporter of the progressive party. One of Mr. Hales' diversions was the breeding of cattle and he contributed largely to the development of the shorthorn type. He was one of the leading members of the Chicago Shorthorn Cattle Club and on the rich fertile acres of his estate, known to the shorthorn breeding world as Oakwoods Farm, near the town of Prairie View, Lake County, Illinois, he had one of the richest bred and strongest collections of shorthorns in America. A few years ago he decided that his lands, as well as any Illinois lands of the same character, could not be farmed profitably in the ordinary way, generally prevalent in the production and sale of grain. He knew, too, that the fertility of the soils could not be maintained in this way. Therefore he looked about and studied various systems and finally reached the conclusion that the greatest profit was to be drawn from the farm on which was maintained a herd of pure-bred cattle of a breed held in strongest favor by the general farmer, and that the shorthorn cow came nearer to filling the requirements because of her beef and milk producing qualities than any other, and accordingly he purchased the material for a herd of this breed and his Oakwoods Farm became noted among breeders of shorthorn cattle. In 1905 he built the beautiful residence at Oak Park and Chicago Avenues in Oak Park, Illinois. He was a member of the Chicago Association of Commerce, the Oak Park Country Club and the Congregational Church.

On the 26th of June, 1923, in celebration of Mr. Hales' seventieth anniversary, the following poem was contributed by Charles A. Heath:

Three score and ten is not old age,
When vigor is its heritage;
And joy of heart and youthful cheer
Have always marked each passing year,
Since you began a life which ran
Like some pure stream on through the vales,
But better known as B. F. Hales.

A life is great which comes to be
Whole-heartedness epitome;
Which gives and takes and does the way
That men call square, who loves to pay
Aught that is due and always too,
When every other debtor fails,
No one gets left by B. F. Hales.

The hope today for younger men
Lies in the example which you have been.
And so to walk they'll brook nothing
Of wrong, but yearly bring
As you have done and realize that naught avails
Save "do your best" like B. F. Hales.

Husband, brother, uncle, friend,
Devoted father, how you commend
The blessings of a useful life
Made richer by a loving wife,
And this we pray, that every day
Still thoroughbreds will find the pais,
And ribbons win for B. F. Hales.

On the 16th of May, 1930, while seated at his desk in the office of his company at 327 South La Salle Street, talking with a nephew, G. W. Hales, the subject of this memoir suddenly passed away. The surviving members of his family are Mrs. Hales; a daughter, Laura; two sons, DeWitt and James Howard Hales; and four grandchildren: Burton F. Hales, Vivian Hales, Helen Hales and James Howard Hales, Jr. Mr. Hales acquired a large herd of Holstein cattle in his later years, and the family is still operating this stock-farm."


Biographical sketch of Burton F. Hales was taken from the Hales Newsletter - New Series Autumn 2001 Vol. 6. No. 3.


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Last Updated: February 29, 2008