Bestor, George C.

Born: 1811-04-16 Washington, DC

Died: 1872-05-14 Washington, DC

Flourished: 1854-09-28 Peoria, Illinois

George C. Bestor was federal government official, city government official, postmaster, land agent, railroad executive, and state legislator. As a teenager, Bestor worked as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives and as an assistant clerk in the federal government. He moved to Illinois in the summer of 1835. On October 20, 1835, he married Mary Jane Thomas in Baltimore, Maryland. George and Mary would have four children together. Bringing his new bride to Illinois, Bestor engaged in land speculation and accumulated much property. In 1837, voters elected him as one of the trustees of the town of Peoria and reelected him in 1839. President John Tyler appointed him postmaster of Peoria in 1842. Mary Bestor died, and on September 13, 1848, George married her sister Sarah E. Thomas, with whom he also had four children. In 1850, Bestor was employed as a land agent and owned $10,000 in real property. He served as mayor of Peoria in 1851 and again in 1853 and 1854. He also served as president of the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad Company. Elected in 1858, Bestor represented Peoria, Marshall, Putnam, and Woodford counties in the Illinois Senate from January 1859 to May 1861. By 1860, Bestor and his family were living in Peoria's Second Ward, and he had amassed $80,000 in real property, with a personal estate valued at $3,000. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him as postmaster of Peoria in 1861, and he served in that position until 1865. During the Civil War, he had gunboats built for use on western rivers. He died at the National Hotel in Washington. Bestor embraced the Whig Party and, after its demise, the Republican Party.

Illinois Senate Journal. 1859. 21st G. A., 5; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, ed. by David McCulloch (Chicago: Munsell, 1902), 2:444-46; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Peoria, Peoria County, IL, 142; The History of Peoria County Illinois (Chicago: Johnson, 1880), 453; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 222-23; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 2, Peoria, Peoria County, IL, 142; Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971, NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls, Records of the Post Office Department, RG 28, 1865-1878, 32:350, National Archives Building, Washington, DC; Gravestone, Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum, Peoria, IL.