Iles, Elijah

Born: 1796-03-28 Fayette County, Kentucky

Died: 1883-09-04 Springfield, Illinois

Born in Kentucky, Elijah Iles moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1818 and then settled in Old Franklin, Missouri, where he worked as a clerk in a store and as a land agent for eastern investors. He moved to Springfield, Illinois, in June 1821. In July of the same year, he opened the first store in town. In 1823, he was one of four purchasers of a section of land that became the original town plat of Springfield. In 1824, he married Malinda Benjamin in Springfield. Iles was instrumental in lobbying the Illinois General Assembly to make Springfield the permanent county seat of Sangamon County in 1825, and he was a leading developer of the town. In 1826 and again in 1830, he won election to the Illinois Senate. In 1831, he sold his store and became a farmer and livestock dealer. Iles served as a captain of a company of Illinois militia in the Black Hawk War. In 1838, he built the American House in Springfield, which was one of the largest hotels in Illinois. Throughout his life, he invested in real estate, responsible for much of the development of Springfield. In 1860, he owned real property valued at $150,000 and personal property valued at $30,000.

Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 5 September 1883, 4:3; John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 397-400; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Sangamon County, IL, 148; Joseph Wallace, Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1904), 1:39-40.