Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Esreff Hill Banks (1821-1903)

From the History of York County, Maine, 188o.

   Following on the heels of  Maine politician Oramandal Smith, today's profile takes us to York County, Maine, and one Esreff Hill Banks, long a prominent figure in politics in that state. Elected to multiple terms in the Maine State House of Representatives, Banks would also serve in the Maine Senate and was a one-term Mayor of Biddeford. Elected as Maine State Treasurer in 1877, Banks later held the post of Postmaster of Biddeford, being appointed to that office by President Chester Arthur.
   Born on May 26, 1821 in Buxton, Maine, Esreff Hill Banks was the second child of four born to James and Ruth Merrill Banks. Young Esreff received his schooling at the Parsonfield Academy and later went west at age seventeen. He returned to Maine in 1843 and soon entered into a clerkship at a mercantile store in the town of Saco. He continued his employment there until 1845 and in November 1847 married Lucinda Atkinson, a native of Hollis, Maine. One child was born to the couple, a daughter named Adeline, who died in December 1858. 
    Banks entered into business in Biddeford in the late 1840s, establishing a mercantile firm/dry goods store with E.H.C. Hooper, whom he later bought out. A city councilman in Biddeford early in its existence, Banks was elected as Biddeford's representative to the Maine legislature in 1856 and was reelected the following year.
  Esreff Banks political profile continued to rise in 1860, when he was elected as Mayor of Biddeford, succeeding Johnathan Tuck, who had died a few days previously. Following his term as Mayor Banks held the post of Draft Commissioner for York County in 1863 and in the following year was elected to the Maine State Senate for the first of two terms. He would serve as a Republican presidential elector for Maine in 1868 and in March 1869 journeyed to Washington to attend the inauguration of Ulysses Grant.
   Throughout the 1870s Banks pursued various business interests, being a trustee of the York County Savings Bank and a director of the First National Bank of Biddeford, holding the latter post for fourteen years. Banks returned to local politics in 1874 when he served as York County Treasurer for two years and in 1876 won election as State Treasurer of Maine, a post he would hold from 1877-79.

A rare portrait of Esreff Banks, ca. 1860, from the Maine State Archives.

   Following his tenure as state treasurer Banks continued to be active in Maine public life, being appointed as U.S. Postmaster at Biddeford in 1883. He served in that capacity until 1885 and eight years later was named as chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. He also continued with his earlier business interests, serving as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Biddeford and Saco Railway beginning in 1889
   Esreff Hill Banks died at age 82 on November 27, 1903, at the home of his niece. The cause of his demise was listed in his obituary (shown below) as heart disease, and he was preceded in death by his wife Lucinda, who is listed as dying a year before her husband. Both were interred at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco, Maine.

                   Bank's obituary appeared in the November 28, 1903 edition of the Lowell Sun.

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