Mr. Drapar has for many years been an honored resident of Marion county,
whose interests he has ever had at heart, and who has, while advancing his,
own welfare done much toward promulgating the civic, industrial and moral
tone of the vicinity. His career has been one of hard work and integrity,
consequently he is deserving of the respect in which he is held by everyone.
William L. Drapar was born in Fayette county, Illinois, October 29, 1850, the son of John B. Drapar, a native of Tennessee, who came to Illinois when a mere lad, in the days when the inhabitants wore buckskin breeches and when the forests abounded in wild game and the hills and prairies were overrun by the red men. Grandfather Drapar was also a native of Tennessee, who brought his son, father of our subject, to this state, settling in Fayette county. Grandfather was a well-known lawyer in his day and served as Judge of Lafayette county. Vandalia, the county seat, was then the state capital. Judge Drapar, like most pioneer men, was the father of a large family, he and his faithful life companion becoming the parents of fifteen children, three pairs of twins. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat and a soldier in the Mexican war. He subsequently moved to Salem where he was called from his earthly labors at the age of fifty-six years, and he was buried at Xenia, Clay county.
John B. Drapar moved to Salem in 1856. He was a blacksmith of extraordinary skill, and for some time drove a stagecoach on the old Vandalia line. He enlisted in the Union army during the Civil war, but never saw service. He died about 1896.
The mother of the subject of this sketch was known in her maidenhood as Jeanette Abel, who was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the representative of a Southern family of honorable repute. The date of her birth occurred February 16, 1828, and she was summoned to join the "choir invisible" in 1904, while living at the home of our subject in Salem and she is buried in the cemetery here. The following children were born to Mr. and Mrs. John B. Drapar: Margaret, widow of Elisha Ledgerwood, who is living in the state of Washington; William L., our subject; Edwin, who died when four years old; an infant girl, deceased.
William L. Drapar, the subject of this sketch, was reared in Salem where he received the customary common school education. At an early age he assisted his father in a blacksmith shop. When twenty-one he was thrown on his own resources, but being a youth of indomitable energy and courage, he went to work with a will and has prospered all his subsequent life. He went into the milling business in 1872 at Salem and has been thus engaged since that time, becoming known as one of the leading milling men in this part of the state, having been eminently successful in this enterprise from the first. He worked for E. Hull, father of Senator C. E. Hull, for eighteen years. Since January 1890, he has been associated with Senator Hull in business, operating the Salem Brick Mill, the style of the firm being Hull & Drapar. The present building which this firm occupies was erected in 1860, but has since been remodeled into a modern and substantial building. They do a general milling business and their products are known not only throughout Marion county where they have a very extensive trade, but all over this part of the state and to remote sections of this and other states.
Mr. Drapar was united in marriage first in 1872 with Sarah J. Fair, whose parents died when she was two years old and she was reared by a family named Castle who came to Salem from Ohio at the close of the war. She was a woman of many commendable traits of character, and to this union the following interesting family was born: Ira and Louie, twins, born July 11, 1874. The first named is living in Holdenville, Oklahoma, where he is Assistant Cashier of the Second National Bank. He is also City Recorder of Holdenville. He is a graduate of the Salem high school in which he made a splendid record, and he is also a graduate of the Flora Business College. For three years he was manager of a large lumber company in Oklahoma in which state he is very popular. Louie lives in Chicago where he has a responsible position with the Santa Fe Railroad Company, which regards him as one of their most faithful and trusted employees. Leslie the third child, was born July 28, 1878. He is also a graduate of the Salem high school. He is now living in New Mexico in the employ of the Harvey Dining Service Company. He has been a dining car conductor for years. He had the distinction of serving for one year as superintendent of the dining service at Yale University. He is an expert at this line of business and has gained wide notoriety among the people of this business. George, the fourth child, was born November 12, 1882. He holds the responsible position as cashier and bookkeeper of the Sherman House in Chicago. Babel, the winsome and accomplished daughter of the subject and wife, was born March 5, 1890, and she is yet a member of the family circle, keeping house for her father.
Mrs. Drapar passed to her eternal rest on August 15, 1894, after a useful and beautiful life. Mr. Drapar was again married on June 14, 1899, to Isabel Bell, daughter of Philo Bell, of Sumner, Illinois. Mr. Bell was a stage driver on the old Vincennes & St. Louis line before the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was built. This wife died without issue May 3, 1907, of a paralytic stroke. She was a woman of strong character and had many faithful friends.
Mr. Drapar has always taken considerable interest in political affairs. He served as City Alderman for six years in a most creditable manner. He was school director for five years, during which time the local schools felt a great impetus. He was tax collector for one year, refusing to serve longer, much to the regret of every one concerned.
Fraternally, Mr. Drapar has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since 1874, occupying all the chairs, both Subordinate and Encampment. He has attended the Grand Lodges regularly for twenty-two years. He met with the Sovereign Grand Lodge at St. Louis several years ago. Mr. Drapar has been a member of the Presbyterian church since a boy. He belongs to that class of citizens who by their support of the moral, political and social status for the general good, promote the real welfare of their respective communities.
Extracted 07 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 174-176.