Early Illinois Women

Louisa McCall

Portrait of Louisa McCall, from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Fulton County

Photo of First National Bank of Canton, Illinois

Louisa McCall has the unique distinction of being the first lady bank director in the United States. She assumed the position at the First National Bank of Canton in 1877 and was Vice-President of the same institution from 1899 until her death on January 11, 1907.

Mrs. McCall was born in London, England, October 26, 1824, to Charles Richard Basden Raymond and Margaret Priscilla Widenham Raymond. In December 1834 they set sail from London to arrive 10 weeks later in New Orleans. They came up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Peoria. Her parents were scholarly and cultured. They taught their children literature, mathematics, history, and music. In Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois by Newton Bateman, 1908, she is described as "systematic, orderly, thorough and even executive at an age when most children find greatest solace in the companionship of their dolls, and in addition to these solid traits she was a musician of merit, possessing an excellent voice."

In Peoria County, Illinois, on June 10, 1845, she married James Harvey McCall. They had four daughters, Margaret Louisa, Grace Caroline, Josephine Elizabeth, and Agnes. James McCall had operated a saw mill and grist mill in Peoria. In 1862 they moved to Canton, Illinois, where James had purchased a distillery. Mr. McCall became one of the founders of the First National Bank, of which he was President for the remainder of his life.

During the fall of 1872 James McCall went to California and became interested in the mining business. He kept his family posted on his travels, business, and health. While all reports seemed positive, in 1873 Mrs. McCall received word James had died.

Louisa McCall continued her husband's business affairs. According to the newspaper account of Louisa McCall's death from the Canton Daily Register, Mrs. McCall was instrumental in following through with a lawsuit involving her husband's estate. Mr. McCall had sued his old partner in California and won the case. Although $35,000 was to be paid to James, upon James McCall's death, the partner instead brought in a "writ of error" suit. The suit was eventually settled in Louisa McCall's favor. Because of her large holdings she was later elected as a director at the First National Bank in 1877.

Louisa McCall died on January 11, 1907, of ill health. She had suffered from pneumonia in 1905 and never quite recovered. In addition to her position at the bank, Mrs. McCall was president of the Canton Aid Society for 25 years and had also contributed to many local organizations. She was known for her generosity as well as her great executive ability and keen business acumen.

Bibliography:

Bateman, Newton. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Fulton County. Chicago: Munsell Publishing, 1908.

Contributing Library:

Parlin-Ingersoll Library, Canton, Illinois


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