Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
LEONARD B. PERKINS. Change is constant and general; generations rise and pass unmarked away, and it is due to posterity, as well as a present gratification, to gather up and put in imperishable form upon the printed page as nearly as possible a true and succinct record of the parent's life. The late Leonard B. Perkins was for over a quarter of a century one of the well-known and enterprising hotel men of Springfield, and his life record has in it a valuable lesson, showing that success may be achieved in the face of discouragements, if one has persistence, courage and good habits, and his career can not fail to interest the young men into whose cradle smiling fortune has cast no golden scepter. Personally Mr. Perkins was a gentleman of pleasing address and quiet appearance, frank and kindly in manner and popular with his friends and fellow citizens. Measured by the true standard of excellence, he was an upright, courteous gentleman, true to himself and to others, and as a citizen his influence was potent for good. He was a veteran of the Civil war, having served throughout the struggle, with troops from the old Empire state. He gave close attention to his business, and amassed a sufficient amount of this old world's goods to make his latter years comfortable and free from embarrassment. He possessed tact and discriminating judgment, and was always ready to advise and help others, when necessary, and many were eager to avail themselves of his wise suggestions in matters of business. His home was all that good taste and kindness could make it and his social and family relations were of the most pleasant and agreeable character.
Mr. Perkins was born at Parishville, St. Lawrence county, New York, March 12, 1840. He was a son of Cyrus G. and Martha A. (Barnes) Perkins, the father a native of New Hampshire, and the mother of Potsdam, New York.
Mr. Perkins grew to manhood in his native state and received his education in the common schools. When the Civil war came on he was one of the first to enlist at Potsdam, New York, April 22, 1861, in Company B, Sixteenth New York Volunteer Infantry, and soon thereafter the company left for Albany, that state, where it was mustered into the Union service on May 15th, to serve two years. He proved to be a gallant and faithful soldier and saw considerable hard service with the main army in the East, and he was mustered out and honorably discharged at Albany, New York, May 22, 1863. He at once returned to Potsdam, that state, where on June 4th he married Emeline L. Dewey. In August of that year he took his bride to Washington, D. C., and later to Alexandria, Virginia, where he entered the government railroad service. He remained there two years and then moved to Baltimore, where they lived for a number of years, then went back to Parishville, New York, and in 1874 went to Woodstock, Illinois, and engaged in dairy farming. Remaining there about six years, he went to Muscatine, Iowa, but soon the family moved to Springfield, Missouri, in 1880, and Mr. Perkins established the Perkins Hotel on East Commercial street, which was successful from the first and became in due course of time one of the popular hostelries of the city, and he continued to manage the same until about ten years ago when he retired from active management of the same, in favor of his son, James A. Perkins, who has since conducted it in a successful manner, and he has proven to be a popular host like his father and the place continues to be popular with the traveling public.
Mrs. Perkins was born in Hopkinton, St. Lawrence county, New York, on September 8, 1840. She is a daughter of Hubbell Hopkins and Anne (Wing) Dewey, and she grew to womanhood in her native county and received a common school education. She is living with her son, James A., in Springfield.
To Leonard B. Perkins and wife three children were born, all in Baltimore, Maryland, namely: Leonard Barnes, born June 20, 1867, died February 6, 1868; Emma DeEtt, born March 13, 1869, died August 20, 1870; and James Albert, born September 5, 1870. Mr. Perkins has a brother and a sister living, the former Judge Fred D., and the latter, Mrs. Martha A. Grennon; they both reside at Woodstock, Illinois.
Politically, Mr. Perkins was a Republican. Religiously he belonged to St. John's Protestant Episcopal church. Fraternally, he is a member of Orient Lodge No. 86, Knights of Pythias and Ozark Camp No. 25, Woodmen of the World.
Mr. Perkins and his faithful life companion traversed the road that leads from yesterday to the unknown beyond for a half century, and they celebrated their golden wedding, June 4, 1913, and we reprint the following from the society page of the Springfield Leader, which tells of that important event in the lives of the subject of this memoir and his wife:
"An elegant and unusual reception was given Wednesday evening at the Perkins Hotel on Commercial street, when the many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard B. Perkins, were bidden to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage. The parlor suite was profusely decorated in Lady Wellington roses, which are of a deep yellow color, and on tables were displayed the many gifts of gold, and other pieces in which the golden color was prominent. The dining room was a veritable bower of white field daisies, festoons of yellow tulle gracefully draped the paneled walls. During the evening Mrs. George B. Swift, accompanied by Miss Mary Hall, sang, 'My Heart Is Singing,' by Sousa, and responded with 'My Dear,' by Ernest R. Ball, as an encore. Miss Nell Haynes, accompanied by Professor Kelly, sang in her usual brilliant style, 'Happy Days,' and giving as an encore, 'Silver Threads Among the Gold.' The orchestra program, under direction of Prof. Herbert L. Hoover, was exceptionally pleasing, the selections 'Annie Laurie,' 'Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes,' 'Soldier's Farewell,' the popular airs of fifty years ago. In the receiving line were: Mrs. Lemuel. Parsons and Miss Emily Hess, both of Oklahoma City; Mrs. Lee R. Hoff, and Misses Willene Rand, Adah Roberts and Bernice Jackson ably assisted in receiving the many guests. Mrs. Perkins was gowned in white and carried an arm bouquet of yellow roses. The ladies assisting in receiving were exquisite in gowns of white lingerie. Later in the evening the younger people danced until a late hour. A two-course luncheon was served continuously during the evening, and in the large hall delicious punch was dispensed. About two hundred guests called and congratulated Mr. and Mrs. Perkins on this happy occasion."
The death of Leonard B. Perkins occurred on February 28, 1914, after a short illness, when nearly seventy-four years of age. We quote the following from the Springfield Independent, in its issue of March 2, 1914:
"For several days Mr. Perkins' friends were confident that he could not survive many days, yet when the hour came they were much grieved at his departure. His home was constantly visited by his friends during his illness. His old soldier friends were there, his lodge friends called and his business friends were solicitous of his condition. Thirty and four years is a long time to be a citizen of the same location. During that time he called to his circle of friendships the old, the middle aged and the youth. Everybody respected him and all had a word of cheer. He delighted to relate stories, of the Civil war. He also took delight to state that he and Mrs. Perkins played on the same play-grounds in youth while attending the same school. They played together in youth and they lived together as the years ripened into age. He was a sensible, intelligent old man—cultured and refined, and he never dropped his Yankee habits in full. He was a splendid conversationalist and he liked to talk about the early history of Commercial street.
"In his passing Springfield loses one of its warmest admirers and one of nits best citizens. The little old hotel he used in the long ago is now the hotel office of the Perkins and no old citizen can pass that site without thinking of the one who used to be there to greet friends and guests in the royal manner of the old Empire state. He has left a heritage of good will and good cheer to all the people. It is sad to see these old landmarks pass from the city's activities and the city'smakeup. The old have a place in our history and no matter how long they stay their life is precious to all who stop to consider. The old soldiers' ranks are thinning. The old people's circle is diminishing and ere long there will be but few to tell the tale of early history. Mr. Perkins was our friend and neighbor and many times he came into this office with good cheer and sunshine when the hour seemed the darkest. His many visits will be remembered as so many messengers of splendid encouragement, confidence and trust."
Springfield-Greene County Library