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Carroll County Biographies

George N. Machen

From the Goodly Heritage

At the southeasterly corner of Chicago Avenue at Fourth street, George N. Machen built his handsome residence of red pressed brick laid in white mortar, the Kasota pink stone being the principal material for outside construction. This residence, now the Law- Jones Funeral Home, occupies the same ground where an Indian mound once stood, around which and in the woods adjacent Mr. Machen spent many of his boyhood days.

His father, William Machen came to Carroll county in 1851, worked in a distillery for awhile (a trade he had learned in Pennsylvania) then turned his attention to the grocery business.

There were no railways and all supplies were drawn by team from Elgin or on a boat up the river. William continued in this business for twenty years when he sold out to two of his sons, George and Calvin, and purchased a farm in Mt. Carroll township, repurchasing Calvin's interest a few months later. Shortly afterwards George bought out his father and carried on alone until 1888 when he admitted John A. Cooley, Jr., who had been his employee from age ten, into partnership.

The coming of the railroads brought further prosperity to the Machens as during the laying of the tracks of the present Burlington railroad through the county to Galena they were awarded the contract to furnish groceries and all staple supplies. They had three grocery stores, one in Thomson. Their large store building located on Main street was later used by A. 0. Elliott as a jewelry store, then torn down and the Elliott business moved to just north of Jefferson where the business was continued more recently by the Bleakleys and recently purchased by the Engels who came from Galena.

A handsome brick structure was built for the Commercial State Bank of Savanna on the site of the Machen grocery store in 1902, in which the Machen family had an extensive interest. On its second floor, Judge Franklin Stransky maintained his office with his son, Franklin Upson. The building now houses the Savanna News agency and bus station and is owned by Mrs. Margaret Stransky, the widow of Franklin U., and the former offices are used as her apartment.

George Machen married Lizzie C. Marks in 1881. They had four children, George Bruce, Jennie E., Fannie R., and J. Logan. In 1902, G. N. Machen was vice president of the Savanna State Bank and G. Bruce, his son, assistant cashier of the newly organized Commercial Bank. J. Logan was assistant postmaster for many years. His widow, Ethel, lives with their son John in their home on north Fourth Street overlooking the Mississippi.

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