Henry County, Illinois Biographies
Many thanks to Denise McLoughlin for her transcriptions of these biographies.
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Earl P. Aldrich, deceased, was the second settler in Henry County. He came here in July, 1835, and located in Phenix Township, or in that division of the county which is now known by that name. He was born Jan. 15, 1810, in Gloucester, Providence Co., R.I. And was the youngest son of Samuel I and Eliza (Mann) Aldrich. His parents were both natives of Rhode Island, and were of English ancestry. They removed with their families to Tioga Co., Pa., in 1817, and after a short residence there they pushed on to Perry Co., Ohio. After a brief tarry there, during which the mother died, they went on to Pickaway County, in the same State, where they settled near Circleville. They were among the earliest comers at every point they reached, but they found so few attractions at the various stopping places that they invariable pushed on to find a location more satisfactory. After a brief stay in the vicinity of Circleville, they made another removal westward, and went to Tippecanoe County, Ind. There Mr. Aldrich was married, and he took his wife to the home of his parents for a time. Soon after he commenced life independently, and managed as a renter until the year in which he settled in Illinois. The journey was made overland, the family traveling in a prairie schooner. The livestock they owned was driven through, and included five yoke of oxen, which were the draught power that brought the quaint wagon that was home and shelter during the trip across the country to Henry County. The party consisted of Mr. Aldrich, and his wife and his father.
They carried with them their personal property and provisions for the needed supplies on the route. Their gipsy experience, while it had its trials and discomforts, was full of novelty and enjoyment of a wholesome character. Their frequent removals previously had made them acquainted with inconvenience, and they had learned to make the best of the inevitable, which is the most useful lesson in life. They came directly to Henry County, and settled at first in Phenix Township. Mr. Aldrich entered a claim on section 30, and with the assistance of his wife and his father he built a log house. The roof was covered with clapboards and the floor was of the kind called "puncheon." Until the structure was completed the family lived in a camp and in their wagon. Indians were plentiful, but they were not troublesome, as the events of the Black hawk War were still fresh in their memory and they preferred to concillate their vanquishers and to live on friendly terms. The wild game was abundant, and included turkeys, hogs, deer and prairie-chickens. The nearest post office was at Farmington, in Rock Island County, which was then called Fort Stephenson. The only place of supplies was at the Government store at Rock Island.
The house was built with the chimney on the outside. The latter was made of sods above the foundation, and held together by sticks. The family had at first no bedsteads, and slept on beds of hay on the ground. In this building the first white child born in Henry County first saw the light. This house was the family abode three years. In 1838 Mr. Aldrich built what was then called a double hewed-log house, and it was of rather more aristocratic style than the common structure of logs in which the pioneers made their first homes. It was two stories in height, and was the residence of the household until 1856. In that year Mr. Aldrich bought a farm adjoining, and took possession of a brick house standing thereon; here he lived six years, then came back to the old homestead and built a brick house, and this was his homestead until his death.
After arranging for the comfort of his family on his removal to the county, Mr. Aldrich entered with earnest vigor into the work of improving his farm. He broke the land with the aid of ox teams, and he sold his first crop of grain at Rock Island, and afterward sought a market at Chicago. The latter place was 160 miles distant, and the wheat was sold there for 50 cents a bushel.
The marriage of Mr. Aldrich to Caroline Imel took place Sept. 27, 1882. Her father, George Imel, was born in Shenandoah Co., Va. He was an emigrant from that state with his parents to Indiana when the latter was a Territory. He married Elizabeth Durham, who was born in South Carolina. Mr. Aldrich died Nov. 20, 1880, of typhoid pneumonia. To him and his wife nine children were born, and of the number five grew to mature life: Henry S. married Mary Richmond, of Whiteside County, and they have two children, Ellis A. and Halcyon. Marshall M. married Samantha Richmond. Their children are Marshall M., Robert Edmund Lee, Earl P., Henry O., Mabel E. and an unnamed infant. Phila N. married James L. Davies, a citizen of Phenix Township. Commodore P. married Lucy G. McHenry, and died in 1878, leaving three children. Silas W. married Emma McHenry, and died in May 1882, leaving two children.
Mrs. Aldrich is still a resident on the homestead where she settled in July, 1835, and is the oldest living pioneer in this part of the county. She is a member of the Christian Church. Mr. Aldrich was a Democrat of conservative type.
The portraits of Mr. And Mrs. Aldrich are to be found on other pages. None of more value to the records of Henry County will be placed in this work. Mrs. Aldrich is still the survivor of her husband. The story of their pioneer experiences, told from a woman's standpoint, is full of interest, and is given with much satisfaction. She relates that their destination was at first La Porte, Ind. They went there early enough to get in a crop the year of their removal, but the cold was unprecedented. June 20, everything froze. The prospects were most discouraging, especially as the land was all held by pre-emption rights and road-scrip, and none could be entered. The frost coming at a time so unexpected settled the whole business and the family came to the Rock River country, as has been told. They camped at Prophetstown eight days, where they remained until they could prospect sufficiently to secure a suitable location.
July 28, the claim in the township of Phenix was made. It was a squatters' claim, as the county survey had not yet been made. When the land sales came on the title was secured, and the lady who supplies these particulars is still in possession of the original papers. About an acre of land was broken at first, although it was too late to put in any kind of a crop that year. But the proprietor busied himself in constructing buildings and in cutting prairie hay for the stock. The cooking was done out of doors. They were obliged to go to Knoxville for all supplies after the first, which were obtained from Fort Stephenson, where the Rock Island Arsenal is now located. The distance is 21 miles. The first milling was obtained at Le Claire, in Iowa. The mill fixtures were of the primitive kind known as "nigger-hands." This was in the fall of 1836 and three men went at the same time to get some crushed grain; for it was little better. Mr. Aldrich took with him about 12 bushels of wheat. The others had their grists bolted, but he did not like to waste so much as that process occasioned, and he brought home the cracked wheat. The "bold," so-called, was only on thin factory cloth, and the waste was enormous. The family had been four weeks without bread, as there was no flour to be obtained at Fort Stephenson. [ Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, IL. Originally Published 1885, Biographical Publishing Company, Chicago, ILTranscribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Henry L. Angell, a resident of Geneseo, is considered one of the model farmers of Henry County. He is the owner of 300 acres of land, which lies in this and in Rock Island counties. The entire tract is in a condition which reflects the utmost credit on the skill, industry and judgement of the proprietor.Mr. Angell was born Sept. 27. 1836, in south Corinth, Saratoga Co., N. Y., and is the son of James and Sally Hodges (Lincoln) Angell. His father was one of the leading agriculturists of that section, and the son was trained in a complete knowledge of all farming relations, which he brought to bear on the prairies with the most satisfactory results. He came to Illinois while he was still in his early manhood, and was married to Lucy Talcott, at Port Byron, July 2, 18__. She was born in the township of Zuma, in that county, Oct. 16, 1847, and is the daughter of Asel H. Talcott. A detailed sketch of the father of Mrs. Angell forms a portion of these records, and are to be found on another page. Mr. and Mrs. Angell were occupants of the homestead of her father, in the township of Zuma, until their removal, in July, 1883, to Geneseo Township.They have ten children - two sons and eight daughters, Six are still living. A pair of twin children, who were born third in order of birth, died in infancy. Florence T., Jessie L., Edward S., Bernice (drowned at age of two), Judd S. (died in infancy), Myrtle L., Viva M. and Eva L. are the names of those living.Mr. Angell is a Republican in political relations, and is foremost in his practice and advocacy of the principles of temperance and morality. [ Source: Page 430, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, IL. Originally Published 1885, Biographical Publishing Company, Chicago, ILTranscribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Charles Cheney Blish, President First National Bank, Kewanee, and farmer, Sec. 4, Wethersfield Tp; P. O. Kewanee; born in Glastenbury, Conn. May 26, 1820; came to this county Aug. 1837; Dem; Ind; owns 700 acres of land, valued at $45,000; married Elizabeth P. Bonar, in Goshen, Stark Co. Ill. Dec. 23, 1840; she was born in Bethlehem, Ohio, Dec. 14, 1820; has two children living, James K., born May 2, 1843: Matthew B. born Dec. 5, 1848; has lost two boys and two girls. Mr. Blish was County Surveyor 8 years; has been School Director several years. An extract from The History of Henry County Illinois, Its Tax-Payers and Voters, H. F. Kett & Co. 1877. Henry County: Kewanee Township, page 416, contributed by David Blish who also contributes this info: Parents: Rhoda Cheney and Sylvester Blish
Abram H. Follett, a farmer of Henry County, resident at Atkinson, is the owner of 80 acres of land in the township of Cornwall and also of the residence occupied by his family in the village of Atkinson. He was born April 30, 1808, in Rensselaer Co., N.Y. He had only the limited advantages of the district schools, and at the age of 17 he entered upon an apprenticeship to learn the trade of a tailor. After spending three years in the business, he went to Essex Co., N.Y. He was there married to Lorain E. Meacham, Feb. 1, 1829. She was born in East Poultney, Rutland Co., Vt., in the town where Horace Greeley learned the art of printing in the newspaper office of A. Bliss. The father of Mrs. Follett, William Meacham, was born in Massachusetts and was the son of one of those who lost their lives at the battle of Bunker Hill.
Mr. and Mrs. Follett are the parents of four children now living. They have lost three by death. Mary Janette, was born Dec. 22, 1829; John M., March 18, 1832; William, March 28, 1834 (the latter was a soldier in the Union army and was killed at the battle of Resaca, Ga.); Melville C., June 7, 1836; Sarah F., Oct. 30, 1838; Maria I., Aug. 16, 1841; Martha E., May 14, 1843. All three of the boys were in the Union army.
Mr. and Mrs. Follett are members of the Congregational Church. He is a Republican in his political connections [Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Henry Goembel, a retired farmer, resident at Geneseo, is a native of the State of Hesse, in Germany, and was born June 14, 1822, on the river Fulda, a tributary of the Rhine, in the village of Nederaula. He is the oldest son of Sebastian and Anna Goembel, both of Hessian birth. His grandfather was one of the Hessian soldiers who were hired to the English by his Government to aid the British in the War of the Revolution, or, as is claimed, was sold by the German ruler, as that nation holds the ownership of its subjects to a certain age, or until a certain amount of military duty is performed. The ancestor who came to America under such circumstances was taken prisoner at New York, and after his release became a loyal adherent of the government of the Colonies. He was engaged some time as a clerk, and after the declaration of peace he returned to the land of his nativity. There he reared a family, and in 1834 his son, Sebastian, accompanied by his wife and eight children, sailed from Bremen for the United States. They were on the sea 69 days, and landed at the port of New Orleans. They came to America on a German sailing-vessel, named the Ernest Gustav. After a stay of two weeks at the Crescent City, they set out for St. Louis. However, they debarked at Havana, Ill., and continued their stay there a month. At the end of that time they went to Peoria, which was then called Fort Clark.
The elder Goembel bought a claim on Farm Creek, in Tazewell County, or rather took possession and held it until the land sales came on, when he secured his title. At the time he bought the claim of the first who had settled on it, a log house had been built, and that was the sole improvement on the entire track. Mr. Goembel placed the entire estate under the best character of improvements, and erected an excellent class of buildings thereon. After a residence on the property of several years, he removed to Washington, in the same county. There the family remained, and there the father and mother both died. Six of their eight children are yet living.
Mr. Goembel, of this sketch, grew to the estate of manhood in the county of Tazewell. He was an inmate of the family of his father until 1849. In that year he bought timber land, situated about one and a half miles from the place of his father, and there he settled. He built a frame house; and as he had a natural faculty for the use of tools he did the main part of the work on it himself. He was the owner and occupant of the place until 1864. He then sold the farm, which contained 200 acres, and of which the half part was improved. In October of the year named he came to Henry County. He located in the township of Alba, where he purchased 200 acres of land. It had at the time a reasonably good set of frame buildings on it, and he proceeded with the work of its improvement. He was prospered in all his plans, and made additional purchases until he became the proprietor of 700 acres. He is still the owner of the farm, which he rented in 1871, and removed to the vicinity of the city of Geneseo. He bought 40 acres lying adjoining the town-plat, and has since purchased several acres in addition. He is also the owner of two farms in the township of Phenix.
The marriage of Mr. Goembel to Catharine Fey took place in 1849. She is a native of the same German province from whence her husband came. Their children are Zachariah T., who lives in the township of Phenix; Charles C. of Alba Township; Anna, wife of Joseph Greenwood; Elizabeth (Mrs. Lawrence Seyler) lives in Audubon Co., Iowa; John H., of Phenix Township; Millie, Henry L. And Kittie at home. [Source: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF HENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL. Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Samuel Goembel, of Yorktown, was born March 12, 1850, in Tazewell Co., Ill., and is the second son of Jacob and Louisa (Luther) Goembel. His father was born in Hessen, Germany, then a dukedom but now a Prussian province. His birth occurred May 17, 1824, and the name of his parents were Sebastian and Annie (Schaeffer) Goembel.
He came to America with his father and mother in 1834. They made their location in Tazewell County, this State, where they owned a farm, on which their children were reared. The son Jacob was married April 11, 1846, to Louisa Luther. She was born in Allegheny Co., Pa. They remained in Tazewell County until the fall of 1851, when they removed to Henry County. They located on section 30, where the father is still the owner of 93 acres of land. In the spring of 1875 the senior Goembel removed to Geneseo.
To him and his wife seven children were born: William S. married Laura Early, and they reside in Geneseo; Samuel is the son whose sketch is incorporated with that of his father's; Jacob E. married Emma Rapp, and is a citizen of Yorktown; Peter married Christina Rapp, and they are residents of Geneseo; Annie is the wife of Henry Glave, of Tazewell County; he lives in Washington; Lydia is the wife of Isaac Krimble, of Bureau County; John E. Is the youngest. Wilhelmina, born Dec. 15, 1858, died March 18, 1866, Lissa, born May 1, 1864, died March 18, 1866; their deaths took place on the same day. The parents are members of the Evangelical Association.
Samuel was less than two years of age when his parents came to Henry County. He had the training in labor and education common to farmers' children at that period of the county's progress, growing up on the farm and attending the district school. In 1871 he was married to Rebecca Zinser. They have seven children. They are named Harry S., Franklin J., Sylvia C., Lotta V., Mabel, Emery and Estella. In 1875 Mr. Goembel bought the homestead on which he grew up, and which is still his property. It contains 244 acres. It is devoted to the raising of stock and grain. [Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois; Originally published 1885; Biographical Pub. Co. Chicago, IL. Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
WILLIAM HARBAUGH, a dealer in sportsmen's supplies at Geneseo, has been a resident in Henry County since his removal hither in 1852. He was born Nov. 17, 1844, in Wayne Co., Ohio, and is the son of John, Eliza (Byers) Harbaugh. The family removed from Ohio to Bureau Co., Ill., in 1850, when the son was six years of age. In 1852 another removal was made to the township of Phenix, in Henry county. The father of Mr. Harbaugh settled on a farm, on which the son was reared to the time of his entering the military service of the United States during the Civil War. The latter enlisted in August, 1835, in Co. K, 112th Regt. III. Vol. Inf., and his regiment was assigned to the 23d Army Corps in the Army of the Tennessee. Mr. Harbaugh was under fire in the actions at Monticello, and Richmond in Kentucky, Philadelphia, Knoxville and Bean's Station in Tennessee, Utaw Creek, Atlanta, Rough and Ready, Johnesboro, Kenesaw Mountain, and Pine Mountain, in Georgia, Columbia, Franklin and Nashville, Tenn., and at Fort Anderson and Wilmington, in North Carolina. He was discharged June 20, 1865, at Greensboro, N. C., and was mustered out in July following. On his return from the army Mr. Harbaugh came to Geneseo, and became interested in mercantile business, in company with I. S. Felger, who was the senior partner. The firm continued business until December, 1879, when they sold out, and in 1880 Mr. Harbaugh instituted the business in which he is at present operating. He is a Republican of radical stripe. His marriage to Matilda Luther took place Nov. 17, 1867, and they have one child, a daughter, Berenice R. Mrs. Harbaugh is the daughter of George and Salomen Luther. With her husband, she is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. [Source: Page: 341, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, ILOriginally published 1885; Bio. Publishing Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by Denise McLoughlin]
DAVID LUTHER, a resident on section 17. in the township of Geneseo, has lived in Henry County since February,. 1849. He was born March 1. 1828, in Livingston Co., N. Y., and is the fifth son of Jacob and Louisa Luther. His parents were natives of Germany, and were born in one of the small cities on the River Rhine. They came in very early life in the United States, and after the birth of their son they removed from the State of New York to Pennsylvania. They were residents of the Keystone State ten years, and in 1838 came thence to Illinois. They arrived in Chicago in the fall, and passed the winter residing in that city. In the spring of the next year they went to O'Plain in Lake County, which is situated 22 miles northwest of Chicago. The father there bought 80 acres of land, on which the family were the first settlers. The tract was entirely in its original condition and there the homestead was established.
Mr. Luther lived there with his parents until he was 14, when he went to Chicago to learn the business of a cabinet-maker. After an apprenticeship of three years he went thence to Milwaukee. He was occupied in the prosecution of his trade there two years. At the end of that time he returned to O'Plain and passed a season on the farm. He went next to Peoria, and in the winter of 1849 came to Henry County. After a visit of a few weeks with the family of Jacob Arnett in Whiteside County, he entered a claim of land in the townhship of Yorktown, or what is now known by that name. The tract included 200 acres. He erected a cabin of poplar logs, 12x15 feet in dimensions. The roof was covered with the variety of shingles called "shakes," which Mr. Luther split himself, and the floor was of puncheon. Mr. Luther arranged for the lighting of his abode by placing three lights of glass -all-he-had-over the door. Hardly were they in place before a severe hail storm utterly destroyed them. Mr. Luther built a wagon in the same year in which he settled in Yorktown. He made the wheels by sawing sections from the ends of logs. The wheels were solid, and the hubs were made in proper place from the same blocks. As wagon-grease was not plenty, the music of Mr. Luther's vehicle came to be a familiar sound to the neighbors for five miles around, as it could be heard that distance! After he had used the wagon several years he sold it for $25. After securing a shelter he entered into the work of improving his land. He placed 80 acres under good cultivation and also enclosed the same. He next bought 40 acres on which there had been a small house erected. He retained his ownership therein until 1857, when he made an exchange for property in Geneseo, and removed his family there.
In 1869 he became the owner of the farm on which he is now a resident, by purchase. The estate contains 108 acres, and is all under the best type of improvements. Mr. Luther is also the owner of 62 acres of land in the vicinity of Geneseo, and has some village property. One of the operations of Mr. Luther a short time after coming to the county deserves mention as a pioneer exploit. In 1851 he set out for Milwaukee, accompanied by his wife and one child, who could not be left without the mother's care. They traveled thither with five yoke of oxen and camped on the route. In the Cream City he sold four yokes of the cattle and invested the proceeds in furniture and in the payment for his land at Dixon, where they stopped for the purpose on their way home. Mr. Luther is a man of modest pretensions, and fully merits all that the term "self-made" may mean. His union in marriage to Caroline Esslinger, took place in Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 9, 1847. She was a native of Zell, Wurtenberg, Germany, and was born May 3, 1828. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Luther are named William and Abraham. They are the only survivors of 12 children of whom they became the parents. They are both residents of Geneseo. The oldest was born in Greenfield, Wis., Dec. 19, 1848. He married Susan Byers, and they have four children: Pearl; Berenice, Mabel and Floss.
Abraham was born at Hooppole Grove, in Henry county, Jan. 12, 1851. He married Lydia Mertz. She was born at Downer's Grove, Cook Co., Ill. They have four children: Cora; Sarah; Caroline and Fayette. All the children are daughters.
The Luthers, father and sons, are Repulbicans of the most radical type.
Mrs. Luther, the mother, died March 28, 1874. She was a woman of consistent Christian character, and her memory is preserved by her husband and sons as their most precious heritage. She was the daughter of Geo. G. Esslinger. He was a frolicsome youth in his early life, and was in demand at all the merry-makings in his vicinity, as he was an expert fiddler. Later he was converted, traded his fiddle for a pig, and passed his remaining years in the capacity of a preacher in the German Evangelical Church. [Source: Pages: 615-616, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, IL; Originally published 1885; Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Major Erastus G. Moderwell is an attorney, and is engaged in the active pursuit of his profession at Geneseo. He came to Henry County in 1866. He brought with him the prestige of an honorable record in the service of his country, and the repute of a leader in the arena of the law. His course from first to last has eminently sustained the character he bore, and he has won a kindred distinction in public affairs, and in the esteem of his compeers in Henry County.
He was born at Bucyrus, Ohio, March 6, 1838. His parents, John and Nessy (McCracken) Moderwell, were natives of Pennsylvania, and were of Scotch-Irish descent. They came from the Keystone State in an early day, and settled in Bucyrus. Major Moderwell was educated primarily in the schools of his native town, and entered the Freshman Class of Jefferson College, in September, 1855.
He had been a boy of studious habits and proclivities, and had made good use of his time and advantages in his early school days, and from the first he took a fair rank among the leading students in his college. He was skilled in mathematics, for which he had a natural genius, and was a leader in the classes in Latin. He was also gifted in the use of language, and was pre-eminent as a speaker. His scholarship gave him prominence, and at commencement one of the positions of honor was accorded to him. He represented his class in the delivery of the English salutatory, and in one of the usual society contests was made Philo-Orator. He had a contestant of uncommon strength in debated, but he won the honors of the contest.
He was graduated in the class of 1859, and soon after went South to teach. He was occupied in that capacity at Elkton, Ky., one year, and at the expiration of that time he went to Fairmont in West Virginia. There came an eventful day in April, 1861, when his school came to an unceremonious termination, and he hastened to Washington, D.C., and he arrived there on the same day on which President Lincoln made the first call for troops. He enlisted in the Cassius M. Clay Battalion, the first volunteer company that enlisted for the War of the Rebellion. The enrollments were made on the 14th of April, 1861. For two months he was employed at the National observatory in the city of Washington, and in the summer of the same year he returned to h is native State. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 86th Ohio Vol. Inf., and subsequently was made Captain of a company in the same regiment. Later, he served as Captain in the 12th Ohio Cav., and was promoted to the rank of Major. He was frequently in command of the regiment which occupied that position, and on occasion he commanded a brigade under Maj.-Gen. Upton. His command was attached to the Cavalry Division of General Stoneman during the last year of the war. Major Moderwell distinguished himself in the accomplishment of a special duty for which he was detailed while in the division of General Stoneman, in which he commanded an expedition to capture a fort at Catawba in South Carolina. He was successful in the undertaking, and captured the fort with the garrison and stores. For this service he was honorably mentioned in the report of Gen. Thomas. The action is also mentioned in the history of the war by Lossing, in which that popular and reliable historian states: "This expedition was one of the most gallant little exploits of the war." Major Moderwell sustained several injuries in the course of his connection with the military service of the United States. He was wounded three times; one minnie-ball passed entirely through his body, grazing the diaphragm and also touching the spine in its passage. The surgeons pronounced the wound mortal, and declared his chances of recovery to be one in ten thousand. But the Major took the one chance, and lives to give this account, although he is frequently reminded of the experience by lameness, difficult breathing, and the suffering incident to such a condition. He was mustered out Nov. 24, 1865, after a service covering nearly the entire period of the war - the most terrible experience that can be relayed in the history of our Republic.
On returning to civil life he located at Geneseo, and interested himself in traffic in real estate, and also entered upon a preparatory study for the profession of an attorney. He afterward became a student of the Cincinnati Law School and was graduated there with the class of 1869. The same year he secured the privileges of the State Courts of Illinois, and has since been engaged in the prosecution of the business of an attorney at Geneseo.
Major Moderwell's abilities are recognized and appreciated by the community of which he is a member, and he has been called to serve the interests of the public n various capacities, which attests the versatility of his powers. He has officiated several times as City Attorney, and has occupied the position of Mayor of that municipality. In 1874 he was elected to the State Senate on the Republican ticket, serving consecutively four years.
The characters of individuals in their relations to their fellows become prominent, as a rule, more through the discrimination of those with whom they are connected in a common interest than through their own acts. It is one of the safeguards of the institutions of our form of Government that the intuitions of the people are trained to an understanding of the characteristics required in their leaders, and in such a multitude of instances are the right ones put in the right places that the fact has come to be regarded as somewhat marvelous. Hence it becomes possible to place a man on record in a perfectly just sense. He has a right to a fair representation to the generations that are to follow and who will be certain to investigate acts of which they are the beneficiaries; is also due to the justification of those who select their representatives in the performance of the world's work. In estimating the character of Major Moderwell, no man can be aggrieved by the statement that he is in the truest sense one of those whose innate nobleness and worth honors not only himself but his generation. What he was as a soldier, his record proves. Meager as it is in statement in this brief sketch, the facts of his course during the war impart no uncertain significance. His surroundings at the time of the initiation of active hostilities, viewed in the light of his perceptions, "blown crystal clear by Freedom's northern wind," brought home to him with a terrible portent the full and dire significance of all that Rebellion meant. He waited not for the overt act; he made haste to meet the emergency that he knew from long observation to be imminent; he went to Washington and placed himself where the fanatics by whom he had been surrounded had been arrayed for months and in some instances for years - in the van-guard. He knew that there was no uncertainty in the matter; he foresaw that the end of the beginning that was so close at hand would be reached only through a long succession of events that would shake the foundations of the Republic. The weary months that followed proved the value of his judgment. The strongest witness of his own part in the progress of the war is the modesty of his own account of the events in which he was a participant. In actual service he came within one grade of the "stars" of a Major-General. If more need be said, he bears his credentials in his shattered constitution and in the suffering which will always remind hm of the pang of a more cruet need, - that of becoming a voluntary target for a fratricidal bullet. Ages must roll away before the memory fades that the Civil War was a conflict between brothers. That is its enduring sting!
In his career as an official, entrusted with the interests of others, he has operated in accordance with the obligation conferred in his selection and never with an ulterior purpose. His course as a member of the State Senate, was one that reflected the same credit on his manhood and fitness for the place.
As an attorney he ranks with the leaders in the county and in adjacent communities.
In addition to the regular business of his profession, Major Moderwell is considering extended relations in the cattle interest of the Indian Territory, and real estate in Kansas. He is President of the "Geneseo Cattle Company," and he bears the same relation to the "Eagle Chief Pool," one of the largest cattle companies in the West. He became interested in the enterprise through the advice of his physician, who recommended his passing as much time as possible in the open air; and in order to adapt business to the enforced change of base, he entered into the relations named. He was married in Fairmont, W. Va., March 22, 1866, to Fannie R., daughter of Thomas Watson, a prominent Southern planter. She was born in Monongalia Co., Va., a portion of territory now included in West Virginia. After 17 years of cloudless union in the affairs of their married life, the husband and wife were severed by death. The latter passed to the mysteries of the land of unbroken silence in October, 1883. Three daughters and a son mourn their irreparable loss, and in their lives of promise preserved the wholesomeness of her influence and training, and in them "she still lives." [Source: Pages 224-226, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, IL, Originally published 1885; Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by Denise McLoughlin]
PHILIP OTT, a resident at Geneseo, has been an inhabitant of Illinois since 1837, and of Henry County since 1854. He was born in Alsace, then a province of France, May 5, 1818. He native State is now attached to Germany. He is the son of Jacob and Magdalena (Urban) Ott, and they were also natives of Alsace. The family came to America in 1832. The first settlement was made in Warren Co., Pa., and they remained there until 1837, when they located in Cook Co., Ill.
In 1843 the son, who is the subject of this personal narration, returned to Pennsylvania, and was there married, on the 2d day of April of that year, to Elizabeth Hirtzel. She is the daughter of Philip Hirtzel, and was born in Alsace. She came to the United States with her parents in her childhood. Immediately after their marriage they came to Cook Co., Ill., and there Mr. Ott was engaged in farming until 1854, when he made a permanent removal to Henry County. He had previously secured a tract of land in the township of Yorktown, and he was its owner and occupant until his removal to Geneseo in 1869. He farm in Yorktown originally contained 300 acres. On coming to Geneseo he interested himself in the business of a miller, and on giving up his interests in that direction he removed the machinery and rents the building for agricultural warerooms. In addition to his other business, in 1876 he began to operate to some exent as a dealer in real estate in Kansas, and has met with success in that line of traffic. He still has interests there in the same direction.
To him and his wife six sons and one daughter have been born: Philip E., married Sarah Somers, and they live in Edwards Co., Kan.; Syvanus married Julia Donnenfelser; they are residents of Topeka, in the State last mentioned; he is a very successful operator in real estate; Aaron H. married Elizabeth Smith, and they live in Kinsley, Kan.; Augustus married Mercy Hathaway; he is a citizen of Offerle, Kan.; L. Eli is unmarried and lives at Highland Park, Lake Co., Ill.; Sarah O. and Jacob Benjamin are the youngest. The oldest son was a soldier in the military service of the United States during the entire course of the Civil War. He enlisted in 1861 when he was 16 years of age in the 9th Ill. Vol. Cav.
Mr. Ott has discharged the duties of his citizenship in the offices of Supervisor, Assessor, Collector and Justice of the Peace for many years in Yorktown. With his wife, he is a member of the Evangilical Association of North America.
Related Links: (off site link) "An Ott Story..." (submitted by Becky Jones: "This (article) has to do with the father of Phillip Ott") [Source: Pages 328-29, PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF HENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS; Originally published 1885; Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
Levi Pillsbury, general farmer and stock-raiser, residing on section 8, Andover Township, was born in Parishville, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., March 22, 1823. His father, Caleb Pillsbury, was a farmer and died about 1838, in Lynn Grove, Lynn Township, where he was the owner of a small farm. Levi's mother died in the same township, in 1862.
Mr. Pillsbury, the subject of this notice, resided in the county of his nativity until he attained the age of 15 years, when he came West with his parents. At that early day, 1836, there were but three families who could be counted their neighbors; on the east of them it was many miles to the residence of any white family. Two years after the death of his father, he commenced to learn the carpenter's trade, which he followed for a number of years. In 1841, he made his first purchase of land, of 80 acres on section 18, Andover Township, of his uncle, Rev. I. Pillsbury. He afterwards conducted this farm on a large scale, and he now owns 240 acres, besides ten acres of timber, and six village lots. He formerly was the proprietor of a much larger area of land, but he has given considerably to his sons. Politically, he is a good Democrat. [Source: Page 341, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, IL; Originally published 1885; Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by Denise McLoughlin]
Conrad Seyller is a prosperous farmer of Yorktown Township, and is a resident on section 16. He was born in the province of Alsace in France, Nov. 19, 1840. His parents, George and Catherine Seyller, were both natives of that province, which is now in the hands of the Germans. The son was sent to school, and after arriving at suitable age operated as an assistant on his father's farm. The whole family came to America in 1855. They were 28 days in crossing the ocean and landed at the port of New York. They came thence to Illinois and made a stay of some months at Naperville. In February they came to Henry County. They determined to locate in the township where the son is still resident and where the father proceeded to buy a farm on section 17. At the time of the purchase the place was in its natural condition and without a house to shelter the family. The small house, 16x16 feet in extent, was constructed with all possible dispatch, which formed the family abode for only a few years, as their circumstances improved with such rapidity that in a short time a good frame house replaced that of the first days. The father was the occupant of the farm on which he first tasted the sweets of being a land-holder until the death of his wife. He then sold the farm and removed to Peru, in LaSalle County, where he still resides.
Mr. Seyller was an inmate of the parental home until he reached his majority. He then bought 160 acres on sections 9 and 8 in the same township, and proceeded with the work of farming n his own behalf. He was successful in his plans and operations, and in 1875 sold the place and bought 320 acres on sections 10 and 11. In 1885 he made a further purchase of 80 acres on section 3 in Yorktown Township, and is now the proprietor of 400 acres in the best possible farming condition.
In 1861 Mr. Seyller was married to Josephine Clementz. She was born in the province of Alsace. Their children are seven in number, and are named Augustus, Josephine, William, Matilda, Hattie, Edward and Mary. [Source: Pages: 605-606, Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, IL; Originally published 1885; Biographical Pub. Co. Chicago, Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
John Sieben, of the township of Loraine, is the oldest son of Joseph and Apollonia (Gabel) Sieben, and was born in the village of Abenheim, in Hesse Darmstead, Germany, near the city of Worms, in the province of Osthofen. The date of his birth is June 16, 1836. At the age of six he was sent to school and continued there according to law until he was 14. He then went to the city of Mainz to learn the trade of a shoemaker. He found everything distasteful, and after a few days returned to his home. His father had been in comfortable circumstances, but about this time had lost his property by becoming security for others, and the family began to make preparations to come to America. August 8, 1852, they started from Mainz on a steamboat on the river Rhine, and went thence to Rotterdam, whence they proceeded to London. They took passage on a sailing vessel for the United States, arriving in New York after a voyage of 48 days. They were 48 days in making the trip from Mainz to the port where they landed on the shores of the American Continent. The family came direct to Chicago, where the mother was taken ill and they were obliged to remain in the Garden City. She died in the January following.
In February, 1853, the father, with six of his seven motherless children, came to Whiteside County and located on the Rock river bottom, near Crandall's Ferry. They were in debt $175. They rented a farm and took possession of a vacant cabin, and as it was in a rather dilapidated condition, they made it comfortable by chinking it with mud. The father obtained work, for which he received 50 cents a day, and two of the sons went to work for the sums of 30 and 25 cents respectively. They had to board themselves. In 1856 the log house was burned. The mishap occurred in the day-time when all the family were absent but the step-mother. The entire contents were destroyed. They then moved into another house, which they rented. The second marriage of the father took place in 1856. He was a resident of Whiteside County until his death, which transpired in 1858.
Mr. Sieben was 16 when he came to this country with his parents. He commenced work in Whiteside County, at the rate of 30 cents a day and boarded himself, but as he learned the ways and language of this country he was able to command larger pay. In the summer of 1853 he was employed by Lyman Warren at $8 per month, and in the winter succeeding he went to school, working for his board in the family of Mr. Warren. He was in the same employ during the next season and he received $10 a month. The next year Mr. Warren paid him $12 per month. The next year he worked for his father, who had rented a farm in Portland Township. The next year he was employed by Jacob Arnett and received $16 per month. He continued in the same employ for two seasons. Believing that he could operate to his own advantage on a farm, he rented a tract of land of Lewis Arnett, Sr. which he managed two years, working it on shares. Through the season of 1862 he broke prairie. The next year he worked for William Arnett, and at the termination of his term of service rented a farm of his employer. He continued its management one year and then went to Whiteside County, where he rented a farm for three years of Jacob Arnett. During that time he bought 65 acres of land on section 3, in the township of Loraine, and he took possession of his property in 1868. He was the occupant of the place two years. In January, 1869, he bought the farm on which he has pursued the business which he selected as the vocation of his life. It is located on the same section of the same township. At the time he made his purchase there was a house on the place, to which he has made an addition and has built a good frame barn. His industry and good management have met the usual reward, and he is at present the owner of 315 acres of land, which is in first-class condition for farming purposes. In addition to the usual avenues of mixed husbandry, Mr. Sieben in engaged in the business of a dairyman and sells the cream product to the creameries.
Nov. 8, 1864, his marriage to Louisa, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Rapp, was consummated. Albert Wesley, Hattie Martha, Sarah Louvina, Clara Pricilla, George Henry and Floyd Jerome are the names of the children now belonging to the household. The parents are members of the German Evangelical Church. [Source: Page(s): 592-93, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois; Originally published 1885; Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, IL; Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
A. F. Shattuck is a farmer residing on section 15, Clover Township, and was born in Ohio, April 26, 1830. the parents of Mr. Shattuck, Samuel and Mary (Foutz) Shattuck, were natives of Massachusetts and Virginia respectively, and his father followed the occupation of a farmer, which vocation he continued until his death in 1877, his wife having preceded him to the realm of the unknown 26 years before, in 1851. A. F. Shattuck, of whom we write, was an inmate of his parent's family until he attained the age of 21 years, having received an education in the common schools, and assisted his father on the farm until the period in his life's history.
On becoming his "own man" Mr. Shattuck left the parental roof-tree and went forth upon the sea of life to battle against adversity and secure a competency. After leaving home he rented a farm in Ohio, which he cultivate for two years. He then came to Knox County, this State, and rented a farm in Sparta Township, which he cultivated for ten years. At the expiration of that time he purchased a farm in Clover Township, this county, consisting of 96 acres, located on section 15. He moved on his land and at once entered actively and energetically upon the task of its cultivation and improvement. He has since added 80 acres on section 16 to his original purchase, and is at present the proprietor of 176 acres. Mr. Shattuck has continued to reside on his farm on section 15 ever since he first settled there, and has improved the place by the erection of a fine residence, good barn, and the setting out of trees, etc.; and the condition that his farm presents today is truly indicative of good management and energetic labor.
Mr. Shattuck and Miss Nancy Woolums were untied in marriage in 1852. She was a native of Ohio, and their union has been blessed by the birth of four children: John, Mary J., Sarah C. and Hattie A. John formed a matrimonial alliance with Rachel Petta; Mary J. was married to S. W. Bowen, and Sarah C. became the wife of G. H. McQueen.
Politically, Mr. S. espouses the principles of the Republican party, with which he always casts his vote. Religiously, he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which denomination he is a Deacon. He has held the office of Supervisor two terms, and at present is Road commissioner of his district. [Source: Pages 280-281, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry Co., Illinois; Originally published 1885; Biographical Publishing Company, Chicago, IL; Transcribed by Denise McLoughlin]
Fred Stahl is a farmer on section 13, Munson Township, and is engaged in the management of 144 acres of valuable land. He is a native of Germany, and was born in the Province of Holstein, Jan. 17, 1842. He attended the schools of his native country as long as the law prescribed, and at 16 he went to work on a farm. He continued in that employ until he came to America.
In 1867 he set out for a land which he had reason to believe afforded a chance for a poor man to secure the privileges which he believed were the inherent right of every man, and he landed at Quebec, in the Dominion of Canada. After a stay of two days he left that city for Chicago. Arriving there, he made no stop, but at once set out from there for Henry County. He found a cousin - Charles Stahl - with whom he remained a short time. He speedily obtained work, and he operated as a farm assistant until 1869.
In that year he was married to Minnie Peterson. She is a native of Sweden, and was born Feb. 1, 1841. As soon as he was married Mr. Stahl rented land and conducted his affairs after that method two years. In 1871 he bought a farm on section 13. There was a house on the place, which he has rebuilt, and he has also erected a good frame barn, having a stone basement. Mr. Stahl is interested in raising stock and grain.
He and his wife are the parents of four children, named Emil, Jennie, Nellie and Mabel.
[Source: Page: 552, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
David Strohecker, of the township of Cambridge, is a resident on section 2. He was born Nov. 2, 1802, in Berks Co., Pa. His parents, Daniel and Leah (Garber) Strohecker, were natives of the same county and there passed nearly the entire extent of their lives. They died in Northumberland Co., Pa. They were the parents of 12 children. The family descent is of German origin. The paternal grandfather, Daniel Strohecker, was born in that country, and when he came to the United States he settled in Pennsylvania. His son, John Strohecker, was one of the soldiers of the Revolution. The latter was a brick-layer by trade and in t later life he was interested in farming. He married in Pennsylvania and there reared a family of eight children. He never removed from the State. His son, Daniel Strohecker, married Leah Garber, who was a native of the Keystone State. Her father, John Garber, was born in the same State and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He, too, afterwards became a farmer. Father and mother both died in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Strohecker grew to manhood in the state where he was born and passed forty years of active life as a brick-layer. In April, 1865, he came to Henry County, and at first bought 80 acres of land in the township of Cambridge. Soon after he bought another like amount of land and the estate now includes 166 acres in the best possible condition for prosperous farming. The estate is the accumulation of the proprietor in his own unaided strength and perseverance. He has passed most of his life in hard labor. In his political connection and views he is a Republican.
He formed a matrimonial alliance with Sarah Hummel, May 14, 1824. She was born in Berks Co., Pa., and the name of her father was John Hummell. The issue of their marriage was eight children. Dr. George W., is deceased. Sevilla S. married a man named Zimmerman. Benavel, John, Catherine L.(deceased), Mrs. Mary Thompson and Henry C. are the names that complete the list. The last named was a soldier in the Civil War, where he lost his life, in the Army of the Cumberland. Reuben still resides with his parents. He was married in Pennsylvania to Hannah Hime. Her father was a native of Pennsylvania and was of German extraction. The young people have three children, named Henry Calvin, Mrs. Johanna Steckhouse and Laura E. [page 631, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry Co., IL 1885; Contributed by Jan Roggy]
Peter Weaver, owning 320 acres of land on section 32, Weller Township, where he resides, is a native of Germany, having been born in that country Sept. 7, 1829. Mr. Weaver was but two years of age when he came to the United States in company with his parents. They settled in Brown Co., Ohio, where the subject of this sketch passed 24 years of his life. He came to this county at the expiration of that time, and settled in Weller Township, where he has continued to reside, following the occupation of a farmer, and meeting with success in that vocation until the present time. Mr. Weaver is the proprietor of 320 acres of land in this county, and 40 in Knox County. He has erected a fine residence on his farm, together with a good barn and substantial outbuildings, and his place presents the appearance of thrift, and is indicative of what laborious toil, coupled with good judgment and energetic effort, can produce.
Mr. Weaver was united in marriage in Brown Co., Ohio, Nov. 7, 1850, with Miss *Mary A. Mefford, a native of Brown County, where she was born, April 24, 1831. The issue of their union has been five children, namely: Lucinda W., Charles E., Henry L., George D. and Frank R.
Mr. Weaver has held the office of Road Commissioner, School Director and School Trustee. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic Order, and politically he is identified with the Democratic party.
The parents of Mr. Weaver, Lewis and Mary Weaver, are both deceased, their demise having occurred when the subject of this sketch was quite young. On the death of his parents Peter was "bound out," from the age of 15 until he attained his majority, to a farmer, and was therefore brought up in the farmer's vocation. The parents of Mrs. Weaver, wife of the subject of this biographical notice, Henry and Elizabeth (Nickerson) *Mifford, died in Brown Co., Ohio.
(Note: * = this surname is spelled two different ways in the biography - Mifford/Mefford) [Source: Pages 415-416, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
WILLIAM LILLEY, who has been for more than four decades a factor in the development of Henry County, has resided in Kewanee Township since 1843 - the year in which he became a citizen of the State of Illinois. He was born in the parish of Oldham near Manchester, England, Jan. 22, 1817. William Lilley, his father, was a woolen manufacturer in his native land, and married there, about the year 1810. Betsey Lilley, his wife, was connected with several well-known families of wealth and standing in England.
William Lilley, Sr., sailed for the American Continent with his wife and three children, July 11, 1818, in the "Susannah," of London, from Liverpool. A landing at St. John, N. B., was effected, and the family removed thence to Boston, where they arrived September 8, following. After a short residence in Massachusetts, Mr. Lillie (Note: this is the spelling in the bio, not a typo) became one of a stock company who built the first cotton mill in that State, at Andover. He was one of the managers of the establishment until his removal to Sherbrooke, L. C., where he and his wife died. He was born Feb. 7, 1786, and his demise occurred Oct. 1, 1829, and died Nov. 18, 1832. Their children were: Mary, Ralph, Sarah, William, Charles, John and George; William and Charles are the only survivors. The latter is a resident of Lowell, Mass., and is a mechanic and manufacturer of repute and prominence.
William Lilley, the subject of this narration, was reared in Massachusetts, and went to Canada about 1822 with his parents. After the death of his mother, which occurred three years after the death of his father, he returned to the Bay State and located at Lowell. He passed ten years as an employee in the cotton mills in that place. The crowded condition of all avenues of business in the East seemed to precluded all possibility of his getting on in the world according to his ambitions, and he investigated the rumors of the possibilities afforded by the opening West.
In 1843 he came to Henry County, and after prospecting until she was satisfied of the comparative feasibility of various sections, he decided to locate in Kewanee Township. He selected a quarter of section 26, on which he located and began life in earnest. He engaged in the improvement of his property, and as his circumstances improved accordingly, he rapidly took position among the prosperous and prominent agriculturists of the country. His present possessions tell the story of his methods and habits. He is the owner of nearly 400 acres of excellent land in Henry County, and his children hold among them about four times that acreage. He has about 100 head of horses and colts, and 20 head of cattle. He sends to market annually about 150 hogs. The rearing of horses has been made a specialty by Mr. Lilley, and his stables exhibit a fine and valuable collection of thoroughbred English Draft animals. In this business he has acquired an extended reputation, and his name is inseparably connected with the development and progress of the county.
Mr. Lilley was united in marriage, Nov. 1, 1843, to Harriet Huntly. They had six children: Helen, Mrs. Gilbert Morton, of Shenandoah, Iowa, was born Jan. 6, 1845; George born Feb. 7, 1850, is a resident of Brookings, D. T., here he is the President of the Dakota Agricultural College; John, born Feb. 8, 1852, is a resident of Iowa; Charles, born Aug. 4, 1854, lives with his father; Laura, born Feb. 8, 1855, died Feb. 28, 1868. Mrs. Lil`ey was born Feb. 28, 1821, in Stanstead, Canada. Her ancestors came to America in the Mayflower, and the most noted child of New England birth, Peregrine White, was her great-grandfather in the maternal line. She died at her home in Kewanee Township, Sept. 24, 1881, after a brief illness.
Mr. Lilley adds another name to the long and honorable list in Henry County who give substantial evidence of the value of industry, perseverance, thrift and good sense when applied to the resources of a section of country which require only intelligent, persistent effort and judgement to yield returns that amply fill the measure of a man's desires and prove the quality of his abilities. [Source: Pages 692-693, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
JAMES MASCALL, resident at Cambridge, is a pioneer of Henry County of 1838. He was born Jan. 29, 1814, in East Kent, England, and is the son of John and Elizabeth (Neeves) Mascall. His parents came to America with their surviving children in 1830. A fuller account of them is given in connection with the sketch of Richard Mascall, which appears elsewhere in this volume. The family lived in Litchfield, Bradford Co., Pa. eight years, when they came to Illinois, and after a short stay in Stark County, in June, 1838, they came to Henry County. The first business outside of his farming (and this was 18 years after coming to Henry County) in which Mr. Mascall was engaged was the sale of groceries and provisions at Cambridge, and in the spring of 1838 he bought 160 acres of land on section 15, in Cambridge Township. This was the beginning of his transactions in real estate, and he has pursued his business schemes and relations until he is one of the solid men of Henry County. His first land entry included 80 acres, and he is now the owner of an estate of 1,300 acres in excellent agricultural condition. The first few years were full of struggle. He realized small proceeds from his crops and at the time he was ready to settle in life, in 1848, he was the possessor of a cash capital of about $40, with which to fit his home for living purposes and to pay his taxes.
He was married April 4, 1848, in Cambridge, to Mary A. Lilly. She was born Aug.1, 1827, in Oneida Co., N. Y., and is the daughter of Carlo H. And Wealthy (Ladd) Lilly. Her paternal grandfather was named Norman Lilly, and was a native of New England, Her mother was the daughter of Jeremiah and Mary (Franks) Ladd, the former a native of England, Carlo Lilly and his wife were born in the State of New York, where the father died, and the mother died in the township of Andover, Henry Co., Ill., whither she came in June, 1848. They had eight children. The children of Mr. And Mrs. Mascall are six in number: John R., Mrs. Sallie J. Walline, Daniel S., Mrs. Anna Perkins, Mrs. Mary Melby and Emma L.
The business career of Mr. Mascall is one of marked interest, from the fact that he has for years labored under the most disheartening circumstances, such as would have relegated most men to oblivion and life-long poverty. Since 1856 he has not experienced a day of firm, wound health. In the first days of that year he sprained his knee and he has suffered from unremitting lameness since that date, 30 years ago, and much of the time he has been compelled to use crutches. Notwithstanding his infirmity, he never allowed his large and increasing business relations to grow less or be interrupted. In April, 1863, he incidentally pricked his right hand with a needle, and although the injury was seemingly very slight, the puncture not being deep enough to draw blood, the hand became permanently lame. In 1882, his other hand became lame. The crowning affliction which overtook Mr. Mascall was the loss of his eyesight, which occurred in 1878, as then a cataract commenced on the right eye. He can now discern daylight, but, since 1879 has been wholly unable to read or use his eyes in business.
He is now a member of the mercantile firm of Mascall, Walline & Co., dry goods and groceries. He has been in the mercantile business for 28 years, and also heavily engaged in buying and selling stock and grain for about five years since he came to Cambridge. [Source: Pages 558-561, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
RICHARD MASCALL, whose name has been for more than 40 years connected with Henry County as a factor in its business development, came hither in 1840. At that time, this section of Illinois was in its primitive condition, awaiting the application of the forces needed to open its resources. The energy and perseverance brought here by Mr. Mascall were of the right stamp to win success, and in consequence he is the owner of nearly 900 acres of land in the country besides his property in the village of Cambridge. He also owns 1,280 acres in Wilkins Co., Minn., and a quarter-section in Adams Co., Neb. The accumulations of Mr. Mascall are the fruit of judicious business principles and unwavering integrity.
He was born Feb. 1, 1812, 50 miles east of the city of London, in East Kent, England, of which shire his parents, John and Elizabeth (Neeves) Mascall, were both natives. His mother bore 24 children. She was married twice, Mr. Mascall's father being her second husband, and all the children born of her first marriage died in early life. Only five of her children reached mature life. Of this number John, Mrs. Biddie Hopper and Mrs. Mary A. Thurston are deceased. Richard and James, third and fourth in order of birth, are the sole survivors. The family came to the United States in 1830 and located in Litchfield, Bradford Co., Pa. He was there married June 14, 1832, to Abigail Elston. She was born June 22, 1814, in Bradford Co., Pa, and died April 8, 1873, after having become the mother of six children: Ransford P. Deceased; Annie, wife of Spaukling Cody; John H. And Moses, deceased; Martha M. (Mrs. M. Bristol); and James P. Mr. Mascall contacted a second matrimonial alliance, with Mary J., daughter of Squire Wm. G. Heaps, of Annawan Township. Her mother's maiden name was Hester Green, and she was born in Lancaster Co., Pa., and died in Annawan Township April 12, 1885, aged 69. The family came to Adams Co., Ill., in 1842, where Mrs. Mascall was born May 28, 1846. Her marriage was celebrated Aug. 18, 1874. She is one of 11 children born to her parents, of whom nine are living. Her father is a citizen of Annawan Township.
Mr. Mascall is a representative of a class of men who made their generation distinguished for enterprise and achievement. Their natural ambition to get on in the world, coupled with the rumored resources of the undeveloped Western country, served as an incentive to test the untried fields which fancy painted, lying in broad beauty is the then trackless West. Poor in purse but rich in the qualities which are the equipment of the genuine pioneer, Mr. Mascall turned his energies to good account in the labor of farmer in his native country and in Litchfield, Pa., until about the date of his first marriage, and after that event he conducted a saw-mill in Bradford Co., Pa., until 1836. In that year he yielded to the pressure, partly of ambition, partly of desire to judge for himself of the value of the promises of the prairied section of this, his country, and, accompanied by his brother James, he started for what was then the border of civilization. They traveled in pioneer style, in accordance with their circumstances and frugal habits, journeying overland 140 miles to Olean Point, on the Allegheny River in the State of New York. Here he bought a quantity of dry lumber, for which he paid $10, and secured assistance to build a "float," otherwise termed a raft. On this craft the party embarked. The number included Mr. Mascall, his wife and two oldest children, James Mascall, William Stackhouse and another man whose name is now unknown, Jesse Elston, wife and two children, and Spencer Elston. The Elstons came only to the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to its load of humanity, the raft transported the household belongings of the families. The journey to Pittsburg, Pa., was of six days' duration, and formed an episode which will live forever in the remembrances of those who felt that it was a challenge to fate and fortune, and they watched the tide which bore them away from accustomed scenes with varied emotions. At Pittsburg, Mr. Mascall sold the raft for $40. The party took passage on a steamer at that city which was to carry them to Peoria, Ill., via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
They arrived at their destination at the end of three weeks. Mr. Mascall was seized by illness at Peoria, which proved of a lingering character, but in the latter part of August he went to Wyoming, Stark County, where he rented a farm of J. W. Agard, on which he was resident until the spring of 1837. At that date he rented a farm, which was the property of Francis Grady, situated one mile south of Toulon. After his engagement expired, at the end of two years, he re-rented property of Mr. Agard.
His father made an entry of 40 acres of land, and informed him that he (the father) would give him (the son) ten acres. Mr. Mascall relates that, though he now counts his acres by the hundreds, he has seen no moment so completely filled with content as that in which he learned that he was to become the owner of ten acres of land! On his taking possession, his father deeded him 25 acres, and he asserts that he would not then change places with royalty itself. He had won the highest privilege a man can possess, - a claim on God's fair heritage to man.
In the spring of 1841, he came with his family to Henry County, and located on a farm of 25 acres in the eastern part of the township of Cambridge. He there made a success of agricultural pursuits until 1850, when he removed his family to Bishop Hill, where he operated as a buyer of grain and trader in behalf of the Swedish colony at that place. He remained there a year, and during that time performed services in the interests of the foreigners of incalculable advantage to them. He superintended the American laborers employed by the colonists, and exerted himself in protecting their property and their lives from mob violence. They were the objects of frenzied fury, and the most strenuous efforts were made by the land sharks to expel them from their estates. The time when the exertions of Mr. Mascall were most effective, was at the period of the struggle for social and religious liberty in the Swedish colony, which is treated with graphic power in another portion of this work. The murder of Mr. Jansen left the Swedes practically without a leader, and they placed implicit reliance on the honor and advice of Mr. Mascall. He advised that they enter a quarter-section of land, on which extensive improvements had been made, and which was the especial object of the greed of the land-sharks. They sent him to the land office at Dixon to negotiate in their interests, and he found that the tract had been entered on a land warrant. He protested, on the ground that it h ad been settled and was under cultivation, and he deposited the Government price of $200, and urged a request that the warrant be removed, which was afterwards done. To Mr. Mascall and to John Piatt, Sr., who espoused the cause of the worthy foreigners, the Swedes owe the preservation of their land claims, and, no doubt, in some instances their lives, as lynching and extermination were frequently threatened.
The pioneer experiences of Mr. Mascall present a history full of interesting novelty, even though such would seem to gather a monotony through frequent repetition. He once took his fattened hogs to Peoria, where he sold them for a dollar each, and often drew his grain and pork to Chicago, when he slept on the ground from utter inability to secure the shelter of the hotels, his small returns from his yearly labors necessitating absolutely no expenditure while on his trips! The generation of today would faint in view of such privations and hardships. Verily, the pioneers are worth all admiration, honor and respect. They are the truly great, who proved their title to the soil they came to till and to secure as a heritage for their posterity. Mr. Mascall, now in the evening of life, can look back with retrospective satisfaction on the course he has pursued.
In 1851, Mr. Mascall returned to the management of his farm in Cambridge where he continued to operate until his removal to the village of Cambridge, which took place in December, 1873. He had spent a year previously at that place, associated with his brother, James Mascall, in a mercantile enterprise. Since fixing his permanent abode there, he has been connected with its active business prosperity and development. In November, 1881, on the organization of the Farmers' National Bank, he was made its President, and still (1885) continues its chief official. In political connection, Mr. Mascall is a Democrat, and he exerted the energies which have characterized his whole life in the success of the late Presidential campaign. In 1857, he was elected Supervisor of Cambridge Township, and was the first to occupy that official position after the organization of the township. He was subsequently reelected in 1858, 1860, 1863, 1869 and 1875.
During the struggle for the removal of the county seat from Cambridge to Geneseo, in 1877-78, he took an active part in behalf of the opposition to the movement. He was made a member of the committee constituted to visit Springfield, where he was influential in the defeat of the project. While Supervisor, he was a member of the Poor-house and County Building Committee, and was Overseer of the Poor under the county organization for several years. He has always been prominent in his interest and efforts in the diffusion of general education, and has acted 21 years as School Director in School District No. 1, of East Cambridge. In religious opinions, Mr. Mascall does not endorse the tenets of any denominational organization, but believes in the fundamental principles which underlie the system of Christianity.
The appreciative regard in which Mr. Mascall is held by the people of Cambridge, is evidenced by the cognomen "Uncle Dick," which is familiar to the lips of every man, woman, and child within the scope of his acquaintance. The addition of his portrait to the collated annals of Henry County will be warmly welcomed, inasmuch as it ensures a permanent shadow of a presence long familiar to travelers on the thoroughfares of the municipality of which he has been so faithful and disinterested a friend. He is a representative of a class of foreign-born citizens who bring the thrift and energy which are their only heritage in their native land to this country with its great possibilities, and accomplish the best results in their application under the influences of the institutions of America. [Source: Pages 289-292, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
HENRY G. GRIFFIN - The gentleman of whom this personal sketch is written, is one of the earliest pioneers to this section of Illinois, and is a prominent and well-to-do farmer, residing on section 2, Andover Township. Although living on the old home farm, he has retired from the active labors of farm life. He was born in Stockbridge, Mass., July 19, 1819. His father, John Griffin, was a son of a New England farmer by the name of Samuel Griffin, who came to Massachusetts prior to his marriage. There he married a lady by the name of Nahusta Caldwell. She was born of New England parents, who were of Welsh and New England descent. The great-grandfather o four subject, William Griffin, came from Wales and made a settlement in connecticut, and was the progenitor in America of the present large family of Griffins who are scattered throughout the United States. He was married, lived and died in Connecticut. The grandfather and grandmother of Henry G. were both reared and lived to an advanced age in Massachusetts. Like their parents, they were farmers.
HENRY G. GRIFFIN
The father of our subject lived at his home in Massachusetts until 18 years of age, when he went to New York State, where he was apprenticed to learn the carpenter and joiner's trade. During his service here he was drafted into the War of 1812, which he served as a private. After his discharge at the close of the war , he returned to his work. He subsequently suffered from ill health and returned to Massachusetts. While in New York, however, he was married and reared a family of eight children, our subject being the eldest but one.
Mr. Griffin, the subject of this narrative, was educated in the public schools, and made his home with his parents until he was 18 years of age. He then left the parental roof, all his friends, and everything that was near and dear to him, and came alone to then wild prairies of Illinois. This was in 1837. He arrived in Mercer County, and located 160 acres of wild land, which is now in Greene Township. Upon this he subsequently built a house and made other improvements. These years later he was married at what is now Viola, in that county. This event occurred on the 4th of August, 1840, and Miss Isabella,, daughter of Alexander and Rebecca (Torrence) McGaughey, was the lady chosen for his wife. Mr. McGaughey was a wagon-maker and also a farmer, and as well as his wife, was a native of Adams Co., Pa., where they were married. Shortly after their union they came to Mercer Co., Pa., and it was at New Bedford, that county, that Mrs. Griffin was born. She was only ten years of age when her parents died. After this sad event she went to Coitsville, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and lived with her sister, Mrs. Agnes Stewart. In 1839, the family came West and settled on a farm where Viola, Ill., now stands. It was here that the sturdy young man from Massachusetts met Miss McGaughey, and a year after her arrival they were married.
To Mr. and Mrs. Griffin have been born nine children, four of whom are deceased: John A. married Mary Payne and lives at Danville, Ill.; Mary A. lives at Mira, Dakota, upon a farm, and is the wife of J. M. Merrill; Rebecca A. is the wife of Rufus Anderson, of Cambridge; Julia A. resides at home; Sarah A. is the wife of C. K. Fillmore, of Tiffin, Iowa. Those deceased are William A., Gilbert A., French B. and James M. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Griffin lived in Mercer County for four years, when they moved into Warren County, near Little York, where they settled on a rented farm. For two years they remained there, when, in the spring of 1846, they moved into this county, locating on a farm in Cambridge Township. Three years later, he purchased a farm of 160 acres near the city of Cambridge. In 1851 he sold this and purchased 200 acres where he now lives. At that time it was in a wild, unimproved condition, but since then he has brought it into a high state of cultivation. He sold 100 acres of this and purchased an 80-acre tract adjoining. He also purchased 40 acres, which he generously gave Augustus E. Anderson, a young Swede who lived with him, and of whom a sketch and portrait are given elsewhere in this album. Mr. Griffin is one of the progressive, enterprising and intelligent farmers of Henry County, and is highly esteemed by all his neighbors. He has served as Justice of the Peace for 16 years, and is now representing his township in the Board of Supervisors, which he has done for nine years. He has also served as County School Commissioner for two years. Politically, he is a true Republican. The family are members of the Congregational Church, of which Mr. G. has been a Deacon for 34 years consecutively. Mr. Griffin's eldest son, John A., who is now a minister of the Congregational Church at Danville, enlisted at the first call for troops to defend our flag, joining Co. D, 17th Ill. Inf. He served five years and was promoted from the rank of Sergeant to that of Second Lieutenant. At the close of his first enlistment he re-enlisted, and was retained for one year after the close of the war. At Pittsburg Landing he was wounded in the left side.
After his son had been out a little more than a year, Mr. Griffin himself enlisted, Aug. 11, 1862, in Co. D, 112th Ill. Vol. Inf. He served for three years, and during the time was taken prisoner, Nov, 18, 1863, in action, at Knoxville, Tenn. He was sent to Libby prison in December following, where he lay and suffered until May 17 of the next year, when he was transferred as a prisoner of war and kept in the stockade at Macon, Ga., until Aug. 24, 1864. Then he was confined in the jail-yard at Charleston, S. C., until Oct. 6. He was then taken to Columbia, and again, Feb. 12, 1865, transferred to Charlotte, N.C., and then to Raliegh, and afterward to Goldsboro, where he was paroled Feb. 28, 1865, and was marched to the Union line and joined his own company the same day. He wass honorably discharged at Chicago, July 7, 1865, after serving his country faithfully and suffering as a good soldier. As one of the representative men of Henry County, we take pleasure in giving the portrait of Mr. Griffin upon the page opposite the beginning of this sketch. [Source: Pages 337-339, Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois, Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin]
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