BIOGRAPHIES published in
the "Biographical Record of Kane County, Illinois"
Originally printed by the S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1898
All biographies submitted by K. Torp
SIDNEY U. SPENCER, now living a retired life in the city of Aurora, but who for many years was engaged in farming and dairying, is numbered among the old settlers of 1844. He was born in Wyoming county, New York, January 5, 1825. His father, Chauncey Spencer, was born and reared in Vermont, and when a young man settled near Genesse Falls, Wyoming county, New York, and there married Milly Smith. Both the Spencer and Smith families were early settlers of Wyoming county, the first of the name to settle there being the paternal grandfather, Stephen Spencer, and the maternal grandfather, Whiting Smith, both of
whom made their home in the wilderness, where they engaged in farming for many years. Chauncey Spencer improved several places in that county, but in 1844 moved with his family to Kane county, Illinois, locating in Sugar Grove township, where he engaged in farming for a few years, then moved to Plainfield, Will county, but later returned to Kane county, where his death occurred some years ago.
Sidney U. Spencer was second in order of birth, and the only survivor of a family of eight children. George married and settled in Kane county, later moved to Iowa, where his death occurred; Cornelia married Jonathan Mason, settled in Kane county, and both are now deceased; Dwight died unmarried; Henrietta married Philo Seavey, located in Kane county, and both are now deceased; Edwin also died unmarried; James married and settled in Kane county, but is now deceased; Eunice married Charles Roberts, settled in Du Page county, but both are now deceased.
The subject of this sketch in his native state received a fair common-school education, and, a young man of eighteen, came with his parents to Kane county and assisted his father in opening up a new farm. After arriving at his majority he worked by the month for some years, principally on farms. On the third of June, 1854, he married Anna M. Willis, a native of Vermont, and a daughter of John Willis, also a native of that state. She came to Kane county with her uncle, John Thompson, when a mere child and here she was reared and educated. By this union were four children, the oldest, Roscoe M., married and is a farmer of Kane county, but also owns a farm in Nebraska; Ralph, who is married, resides in Albany, Wisconsin, where he is engaged in the mercantile trade; Luella, who died at the age of eleven years, and Mabel, wife of Wilford Wyatt, a farmer of Clay county, Iowa.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs.Spencer commenced their domestic life on a farm of eighty acres near Plainfield, which he had purchased. After remaining there some twelve months he sold that place and purchased a farm of one hundred and ten acres in Sugar Grove township. He later built a large and substantial residence, barn and other outbuildings, and otherwise improved the place. He remained on that farm a number of years, then rented it to his son, and built a nice residence at Sugar Grove Station, to which the family removed. While yet residing on the farm his wife died, in 1877, and he was again married, in Sugar Grove, August 28, 1878, to Miss Julia Wilde, who was born in Sidney, Delaware county, New York, and who came to McHenry county, Illinois, when but three years of age with her parents, Robert and Eleanor M. (Vandervoort) Wilde. Her father was English by birth, and came to America when but eight years of age, and remained in New York, where he was married, until his removal to McHenry county, Illinois, in 1855. Mrs. Spencer is a woman of more than ordinary ability, and since her marriage has taken a course in metaphysics, under the direction of Dr. Charles, Mrs. Grover, Dr. Edward Arns and Mrs. Baker Eddy. After a thorough and complete course Mrs. Spencer opened an office in Aurora, and for five years was engaged in the active practice of her profession of scientific healing. She was then compelled to give up her office, and now practices in a quiet way.
Politically Mr. Spencer is a Republican, and has always taken an interest in political affairs, but not as an office-seeker. Having an interest in the cause of education, for some nine years he was a member of the school board at Sugar Grove, and of the Normal Industrial School at that place. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church in Aurora, and was one of the most active official members of that church at Sugar Grove. His residence of fifty-four years in Kane county has brought him in contact with his fellow citizens in all parts of the county, and wherever known he is greatly esteemed.
ORA L. PELTON, M. D., has been a resident of Kane county for more than a quarter of a century, and in that time has built up a practice and reputation second to no other physician. He was born in Sherman, New York, July 29, 1851, and is a son of Charles and Martha (Sparkes) Pelton, both of whom were natives of New York, and the parents of eight children: Charles J., who resides on the old homestead in Chautauqua county, New York; Amarette, wife of Alvin Seymour, of Chautauqua county; Ora L., of this sketch; Lucy, who makes her home with the Doctor; Josephine, who died at the age of ten years; William and Frank, who live in New York; and George, who lives in Chicago.
Charles Pelton, the father, was a farmer in Chautauqua county, where he died in 1890 at the age of seventy-one years. He was a member of the Baptist church, and for many years served as a deacon. His wife still survives him and is living with her son, Charles J. She is also a member of the Baptist church, and a conscientious, Christian woman.
The paternal grandfather of our subject, Rural Pelton, was a native of Oneida county, New York, and was a blacksmith by trade, which he generally followed in connection with farming. He cleared the farm on which our subject's mother yet resides. In his family were fourteen children, nearly all of whom grew to maturity. The Pelton's were originally from England. The maternal grandfather, Rev. Mr. Sparkes, was a Baptist minister, and was about sixty-five years of age at the time of his death. He also had a large family of children, of whom three sons-Nathan, Thomas and Elisha- were in the Civil war, the first two dying while in the service, the other after reaching home.
Ora L. Pelton was reared on the home farm in Chautauqua county, New York, and in the schools of the neighborhood his literary education was obtained. Later he entered the medical department of the Michigan University at Ann Arbor, from which he was graduated in the spring of 1872. In June of that year he came to Kane county and located at Elburn, where he commenced the practice of his profession. From the beginning he met with good success, and, while such was the case, he was not content to rest with the knowledge acquired. Accordingly, he entered Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York, from which he took the addendum degree in 1874. One year later, in quest of still higher knowledge in his profession, he visited Europe, took a year's course in the University of Edinburg, Scotland, and then visited a number of noted hospitals, including those of London and Paris.
On the 17th of July, 1882, the Doctor removed from Elburn to Elgin, that he might have a wider field for usefulness. His success has been equal to his most sanguine anticipations and his practice has at all times been a large and fairly profitable one. As one of the staff of surgeons in Sherman hospital he has performed some very difficult surgical operations with most gratifying success. One of his specialties is abdominal surgery, and some of his operations in that line of practice have won for him distinction. He is often called in consultation in important cases of surgery and medicine with other physicians, with whom his skill and judgment are held in high degree.
On the 7th of May, 1879, Dr. Pelton married Miss Anna L. Frary, daughter of Noble D. and Mary (Kendall) Frary, and by this union there are three children, Ora L., Mary Frary and Lura Adella, all of whom are at home. Noble Danforth Frary was a native of Massachusetts, born in 1823, and was the son of Zenas and Keziah (Pomroy) Frary, natives of South Hampton, Mass. In his native state he grew to manhood and there married Mary Kendall, who was born in Connecticut in 1824. Early in the '50s they came west, locating in Elburn, Illinois, where Mr. Frary worked at his trade of wheelwright. He was a member of the Christian church, and politically was a Republican, a thorough believer in the principles of that party. His death occurred in Elburn, October 11, 1878, his wife preceding him to their heavenly home some seven years, dying October 1, 1871. She was also a member of the Christian church. They were the parents of four children: Adella D., now the wife of J. A. Freeman, of Portland, Oregon; Ossian D., of Chicago; Herbert K., who died in childhood; and Anna Louise, wife of our subject.
Noble D. Frary was one of the "brave boys in blue" who, at their country's call, offered their services in behalf of the Union. He was a member of Company I, Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, and faithfully served until the close of the war. Returning to his home at the expiration of his term of service, he settled down to his life work as though the storms of battle had never been heard. The Frarys were among the early settlers of Elburn, where he served for many years as justice of the peace.
Dr. Pelton was thrown on his own resources early in life and has worked his way upward in his profession, aided only by his perseverance, energy and indomitable will power. He is not content with knowledge obtained in the past, but every year makes a tour, visiting the leading hospitals of the country with a view of appropriating whatever is new in the science of medicine and surgery. He is a member of the Chicago Medical Society.
Fraternally Dr. Pelton is a member of Monitor lodge, No. 117, F. & A. M., and of Bethel commandery, No. 36, K. T. At present he is surgeon for the Elgin, Carpenterville & Aurora railway, and is also a member of the staff of Sherman hospital. Politically, he is a Republican, and although his extensive practice will not permit him to give much attention to. political affairs, he takes a great interest in the success of the party, contributing of his means to that end. Socially he is a member of the. Century Club, of Elgin.
As a citizen the Doctor takes an interest in everything calculated to build up his adopted city and county. As a physician there are none in Kane county having a better reputation and his success in the treatment of disease has been remarkable. Financially he has prospered and to-day he is numbered among the well-to-do citizens of Elgin, and is a stockholder and director in the Home National Bank, a stockholder in the Home Savings Bank, and in the Elgin, Aurora & Carpentersville Electric railway, and has landed interests consisting of a fine farm in Kansas.
The home of Dr. Pelton is at No. 214 South State street, and is one of the finest and most attractive houses in Elgin, erected after plans made by himself and wife, and there, when he can get away from the arduous labors of his profession, he spends the time with his family, and they delight to entertain their many friends.
In the history of a country much is said of the warrior that goes forth to battle for his country, and it may be gives his life for its defense. The lawyer, too, is mentioned and praise is given him for the composition of its laws and their interpretation. The minister of the Gospel is praised for the efforts put forth in behalf of public and private morals, and for the salvation of the human race. Due credit is given the physician for his skill in alleviating the physical ills of man. But little, however, is said of the artisan that plans the building and erects the homes of the people. Here is where the historian is at fault and more credit should be given to the one who constructs our homes, giving man a place in which the greater part of his life has to be spent.
The subject of this sketch is one of the leading contractors and builders of Aurora. He was born in Somerset county, New Jersey, April 19, 1855, and is the son of Abraham D. and Maria V. N. (Quick) Little, both natives of Somerset county, where the father was engaged in farming until his death, which occurred May 17, 1893. The wife and mother survived him two years, dying August 20, 1896. Four generations of the Little family were born and reared on the old homestead farm in New Jersey. The great-grandfather of our subject, Robert Little, lived to the remarkable age of one hundred and one years, and participated in the Revolutionary war. His eldest son, John Little, married Johanna Dumont, by whom he had two children: Abraham D. and Samuel. Abraham D. Little, who was the father of our subject, had seven children-Garrett, of Corning, Iowa; Johanna Isabel died September 17, 1859; Sarah Jane, a resident of Jersey City, N. J.; Mary Elizabeth, of Corning, Iowa; John Newton, operating the old homestead at North Branch, New Jersey; James, and Anna Caroline, who died December 17, 1893.
Gaining an education in the public schools and afterwards learning the trade of a carpenter in his native state, under Andrew Huff, of Plainfield, New Jersey, James Little came to Fairview, Fulton county, Illinois, in 1875, where he entered into partnership with William Stines, and carried on contracting and building, under the name of Little and Stines, which was continued seven years, and the partnership was then dissolved. In 1882, Mr. Little came to Aurora, where he has since carried on his business in a very successful manner, having at times as many as twenty men in his employ. A number of the finest residences in this city were erected by him, among them the residences of Hon. John Murphy, Nick Abens, and Henry Riser.
Mr. Little was married December 27, 1877, to Rebecca Van Nostrand, of Fair View, Illinois, daughter, of Wycoff and Phebe (Eldert) Van Nostrand, formerly of Somerset county, New Jersey. By this union two children have been born, Rita and Pearl, the last named dying in November, 1897, aged eight years. Fraternally, Mr. Little is a Mason, and has passed all the degrees up to and including the thirty-second degree. He is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics he is a Republican, and though taking an active interest in political affairs, has not been an office seeker. He has held the office of chairman of the board of trustees in the Park Place Baptist church for the past ten years, of which church himself and wife are members.
H. McCHESNEY, a resident of Geneva, was for years one of the active, enterprising business men of Chicago. He was born in Troy, New York, June 23, 1825, and is the son of Joseph S. McChesney, born in the same state. His father, Samuel McChesney, was a native of the north of Ireland, who came to the United States a young man, and was one of the pioneers of the Mohawk Valley. He there married Jane Morrison, and opened up a farm in Rensselaer county, where he reared his family.
Joseph S. McChesney, the father of our subject, grew to manhood in Rensselaer county, and there married Hannah Morrison, a daughter of Rufus Morrison. They were the parents of four sons and one daughter, as follows: David H. settled in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he engaged in milling, and there died about 1891; James, a resident of Troy, New York; Hiram, of this review; Mrs. Katherine Carrier, a widow residing in Chicago; and Israel, who moved to Colorado in 1889. Joseph McChesney resided on the old homestead until his death, after which his widow made it her home until she, too, was called to a better world.
Hiram McChesney grew to manhood in his native county, and after receiving his primary education in the public schools, attended the Polytechnic at Troy, New York, from which he was graduated. He then went to work on the Erie railroad as civil engineer, and assisted in its construction for more than one year. He then went to Chicago, where he engaged in teaching for six years, and was then in the wood, coal and lumber business for several years. In 1862 he engaged in the cattle business, buying and selling cattle to the Government for the use of the army during the war. In that business he was quite successful. After the close of the war he engaged in the furniture business until 1871, when he experienced heavy loss in the great fire, having his store, house and barn burned. He rebuilt his residence, and later engaged as a detective in the Union Stock Yards at a time when there was more or less stealing of cattle and hogs. He was connected with that position until 1895, a period of more than twenty years.
Mr. McChesney has been twice married. By the first union was one child, Frances, a well-educated lady, now a successful teacher in the Englewood schools. His second union was with Miss Isabella Mackey, a native of Michigan, by whom he has one son, John Sherman, a student in the Geneva schools.
In the spring of 1883, Mr. McChesney purchased sixty-four acres of land, lying within the corporate limits of Geneva, remodeled the house, built two large barns, and otherwise improved the place, making it one of the neatest and most attractive in Geneva township. In early life, Mr. McChesney was a Whig, but since 1856 has been an avowed Republican. In 1885, he was appointed by Governor Oglesby, as a member of the board of live stock commissioners, and was twice re-appointed, serving eight years, when he was removed by Governor Altgeld. In 1885 he was elected president of the town board of Geneva, and served one term. Office holding has never been to his liking, preferring to give his time and attention to his business interests. For a full half century, he has been a resident of Illinois, the greater part of which time his home has been in Chicago. On locating in that city, its inhabitants numbered but a few thousands, and he has witnessed its growth, until it has become the second city in population and wealth in the United States, and in its development he has borne his part. Personally he is a man of good business capacity, of upright character, and is well-known in Chicago, and throughout Kane and adjoining counties.
JOHN FORREST BELL, M. D., is a popular and successful physician of Elgin, whose office is located at the corner of Raymond and National streets. He was born on the 26th of February, 1863, near Claysville, Washington county, Pennsylvania, and is a son of Thomas J. and Elizabeth J. (Dunn) Bell, also natives of the Keystone state. Of their five children, the Doctor is the only one now living. The father engaged in teaching for a number of years, but now follows farming near Claysville. Being one of the prominent and influential citizens of his community, he was called upon to serve as county commissioner for several years, and during the
Civil war was a recruiting officer, but was never in active service. Both he and his estimable wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Samuel Bell, the Doctor's paternal grandfather, was born in Ireland, and on coming to America located in Pennsylvania, where he followed farming and reared his family of seven children. He died at the ripe old age of eighty-five. The maternal grandfather, Joseph Dunn, always lived in Pennsylvania, where he died in middle life, leaving a large family. By occupation he, too, was an agriculturist.
On the home farm near Claysville Dr. Bell passed the days of his boyhood and youth, while his elementary education was obtained in the district schools of the neighborhood. Later he attended the State Normal at California, Pennsylvania, graduating at that institution in 1884. For eight years he successfully engaged in teaching, either in the graded schools or in the State Normal, and for two terms conducted a normal school of his own, preparing teachers for their profession. While thus employed the Doctor began the study of medicine, and in 1890 graduated at the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. In May of that year he opened an office in Elgin, where he has since successfully engaged in practice.
Dr. Bell was married May 20, 1891, the lady of his choice being Miss Ethel, daughter of Edward F. and Abigail (Johnson) Gooding, and to them were born two children: Vincent G., now deceased, and Doris Elizabeth. The Doctor is a member of the Congregational church, and socially is a member of the Odd Fellows society and the Knights of Pythias. Politically he is an ardent Republican, and he served as city
physician from 1891 to 1895, and is at present a member of the school board, his term extending from 1897 until 1900. He is an honored member of Fox River Valley and the American Medical Associations, and is quite prominent among his professional brethren.
Francis L. Young
FRANCIS L. YOUNG is one of the most active and enterprising business men of Kane county, of which he has been a resident for fifty-five years. He is a native of Vermont, born at Strafford, Orange county, December 1, 1828. The Youngs are of Scotch ancestry, three brothers emigrating from that country to the United States in the early part of the eighteenth century, one of whom located in Rhode Island, from whom descended the family of which our subject is a member. The paternal grandfather, Rev. Jacob Young, was a native of Rhode Island, born in 1758. He was a Universalist minister, the first of that denomination to locate in the town of Strafford. On locating there he was given a minister's grant of land in the town. He was a man of more than ordinary ability as a minister and theologian. His son, Nathan Young, was born at New Grantham, New Hampshire, in 1792. He there grew to manhood, and married Hannah Smith, a native of Vermont, and a daughter of Frederick Smith, a large landholder, and of an old family of the Green Mountain state. Nathan Young followed the mercantile business for many years, and was a very prominent man in Orange county, Vermont, serving his county as a member of the state legislature. During the war of 1812, he entered the service, and was orderly sergeant of his company. Later he was commissioned brigadier general of the state militia of Vermont, and served a number of years.
Nathan Young left his native state in 1844 and came to Kane county, Illinois, joining his son, Peleg Young, who located here some years previously. The family first located in Blackberry township, on a claim which Peleg had purchased some time previously. He at once commenced the improvement of the claim, and there resided some seven years. In 1846, however, in company with our subject, he took up a claim of one hundred and sixty acres in Kaneville township, and in 1849 built a residence and removed to the place where he spent a number of years. Later he removed to Batavia, where he lived a retired life, his wife there dying in 1866. After her death he returned to the farm, and there resided with our subject until called from this world, in 1868. Both were laid to rest in the Batavia cemetery.
The subject of this sketch was sixteen years old when he came to Kane county, and here he has since continued to reside. In March, 1857, he returned to his old home in Strafford, Vermont, and there married Miss Betty Patterson, also a native of Strafford, Vermont, and a daughter of James and Polly Patterson, and a cousin of United States Senator Morrill. After marriage he returned with his young bride to Kane county, and they began their domestic life on the farm in Kaneville township, where Mr. Young engaged in agricultural pursuits for fourteen years, and then moved to the village of Kaneville, where Mrs. Young died, in November, 1871. She was the mother of three children, one of whom died in in-fancy. Jenny Mary grew to womanhood, and married Charles L. Cary, of Geneva, Illinois; she is now deceased. Frank P. is
married and is engaged in farming in Kaneville township. After the death of his first wife, Mr. Young married her sister, Mrs. Ann Ahnis, nee Patterson, the widow of Eli Annis, by whom she has one daughter, Lou, wife of Charles D. Ames, of Kaneville township.
Politically, Mr. Young was a Whig in early life, casting his first presidential ballot for Zachary Taylor. Being a believer in the freedom of all men, and that no man had a right to hold his fellow men in bond-age, he naturally affiliated with the Republican party on its organization, and has since continued to be an advocate of its principles. He has taken quite an active part in local politics, and has held various positions of honor and trust. He was first elected overseer of highways, and, later, township assessor, clerk of the township, and justice of the peace. In 1879 he was elected county treasurer, and was re-elected at the close of his first term, and by change in the constitution he held over, serving seven consecutive years, the longest term of any man in Kane county. On retiring from that office he was again elected township clerk, and has served in that office for twenty-seven years. He also served two years as supervisor of Kaneville township, and was chairman 6f the county board, of Kane county.
Mr. Young has always been interested in all enterprises calculated to subserve the interest of his adopted county and state. He was one of the originators of the County Line Creamery, which operates two creameries, and was elected manager of the same, serving as such up to the present time. The creamery was incorporated November, 1890. He is a stockholder in the Old Second National Bank of Aurora, and has served as one of its directors for some fifteen years. Fraternally, he is a Mason, and was formerly quite active in the lodge at Kaneville, continuing his active membership in it until it ceased to exist, after its lodge room was destroyed by fire. For more than half a century his face has been a familiar one to the citizens of Kane county. He is well known throughout its length and breadth, and his friends are many in every part of the county.
SAMUEL H. LEE, one of the leading and substantial citizens of St. Charles, was born February 2, 1843, near Belfast, county Tyrone, Ireland, a son of William and Anna (Moore) Lee, who spent their en-tire lives in that county, where the father was engaged in agricultural pursuits as a life work. He died at about the age of eighty, and the mother, after surviving him three years, also passed away and now sleeps by his side in a cemetery of their native land. Our subject was the youngest of their eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, the others being as follows: William, who came to the new world and died in a hospital during his service in the Mexican war; Maggie, now the widow of John Warford, and a resident of Sycamore, Illinois; Mrs. Nancy Ann Allen, a widow residing in St. Charles; Henry, who owns and occupies the old homestead in county Tyrone, Ireland; Silas A., a retired farmer of Sycamore, Illinois; David and Isaac, both residents of New Zealand; Jennie, who died when a young lady; Vestina, who died at the age of twelve years; and a son, Who died in childhood.
During his boyhood Samuel H. Lee attended the common schools of his native land, but is mostly self-educated. In 1859 he bade adieu to home and friends and sailed for America. On reaching the shores of this country, he came at once to St. Charles, where he had a brother and two sisters living. He began life here as a farm hand, receiving ten dollars per month, and was thus employed for two years, at the end of which time he obtained a position in a paper mill at St. Charles, remaining there for sixteen years, when the plant was destroyed by fire. Going to Chicago, he then learned the blacksmith's trade, and after serving a three-years' apprenticeship, he worked in the shops of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad for five years. On his return to St. Charles he rented a farm which he operated for five years, and then bought eighteen acres near St. Charles, to which he added from time to time as his circumstances would permit until he, owned two hundred acres of valuable land. Until he had accumulated the entire amount he. rented his property, while he operated other, land, but in 1880 he removed to his own farm, which adjoins St. Charles on the north.
For a few years he continued to actively engage in farming, while his son carried on, the farm, for six years. It is one of the; best improved places, in Kane county, the land is under a high state of cultivation, and in 1896 he erected thereon a fine residence and excellent barn, both of which cost over two thousand dollars.
On the 25th of July, 1861, in St. Charles, Mr. Lee was united in marriage with Miss Jane Kirk, who was born in Scotland, and when a young lady came to the United States. They began their domestic life in the house which is now their home. To them were born two children. W. J. is married and now owns and occupies a large farm in Alabama, where he removed in the spring of 1897. He has two sons, Harris S. and Charles Lee. The only daughter, Annie, is now the wife of C. S. Pollard, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who is an engineer on the Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad. They have one daughter, Dora Lee.
Mr. Lee cast his first presidential ballot for General U. S, Grant in 1868, and has continued an earnest supporter of the men. and measures of the Republican party up to the present time, casting his last vote for William McKinley, who was born on the same day and year as our subject. In religious belief Mr. and Mrs. Lee are Congregationalists, and for several years he has served as trustee of the church. As a lad of sixteen years he came to America, and with no capital started out in a strange land to overcome the difficulties and obstacles in the path to prosperity. His youthful dreams of success have been realized, and in their happy fulfillment he sees the fitting reward of his earnest toil. Success has crowned his efforts and he enjoys a comfortable competence.
LEWIS B. JUDSON, SR.
Among those who are justly entitled to the name of pioneer is the one whose name heads this sketch, and who was a pioneer in two states, Michigan and Illinois. He was born in Westfield, Hampden county, Massachusetts, November 13, 1806, and is the son of Lucius B. and Sallie B. (Loomis) Judson, both of whom are natives of the same state. The Judson family trace their ancestry back to one of four brothers who settled in Connecticut, long prior to the Revolutionary war. The paternal grandfather of our subject, John J. Judson, was born in Huntington, Connecticut, and after serving as a soldier in the Revolutionary war, moved to Southwick, Massachusetts, where Lucius B. Judson was born. Like his father before him, he was a patriot and served in the war of 1812. By occupation he was a farmer during his early life, but later was for many years a manufacturer of gunpowder. Previous to the war of 1812 he removed to Stratford, New York, where he was residing at the outbreak of the war, from which place he enlisted. After the war he returned to Massachusetts and died in the town of Westfield about 1827. For his services in that war his widow secured a pension from the general government. She survived her husband many years, dying at the age of eighty-four years. Of their family of twelve children all grew to mature years, though but three are now living. Those yet living are Lewis B., our subject; De Lafayette, who resides in Dakota, and Dr. Don Carlos, of Omro, Wisconsin. The deceased are: George W., Isaac B., Noah Clark, Lucius C, David Wells, and Sallie S. The latter married, reared a family of four children, moved to Omro, Wisconsin, and there died.
The subject of this sketch grew to manhood in his native state, where he received a fair common-school education. When but eleven years of age he hired out to work on a farm, and was employed by different farmers until seventeen years of age, in the meantime attending school during the winter months. When seventeen years old he was engaged as a traveling salesman for a manufacturing company, and was on the road for six years. He then came west, locating at White Pigeon Prairie, Michigan, where he took up a tract of three hundred and twenty acres, which he at once began to improve, building on the place a fair frame house .and making other improvements.
On the 26th of December, 1830, Mr. Judson was united in marriage with Miss Catherine P. Mudgett, a native of New York, born July 8, 1811. By this union there were six children, three of whom are yet living, as follows: Mary J., now the wife of William H. Hills, residing in Fresno, California; Albert E., married and residing in Wellsford, Kansas, and William H. H., residing in Bessemer, Alabama, where he is engaged in editorial work and in the real-estate business. For some years he was business manager for the "Times Democrat" in New Orleans, and was chief of the printing department during the cotton exhibition held in that city.
Mr. Judson was one of the founders of White Pigeon village, Michigan, and was one of the surveyors who. made a plat of the town. While residing there the Blackhawk war commenced in Illinois, and Mr. Judson was commissioned paymaster by Governor Cass, of the regiment commanded by Colonel Stewart. They were ordered to the western part of the state, and for about twenty days were stationed in Chicago. While there he was sent out on a scouting expedition in company with some twelve or fourteen others, and came west as far as the present village of Oswego, Kendall county. Mr. Judson was so pleased with the beautiful country that he determined, if possible, to make this his home. On the arrival of General Scott at Chicago with the regular troops Colonel Stewart's regiment was disbanded, and Mr. Judson returned to his home at White Pigeon. Two years later he sold out and moved with his family to Kendall, county, Illinois, where he made claim to about six hundred acres of land, part of which is included in the present village of Oswego. He built the first house in the village and laid off a portion of his farm in town lots.
In 1840 Mrs. Catherine P. Judson departed this life, and on the 13th of March, 1843, Mr. Judson married Miss Diana E. Stafford, a native of Willoughby, Ohio, who came to Oswego, Illinois, with her parents, James B. and Roxanna (Mentor) Stafford, who were also pioneers of Kendall county. Of the eight children born of this union seven yet survive: James A., a soldier of the late war, residing in Aurora, Illinois; Julia M., wife of M. V. Bennett, a civil engineer; Ella C., wife of Martin L. Ashley, of Norwich, Kansas; Charles L., a farmer of Kane county; Lewis B., a lawyer of Aurora; George F., a commercial traveler residing in Aurora; Harry C., who was killed and robbed in Kansas, when but eighteen years of age; and Fred C., a machinist in the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad shops. Mr. Judson has now some twenty-three grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
In 1873 Mr. Judson sold his farm and moved to Aurora, where he has since continued to reside. Since coming to the place he has been actively engaged in various enterprises and has erected some of the finest blocks and residences in the city, among which are the Sinsenbaugh building, the Judson block, his own fine residence on Galena street, one store building on Galena and five residences, the Scott & Pease building, and a large business block on the corner of Downer Place and River streets. It is probable that no man in Aurora has done more towards building up and improving the city than has Mr. Judson. He is a stockholder and assisted in the organization of the Silver Plate Factory, the cotton factory and other like institutions in the city. He is also a stockholder in the First National Bank, the Aurora National Bank and the Merchants' National Bonk.
In early life Mr. Judson was an old-line Whig, the principles of which party he strongly advocated, and the leaders of which he greatly honored. On the organization of the Republican party, he became identified with it, and has since been one of its stanchest advocates. While residing in Kendall county he served as coroner, assessor, school director, justice of the peace and for some years was chairman of the board of supervisors of the county. Since coming to Aurora he has declined all official honors, giving his time exclusively to his extensive business interests. He was a charter member of the Odd Fellows Lodge at Oswego, in which he filled all the chairs, including that of noble grand.
For sixty-four long years Mr. Judson has been a resident of Illinois, and is one of the few living pioneers who have witnessed its change from a vast wilderness to the most productive state in the Union, and third in wealth and population. In the great changes that have been made he has taken no inconsiderable part, and is justly entitled to all the honors that can be conferred upon one who has endured the trials of pioneer life.
MICHAEL BURNS, a practical farmer residing on section 26, Hampshire township, is the only son of John and Elizabeth (Lawler) Burns, both of whom were natives of Ireland, born in county Carlow. The paternal grandfather, John Burns, Sr., was born in county Wicklow, Ireland, and was a shoemaker by trade. During the Irish rebellion in 1798, he took cold while in the service and contracted rheumatism, from which he never recovered and died at about the age of sixty years. He married Mary Murphy, who was born at Castle Moore, and a daughter of Michael Murphy, all of whom are natives of Ireland.
John C. Burns was born in the village of Tullough, county Carlow, Ireland, in 1813, and there learned the shoemaker's trade with his father. He married Elizabeth Lawler, and in 1852 moved to Sheffield, England, where he remained seven years, working at his trade. In 1859 he emigrated to America, sailing from Liverpool in the ship "Clipper," and landing in Boston. Finding no work in the shoe factories near Boston he came to Kane county, Illinois, and settled on the farm of his brother-in-law, John Lawler, on section 23. He soon bought forty acres back from the highway, and began farming for himself. He built a small house on the tract and later bought the rest of the Lawler farm, consisting of one hundred acres. Subsequently he bought sixty acres, which gave him an outlet to the road, and to the new purchase he removed with his family. The location of the farm is an attractive one, and on it is a comfortable house, with barns and other outbuildings, together with a good orchard. The farm is now leased by our subject, who is engaged principally in dairy farming, milking fifty head of cows, the product of which he ships to Chicago.
The subject of this sketch began his education in the schools of Sheffield, England, and completed his school life in the public schools of Hampshire township. Since coming to the United States he has made his home only on the present farm. He farmed with his father for many years and later took full charge and has now for some years engaged exclusively in its cultivation. He is an industrious, hardworking man, and he has placed the farm under a high state of cultivation.
Mr. Burns married Miss Ellen Kelly, a native of Kane county, born on her father's homestead on section fifteen, Hampshire township. She is a daughter of Timothy and Mary (Ryan) Kelly, natives of Ireland, and granddaughter of Timothy and Ellen (Eagan) Ryan. Timothy Kelly, the paternal grandfather was born in Tipperary, Ireland, March 25, 1818, and died on the home farm in Hampshire township, June 6, 1889. He came to America in 1840, lived in New York one year and in 1841 came to Hampshire township as blacksmith in the employ of the stage company, running a line of coaches from Chicago to Galena. He was the first blacksmith in the township and became a prosperous man, accumulating a fine property. To our subject and wife seven children have been born - John, Mary, Eliza, Thomas, Ellen, Annie and Michael, Jr. In politics Mr. Burns is a Democrat, with which party he has been identified since attaining his majority. Religiously he and his wife are members of the Catholic church.
JAMES SKINNER, who has been a citizen of Aurora, Kane county, Illinois, since the autumn of 1871, and who resides at No. 342 Spring street, comes of an old and honored family, who settled in the American Colonies in the early part of the seventeenth century. He was born in Winchester, New Hampshire, November 19, 1824, and is a son of Alanson and Mary (Woodward) Skinner, both natives of New Hampshire. His father followed the trade of a blacksmith, and in connection therewith owned a small foundry, and carried on a remunerative business in Winchester until our subject was five years old. At this time he moved with his family to Brownville, New York, and continued in the same line of business. "
James Skinner assisted his father during his youth and gained a rudimentary education in the public schools at Brownville. In his father's shop he learned the trade of a tinner, but at the age of eighteen he was sent to Mount Caesar Seminary, West More-land county, New Hampshire, where he completed his education. Returning home he resumed work at his trade. The family of Alanson Skinner consisted of four children - Horace, Mary, James and William T. In 1861 the father retired from active business life, and the business was carried on by his three sons' in partnership. The partnership was dissolved in 1867, by the retirement of James. December 15, 1853, he was married to Helen Munn, of Champion, New York, and three children were born to them. James, the first born, died in early youth. William F., the second son, married Delia Houston, and at the present time is one of Aurora's efficient mail carriers, and has two children, Hazel Dell and Ruth. Jenny M. married John Hull, is now a widow, and resides with her parents. The children of our subject were all born in New York state. The mother died December 26, 1862. January 22, 1870, he was married to Eliza Brown, of Brownville, New York.
The first of the Skinner family to appear in the New World was one who brought his family from Essex county, England, to the American Colonies, about 1620. Of his seven sons, four settled in the eastern and three in the southern colonies. From this family, it is believed, sprang all or nearly all of that name now inhabiting the United States.
In "Burk's History of the Commons," a work still extant in the state library at Albany, New York, there is a brief sketch of the Skinner family in England, wherein the ancestry of our subject is traced to Sir Robert Skynner, as the name was originally spelled, a Norman knight who accompanied William, Duke of Normandy, called the Conqueror, and assisted in the conquest of the Saxons at the battle of Hastings, A. D. 1066, and the family of Skinners who first landed in America were undoubtedly descendants of Sir Robert. An interesting book in manuscript which bears the coat of arms of the Skinner family, is in possession of our subject, and gives a clear genealogical record of the family for many generations. Alanson Skinner, the father, participated in the war of 1812.
In 1871, James Skinner brought his family from New York state to Illinois, and settled in Aurora, soon afterwards becoming a partner in the city flouring mills, with James Robinson and Ira T. Curtis, under the firm name of Robinson, Curtis & Co. Mr. Skinner eventually bought out his partners, then rented the mill, and finally sold it to Jamieson, Sheets & Co., since which time he has lived retired from business cares and enjoys a restful life in his pleasant home at 342 Spring street, but in the heat of summer he and his wife annually seek the woods of Wisconsin, and pass three months on the banks of Kelly's lake, where he owns a cottage and boathouse, and the recreation of bathing, shooting and fishing are indulged in to their hearts' content. Mr. Skinner never sought for office, but was prevailed upon to accept the position of alderman for one term only.
The state of Illinois owes its high standing among the sovereign commonwealths that make up the United States to the high character and dauntless spirit of the settlers who made their homes within her borders in the early days. To their inspiration and work is due her progress in agriculture, manufacturing and the arts. They transformed the wilderness into fertile farms, established churches and schools in the savage wilds, laying the foundation for the grand institutions of philanthropy and learning which are the glory of the state at the present day. Among these brave and far-sighted pioneers, the Scott family, of Kane county, deserves prominent mention.
The subject of this sketch was born February 1, 1844, in Virgil township, Kane county, a son of John Scott, a native of Scotland, who was born in 1809, and, in 1820, came to the new world with his father, Hugh Scott, settling in Utica, New York, where John grew to manhood. There he wedded Mary Atkinson, June 15, 1828. She was born in England, where her father died during her early childhood, and when only nine years old she came to the United States. John Scott, an active and enterprising man, was in early life a contractor on the old New York & Erie canal, and later engaged in the hotel business. In 1836 he came to Illinois, and after a few months spent in Chicago, located in St. Charles,
Kane county. Subsequently he bought a claim and opened up a farm of four hundred acres in Virgil township, making it one of the most desirable places in the locality, improved with a good residence substantial barns and outbuildings. In connection with agricultural pursuits, he embarked in merchandising at Elburn in 1856, carrying on that business for three years. He still continued to engage in farming for several years and then sold the place to our subject, living with him in St. Charles until called to his final rest October 17, 1877. His wife died September 11, 1882. As one of the leading citizens of his township, he was called upon to serve as justice of the peace for several years, and was at one time a member of the county board. He was also an active and prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and assisted in organizing the church in Campton township.
To John and Mary (Atkinson) Scott were born the following children: Sarah is now the widow of Charles Shirtliff, and is a resident of Neodesha, Kansas; John H., a business man of Kaneville, now resides in Aurora; Alexander died in infancy; Elizabeth died at the age of sixteen years; Robert was a member of Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and died in 1863, soon after his return from the war; William is the next of the family; Mary E. died at the home of our subject in 1893; A. J. is a business man of Denver, Colorado; and George F. died in infancy.
Upon the home farm William Scott was reared in much the usual manner of farmer boys of that day, acquiring his education in the schools of Elburn and Sycamore. After reaching man's estate he bought the
old homestead and actively engaged in farming for some years, making many valuable and useful improvements upon the place. In connection with general farming, he was also engaged in buying, feeding and shipping stock, and even after selling the farm and removing to St. Charles, in 1874, he continued the latter occupation, making a specialty of the shipping of horses. He was also interested in haling and dealing in hay. In St. Charles he bought property and erected the fine large residence he still occupies. He has also bought, improved and sold other city property and stimulated the industries of the place by loaning money.
On the 11th of November, 1874, Mr. Scott was married in St. Charles to Miss Hattie E. Pike, a native of New York, who, in 1856, during her childhood, was brought to Illinois by her father, Cornelius Pike. He spent his last days in St. Charles, where he was engaged in business for some years. Here Mrs. Scott was reared, and in Wheaton College she completed her education. For several years prior to her marriage she successfully engaged in teaching. Mr. and Mrs. Scott have one daughter, Jennie Maude, who graduated from the East Side High School of St. Charles, and was also a student for a time in the Elgin High School.
Politically, Mr. Scott has been an ardent Republican since casting his first presidential ballot for Gen. U. S. Grant, in 1868. Although he has never cared for official honors, he most acceptably served as a member of the school board for some years, rendering effective service in its interest. Both he and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in the community where they have so long made their home their circle of friends is only limited by their circle of acquaintances.
Lewis H. Gillett
LEWIS H. GILLETT, who for thirty years was prominently identified with the agricultural interests of Kane county, but is now deceased, was born in Sullivan county, New York, October 23, 1820, and there grew to manhood, receiving a good common-school education. He was married in Sullivan county January 22, 1850, to Rachel Harmes, a daughter of Charles Harmes, also a native of Sullivan county, New York. By trade Mr. Harmes was a blacksmith, and was three times married. His second wife, Mary Smith, was the mother of Mrs. Gillett, and died when her daughter was but three years old. He later married again, and, after the death of his last wife, he came west, and spent his remaining years in Illinois, dying at the residence of a daughter in Sycamore, De Kalb county. Mrs. Gillett grew to womanhood in Sullivan county, New York, and there gave her hand in marriage to Mr. Gillett. Directly after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Gillett started for the west, coming by railroad to Buffalo, New York, where they took a boat to Detroit, and thence by rail to Chicago and St. Charles, Kane county, Illinois. From St. Charles they came by ox team to Sugar Grove township. Mr. Gillett had secured three land warrants, for which he secured land in that township. He first purchased two hundred and sixty acres, which he improved, and from time to time added to his original possessions until at the time of his death he was the owner of one thousand acres, all of which was under cultivation.
He was a very active and progressive farmer, and prospered in all that he did. On the farm he erected two good substantial residences, one of which was of brick, and also erected good barns and other outbuildings. On one of his farms in De Kalb county he erected a barn at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars.
Mr. Gillett was liberal and public-spirited, and gave to all laudable enterprises which were calculated to build up his township and county. He was one of the promoters of the Sugar Grove Normal School, and for the erection of its building donated the sum of five hundred dollars. He was originally a Democrat in politics, but on account of the slavery question and the position his party took with regard to it, he cast his lot with the Republican party on its organization, with which he continued to be identified until his death. He was elected and served as commissioner of highways, and some other local positions, although he never asked for official position. It was his aim to be a good farmer, and that he succeeded is attested by all who knew him.
To Mr. and Mrs. Gillett seven children were born, as follows: Mary, who grew to womanhood, married S. L. Judd, of Sugar Grove, died in 1895; Franklin died at the age of six months; Eugene died at the age of four months; Eddie Grant, a very bright and intelligent young man, met his death by accident when twenty years old; Arthur L. is a prominent business man of Aurora; and Rachel May is the wife of M. C. Schoop, of Sugar Grove,
After the death of her husband Mrs. Gillett took charge of the business, and assisted in the settlement of the estate. In 1884 she built a good, neat and substantial residence in the village of Sugar Grove, where she has since resided. Like her husband, she gives liberally in support of various public enterprises. Toward the erection of the Methodist church she gave two hundred dollars. While not a member of any church organization, she attends the different churches, and endeavors to have her life conform to the golden rule. She is well known as a woman of good business ability, and is esteemed and loved by all who know her.
CHARLES ALLEN, section 35, Hampshire township, is one of a pioneer family, to whom is given the credit of being the first settler of Hampshire township. Zenath Allen, a native of Rutland county, Vermont, took up a claim on section 24, in September, 1836, and built a log house and at once commenced the improvement of the land. He arrived in Chicago, June 5, of that year, when it was a collection of huts in a quagmire. Seeing nothing of promise in those marshes, he came further west and became a permanent resident of Hampshire township, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was a very prominent man in the early day, one of brains and energy, and made his influence felt in the new settlement. A member of the first, board of school trustees of the township, he assisted in organizing the school district. His wife was Lucretia Gibbs, a native of Canada. His death occurred February 5, 1848, at the age of sixty-three. He served in the war of 1812.
The Allen family comes of fighting stock, being descended from a common ancestor with Ethan Allen of Revolutionary fame, the famous captor of Ticonderoga. Ethan J. Allen, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Rutland county, Vermont, in 1812, and came in the regular army to Chicago in 1835. During the smallpox epidemic there he wrote for his parents to come and secure his discharge. This done, the family moved to Kane county and remained. Ethan J. secured a farm on section 35, and occupied the land until his death in 1887. He was also a prominent figure in public affairs in the early day, and in 1844 served as deputy sheriff of the county. Later he occupied the office of sheriff, and from 1860 was for many years a member of the board of supervisors. He was also a justice -of the peace for years, his first commission being signed by Governor Madison. During the early days of the war for the union, he served as adjutant of the Fifty-second Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, his commission being dated September 14, 1861. He resigned November 12, 1862. For several years he was a mail route agent on the railroad between Chicago and Dubuque. He married Miss Harriet Smith, and to them were born four children-Henry, deceased; David A., father of our subject; Marian married George McClelland, deceased, and she now lives in Elgin; and Hiram, who died quite young.
David A. Allen was born on the family homestead, section 35, Hampshire township, October 15, 1842, and until the age of sixteen attended the subscription schools of the neighborhood. He remained upon the home farm until the outbreak of the war, when he enlisted in Company A, Seventh Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Joslyn. He enlisted April 22, 1861, his regiment being the first to enter the service from Illinois. From Elgin he went to Springfield, Illinois, where the regiment was mustered into service, and from thence to Alton and Cairo, serving until discharged at Mound City, Illinois, July 25, 1861, at the expiration of their term of service. Returning home he re-enlisted in Company K, Fifty-second Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the date of his enlistment being September 6, 1861. He served until September, 1862, when he was discharged for disability. During this year's service, with his regiment he was stationed at St. Joseph, Missouri; Bird's Point, Kentucky; Smithland, Kentucky; and Fort Donelson. After the battle of Fort Donelson, he was with the force that was sent with prisoners to Chicago. He returned to his regiment by way of St. Louis, and joined it at Pittsburg Landing.
After being at home for about a year and fully recovering his strength, on December 30, 1863, he re-enlisted the second time in Company H, Fifteenth Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, known as the Kane County Cavalry, with which he served until its reorganization, at Little Rock, Arkansas, when the company of our subject was merged into Company L, Tenth Illinois Cavalry. This was done January 26, 1865, and the regiment was engaged in service in the west and south until its discharge, January 6, 1866, being one of the last regiments of the volunteer army to be mustered out of the service.
On receiving his final discharge, David A. Allen returned home and bought the farm on section 35, consisting of one hundred and twenty acres, since which time he has added eighty acres, forty of which lies in section 27, and which makes a tract of two hundred acres of the very finest land. At first the farm was used for grain, later, stock-raising, and at present for dairy purposes, there being upon the place about fifty head of milch cows. David A. Allen was married in Hampshire township, February 20, 1867, to Miss Caroline Coon, first in a family of four children born to Hildah and Maria (Parker) Coon, the latter being a daughter of William and Rachel (Retchie) Parker. Hildah Coon was by occupation a farmer, which he followed during his entire life. He was born in the state of New York, and came to Hampshire township in 1839, and died at the age of forty-eight years. Mary Ann Coon, their second child, was the second white child born in Hampshire township. She married Henry J. Allen, now deceased, who was a brother of David A. Allen, and she became the mother of one daughter, Martha A. The other two children of Hildah and Maria Coon are Calvin M., living in Joliet, and William S., who resides at New Lebanon, De Kalb county, Illinois. To David A. Allen and wife four children were born, as follows: Chloe, who died at the age of thirteen years; Hattie, who married Leonard Ewing, of Burlington township; Charles, our subject; and Elizabeth, who married Frank Ritz, of McHenry county, Illinois. In politics David A. Allen was a Republican, and for four years was deputy sheriff of Kane county, highway commissioner nine years, and a school director for many years. Fraternally, he is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Charles Allen, our subject, was born on the farm where he now resides, February 20, 1872, and his home has always been under the one roof. He attended the district school until the age of thirteen, and then worked for his father on the farm until 1890, when he went west and spent some time at Sioux City, Iowa, in the employ of a land firm, although he did a little farm work a part of the time, and also engaged in trading horses. Returning home, and on his father's retirement, he took charge of the farm and has since been operating the same.
Charles Allen was married February 6, 1895, in the village of Hampshire, to Miss Libbie Haines, born in Madison, Nebraska, and a daughter of J. L. Haines, a native of Ashtabula- county, Ohio, born January 29, 1841, and who came west with his parents, David and Emily (Burns) Haines, about 1844. J. L. Haines married Mary Garner, born near Albany, New York, and a daughter of Lorenzo and Ellen (Boyce) Garner, the latter being a daughter of Ethan Boyce. Lorenzo Garner went to California in the early days of the gold fever there, and was shortly afterward drowned. Of the nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. Haines, Mrs. Allen is fourth in order of birth. To our subject and wife, one daughter has been born, Hazel.
In politics, Mr. Allen is a Republican, having inherited the liberty-loving principles of that party. The only office which he has held is that of school director. Fraternally he is a member of Hampshire camp, Modern Woodmen of America. He is a prosperous and energetic young farmer, one who has doubtless a bright future before him.
JAMES PEARL PRINDLE, a leading and influential citizen of Batavia, is the son of Abijah Legore and Caroline Miriam (Pearl) Prindle, was born March 9, 1841, at the home of his grandparents, James and Lydia (Tobey) Pearl, who settled not far from 1811, on the Holland Purchase, later called Bennington, in Western New York, where four days chopping was required to clear a space in the heavy timber, large
enough to build a log house, in which the family lived until 1849, then moved into a frame house on the opposite side of the road where the grandmother died April 18, 1855, and the mother, October 17, of the same year, when nearly forty-two years of age.
The following November, the balance of the family, consisting of James Pearl, grandfather, born May 23, 1786, Abijah L. Prindle, father, born February 25, 1808, and his children, Lucy R. Prindle, born April 11, 1838; Jason Richard Prindle, born December 20, 1843; Legore Prindle, born January 8, 1846; and James P. Prindle, moved to Batavia, Illinois, where Jane C. Colton, nee Prindle, born March 2, 1833, and Mary M. Newton, nee Prindle, born June 3, 1835, were then living, and where the father resumed his position as superintendent of the Hoyt Barrel Factory. The three brothers attended the public schools in Batavia until the family was broken up by the marriage of Mrs. Colton to Rev. Elijah H. Gammon, and Lucy R., to Elisha Foote, Jr., May 5, 1856, after which the boys were scattered.
The life of James P. Prindle, until moving west, having been spent on a farm with his invalid grandfather, with but little time in the winter to attend the district school, which was usually open about three months, he felt, when thrown on his own resources, that he must have an education, and with this determination started for Chicago, July 4, 1856, where he found a situation and worked until the opening of school at the Batavia Institute, where the winter and following spring were spent, as were his accumulated earnings. This round was followed until qualified to teach, where, by teaching winters and working vacations, it was an easy matter to get quite a part of the year in school. With the exception of time enough spent in Nebraska to secure two hundred and forty acres of government land near Nebraska City, the above mentioned plan was followed until the Civil war broke out, when he, with his father, brother-in-law, D. C. Newton, and two brothers, sought service in the army, and September 10, 1861, enlisted in Company D, Fifty-Second Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, camped in Geneva, Illinois.
As soon as the regiment was organized orders were received to report at St. Louis, and from there the work of guarding the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad was taken up, with regimental headquarters at St. Joseph, while Companies B and D were stationed at Stewartville, Missouri. Early in 1862 the regiment moved to Cairo, camping in February at Fort Holt, without tents or covering. Colonel I. S. Wilson having resigned, Colonel Sweeney, of the regular army, afterwards brigadier-general, and later a leader in the Fenian movement, was appointed colonel in this regiment, which moved in a day or two up the river to Smithland, Kentucky, and from that point the battle of Fort Donelson was the next work, followed by a trip to Chicago with prisoners, and from there going direct to Pittsburg Landing, where a large number of the regiment was either killed or wounded.
Just before the battle of Fort Donelson Mr. Prindle was taken down with measles, followed by mumps and fever, and, going from the hospital in Paducah, joined the regiment Monday, April 7, at Pittsburg Landing, where he took the position of orderly sergeant of Company D, under Captain Newton, and was sent back sick from the third breastworks, in front of Corinth, reach Batavia, July 3, an invalid, unable to walk for months, and for years a victim of chronic diarrhoea.
School work at the Clark Seminary at Aurora was taken up as soon as strength would permit, but poor health prevent earning money to continue, so a position with Easter & Gammon, implement dealers in Chicago, was secured in the summer of 1863, which was followed, in 1866, by a partnership with E. H. Gammon, under the firm name of Gammon & Prindle, 46, 48 and 50 West Lake street. Contracts were made for handling Pitt's thresher, Dodge's self-raking reapers and mowers, with a general line of implements, and the manufacturing of Marsh harvesters for part of the western states.
In 1869 a change was made by the discontinuance of the Gammon & Prindle firm, and an interest taken with A. E. Bishop, making the firm of Bishop & Prindle, manufacturers of wagons, which relation was continued until 1874, when an interest was purchased in the Newton Wagon Company, of Batavia, where, as superintendent of the works, twenty years were spent. Health failing, active work was given up, and relations changed to that of vice-president.
In 1891 the position of director in the Piano Manufacturing Company, of Piano, Illinois, later of West Pullman, was accepted, and after the death of E. H. Gammon, July 3, 1891, he was elected to fill the position of vice-president, and still retains that connection with the company, which has for years annually supplied this country with thousands of Piano & Jones' harvesters, headers, mowers, reapers, hay-rakes, etc., and in late years has opened a large foreign trade, covering quite a portion of Europe and South America. On the 24th of September, 1867, Mr. Prindle married Mary A. Cornell, in Evanston. She was born August 18, 1841, in Spring Creek, Pennsylvania. The children born to them are: Albro Bishop, April 22, 1869; Martha Caroline, July 3, 1872; James Pearl, June 27, 1876; and Carl, October 10, 1882, who died August 10, the following year.
The politics adopted by Mr. Prindle at an early age were that of Abolitionist Whig, probably because of living where runaway slaves were helped toward Canada, but his first vote was Republican; although never an aspirant for office, yet an earnest Worker for keeping the best men in office, and in the community in which he lives considered no effort too great when made in the interest of temperance, morality and necessary improvements. The public schools have always been a subject of vital interest to him. Born at the stopping place and headquarters of the Methodist circuit riders, in the old log house, it was not strange that, in early life, he should become interested in religious matters. The early records of the Methodist church of Batavia show him on the active list. On reaching Chicago, he joined the Jefferson Street Methodist Episcopal church, and became identified with Sabbath-school work, and on the society moving to their new centenary church, was a steward and class leader in the church, and as time passed, teacher, librarian and assistant superintendent in the Sunday-school of twelve hundred members, where, under the pastorate of such brilliant preachers as Drs. C. H. Fowler, R. M. Hatfield and J. O. Peck, active church work became the rule, and on returning to Batavia, in 1874, he fell into line there, and is still an earnest, faithful worker in the beautiful new Methodist Episcopal church.
WILLIAM W. MERRILL.-Wherever there is pioneer work to be done, men of energy and ability are required, and success or failure depends upon the degree of those qualities that is possessed. In wresting the land from its native wilderness, in fitting it for the habitation of men; in developing the natural resources of the community in which they live, few if any have contributed more largely than Mr. Merrill, who is now living retired in Elgin, and it is mete and proper that for the arduous and important labor he has performed he should receive due reward.
Born in Oxford county, Maine, March 16, 1815, he is a son of William and Charity (Davis) Merrill, who were of English descent. Both grandfathers, were soldiers, of the Revolutionary war, Mr. Merrill entering the service at the age of eighteen, Mr. Davis at the age of seventeen, and both fought under General Warren at the battle of Bunker Hill, as well as in other engagements. The grandfather Davis was aid de camp to that general. He died when our subject was about sixteen years, of age, and the grandfather Merrill when he was fourteen, both passing away upon their farms in Maine. Throughout life they engaged in farming, lumbering and shipping.
William Merrill, Sr., father of our subject, was also a farmer by occupation, and was one of the men who assisted in founding the town of Brownfield, Oxford county, Maine. He died on the old homestead there, in 1836. He was one of the leading members of the Congregational church at that place, was a Whig in politics, and for the long period of twenty years served as foreman of the grand jury. His wife, who was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, died in the spring of 1860, at the home of her daughter Harriet in New York City. In their family were nine children, namely: Louisa, who married John Small, and both are now deceased; Irene, who married John Campbell, of New Orleans, Louisiana, and both are deceased; Harriet, who married John Kelsey, of New York, and both are deceased; William W., of this sketch; Nicholas, a resident of Maine; Bradbury, deceased; Martha, who married A. S. Carr, and died in Nebraska; Mary, who died when young; and Alvin, who died in New York City.
The early life of our subject was spent on the home farm at Brownfield, and in private schools he acquired his education. He early became familiar with every department of farming and lumbering, and at the age of seventeen started out in life for himself as his father had lost much of his property. The first season he worked upon, a farm, and with the money he earned, he purchased a yoke of oxen. The following winter he was employed at a tavern in Oxford, and the next summer again worked at farming, taking a colt for pay. This he put on the home farm with the oxen and went to Portland, where he was in the employ of a stage company during the winter. For the following two years he was with a lumber company on the Penobscot river, and then, having accumulated some capital, he engaged in lumbering on his own account until the panic of 1835, which was one of the worst ever experienced in this country.
Having lost everything, Mr. Merrill started westward in the spring of 1837, with the hope of retrieving his fortune. On the 1st of June of that year he arrived in Terre Haute, Indiana, and from there proceeded to Paris, Edgar county, Illinois, where he stopped with a Mr. Archer for about two weeks. Alone and on foot he followed the army trail to Springfield, the houses along the way being from fifteen to twenty miles apart. There he found employment with a stage company, but owing to ill health, he soon had to abandon his position. On his recovery he went to Tazewell county, and the following spring to Ottawa, where he found employment with the Frink Stage Company, having known John Frink in the east. For several months he was connected with that company, after which he was variously employed for some time. Finally locating in Chicago, he engaged in merchandising on the South Side from 1838 until 1840, and from there came to Elgin, where he followed both carpentering and farming for some time. In 1843 he bought a claim of one hundred and thirty-two acres of Mr. Kimball, paying him one dollar and a quarter per acre. This land extended along the south road to the forks, from there to Larkin's corner, north to McClain's farm, and from there to the Hamilton farm, now owned by W. H. Wing. Upon that place Mr. Merrill lived until 1850, giving his attention to agricultural pursuits, and then came to Elgin, where he was engaged in the market business until 1864, and subsequently in the grocery business until 1878. Since that time he has lived retired, enjoying a well-earned rest at his comfortable home in Elgin, surrounded by the care and attention of an affectionate wife and daughter.
In Chicago, April 27, 1848, Mr. Merrill married Miss Ellen Flin, by whom he had seven children: Eugene, deceased; Helen, at home; Amelia, wife of Frank Schuller, of Elgin; Irene, who died when young; Martha, who died in infancy; Charles W., a resident of Traverse City, Michigan; and Hattie, the wife of William Wood, of Kansas City, Missouri. For his second wife Mr. Merrill married, May 16, 1869, Mrs. Jane Earl, a daughter of Andrew and Jane (Hollow) Longstaff, of Ottawa, Canada. She was the widow of Edward Earl, who died at McHenry, Illinois, January 30, 1868. Her father was a native of England, while her mother was born in Scotland.
Politically Mr. Merrill was first a Whig, and later a Democrat. He was a great friend of Lincoln, and corresponded, with him during the exciting campaign of 1860, but told the martyr president that he would not vote for his death warrant, which he believed he would be doing if he assisted in electing him president. In the early development of Kane county Mr. Merrill bore an important part, and he was especially active in the erection of the first Methodist Episcopal church in Elgin, assisting in getting out the timbers for that edifice. His career has ever been such as to warrant the trust and confidence of .the entire community, and his friends are many throughout Kane and surrounding counties.
ROBERT PIERPONT was for many years actively engaged in the grocery business at Aurora, but is now living a retired life. He was born in Nottingham-shire, England, November 23, 1822. His parents, George and Mary (Bemont) Pierpont, were also natives of England, where their entire lives were spent, their deaths occurring many years ago. The father was a boatman on the river and was a hardworking but trusty man. The mother was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church, one who took an interest in the Master's work. They were the parents of three children, our subject being the only one to come to America. The others are William, who resides in England at the age of seventy-three years; and Ann, who died many years ago.
Robert Pierpont grew to manhood in his native country and in early life commenced work on a farm, in which occupation he was employed for some years. He was married June 27, 1850, to Miss Mary Ashling, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Ashling, also natives of England, the father being a large and prosperous farmer. Both parents died in the '40s. They were members of the established church. Of their twelve children, three are still living: Mary, now Mrs. Pierpont; Margaret, widow of George Payne, residing in Aurora; and Sarah, widow of Charles Curtin, residing in England. She has a family of four living children, all residents of England. Mr. and Mrs. Pierpont have two living children: Sarah is the wife of Henry Mohle, chief train dispatcher at Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin Central railroad, and the mother of three children: Charles Earnest, Mary and Robert Pierpont. Their second child was Charles Hay, a grocer in Aurora, who married Mary A. Clark, by whom he has four children, Mabel, Robert, Harry and Helen.
In 1854 Mr. Pierpont, with his wife and two children, left their native land in a sailing vessel, and although they were five weeks on the ocean, encountered no storms, and each enjoyed the trip fairly well. They came almost directly to Aurora, by advice of a brother of Mrs. Pierpont, who was a farmer of Du Page county, and who came four years earlier. Our subject commenced work in the mill of Gill, Gifford & Company. He worked for that firm ten years, and when Mr. Gill purchased the interests of his partners he continued working for him, ten years altogether, part of the time acting as manager, buying the grain, paying the bills, and attending to all other duties pertaining to the work. Leaving the mill he went into the grocery business in Aurora, in company with a Mr. Damon. Later Warner Wright purchased the interests of Mr. Damon, and in turn sold to a Mr. Dickens. After continuing a while as the firm of Pierpont & Dickens, Mr. Pierpont purchased his partner's interest and conducted the business alone for a time. He then admitted to the firm James W. Battle, and under the firm name of Pierpont & Battle the business was continued. Later Mr. Johnston bought out the interest of Mr. Battle, and his interest was in turn purchased by our subject. Although he retained an interest in the store, he has turned its entire management over to his son, and he is practically living a retired life. The store is located on the corner of Denton and La Salle streets, and is one of the best appointed establishments in the city. By strict attention to business, fair and square dealing, Mr. Pierpont made a success of the business, and has secured a competency which enables him to lay aside all business cares. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which his wife is also a member. In politics he is a Republican.
PECK BROTHERS, residing on section 7, Geneva township, own and operate farms of two thousand one hundred acres, lying in Geneva and Blackberry townships. They are members of a pioneer family, which located here in the fall of 1843. Eli Peck, their father, was born in the town of Sandgate, Bennington county, Vermont, June 25, 1816. Thomas Peck, their grandfather, and George Peck, their great-grandfather, were both natives of Connecticut. The family are of English descent and early settlers of Connecticut, two brothers coming from England at a very early day. George Peck, the great-grandfather, moved from Connecticut t to Vermont when Thomas Peck was a child of two years. He was a pioneer of Bennington county, and there spent the remainder of his life. Eli Peck grew to manhood in Bennington county, Vermont, and there married Jerusha Sherman, a daughter of Evi Sherman, of that county. At an early day her father came west to Illinois and located near Belvidere, and later moved to Wisconsin, where his death occurred. Soon after his marriage Eli Peck came to Kane county, Illinois, settling there, as already stated, in the fall of 1843. He started to come west with the team, but losing one horse on the way, he sold the other and came by boat to Chicago. From there he came direct to Kane county and purchased eighty acres of land for a farm and also a small tract of timber land.
Erecting a small frame house upon the place, he there resided until 1869, when he built the present large and commodious house, which is now occupied by his sons. From time to time he added to his original purchase until he was the owner of thirteen hundred acres, all of which were well improved. In 1866 he commenced the sheep industry, purchasing a small flock of merino sheep, and increasing the number year by year until his flock numbered two thousand head. He was a very active and enterprising man, and, coming to this county with but little means, by his industrious habits and wise executive ability and forethought, he secured a large estate and was numbered among the wealthiest farmers of the county. After a long and useful life he died on the old homestead February 9, 1892. His wife survives him, and is in the enjoyment of fairly good health at the age of eighty-one years.
George E. Peck is the oldest of the four sons, which, with four daughters, comprised the family of Eli and Jerusha Peck. He was born in Bennington county, Vermont, January 18, 1842, and came to Kane county with his parents in infancy. The other sons of the family are Albert Sherman, born in Kane county April 21, 1 848; Frank B., born December 6, 1849; Seth E., born September 27, 1853. All were born upon the farm in Kane county and here grew to manhood, being educated in the common schools. The daughters are Sarah C, Julia E., Mary E. and Ettie L. The first named was born in Vermont but reared in Kane county. She married Thomas Fitzpatrick, who passed away in Littleton, Colorado. They had one daughter, Mary. The second and third daughters, Julia and Mary, yet reside on the old farm, while Ettie L. is housekeeper for her brother Albert at Fargo, Kane county. He is the inventor and patentee of the first successful corn harvester, which he sold to the McCormick Harvesting Company.
The Peck Brothers have carried on the farm since 1875, and have since added several hundred acres to the tract left by the father. One tract of two hundred and fifty acres, adjoining the city of Geneva, is one of the best improved places in the township. The brothers have been extensively engaged in the breeding of merino sheep, and have built up a large trade, shipping through the states, and to Australia, South Africa and Mexico. In the spring of 1898 they had on hand a flock of two thousand, three hundred sheep. In all their farming operations they have been quite successful, and are noted for their enterprise and business sagacity. They were chiefly instrumental in securing the location here of the Appleton Manufacturing Company, which gives employment to several hundred men. No enterprise calculated for the public good, but finds in them friends. All are stanch Republicans in their political views. In 1894, George E. Peck was elected supervisor of his township, and served one term of two years, being chairman of the almshouse committee. He was re-elected in 1896, and in 1898, and during the past year was chairman of the courthouse committee. That he is a valued member of the board is attested by his term of service and by the various committees on which he has served. In political affairs he has taken an active interest and usually serves as a delegate to the various conventions of his party. Few men are better known in Kane county than the Peck brothers, and their reputation is not confined to county or even state lines.
GEORGE M. CREGO, now residing in the city of Aurora, has been a resident of Kane county since 1851, since which time he has been one of its truly representative citizens, one who has done much to make the county occupy its present proud position. From the very beginning he has been very active and enterprising and the result is shown in his extensive business interests, he now being the owner of much valuable property in the city, including the Hotel Bishop Block. He is a native of New York, born in Oneida county, July 1, 1831. His ancestors in this country he traces back to his great-grandfather, who emigrated from Holland and located in Dutchess county, New York. Adam Crego, the grandfather, was born in Dutchess county, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. His son, Daniel S. Crego, was born in Herkimer county, New York, April 4, 1801. He remained in his native county until after attaining his majority, and then moved to Oneida county, where he married Ann Kelley, a native of Oneida county and a daughter of Michael Kelley, who was a professional educator, and who for fourteen years was engaged in one school. Daniel S. Crego was a substantial farmer in Oneida county, but in 1836 moved to Chenango county, New York, where he engaged in farming until 1852, when he came to Kane county, Illinois, and located in Sugar Grove township. Four years later he moved to De Kalb county, where his death occurred in the fall of 1893 at the age of ninety-two years and six months. His wife died about three years previous, when about eighty-four years of age.
Of the three sons and four daughters born to Daniel S. and Ann Crego, our subject is second in order of birth. The others are: Sallie Ann, who married Alva Bolster, and located in Sugar Grove township, where her death occurred; Polly J. now makes her home with our subject; O. C. is married and resides in Kane county; Lewis H. resides in De Kalb county, Illinois; Nancy married Eli Barnes, and they now reside in Grand Island, Nebraska; Ellen married Herman Skells, moved to Nebraska and has since died.
On the farm of his father in Chenango county, New York, George M. Crego remained until nineteen years of age. Like the great majority of American youths, his education was obtained in the common schools. In 1851 he came to Aurora, Illinois, where he spent the winter of 1851-2, then returned to New York, and later in the spring came back, accompanied by his parents, and located in Blackberry township, Kane county, where he purchased a farm of two hundred acres and at once began its improvement. He later added one hundred acres, making a fine farm of three hundred acres, all of which was placed under cultivation. In 1882 he purchased another farm, a well-improved place of three hundred and sixty acres, in Sugar Grove township, and carried on both farms for some years. In the spring of 1892 he moved into Aurora, where he bought a residence, which he remodeled, and where the family yet reside. He also bought or traded for business property, including the Bishop Hotel Block, which yet remains in his possession. Since coming to Aurora, he has been quite active in the improvement of his property.
Mr. Crego was married in Kane county, February 21, 1855, to Miss Jane Reynolds, a native of Ulster county, New York, born near Poughkeepsie, and a daughter of Silas Reynolds, who became a resident of Kane county, in 1836, locating in Sugar Grove township. By this union there were nine children, seven of whom are living, as follows: Porter, who is a veterinary surgeon in Aurora; Millie grew to womanhood, married Albert Seavey, of Sugar Grove township, and is now deceased; Celia, now residing in Omaha; Silas married and resides on a farm in Blackberry township; Belle married Clarence Humestom, and resides in the town of Kaneville; Joseph, living in Aurora; Gideon and Irvin, living at home, the latter now attending the State University at Madison, Wisconsin, taking a course in the law department.
Mr. Crego is a lifelong Democrat and cast his first presidential ballot for Franklin Pierce. For twenty years he served as a member of the school board. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, of the blue lodge at Kaneville and of the chapter at Aurora. He has ever been a friend of the temperance cause, and while not supporting the Prohibition party, has been a prohibitionist in principle. Mrs. Crego died at their home in Aurora, November 14, 1897. She was a faithful wife and mother, and for forty-two long years with her husband she trod life's journey. Her remains were laid to rest in the beautiful Spring Lake cemetery. In the growth and development of the southern part of Kane county, few men have done more than the subject of this sketch. While in limited circumstances on his arrival here, he has by his industry and temperate habits placed himself in comfortable circumstances for the remainder of his days.
MRS. RUTH ANN THIERS, now residing at No. 306 West Chicago street, Elgin, is a representative of one of the first families to locate in that city. She was born in Plymouth, New Hampshire, September 28, 1821, and is the daughter of Joseph and Nancy (Currier) Kimball, also natives of the Granite state.
Joseph Kimball was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, September 1, 1783, and at Plymouth, that state, he married Nancy Currier, who "was born September 26, 1787, the marriage ceremony being per-formed November 28, 1804. To them were born nine children: William Currier, who married Caroline Willard and moved to Elgin in 1837, where his death occurred; Mary Carter, who married Bartlett Adams; Samuel Jewett, who married Clarinda Jane Hill, and in 1835 came to Elgin, where he served as mayor in 1856 and 1857; Susanna Clement, who married Hiram George; Nancy Currier, who married Alden V. Hills; Laura Ann, who married Asa Smith; Elizabeth Howe, who married George R. Dyer; Ruth Ann, of this sketch, and Harriet Tamsen, who died in infancy.
In the summer of 1834 Joseph Kimball came to Illinois and spent two months, stopping for a time in DuPage county. Returning east, he made the second trip west, starting in February, 1835, and arriving at Elgin in April, soon after the Giffords, who located on the east side of the Fox river. Mr. Kimball chose the west side. On the Fourth of July, 1835, he wrote to his son, William C. Kimball, the letter being still preserved. In it he says of his new location: "We have plowed and planted nearly thirty acres with corn and other things. We are well suited with our prairie land, although not so much timber as we would like. Our land is so situated that we will have a first rate chance for a grain farm and the keeping of cattle and sheep, being beautifully situated on the west bank of the Fox river, so that we can drive a team about over it equal to any old cultivated farm in an old country. We have made and reserved a location for you, and very much need your help and influence." He writes about the need of a "store on a small scale," and then adds: "James T. Gifford, from New York, near Utica, has a location on the east side of the river. We have agreed to build a dam together, he having the privilege of improving equal share of the water. Mr. Gifford is to build a flour mill, and we are to build a sawmill and improve equal to one-half of the water in other machinery, such as timber works, shingle machines and clapboard, etc. We think that Chicago will be one of the most important places in all the western country; also Galena, on the Mississippi river, where the great mining country is situated, is fast increasing and will soon be a great place. We have taken considerable pains to ascertain what chance there is for making a road in direct line from Chicago to Galena, and find that we are on the direct line between these two important places. I presume that Samuel has written to you that I expect to return and move out our family the 1st of September, and it would be pleasing to me to have you come with us."
The letter also gives a description of his journey from New Hampshire to Illinois. At Washington, where, he stopped he viewed the capitol, "the most magnificent building I ever saw. The Hon. Mr. Hill and Hubbard gave me an invitation to ride in a coach with them and call on the president and vice-president of the United States. I accepted the invitation and was much pleased with those good men." The Galena road seemed to be the most important thing to occupy his mind, and its building was the concern of many. "But the thing must be postponed on account of Mr. J. Gifford being gone to New York after his family. I think if you mean to come to this country, the sooner the better."
Soon after writing this letter from which the extracts given were taken, Mr. Kimball started east for his family, accompanied as far as Chicago by his son Samuel. He traveled by water to Cleveland, Ohio, and thence by canal to Perry, Ohio, where he died from cholera morbus, after an illness of five days, July 25, 1835. He was a good man, a member of the Baptist church, and had a very good idea of the future of this middle west. In his native state Mr. Kimball served as captain in the state militia, took some interest in politics, and was an ardent admirer of General Jackson. He served as collector of taxes in 1823, and filled other local offices from time to time, serving as a member of the New Hampshire legislature. He was the son of Samuel and Susanna Kimball, whose children were as follows: James, born October 23, 1767; Samuel, January 30, 1771; Rebecca, 1773; Jonathan, 1775; Phineas, 1777; Mehitable, 1779; Ruth, 1781; Joseph, 1783; Benjamin and Moses, twins, 1785; and Susanna, 1789. The mother of these children died, and Samuel Kimball married again, and by his second union had one son, Amos Clement, born in 1798.
Soon after the death of her husband, Mrs. Nancy Kimball came with her family to Elgin, where the remainder of her life was passed. One of the most noted events in Elgin was the celebration of her one hundredth birthday, September 26,1887. On that occasion she was in splendid health and entertained a large number of friends who called to pay their respects. The Baptist church of Elgin, of which she was a charter member, was represented by a large delegation. They brought and presented to her a very handsome bouquet, containing exactly one hundred flowers and the figure "100"worked in immortelles. Flowers were also sent her from friends in New York and Chicago. Within three days of one year after this, event, Mrs. Nancy Kimball was called to her heavenly home, her death taking place September 23, 1888. She was the eldest, the best known, and one of the most highly respected women that ever lived in Elgin.
Ruth Ann Kimball spent the first fourteen years of her life in New Hampshire, where she received her education. In 1837, in company with her mother and brother William, she came to Elgin, where she has since made her home, a period of sixty-one long years. On the 4th of July, 1840, she was united in marriage with Edward E. Harvey, an attorney at Elgin who was postmaster in the early '40s and who was commissioned captain in the Second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in the Mexican war, and who died at Pueblo, in 1847, while returning from the city of Mexico, being stricken with fever. To Mr. and Mrs. Harvey two children were born. (1) Isabel J. married Sherwood Raymond, of Elgin, but they now reside in Chicago. They are the parents of six children - Edward H., George B., Anna B., Ruth A., Benjamin W. and Frank. (2) Florence Annette died at the age of nineteen months.
The second union of our subject was consummated June 15, 185 1, when she married Chauncy C. Thiers, who was born in Tompkins county, New York, April 26, 1821. By this union there were two children: (1) Henry K. died May 29, 1878, at the age of nearly twenty-four years from injuries received in a railroad accident. (2) William C., a resident of Elgin, married Nellie A. Powers, and has three children - Raphael H., Ruth M. and Orrel M.
Chauncy C. Thiers was a man of marked ability, and for some years was a notary public. He did not, however, believe in litigation, and often advised the settlement of claims and disputes out of court. In the arbitrament of cases he tried to have men act in accordance with the golden rule. He was a man in whom the people confided. His death occurred October 31, 1861, while attending a political convention at Geneva, he being a candidate for county clerk, and his loss was mourned not alone by the family but by a large circle of friends. A consistent Christian man, he served his master faithfully as a member of the Baptist church.
Mrs. Thiers, who resides with her son at No. 306 West Chicago street, is now one of the oldest members of the Baptist church in Elgin. She is a woman universally esteemed, and her friends are legion. A citizen of the county for sixty-one years, she has witnessed many important changes. From a vast wilderness she has lived to see the county one of the first in all the one hundred and two counties of the state. In all this time she has ever retained the love and respect of all with whom she has been brought in contract.
WILLIAM ROCHE, who is engaged in dairy farming on section 29, Hampshire township, is a native of Ireland, born in the village of Claughhannon, near Newton Barry, County Wexford, March, 1834, and is the son of Martin and Margaret (Rice) Roche. The father, who was a lease holder in Ireland, died at the age of about fifty years. After the death of the father, the mother and children left the farm and lived in the village of Claughhannon and remained there for five years before coming to the United States. She died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1881. They were the parents of four boys and four girls.
In 1853, when but nineteen years old, our subject came to the United States, taking a boat at Wexford for Liverpool, and there a sailing vessel, the Robert Kelly, for the new world. After thirty-two days on the water, he landed at New York and went directly to Augusta, Maine, where he worked one year in a cotton factory, having learned that trade in Ireland. From Augusta, Maine, he came to Kane county, Illinois, and found employment in a distillery at South Elgin, where he worked for a time. He then engaged at farm work and various other employments for other parties until 1878, when he rented a farm in Rutland township, on which, together with another farm, he spent four years. In 1882 he came to his present farm, which comprises one hundred and sixty acres of rich land, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation and on which he has about thirty head of cows.
Mr. Roche was married in Elgin July 10, 1864, to Julia Kelly, fourth in a family of six children born to John and Bridget (Doghoney) Kelly, the latter being a daughter of Dennis and Mary Doghoney. A brother of Mrs. Roche, John Kelly, lives in Aurora, and has served as sheriff of Kane county. John Kelly, Sr., was born in Tipperary, Ireland, about 1820, and came to America about 1840. Like his brother, Timothy Kelly, who also settled in Hampshire township, he was a thrifty, energetic, and industrious farmer, and acquired a fine tract of land, which is now occupied by our subject. He was always a stanch Democrat, and was a member of the Catholic church.
William Roche and wife have been blessed by fourteen children as follows: Annie L., who married Patrick Sullivan, by whom she has six children, William, Arthur, John, Anabel, Safford and Stanley, the family now residing in Chicago; Mary T., an experienced attendant at the home for incurable insane in Chicago; Michael F.; Catherine; Martha L.; Agnes R.; Julia A.; John; Elizabeth C.; Margaret A.; William A.; Charles.; James; and Ralph De Witt. Of these, Martha L., Agnes R. and Elizabeth C, are teachers in the public schools, while John is deceased. In national and state politics Mr. Roche is a Democrat, but in local affairs he is independent. For six years he served as school director. Religiously he and his family are members of the Catholic church.
I. S. STEPHENS, who resides in Batavia, Illinois, but who is actively engaged in business in Aurora, Illinois, came to Kane county in 1847, and has since made it his home. He was born at Stephensburg, Morris county, New Jersey, March 25, 1841. The family are of Welsh descent, two brothers coming from Wales prior to the Revolutionary war, one locating in South Carolina, and the other in New Jersey. From the latter he traces his descent. The great-grandfather of our subject, Samuel Stephens, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, holding a captain's commission. His son, Daniel Stephens, was the father of Joseph C. Stephens, born in 1813, in Morris county, New Jersey. The latter married Sarah C. Shipman also a native of New Jersey. The Shipman family had a grant of land from King George, on which they located at a very early day, and the old stone house erected by the first of the name who came to America, is still standing. After his marriage, Joseph C. Stephens engaged in farming and in milling at Stephensburg, where his father, who was a millwright by trade, had erected the first mill in Morris county. He remained in that business until 1847, when he moved with his family to Illinois. In 1846, in company with three other men, he visited northern Illinois, and spent the whole season in looking over the country. He was at Nauvoo when Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, was killed. On coming to Kane county he located in Geneva, and there, in connection with two brothers, built a paper mill, and engaged in the manufacture of paper. In 1853 he moved to Mill Creek, south of Batavia, and settled on a farm on which he continued to reside until his death, December 1, 1858. His wife survived him many years, dying March 29, 1891.
I. S. Stephens is the oldest of three children, the others being Edgar, who has been in business in West Chicago for more than twenty years, and Ella C, wife of Dr. James Bradley, of West Chicago. When the family came to Kane county our subject was but six years old. He here grew to manhood, and received his education in the Batavia schools and in the Beloit High School. On the death of his father he was in his eighteenth year, and with his mother, he took charge of the farm and engaged in its cultivation. Later he purchased the interest of the other heirs and succeeded to the whole place, to which he subsequently added more land, making a fine farm of two hundred and seventeen acres, located about a mile and a half from Batavia. In 1869 Mr. Stephens formed a partnership with J. W. Randall, who owned a stone quarry on the Fox river, and engaged with him in the business until 1875, when Mr. Randall was killed. He then purchased the interest of the heirs and continued the business. In 1870, however, with Mrs. Randall, he commenced business in Aurora, building some kilns and burning lime. Later he engaged in the coal business in connection with the lime, and still later added charcoal, firebrick and Batavia stone. His business has always been quite an extensive one and fairly profitable.
As his means increased, Mr. Stephens has made other investments, and to-day owns stock in the cotton mill, ice plant and barrel factory, in Batavia and in Aurora creameries. Has been identified with the dairy interests as director and president of Batavia Creamery. He is also a stockholder in the bank at Batavia, and in the Merchants' National Bank, of Aurora. Attaining his majority after the war for the Union had commenced, he cast his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He has since been an earnest supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He has been an active member of the Congregational church of Batavia since 1858, and for the greater part of that time one of its official board. For nearly forty years he has served as superintendent of a Sunday-school, and for fifteen years was one of the members of the choir. Always devoted to the church, he has given of his time and means towards its upbuilding. For fifty-one years he has been a resident of Kane county, and for forty years actively engaged in business. He is well known and highly respected throughout Kane and adjoining counties.
BACK TO BIOGRAPHY INDEX
Return to the Main Index Page for Kane County