LaSalle County, IL Biographies

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HON. JAMES McCORMICK

Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Publ. 1900.,page 978 - Contributed by Dena Whitesell

HON. JAMES McCORMICK. This gentleman is one of the most prominent citizens of Coulee township, Ramsey county, having resided there since 1883, and has always been associated with every good enterprise or public project which had for its purpose the upbuilding of business or social interests in his community. He is a man of the highest integrity of character, intelligent and well educated, and well merits his high social standing. His home is in section 12, of Coulee township, where he conducts a good farm and enjoys rural life.

Our subject was born in Queens county, Ireland, April 21, 1847, and when he was about six years of age came with his parents to America. He resided in LaSalle county, Illinois, for many years, and was there reared to manhood, and from there enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in February, 1865. He was in the service eight months, and then returned to LaSalle county, Illinois, and engaged in railroad contract work, grading, for some twelve years. In April, 1883, he went to North Dakota, and at once located on the farm where he now resides, and where he has since engaged in agricultural pursuits. He has made valuable improvements and erected good buildings, and cultivates and owns two sections of land.

Our subject was married, in Wayne county, Iowa, in the town of Allerton, June 22, 1876, to Miss Cynthia A. Carmony, a native of LaSalle county, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. McCormick are the parents of five children, four of whom are now living, and are named as follows: Jessie M., Mabel, Ada C. and James L. A daughter, Margaret, died at the age of fourteen months. Mr. McCormick was elected to the first state legislature in 1889, and his efficient work and popularity while a member of that body is best evidenced by the fact that he was returned to the senate in 1890. He was president of the board of trustees of the North Dakota School for the Deaf four years,, being appointed by Governor Shortridge, and he has been county commissioner for Ramsey county from 1885 to 1889, and was again elected in the fall of 1898, and is now serving. He has always been identified with Republican party politically, and is an earnest worker for party principles.





AMMON B. MOON

For many years having followed farming in LaSalle county, Mr. Moon is now living retired in Streator, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves. He is one of the extensive land-owners of the community, and his property has all been acquired entirely through his well directed efforts. A native of Eden township, LaSalle county, he was born January 27, 1834, his parents being Albert and Elizabeth Moon. The father was born in Virginia, in 1808, and the mother’s birth occurred in Kentucky, January 28, 1818. The Moon family was probably established in the Old Dominion at an early period in its history, for the paternal grandfather of our subject, who was of Scotch and English descent, was a native of that state, and there resided until after his marriage. In 1833 he became one of the pioneer settlers of Illinois, making his home in Reading township, Livingston county, until called to his final rest. Albert Moon, the father of our subject, was reared to manhood in Greene county, Ohio, and when twenty-flour years of age cast in his lot with the early settlers of LaSalle county, his home being on a farm near Tonica. At the time of the Indian massacre in the Black Hawk war there was a company of sixteen organized at Ottawa to bury the victims of the savage cruelty, and Mr. Moon was among the number chosen for that purpose. In the winter of 1833 he was united in marriage with Elizabeth Boyle, a daughter of David and Rachel Boyle, who settled in Putnam county, Illinois, in 1829. Four children were born of this union: Ammon B., of this review; Salanda, wife of Mr. Sawyer; Matilda, wife of H. B. Schuler, of Chicago, Illinois; and Jacob W., who is living at Iowa Falls, Iowa. In 1834 the father of this family disposed of his property in LaSalle county and the following year purchased a tract of land in Reading township, Livingston county. There he carried on agricultural pursuits until his death, which occurred on the 19th of November, 1865.

During in infancy Ammon Moon was taken to Livingston county, where the days of his boyhood and youth were passed upon his father’s farm. He assisted in its cultivation, and after acquiring a practical English education in the common schools he began farming on his own account, his early training in the fields then proving of practical value to him. He secured a farm on section 34, Eagle township, erected thereon a frame residence in the fall of 1856, and the following spring took possession of the place and began its development and improvement. Soon the land was transformed into richly cultivated fields, which yielded to the owner a golden tribute. As time passed he extended the boundaries of his place until it comprised four hundred and eighty acres, and he made excellent improvements upon it, erecting substantial buildings and replacing the first residence with a modern and commodious brick structure in 1872. At other times he has purchased property elsewhere, and in addition to the old homestead he has one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 33 and one hundred and sixty on section 27, making an aggregate of eight hundred acres. After a long and active life upon the farm, during which he won most gratifying success, he retired to private life in 1893, taking up his abode in Streator, where he is now living, surrounded with the comforts which make existence pleasant.

On the 8th of October, 1856, Mr. Moon was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Lyon, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Mills) Lyon. Her father, who was born in Clinton county, Ohio, in 1818, died in Pontiac, Illinois, in 1892 and her mother, who also was a native of the Buckeye stae, passed away in Pontiac, in 1882. To Mr. and Mrs. Moon were born five children, but tow are now deceased, namely: Carrie, who died in infancy, and Lillie who died at the age of five years. The three children now living are Nellie I., William A. and Estelle E. Nellie I. married William Turner and has two children – Guy F. and Harry. In 1882 Mr. Turner passed away and his widow afterward became the wife of Dr. O. J. Raub, of Abilene, Kansas, and by this marriage there is one boy, names Stanley. Estelle E. became the wife of Dr. O. D. Holland, of Streator, and they have one son, named Parke.

Mr. Moon is one of the oldest native sons of LaSalle county, and through more than six decades he has watched with interest the progress and improvement which have marked the onward march of time, ever bearing his part in the same. He has been a citizen loyal and true, and in the management of his business affairs he has accumulated a handsome property, which is the merited reward of his earnest, honest labors.

Biographical and genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1900.Page 200-202 - Transcribed by Nancy Piper


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RALPH PLUMB

A third of a century has passed since this gentleman arrived in Streator and he is justly numbered among her leading citizens, his labors having contributed largely to her upbuilding and prosperity. He is an honorable record of a conscientious man, who by his upright life has won the confidence of all with whom he had come in contact. He has reached the age of more than four-score years, but though a long and busy life has whitened his hair he has the vigor of a much younger man, and in spirit and interests seems yet in his prime. Old age is not necessarily a synonym of weakness or helplessness. There is an old age that is a benediction to all that comes and grows stronger intellectually and spiritually as the years pass. Such is the life of Colonel Ralph Plumb, an encouragement to his associates and an example well worthy of emulation to the young.

It is always interesting in biographical research to note something of the ancestry from which one (pg 10) springs and to take cognizance of the characteristics of the family, watching the continuous display of certain traits of character through many generations. A most complete history of the Plumb ancestry is obtainable, the line being traced back in England to the year 1500, and in this country to 1635. Back of these records Plumbs are found - most through their wills-through all the centuries to 1180 A.D., in the great rolls of Normandy, thus showing Norman ancestry in the time of Henry II., the great-grandson of William the Conqueror. The first representative of the family in America was John Plumb, who crossed the Atlantic from England in 1635, locating in Wethersfield, Connecticut. He served in Captain Mason's command during the Pequot war, and received a grant of land for his services. Only one of his children was born in America, and no record of any exists except that his son Samuel lived with him in Branford when he died in 1648.

It was from his John Plumb and another who came in 1660 and left descendants that the American branch of the Plumb family sprang and they have been prominent in the civil and military life of the country ever since. They have been a race of warriors and statesmen, and have been notable and forceful in all the emergencies of their several generations. There were forty representatives of the name in naval and military service during the war of the Revolution. This family was also worthily represented in the war of the Rebellion, and in times of peace has served its country in a most creditable manner. Ebenezer Plumb, the grandfather of the Colonel, was a native of Massachusetts, and fought for the liberty of the colonies. Taking a very prominent part in church work, he was familiarly known as Deacon Plumb, on account of holding the office of deacon for many years in the old church at Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Theron Plumb, the father of our subject, was born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, August 17 1783, and having arrived at years of maturity he married Miss Harriet, daughter of Samuel Merry, of Herkimer County, New York.

Colonel Plumb of this review is a native of the Empire state, his birth having occurred in Busti, Chautauqua County, March 29, 1816. In 1820 he was taken by his parents to Hartford, Ohio, where he spent his boyhood days, attending the common schools until fourteen years of age, when necessity demanded that he earn his own livelihood, and he put aside his textbooks. He entered upon his business career, being employed as a gardener, receiving the small sum of eighteen and three-fourths cents per day in compensation for his services. However, he applied himself diligently to his work and won the good will and confidence of his employer, Seth Hayes, who gave him a position in his store, conducted under the firm name of Richard Hayes & Company. Mr. Plumb remained there until he had attained his majority, and in the meantime he improved his education as opportunity offered, devoting much of his leisure time to study.

When he had reached man's estate Mr. Plumb entered into partner ship with his employer, under the firm name of Hayes and Plumb, and an extensive trade was enjoyed by them. They extended their business by establishing branch stores, and Mr. Plumb gave evidence of his superior business ability by personally superintending three stores in a successful manner. Thus with the passing years he grew in influence and in affluence, and his fellow townsmen, appreciating his worth, called him to public office. In 1854 he was elected to the Ohio legislature, where he served for three sessions. About that time he disposed of his business interests in Hartford and removed to Oberlin, in order to provide his children with better educational privileges.

In 1858 he was an active factor in an episode that has become historical and that clearly proved his position in regard to the slavery question. A fugitive slave, John Price by name, had gone to Oberlin and secured work. (pg. 11) His master, learning of his whereabouts, sent a slave catcher to capture him and take him back to Wellington, a place nine miles away, where an officer with papers for his arrest awaited him. Fearing that Price might recognize the slave-catcher, two strange men were sent and told him that a gentleman wished to hire him. With the trusting disposition of the Negro, fearing no treachery, Price accompanied the men. Oberlin then became the scene of wild excitement, the anti-slavery people being greatly roused by the injustice of the methods that had been pursued. Five hundred strong, they rescued the slave and sent him off to Canada. Mr. Plumb, with thirty-six others of the party, was arrested and thrown into jail.

For eighty-four days they were incarcerated, during which time Mr. Plumb, with the assistance of two of his fellow prisoners, established and edited The Rescuer, an anti-slavery paper, even printing the same in the jail, where one of the party, owning a press and being a printer, did the work. This paper had a wide circulation and the arrest and imprisonment of those thirty-seven men caused the wildest excitement in the county and state. They were anxious for and demanded a trial. The town, county, state and event he federal government did not know what to do with them: they were a veritable white elephant on the hands of the authorities. During the legislative career of Mr. Plumb he helped to secure the passage of a bill defining the crime of kidnapping, and of this the citizens of Oberlin took advantage at this time and had the two men who inveigled the slave into the hands of the officers arrested of kidnapping him. This was like a thunder-clap out of a clear sky to the authorities and brought them to time; and they opened negotiations with the prisoners for their release, being secretly glad to get rid of them. They were released in consideration of the kidnapers' not being prosecuted. During these eighty-four days of incarceration the thirty-seven prisoners were the heroes of the hour. Their imprisonment was a continuous reception, people coming from all parts of the country by the thousands to visit them and encourage them in the stand they had taken against oppression and injustice. At last the prison doors were opened with éclat and the prisoners welcomed with a band of music and the salute of one hundred guns.

Mr. Plumb continued a firm advocate of anti-slavery principles; and, being a strong advocate of the Union cause at the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion, he received the appointment of assistant quartermaster of a division, with the rank of captain. He was quartermaster on the staff of James A. Garfield, and was one of the General's closest friends and warmest admirers and served with him until the General became chief of staff for General Rosecrans. During the latter part of the great struggle he was quartermaster of Camp Dennison, and was brevetted colonel for meritorious (pg. 12) service. During his service as quartermaster he handles immense sums of money without the loss of a dollar to the government, and at the close of the war he returned to Oberlin with a most honorable record.

Since the year 1866 Colonel Plumb has been identified with the interests of Streator, and to no man does the city owe its upbuilding, improvement and progress in a greater degree. He was chosen by a large syndicate of capitalists to become their resident manager at Streator, and he purchased for them four thousand acres of coal lands. Under his supervision the development of the mines was commenced, and four hundred miles of railroad was built in order to provide shipping facilities for the output. The marked business and executive ability of Mr. Plumb was manifest in the success which attended the new enterprise from the beginning. It yielded handsome financial returns to the members of the company and brought to Mr. Plumb a deserved prosperity. He founded and laid out what is now the city of Streator, personally giving every street its title, and naming the place in honor of Dr. Streator, who was president of the syndicate of which Colonel Plumb was manager. From the beginning our subject has been most closely identified with the progress and improvement of the place and has aided materially in tis development. The leading hotel of the city bears his name, as does the opera house, and at his own expense he built one of the finest high-school buildings, furnished with all modern conveniences for educational purposes, and presented it to the city. It was erected and equipped at a cost of more than forty thousand dollars, and is one of the finest in the state. No public enterprise of Streator has solicited his aid in vain. His co-operation with movements tending to promote the general welfare has been hearty, generous and prompt, and often he has been the leading spirit in measures that have advanced the material, social, intellectual and moral interests of the community.

In his political views Colonel Plumb has always been a staunch Republican, unfaltering in support of his party, and in addition to serving in the state legislature of Ohio he was Streator's first mayor, holding the office for two terms. His administration was of great value, and he ever exercises his official prerogatives for the benefit of the city. In his elections to the mayoralty he was the unanimous choice of the citizens, having no opposition. In 1884 he was elected to represent his district in congress, was re-elected in 1886, and after four year's service retired to private life.

While prominently connected with public affairs and occupied by extensive business interests, Colonel Plumb is a man of domestic tastes, and his interest has ever centered in his home, his family relations being ideal in character. In 1838 he married Miss Marrilla E. Borden, one of the friends of his early youth. She resided in Hartford, Trumbull county, Ohio, a (pg. 13) daughter of Philo Borden, who was a native of New England and was of Puritan descent. He was a farmer, a captain of the state militia, and at one time the postmaster of Hartford. Mrs. Plumb was born September 16, 1818, and by her marriage she became the mother of three daughters, who grew to years of maturity, but are now deceased. The eldest, Geraldine, passed away July 1, 1875; Harriet Eliza died January 24, 1861; and Francenia M. was called to the home beyond February 11, 1872. On the 15th of October, 1898, Mr. And Mrs. Plumb celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage, having throughout that long period traveled life's journey together, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity.

A contemporary biographer has said: "Mrs. Plumb is as popular in Streator as in her honored husband. She is a lady of beautiful character, in which the twin virtues of charity and benevolence shine with a light which has made life easier and happier for numbers of people. She is a patron of the Ladies' Library at Streator, and for eighteen years has furnished it a home, rent free, in the Plumb opera-house block. She was in sympathy with her husband's anti-slavery principles and has done much for the colored race, donating liberally to southern colleges, among which is the Freedmen's College and the Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee, and various other institutions of learning. So broad is the charity of this noble woman that she seeks to help the deserving poor, even to the extent of giving pleasure as well as assistance. She and her husband have donated liberally to the college at Oberlin, Ohio, where her daughters were educated, and is a stanch supporter of the Good Will Church of Streator, as its treasury will show. She is a member of no one church, but a firm believer in all religions, regardless of creeds. She is a womanly woman and much beloved by her own sex, and has hosts of friends, among whom there are many who owe her a boundless debt of gratitude ofr help and sympathy, as well as financial aid given in times of trouble and distress.

Colonel Plumb has for some years practically lived a retired life, yet in a measure superintends his investments. His has been a very active careet, and the rest which he is enjoying in his palatial home in Streator is well merited. He has left the deep impress of his individuality upon almost every department of the city life wherein honorable men find an interest, and the beautiful and enterprising city may be said to be a monument of the diligence and ability of the founder.

Biographical and Genealogical Record of  LaSalle County, Illinois - Vol I. Chicago. The Lewis Publishing Co.. 1900 Pages 9-13 - Contributed by Nancy Piper
Taken From the Decatur Daily Review
April 15, 1903

Founder of Steator Dead
Colonel Ralph Plumb, founder of the city of Streator and its most honored citizen, died Wednesday, April 8, at the advanced age of 87 years. Colonel Plumb had a wide acquaintance throughout northern Illinois.

After the war Colonel Plumb came to LaSalle county and was one of the builder of the Fox River Valley railroad. He located where Streator now is and that place continued to be his home from that time until the close of his life. He laid out the city and named it after Dr. Streator, president of the syndicate of which he was a manager. He has been closely identified with its growth and advancement, and has made large and valuable donations in various ways. He built and gave the high school building to the township. It cost with its equipmeny, which he furnished, more than $40,000. He was Streator's first mayor, and held the office for two terms.



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WALTER REEVES

WALTER REEVES was born near Brownsville Pennsylvania, September 25, 1848, and died April 9, 1909. His parents, Harrison and Maria (Leonard) Reeves, moved to a farm in LaSalle County, Illinois, in 1856, and the son grew up in that county and was a teacher before he qualified for the law by examination before the Supreme Court in 1875. His home throughout his professional career was Streator.

Walter Reeves was a splendid type of the political leader when the Republican party was supreme in Illinois. In 1894, he was nominated to succeed the late Gen. Thomas J. Henderson as candidate for Congress for the Eleventh Illinois District, and in the election received a plurality of nearly 5,000 votes, and a majority over his three opponents. His majorities were increased in the succeeding elections. Of his work in Congress the following has been said: "Regarding himself as a public servant whose duty it was to advance the best interests of those he represented, he began devoting his energies to the work of internal improvement in the country and was appointed a member of the committee on rivers and harbors. In the river and harbor bill passed by the Fifty-fourth Congress he obtained from the general government for improvements in the State of Illinois between eight and nine million dollars. His position was that in the midst of exceedingly hard times the laboring people should be assisted through providing work in these internal improvements and that the farmers and business men would also be benefited by the internal development of our country."

[Biographies from "ILLINOIS, The Heart of the Nation" by Hon. Edward F. Dunne, Volume IV,1933,  Transcribed and Donated by Kim Torp ]

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E. B. Stiles

E. B. Stiles, as editor and proprietor of the Ransom Review, is a worthy representative of the journalistic interests of this section of Illinois. On the 17th of March 1899, he took charge of his paper, which was founded by a Mr. Ford and was known as the Ransom Republic. Later the name Of this journal was changed to the Ransom News and it was edited for a number of years by J. H. Brown, now of Blair Nebraska, who sold out to Mr. Stiles. When this change occurred the present name was adopted, and the Ransom Review has steadily gained favor with the public. It is a bright, newsy sheet, devoted to local interests and to the circulation of domestic and foreign news. It is an excellent advertising medium and has a splendid patronage along that line. Its circulation list includes more than four hundred names and the paper is now in a prosperous condition. The office is well equipped for turning out a high grade of newspaper and job work and the owner is well worthy the liberal support of the public.

Mr. Stiles has been a resident of the county since 1881. He was born in Mendon township, Monroe county, New York, in 1836, and with his parents removed to Boyd’s Grove, Bureau county, Illinois in his youth. There he was reared and educated and after attaining to years of maturity he married Miss Sarah Wilson of Bureau county, who was born in Peoria, Illinois. Four children grace their union: Harry C., who was formerly connected with the Review, but is now a resident of Chicago; Minnie, wife of G. G. Hoover, express messenger for the Santa Fe Railroad Company at Streator, Illinois. Charles L., a railroad bill clerk at Streator, Illinois; and Ray E., of Ransom, who was a soldier in the Spanish-American war, as a member of Company A., Third Illinois Infantry, under command of Colonel Bennett.

[Source: Biographical and genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1900. Page 16-17 - Transcribed by Nancy Piper]

In politics, Mr. Stiles is independent, supporting the measures which he believes will best advance the country’s interests and voting for the man whom he thinks will execute those measures. He is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, with which he has been connected for more than thirty years and for three terms has been a representative to the grand encampment of that society.


 

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