Lee County Biography



CAPT. PRESCOTT BARTLETT, an officer of an Illinois regiment during the late war, was one of the pioneers of Lee County, and occupies an important place among its leading farmers and stockmen of the present day. One of the early settlers of Sublette Township, he is still closely associated with its agricultural interests, and his handsome stone residence on section 27 is one of the most inviting homes in this locality.

Captain Bartlett was born in Conway, Franklin County, Mass., August 19,1821, and is a representative of one of the distinguished New England Colonial families, and the blood of a soldier of the Revolution runs in his veins, his grandsire, Amos Bartlett, serving in the ranks of the Continental army during the noble struggle of the Colonists for freedom from the Mother Country. The father of our subject, who bore the same name and title as himself, was born in 1789. lie was a tanner by trade. He was captain of a company of State militia for many years, and when the War of 1812 broke out, he was on hand to fight, as his father had fought, against British oppression, and raising a company of soldiers, he did his Govern­ment good service. His demise occurred while yet he was in life's prime, at the age of forty-two years. His wife, Narcissa (Robinson) Bartlett, who was born in 1787, attained the venerable age of eighty-four years. They were blessed with six children: Narcissa, who died at the age of fifteen years; Watson R., a gunsmith by trade, who went to Arkansas to buy furs for a St. Louis firm, and died in that State; Clarissa, who married George F. Wilson, and died in Providence, R. I.; Prescott; Benjamin F., a soldier, in Company C, Seventh Illi­nois Cavalry, who died in Kansas in 1888; and Emerson, who settled in the Stale of New York. He was a jeweler, and manufactured the first regu­lator clocks in the United States, and made and put up a clock in the State House at Nashville, Tenn.

Our subject is the only surviving member of the family. He was reared on his father's farm amid the line scenery of his birthplace, and resided in the old Bay State until 1844. In that year he and his brother-in-law, George F. Wilson, started Westward. The Captain had $57 in money as his capital with which to begin life on the frontier, and Mr. Wilson had a box of books, which proved serviceable after his arrival in Chicago, although a burden to carry thither. On their arrival in that city, our subject divided his money with his brother-in-law, and the latter started a school. He met with marked success in his venture as an edu­cator, and laid the foundation of the fortune he afterward accumulated on his return to the East, whereby he became one of the wealthy men of Providence, R. I.

Capt. Bartlett did not make a long stay in Chicago, but went to DuPage County, whence he came in a short time to Lee County, and made a claim on section 20, Sublette Township. When the land came into the market, he purchased eighty acres, and made improvements on the same. Five years later he removed to Bureau County, where he purchased a partly developed farm. In 1854 he sold that to his brother, and came to his present location, where he had four years previously bought three hundred and twenty acres of land of William Ersklne for $500. In 1855 he made an extensive tour through Arkansas and Texas, and from observations made on that journey became convinced that a civil war was imminent. The patriotic spirit that lie had inherited in full force from his father and grandfather was roused, and, like them, he was willing to sacrifice his personal interests for his country. He devoted much time to studying cavalry tactics, and in June, 1861, he enlisted in the army to help his countrymen to preserve the Union. He subsequently raised a company of ninety-eight men, which was mustered into service August 7, as Company C, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, and he was elected and commissioned its captain. In the trying years that followed, he nobly stood the test- that proved the worth of his manhood, his loyalty to the cause and his good soldiership, and was often commended by his superiors for those qualities that fitted him for his responsible position as a leader.

After its organization, the Seventh Illinois Cavalry regiment was dispatched to Missouri and thence through Kentucky to Tennessee. In September, 1862, it was encamped at Tuscumbia, Ala., at which time Company C was detached as special escort to Gen. John M. Palmer, and acted as such until January, 1864. Our subject and his men were in all the hard fighting of the Rosecrans campaign, taking an active part in over one hun­dred battles and skirmishes, showing of what metal they were made on every occasion that called for fearlessness, prompt action and ability to cope with the enemy. Their first encounter with the rebels was at Stone River, and they conducted themselves so as to win the approval of the commanding officers. Then followed the battles of Chicka-mauga, Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Ringgold, Ga., and many other engagements too numerous to mention. Capt. Bartlett was at one time Presi­dent of a Military Commission at Memphis for six weeks. After three years' gallant service, he was honorably discharged, and returned to his home a war-worn veteran, whom his fellow-citi­zens honored for what he had done in defense of our nag. He quietly resumed his former pursuits, and became rather extensively engaged in raising stock, frequently having over fifty horses on his place. In 1868, he built a stone residence of a fine style of architecture, at a cost of $12,000, and has since made other substantial improvements that have increased the value of his farm He has given some of his time to public life, and, besides having been Deputy Sheriff, he has held local offices, and has always displayed true public spirit, losing no opportunity to benefit his adopted township and county whenever his influence would in any way promote schemes for their advancement. In politics, his views areas much in accord with the principles of the Republican party as in the days long gone by when he fought on Southern battlefields to uphold them.

January 4, 1849, Captain Bartlett was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Whitney, and the forty years and more that they have lived together have been fraught with the true happiness of a congenial union. Unto them have been born four children: Silas Wilton, a lawyer at Mendota; Prescott Eugene, a painter, who resides with his parents; Howard R.,a lawyer at Dixon; and Cora M., wife of J. C. Stough, of Mendota. The wife of our subject is a native of Warren County, Ohio, born January 30, 1829. Her parents, Ephraim and Mary (Livingston) Whitney, were natives respect­ively of Maine and Ohio. They were among the early settlers of Lee Township, locating there in 1845, and there they lived to a ripe old age. The father died May 11, 1883, aged eighty-two years; the mother died in 1886, aged eighty-three years. The}' had six children, namely: Joseph, a resident of Linn County, Iowa; David L., of San Francisco, Cal.; Mrs. Bartlett; Phebe, Mrs. Brown, of Walden's Ridge, Tenn.; Silas D., who died in Montana, in 1887; and Rebecca C, wife of Edwin Shaw, of Colorado.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co

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