Lee County Biography

Melle L. Businga

Melle L. Businga, who is now living in retirement in one of the finest homes in Franklin Grove, acquired his wealth by extensive and well-directed farming operations, and is still identified with the agricultural interests of Northern Illinois as the owner of many acres of choice farming land in Ogle County.

Our subject was born in Hanover, Germany, April 3, 1831, and he was the only member of the family to come to the United States. His father was a rich man, but he twice lost his fortune by a disease attacking his large herds of cattle. Our subject was reared on a farm in the Old Country, and continued to live in the Fatherland until 1855, when he came to America in the full flush and vigor of early manhood. He landed in New York after being on the ocean in a sailing vessel fifty-one days. He at once came to Illinois, and first stopped at Freeport, where he found himself not only without funds, but in debt,to the extent of two dollars, to a friend of whom he had borrowed the money in Chicago. He was, however, equal to the emergency, with his capital of health, strength, readiness of resource, and ability to work; and so zealously did he apply himself to searching for a situation after his arrival in that town at three o'clock in the afternoon that he had secured one before night fall, and was busy performing his appointed labors when the hour for the evening meal came. Two months later,he hired out to work in Ogle County at thirteen dollars a month, and was engaged there six summers, being in the employment of Jacob Piper, who is still a resident of that county, for five summers. In the winter seasons he availed himself of the opportunity to attend school and to gain a more complete knowledge of the English language and advance his education generally.

While he was working for others in Ogle County, Mr. Businga managed to save seven hundred dollars of his earnings, and with that good start as the result of six years hard work, he began his independent career as a farmer in Ogle County soon after his marriage in 1860, buying forty acres of land in Leaf Run Township, which was simply broken, and investing in one hundred and seventy more acres, which he improved. In 1871 he sold that place, and removing to Winnebago County, purchased a quarter of a section there, for which he paid sixty-five dollars an acre, and made it his home for some time. He subsequently bought two hundred and forty acres in Ogle County, to which he added an adjoining one hundred and sixty acres in 1882. He made elegant and substantial improvements on the Ogle County farm, putting live thousand dollars into commodious buildings, and resided there two years. Then, in 1884, he let his son take charge of the farm, and coming to Franklin Grove, purchased one of the finest places within its precincts, he still owns his three hundred and twenty acres in Ogle County, but he disposed of his Winnebago County farm at the rate of eighty-one dollars an acre, a great advance on the cost price. Mr. Businga is public-spirited as a citizen, generously using his money where it will do the most good for the material advancement of the community, and exerting his influence to promote its higher interests. He is a truly religious man, a high estimation being placed upon his character as a conscientious Christian, and is one of the most active working members of the Presbyterian Church of which he is an Elder.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Lena Nellen was duly solemnized in the autumn of 1860. The sorrow that falls sooner or later on every household has been mingled with the joys of their wedded life, as two of their three children have died, one dying in infancy, and their daughter, Nettie T., dying in 1869, in her fifteenth year. A son is spared to them to bless their declining years, Sigel, who was born May 26, 1862. He married Miss Lizzie Kirk, and they have two children Floyd C. and Claude A.

Our subject's estimable wife was also born in Hanover, Germany. She came to the United States with her family. Her father, Nels F. Nellen, settled in Stephenson County, near Freeport, among its pioneers. She has four brothers and sisters, as follows: Bruno, a resident of Ogle County; Matilda, who married L. Brims, and died in Hardin County, Iowa; Fokka, who was a sailor and was lost at sea; and Grace, who married the Rev. John Reints, of Kansas.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892


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