Lee County Biography


Although thirty-nine years have elapsed since James Garrett passed away there are yet many who remember his integrity of character and personal characteristics as well as the enterprise and industry which made him one of the valued and respected citizens of Lee county, where for many years he was successfully connected with agricultural interests. He was a pioneer of this county, his residence here dating from 1865, and he was numbered among those who contributed in substantial measure to the county's growth and advancement. He was a native of County Down, Ireland, born October 4, 1827, a son of James and Rebina (Patterson) Garrett, of Scotch Presbyterian stock from the north of Ireland.

James Garrett of this review came to America in 1854 after serving an apprenticeship in a linen draper's establishment in Belfast, Ireland, and located first in Rockdale, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, where he remained for about three years in the employ of William Brown, a dry goods merchant there. At the end of that time he moved to Illinois, settling on a farm in Ogle county about the year 1857. After a time he went to Rochelle and there turned his attention to the mercantile business, operating a store for three years. In 1865 he removed to Lee county and purchased a farm where the town of Ashton now stands. For a number of years thereafter he remained active in agricultural and business pursuits in this vicinity, managing his farm ably and successfully until his death, which occurred November 26, 1874.

On the 1st of October, 1860, Mr. Garrett was united in marriage to Miss Louise C. Hatch, who was born near Sublette, in Lee county, a daughter of Sherman L. and Lucy (Brown) Hatch, natives of Vermont and pioneers in Illinois. They came to Buffalo by stage in 1837 and thence by way of the Great Lakes to Chicago, where they obtained wagons in which they conveyed their household goods to Lee county. Sherman L. Hatch took up a homestead claim in this locality and for many years thereafter was connected with farming interests here. He was one of the early settlers in this part of the state and his first home had a dirt floor in the general living room, and a floor in the chamber made of split rails covered with cornstalks. His door was at first a blanket nailed up to keep out the chill night air and all of the tables and chairs in the house were home-made. The crude log cabin was subsequently destroyed by fire and in 1816 Mr. Hatch built a sixteen by twenty frame house which he replaced in 1852 by a brick residence. For a number of years lie courageously faced the hardships and privations of pioneer existence, becoming in the course of time one of the prominent farmers and highly esteemed citizens of Lee comity. His death occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. James Garrett, in Ashton, February 7, 1903. He and his wife became the parents of four children: Mrs. Harriet L. Gardner, of Sublette, Illinois; Mrs. Garrett, widow of the subject of this review; Mrs. Julia A. Latta, deceased, and Charles L., who lives on the old homestead. Mr. and Mrs. Garrett became the parents of four children. The eldest, James H., was graduated from the Illinois State University in 1886. He married Miss Eliza Jennings Scott and they became the parents of two children, the elder being a daughter, who was also graduated from the State University, receiving her degree June 9, 1913. Mr. and Mrs. Garrett's second son. Frank S., has passed away. William B., a resident of Wyoming, married Miss L. Perkins, of St. Louis, Missouri. George B., who completes the family, was born May 2, 3875, and now makes his home with his mother. He married Miss Bertha B. Wingert, a native of Lee county, Illinois, and a daughter of J. W. and Hannah (Hittle) Wingert, the former of whom died June 8, 1913, and the latter August 23, 1911. George B. Garrett is at present engaged in the fire insurance business in Ashton.

James Garrett passed away November 26. 1874, and was laid to rest in the Ashton cemetery. He had become very widely known in this locality and his sterling qualities gained him the good-will and confidence of all with whom he was associated in business or social relations. He left to his family the priceless heritage of an untarnished name and an example that is well worthy of emulation. Mrs. Garrett still owns two farms of one hundred acres each in Lee county and a fine residence in Ashton, where she makes her home. She is well and favorably known in the village and has a circle of friends almost coextensive with the circle of her acquaintances.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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