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John H. Ehlert
EHLERT, John H, Breckenridge. Banker. Born Dec 20, 1857 in McHenry county Ill, son of Herman and Elizabeth (Blanker) Ehlert. Married Jan 26, 1880 to Mary Roreng. Received his education in the common schools of Stearns county Minn. Moved to Breckenridge 1880 and was in employee of Great Northern R R until 1883; engaged in farming in 1883; and has continued actively in that line to date. Elected dir Breckenridge National Bank 1903; v pres 1904 and pres 1905 to date. Chairman Town Board and treas Breckenridge township. Member Catholic Order of Foresters.
[Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota. Publ. 1907 Transcribed by Anna Parks]
T.J.ELLIS is a native of New York, born in Seneca County, Sept. 25, 1811, a son of Lazarus and Lovisa Ellis, natives of New Jersey. His father was a miller and he was obliged to work in the mill, and had no educational advantages. Since coming to Illinois, in 1846, he has been engaged in farming, and now owns 120 acres of choice land in McHenry Township. He was married in 1834 to Lucinda Gardner. They had three children; but one is living-Amelia, wife of Albert Boone, of Iowa. His wife died in 1842, and in 1847 he married Mary Solomons. Politically Mr. Ellis is a Republican. [History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen]
WILLIAM F. FRETT was born in Prussia, Jan. 28, 1834, a son of Nicholas and Mary A. Frett, natives of Germany, who came to America in 1841, located in McHenry County, Ill. Nicholas Frett, Nicolas Adams and Jacob Schmitt were the first settlers of the German settlement in McHenry County, and the founders of the Catholic church at Johnsburg, Ill. Mr. Frett died in August 1844, aged forty-nine years, and was the first person buried in St. John's Cemetery. His wife died May 1874, aged seventy-nine years. They reared a family of twelve children. William Frett attended school in Germany, but had no educational advantages after coming to America. He was married Oct. 2, 1856, to Ellen, daughter of Anthony and Margaretha Meiler, of Germany. They have twelve children-Joseph J., Katie (wife of Peter Schaefer), Albert, John Mary (wife of Joseph Freund), George, Elizabeth,, Bernard, Amelia, Ferdinand J., Susan and Charles J. In 1865 Mr. Frett enlisted in Company E, Ninth Illinois Cavalry, but only served a short time, when he was discharged on account of disability. Politically he is a Democrat. He has served nine years as School Director. He owns a fine farm of 148 acres, which is well improved and well stocked. History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen
GEORGE GAGE - There are few men whose lives are blameless and pure, but when a long lifetime had been spent in one neighborhood, and the universal expression of the community is emphatic in praises of any individual, we are constrained to believe him, or them, as nearly perfect as tis possible for man to become. There are numerous biographical sketches in this work of prominent and representative men of McHenry County, but to none of them does the historian refer with more pride than to this brief sketch of Hon. George Gage and his progenitors. Possessed of a liberal education, a heart full of generous impulses, and a desire to assist in every way all measures looking toward the advancement of the best interests of the community in which he has ever been an honest citizen, he has been universally accorded a place at the head of every social and educational enterprise for many years. Although somewhat advanced in years, Mr. Gage retains all the vigor of early manhood so far as his intellectuality is concerned. If his step is less elastic or his form not so erect as in the days of his youth, a glance at his ace impresses the beholder that here genius dwells and reason holds perfect sway. Without extolling his merits or indulging in any unwholesome flattery, we are pleases to say that few men, if any, can point to their record as honest, conscientious business men with greater pride than can the man whose name heads this sketch. His acts in every sense have been praiseworthy. As a husband and father he has been kind and generous to a fault. As a public instructor, all acknowledge his ability. [History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen]
S.S. Gates, a descendant of one of the patriots of Revolutionary fame, was born at Stockbridge, Vt., Oct. 1, 1799. Shortly after his birth his parents removed to Worcester, where his early days were passed in the routine of boyhood. Having the advantage of the best academic institutions then in the East he availed himself of those opportunities until he became possessed of a liberal education. In the spring of 1838 he visited McHenry County on a prospecting tour, returning in the fall, the entire journey being made on horseback. The spring of 1839 again finds him returning to the fragrant prairies of this county, this time to make investments, which were laid at Crystal Lake. After making his purchase he returned to his home in Massachusetts. In 1840 we find him elected to the Legislature of his native State. As a politician he was actuated by the noble resolve to do right; and this honesty of purpose, connected with an extensive knowledge of the principles which underlie our free Government, rendered him peculiarly fitted for the position he was elevated to. In 1844 he was married to Miss Svlvia Day, daughter of Jabez and Sarah (Eddy) Day, of Webster, Mass. Mrs. Gates was the fourth daughter of a family of four sons and eight daughters, and now the only one living. She passed her early days at the academies of Eastern Massachusetts, graduating therefrom with honors. Her ancestors were among those who fought for our liberties in '76, her grandfather holding a commission as General under Washington. Jonathan Day, her brother, held a General's commission in his State, and a man well known in the political history of his county. John E. was a merchant of Dudley. Erasmus, a merchant of Roxbury. Mr. and Mrs. Gates's family consisted of three daughters and two sons, viz.: Sarah R., married Loren Andrews, (deceased), formerly President of Kenyon College, a man of rare intellectual attainments, and ranked among the leading men of Northern Ohio. Abbie E. married J. A. J. Kendig, a prominent lawyer of Chicago. Summer E. (deceased) was a member of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry; was taken prisoner by Moseby, and placed in Libby Prison; when exchanged his health was wrecked. His likes and dislikes were extreme, but his heart was as large as time, and his generosity as broad as eternity. William D., a graduate of Wheaton College and the Law School of Chicago, married Miss Ida Babcock, of La Grange, Ill., the daughter of a gentleman well known in the business circles of that State. In boyhood William D. was one whose fellowship was sought by all;that trait to-day finds him the genial, courteous attorney, as well as the designing, calculating manufacturer. Mary C., wife of' G, W. Oakly, located at Madison, Wis., and connected with the State Journal, the leading paper of the State. In 1852 Mr. Gates, with his family, came West, and permanently located on the property bought at Crystal Lake in 1839. He now gave his attention to the improvement of his prairie home. The zeal and good judgment which characterized his early life soon became manifest here, by his accumulating one of the largest landed estates in the county. For upward of sixty years he was Deacon in his church and an earnest worker in the cause of Christ. To-day we hear the words of gratitude spoken by many who are now classed as wealthy, that they owe their success in life to his assistance and words of encouragement. In his expenses he was honorable but exact; liberal in his contributions to whatever promised utility, but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects. His heart was warm in its affections. He exactly calculated every man's value, and gave him a solid esteem proportional to it. In private life of spotless character, morally without a blemish, his life was thoroughly domestic. In all, a remarkable man; his character was, in a mass perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent, and it may be truly said, that never did nature and fortune combine more completely to make a great business man, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. On June 24, 1876, he died at his home, in the village of Crystal Lake, the place that had witnessed the active life of his more matured manhood. When such men pass from our midst their loss seems irreparable.
History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen
Mrs Margaret Gillilan is the widow of Samuel Gillilan, who died Sept. 6, 1837, and is buried on the farm where Mrs. Gillilan lives. She is the daughter of Richard and Nancy (McNeal) Hill, and came with her husband from Pocahontas County, W. Va., in 1834. She is the only one living of a family of ten children. She has had a family of nine children, six -of whom- Deida, Lydia, Cliauncy, Nancy, Martha, and James-are deceased. The living-Electa, now Mrs. Levi Seibert; Tabitha, now Mrs. Floyd Clanson, of Missouri, and Richard, who is living with his mother. Mrs. Gillilan owns 430 acres of land two miles north of Algonquin. She came to McHenry County in 1834, and was probably the first white woman to cross Fox River. The Indians were rather friendly, enough so to steal their horse, which was afterward recovered. They lost the first crop of corn planted on account of sickness. At one time when a party of indians were in her house, one of them spat in a pot of boiling meat. Mrs. Gillilan sprang on him and put him out of the house which very much delighted the rest of the savages. [History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen]
John L. Griffing
Born and bred to the life of a farmer, and having followed it at times since leaving the parental roof-tree, John L. Griffing, of Gunnison county, (CO) living four miles from the town of Gunnison, on a very attractive and desirable ranch of three hundred and sixty acres which he has brought to a high state of cultivation and on which he has made extensive and valuable improvements, came to his present occupation as one of the leading farmers and stock-growers of western Colorado both through natural inclination and favorable circumstances. His early life was passed on his father's farm near Crystal Lake, McHenry county, Illinois, where he was born in 1856. His parents were Franklin and Lodema (Thompson) Griffing, natives of New York who settled in McHenry county, Illinois, in 1836, and from that time until near the death of the father were actively engaged in farming in that county. In 1878 the father's failing health brought the family, or those members of it who were still at home, to Colorado Springs, this state, but too late for much advantage to him, as he died in 1879, at the age of sixty-four. He was a veteran of the Civil war, having enlisted in Company A, Seventy-second Illinois Infantry, and served three years, participating in some of the severest battles of the conflict. The mother survived her husband twenty-two years and died at Colorado Springs in 1901, aged seventy-seven years. They were the parents of six children, John L. being the last born. He remained at home until 1876, except that some of his school days were passed in Chicago. In the year last named he came to Colorado and located where the town of Gunnison now opens its hospitable doors to tourists and pleasure-seekers from all over the world, there being then at that point no evidence of civilization or progress except one little country store. From this place as a base of operations he followed freighting and prospecting for four years. In 1880 he took up as a homestead half of the place he now owns and occupies, and has added to its extent by subsequent purchases until he now has a beautiful expanse of three hundred and sixty acres, rich in natural fertility and brought to abundant productiveness by judicious, energetic and skillful husbandry. His principal product from the soil is a fine quality of hay which he grows in large quantities, and he also conducts a flourishing and profitable stock industry, rearing and dealing in superior grades of well bred cattle. He has enriched the place with commodious, comfortable and attractive buildings and other improvements, which are capacious in extent and equipped with appurtenances for the requirements of the business that are of the most approved modern patterns. Mr. Griffing gives every detail of his large business his personal attention, and the results are commensurate with the outlay of skill and industry. As a citizen he stands high in the public regard as a wide-awake and progressive man, with admirable breadth of view and public-spirit, and with excellent business capacity wherewith to put his views in practice for the advancement of his community and the advantage of its people. (Source: Progressive Men of Western Colorado, Publ 1905. Transcribed by Kim Mohler)
Francis Marion Hills
Some men are born to own property, and can animate all their possessions. And in the eye of a cold and calculating reason, perhaps only they should own who can administer, they whose work carves out work for more and opens a path for all. For he is the rich man in whom the people are rich, and he is poor in whom they are poor. The fullness of health in the former answers its own ends, and runs over and has much to spare wherewith to inundate other men's necessities. Men of this class build factories and railroads, they develop mines and bring the wealth of new regions into the channels of trade, they found systems of commerce and sail all seas to foster them, they see the hidden treasures of the wilderness and command them to come forth, they put in motion the forces to compel obedience to the command, and needing a fulcrum for their lever, they start a town, and soon the wilds around them become as the garden of God, rejoicing on every side, laughing, clapping its hands, and bringing forth in abundance everything nourishing, and useful and valuable, which it has held in reserve. To this class belongs Francis Marion Hills, of Villagrove, Saguache county, the founder of the town and its first resident. After a long and
trying career, full of adventure and incident, he located in this region and at once began to plan for its peopling and development with results already cheeringly great and full of promise for future good of much greater magnitude. Mr. Hills was born in McHenry county, Illinois, near the town of Marengo, on November 10, 1838, and is the son of Calvin and Annisteen (Mead) Hills, natives of the state of New York, who passed the greater part of their married life in Illinois, dying there after many years of serviceable labor, the mother in 1876, and the father in 1888. The father was a skillful carpenter and prospered at his trade. He belonged to the Masonic order and was a Republican in politics, while in church affiliation he and his wife were of the Christian denomination. They had nine children, two of whom died in infancy and seven are living, Francis M., Martin S., Everill J., Mrs. Frank L. Dodge, Lucian J., Mrs. Roy G. White and John F. The first born of these, Francis M., received a good business education, remaining with his parents until he reached his legal majority, then, in 1859, impelled by the excitement over the discovery of gold in the neighborhood of Pike's Peak, he joined a party of fifteen at Chicago who were coming to the new region of promise, and with them journeyed by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri. Here ox teams were procured and the journey was continued overland to Fort Kearney. At that outpost they became convinced that their undertaking was useless, and the party broke up, some of the number returning east and Mr. Hills and others proceeding to California. This company left Fort Kearney on April 25th and reached their destination in California on September I7th next ensuing. After his arrival there Mr. Hills was employed in ranch and livery stable work until 1860, when he went to Puget Sound and for more than a year worked in the lumber woods skirting that wonderful sheet of water. In the fall of 1861 he returned to California and engaged in placer mining and farming, and three years later made a visit to his old Illinois home, going on water by way of Nicaragua and returning by way of the isthmus of Panama. He continued farming and mining in California until 1873, then came to Colorado and located at Fairplay, Park county, where he served two years as foreman of the placer diggings owned by Messrs. Clark & Smith. In 1875 he went to California Gulch, but in the fall returned to his ranch near Salida, a property which he and his brother, E. J. Hills, had bought in 1873, and gave his attention to farming. Two years he passed in ranching on that property, and in 1877 returned to California Gulch, near what is now Leadville, to take charge of the Stephen Wood & Lighter placer mines, holding the position until the fall of 1878. At that time he began prospecting for himself, and this he continued to September, 1879, when he returned to his ranch near Salida. In November, 1879, he bought his present property at Villagrove, and the next year sold his interest in the Salida ranch and moved to his new home, the only settler at the time in the neighborhood. His place was used as a stage station and the changes of teams were made there. A boarding house was also conducted on it until 1881, when Mr. Hills surveyed and laid out the townsite of Villagrove, which he still owns in addition to his ranch here of five hundred and twenty acres. Since locating here he has also conducted a ranch and sheep feeding place in the vicinity of Fort Collins, and in the years 1894 and 1895 he served as manager of the Hydraulic mines at Salmon City, Idaho, belonging to Messrs. Hageman & Grant. One-half of his Saguache county ranch is under cultivation and yields abundant crops of hay, grain and vegetables. While he has been somewhat occupied with other enterprises, his chief interest has been in this ranch and the surrounding country, and the development and improvement of these he has given his best energies and greatest attention. He has been a leading man in this country, connected with its progress in every helpful way, and inspiring its people with his own spirit and determination to make the most of it. In 1889, 1890 and 1891 he served as county commissioner of Saguache county, and many of the most useful and appreciated public improvements in the county were made during his tenure of this office and under his influence. Too much can scarcely be said of his public-spirit and breadth of view, or of the general esteem in which he is held as the founder and one of the chief promoters of the prosperity of the section. On December 21, 1864, he united in marriage with Miss Mary Allen, a native of Aurora, Erie county, New York. They have had five children. Of these Everill E. and William J. died, and Mrs. Washington I. Covert, Calvin A. and Mrs. John H. Parsons are living. All the family are consistent and conscientious Seventh-day Adventists in religious faith. (Source: Progressive Men of Western Colorado, Publ 1905. Transcribed by Tracy McAllister)
Mrs. E.M. Huntley was born in New York State in 1814, a daughter of Cornelius and Tamar Carman. But two of eight children are living-Mrs. Huntley and a brother Michael, now of Iowa. The deceased are-Charles, William, Lot, Mary, Sarah and Judith, She was married in 1832 to E.M Huntley, of New York, and. in 1847 they came to Illinois, and settled on the farm now owned by Mrs. Huntley. They had seven children, three of whom are deceased-David, Albert and Emory. David enlisted in the Ninety-fifth Illinois Infantrv, and was killed at the battle of Shiloh. Emory was drowned at Elgin in 1881. William served four vears in the Rebellion. He was wounded in the neck, from the effects of which his right side is partially paralyzed. Nancy married Henry Head, now of Iowa. Frank married Louisa Williams. Charles married Mary Vetchen, who died in 1865, and in 1868 he married Miss Smith. Mr. Huntley died in 1872. He was one of McHenry County's most honored and respected citizens. Mrs. Huntley's farm contains 136 acres of choice land. It is well stocked, and the improvements are all in good repair.
History of McHenry County, Illinois-1885 Transcribed by Anne Kunzen