Stephenson County Illinois

Alfred Wise

HON. ALFRED H. WISE, is a prominent farmer and stock-dealer living on Cedar Springs Farm, Harlem Township. His life is but another instance of what may be made from small beginnings. His parents were William and Hannah (Speese) Wise, who were of old German stock of Pennsylvania. They came from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania., in 1848, to Stephenson County, and settled in Florence Township, afterward removing to Freeport, where the father died in 1878; the motherís death took place eight years later, November 16, 1886, in Harlem Township, when she had attained seventy-seven years of age. She left a record of many Christian virtues and was held in high esteem by the community at large. She was a worthy member of the Baptist Church in Freeport, of which her husband was a Deacon. Her death was quite sudden, and she expired at the house of her son, Alfred H. Wise. Of their children, Elizabeth A., Sarah J., Mary, Emma B. and Katie are deceased; J. J. is President of the Clark & Wise Axle Grease Company of Chicago. E. E. Wise, another son, is President of the Chicago Cottage Organ Company.

Alfred H. Wise, the subject of this sketch, was born in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania., October. 22, 1830, and came to Stephenson County with his parents in 1848, when eighteen years of age. He had attended excellent common schools before leaving Pennsylvania, and continued to do so in Stephenson County until he was about nineteen years old. At twenty he started in business for himself, establishing a hack-line between Freeport, Elgin, Galena and Dubuque, which he operated several years and was very successful in making considerable money, which he faithfully turned over to his parents. During the latter part of the time, he associated himself with the Hon. David H. Sunderland, subsequently State Senator, when they ran a daily line from Freeport to Rockford. They ultimately sold out, and Mr. Wise went East for a visit. His life had up to this time been a ceaseless round of work, and he thought it was time to take a rest. On his return to Freeport he was employed in the grain warehouse of C. J. Marsh & Co., as a grain buyer. This house soon afterward was changed to Greenwood, Griffin & Co., and Mr. Wise remained with this firm as clerk and grain buyer until he formed a partnership with Mr. H. H. Taylor, under the firm name of Taylor & Wise. Up to this time he had given all the money he had made to his parents; now he thought he would put his earnings to business use.

Taylor & Wise engaged in the grain and agricultural implement business, and continued together for about two years. When they dissolved Mr. Wise carried on the same business on his own account until 1873. He was very successful until his health compelled him to close his business. He had worked so hard that a complete cessation of business was deemed imperative, and accordingly he went to California, spending one winter with his family, then returned to Freeport and purchased the farm where he now lives, known as Cedar Springs Farm. As showing the estimation in which he was held by the community, he was elected President of the Second National Bank of Freeport, Aug. 22, 1882, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Hon. John H. Adams. Mr. Wise had attracted the attention of the moneyed men of Freeport earlier in his career, and they had watched his upward progress with admiration. Before his election to the Presidency he was known to the bank as a shrewd financier, and the stockholders felt that they had an acquisition in putting Mr. Wise at the head of the bank. He was and is regarded as a man of the strictest integrity. He is at the present one of the Directors of the Second National Bank, having resigned as President on account of ill-health and at the urgent advice of his physicians.

Mr. and Mrs. Wise are prominent members of the Baptist Church. In 1870 Mr. Wise paid the entire debt of the First Baptist Church of Freeport, amounting to $1,700, and has contributed largely toward that church for thirty years. He has also assisted liberally in building other churches in Freeport and vicinity. He has been engaged in various business enterprises in which he has met with uniform success. It seemed that an enterprise simply wanted his countenance directed toward it for it to succeed. His farm is one of the handsomest in Stephenson County, being fully equipped with modern buildings and implements, and presents a beautiful pastoral scene.

Mr. Wise was married in Freeport, Nov. 24, 1854, to Miss Caroline Schofield, daughter of Rev. James and Caroline (McAllister) Schofield, who were natives of New York State and came to Stephenson County about 1844, where Rev. James Schofield organized the First Baptist Church of Freeport. He was pastor there for six years, when feeling it necessary to labor in the Masterís vineyard without a settled charge, he resigned and engaged in home missionary work in Iowa. He has finally been compelled to give up his labors, being an almost helpless invalid at the residence of his daughter and son-in-law in Chicago. His wife died in Freeport May 9, 1852. Mrs. Wise was born in Chautauqua County, N. Y., Aug. 15, 1829. She is a sister of that gallant soldier, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield.

Mr. and Mrs. Wise have become the parents of seven children, two of whom are dead. The living are Burton W., Hannah C., James J., John M. and Henry A.; those deceased are Willie S. and Alfred S., who died in infancy. Burton W. married Miss Alice Shaffer, and resides in Freeport; Hannah is the wife of Henry G. Andress, and lives in Chicago; James married Miss Eliza Gaston, and resides in Beliot, Wis.; John N., named after his illustrious uncle, Gen. Schofield, resides at home with his father; Henry Alfred is with G. M. Gross & Co., manufacturers of cloaks, at Chicago, and already an ardent Republican.

Mr. Wise is engaged in farming and stock-raising, callings which he finds health-giving, quiet, and every way congenial to his tastes. He and his wife are held in the highest esteem in the community in which they live. He has taken an active and prominent part in all social and business affairs of the county, and no man stands higher in the estimation of his fellow-citizens. He is the founder and proprietor of the famous Cedar Springs herd of Short-horn cattle, which has an enviable reputation both at home and abroad.

Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits & Biographical 1888 Stephenson Co IL Pg 221-22

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