GEORGE W. SHERWOOD

George W. Sherwood Abigail Osborn Sherwood Mother - Delia King Sherwood

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 511-513.

GEORGE WESLEY SHERWOOD (the god-father of the business interest at Englewood) was born at Romulus, New York, on the 16th of July, 1833, unto Wesley and Delia Elizabeth Sherwood (nee King). His book-learning was necessarily meagre, the stern hand of necessity compelling him at early years to face the battles of life, and to learn from nature's pages the elements going to make up a successful career; for such was his to be, full of incidents, and his accomplishment, for one springing from so humble origin, was unusually conspicuous. It is for us to record these matters in graphic word-pictures, since his most speaking language was the eloquence of brave, manly, useful deeds.

His father dying when he was quite young, George was adopted by his grandfather, with whom he removed to a farm near Adrian, Michigan, where he grew up in agricultural pursuits until the period of sixteen had come; then he went to the neighboring village of Adrian, and apprenticed himself to Hatswell & Andrews, machinists, to learn their trade. At twenty-one he changed his situation to the shops of the Michigan Southern & Lake Shore Railway, in the same village, where he remained three years. In 1857 he removed to Chicago, ever after his home, and where he was for many years a very actively useful citizen.

First entering the employ of the Rock Island Railway Company, he continued in its shops until May, 1860, when he accepted an offer from the Pittsburgh & Fort Wayne Railway Company as locomotive engineer. Obtaining an interest in the "Little Blue Dummy," the first means of communication via that line between Englewood and the "down town" city, he ran the same for three years; then he exchanged engines, and for a further space of seven years, ran over the same short-line upon the ''Novelty." Resigning this employ at the end of that period to go with the Michigan Southern Railway, he acted as engineer over the division between our city and Elkhart, Indiana, until 1872, when he wholly abandoned railroading, and having accumulated by saving habits a fair property, began to build up and look more closely after his private fortunes at Englewood, then known as "Junction Grove," which was principally centered in real estate around the corner of Wentworth Avenue and Sixty-third Street.

Then began a remarkable career of activity, covering some score of years, so fruitful and various in results that Mr. Sherwood, the pioneer of local enterprises, is fairly entitled to the honor of being called the founder of business at Englewood. His extreme energy manifested itself in myriad forms, chief among which let us note, en passant, the following: 1, building of the first hotel, called the "Sherwood House," which, after the fire, was succeeded by the "Sherwood Flats" of to-day; 2, the building and running of the first livery stable, whose business increased so rapidly that a second was soon constructed to accommodate the trade; 3, the establishment of the first omnibus and express line between the city and Englewood; 4, opening of a first boot and shoe shop; 5, a first meat market; 6, a first barber shop; 7, a first drug store; 8, a first ice route in 1874; and 9, the first street sprinkler service about 1878. Most of the foregoing enterprises were later sold out to others, as he went on in his self-appointed labors, of useful upbuildings from nothing to what has now become one of Chicago's most solid suburbs-within-limits.

Nor must we neglect to note that he was chiefly instrumental in first bringing the post office to his town, where he saw it located in one of his buildings, and in juxtaposition to which he put in a first news line. When the beautiful South Park was being laid out, he aided much in teaming toward shaping that urban paradise. We thus for the first time begin to realize what a man he was for the auspicious openings of a new place of metropolitan residence; he did more than any other in making business commencements, and was a source of cheer and encouragement to those who sought their fortunes in that environment up to the very day of his death.

In 1883 came the severest visit of fire experienced by the new town, Mr. Sherwood's loss including every building he owned, save his private residence at No. 6317 Wentworth Avenue (still standing and occupied by his widow). Fortunately, being well insured, and having more good fortune than some in obtaining favorable settlements with the underwriters, he was soon enabled to reconstruct his visible signs of prosperity.

Then, in December, 1886, came the beginning of the end, in that "unwelcome visitor and grim,'' heart disease. His life had been altogether too active; at the expense of reserve vital energy, he had been slowly selling his existence to railways for ordinary wages, giving up, to enhance their fortunes, hours required by nature for sleep or rest, until imprudence became a habit. Finally came a day of reckoning, to whose demands all of us in turn must yield ourselves. In October, 1890, he had a heavy stroke of paralysis, followed by another, and yet a third at the time of his death, September 4, 1894. His remains were borne by hosts of loving friends to Oakwoods Cemetery, where they wait the final call to judgment.

He was a very liberal man in his religious views, not regularly attending any place of public worship, but a quiet, worthy citizen, respected by all, and exceedingly liberal at all times with his purse in helping charities and struggling churches. The poor did not seek him in vain. Politically he was a "dyed-in-the-wool" Democrat, faithful to firm convictions; fraternally, a Blue Lodge Mason. A bright, shining light went out when our old friend was no more on this earth. The first generation of Englewood had no more truly historical personage; for when the final audit of its commercial prosperity and beginnings is heard, George Wesley Sherwood will be found in the front rank, if not, indeed, the very leader.

He was married November 19, 1853, by Anderson H. Sargeant, his uncle, a Justice of the Peace (with whom in boyhood he made his home for several years), at Adrian, Michigan, to Miss Abigail Matilda Osborn, who survives him, and promises, like her ancestry, to live to a good old age. They had eleven children, three of whom dying without issue, we do not enumerate by name; the eight living are as follows: Edward Wesley, in the employ of the Pittsburgh & Fort Wayne Railway; George Porter, foreman on the Chicago end of the Pullman and Hastings Express; Alice May, who married Wilson K. Hoyt, of Mishawaka, Indiana; Mary Adelia, who married William J. Black, Superintendent of street sprinkling in Englewood; Lucia Dewey, who married John S. Blaksley; Carrie Matilda, Charles King, Albert Rollins. The last three being young and unmarried.

It is matter for deep regret that no more has been ascertained by research of the immediate relatives about the Sherwood antecedents, which are undoubtedly of very respectable origin.

Of Mrs. Sherwood's line, however, it is possible to give a very correct and extended, as well as highly honorable, pedigree. Her parents came to Michigan in 1840, from Abingdon, Massachusetts, their names being John William and Mary Whiting Osborn (nee Wheeler). The said John W. Osborn was a son of John Osborn, who served in the Revolutionary War upon the famous war vessel "Alliance," Capt. Luther Litts, of Marshfield, Massachusetts, and was engaged in the bloody battle of Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia, at which time Capt. Litt's men boarded and captured an English man-of-war, (his brother Thomas was with Washington's army at Roxbury, while he was besieging Boston; also at Yorktown, at the time of surrender of Lord Cornwallis,) he married Miss Abigail McFarlane.

The last said John Osborn was a son of George Osborn, who came to America in boyhood, first settling in Boston, and following the sea for some years; afterwards, in 1753, at the age of twenty, settling at Pembroke, Massachusetts, building a home nearly opposite the "Old Osborn House." He was one of a company of minute men on the memorable day of the Battle of Lexington, to march from Pembroke to Marshfield, and, according to the Muster Roll in the State Archives, at Boston, he "served 2 days; wages per month, 2; due, 2s.; miles traveled, 40." He married (1), Sarah Wade, of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, by whom he had twelve children, eight being males; (2), Deborah Atwood, by whom he had three children.

The above Mary Whiting Wheeler (Osborn) was a daughter of William Wheeler, of Vermont, (a son of William Wheeler, who married Sarah Parkhurst,) who married Miss Jerushr Whiting, a daughter of Jotham and Susannah Whiting (nee Wilder, descended from a branch of the early Hingham, Massachusetts, Wilders).

 

– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on May 27, 2007.

 

DISCLAIMER:  The submitter is not related to the subject of this biography nor is she related to anyone mentioned in the biography.