JOSEPH DAGGITT

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 639-640

JOSEPH DAGGITT, a retired farmer and pioneer settler of Cook County, was born April 5, 1821, in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. The family is a well-known one in England, and embraced many generations of well-to-do and respected farmers. Robert Daggitt, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, tilled the I. K. Thorpe Farm, three miles from Bridlington, and near Ruddeston, in Yorkshire. He was a religious man and had many engaging qualities. He reached the age of eighty-three years, and was buried in Ruddeston Cemetery. His wife, who was a Miss Ringgold, bore him a large family of children. Of these only Robert Daggitt came to America.

The latter was twice married. His first wife, Martha Lightholder, was born at Ovenden, near Halifax, and died in England. She was a bright and intelligent woman, devoted to her family and the church. She passed away November 9, 1835, at the age of forty-one years. She was the mother of the following children: Joseph, Mary, Thomas, Hannah, John, Rachel, James, Ann and Elizabeth. All these resided near Chicago at one time. Robert Daggitt’s second wife was Elizabeth Mitchell.

In 1838 Robert Daggitt set out with his family for America on board a sailing-vessel, the old “Ben Franklin.”  After a voyage of forty-five days they landed in New York, and at once set out for Chicago. From Buffalo to Detroit they traveled on a schooner, and after a three-days rest continued their journey on the steamer “Illinois,” then on her maiden trip. William B. Ogden, the first Mayor of Chicago, endeavored to persuade them to remain in the city, saying that the town needed just such large families of wholesome-looking people. Mr. Daggitt was determined to engage in farming, however, and after remaining about a month in the city he purchased a quarter-section of land near the northern border of Cook County. To this additions were made from time to time until the family had possession of nearly one thousand acres of land.

Those were pioneer days, fall of hardships and trials, now affording pleasant reminiscences for the few survivors and their descendants. On their first Sunday in Chicago the family attended St. James’ Episcopal Church, on the North Side, where Mr. Joseph Daggitt says he saw few Parisian headdresses. Most of the ladies wore plain white sunbonnets. The first two years were full of difficulties for the new-comers, but they conquered every obstacle and became prosperous citizens. Nearly all the children married and settled in this vicinity. James, the seventh, was killed by the falling of a tree when but seventeen years of age.

Robert Daggitt was a faithful Methodist, as was also his wife. He died in 1871, aged seventy-nine years, having survived his second wife by several years. He was buried in his own cemetery, now known as Grace Cemetery, on the county line, east of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, for which be donated the land. He left a widow, who is yet living. He was a man of sterling character, firm and true in all his dealings. He was strict in the observance of the Sabbath, and brought up his children the same way. In political principle he was a Whig, and joined the Republican party upon its organization. Just and upright in principle and conduct, he won and retained the esteem of all his acquaintances, and left to his children a Noble example.

Joseph Daggitt’s school advantages were limited principally to the teachings of the Sunday-school. In his day the “three R’s” were taught there by those who had been a little more fortunate than their pupils. He spent his youth principally on the farm. His father being a cabinet maker by trade, Joseph and two of his brothers learned that occupation also, and followed it for many years.

About 1850 he built a hotel near the Lake County line, on the old Green Bay Road, and conducted it until the advent of the railroad diverted travel from that thoroughfare. He then turned his attention to farming, and at one time owned three hundred acres of land, which was gradually sold off. He owned the present site of the village of Ravinia, and he is yet the possessor of considerable real estate near the village of Glencoe and in Chicago and Evanston, as well as farming land in Lake County. He has seen many years, during his early residence here, in which land was not salable for cash.

Mr. Daggitt was married, on New Year’s Day, 1872, to Miss Caroline Lovenia Dennis, a daughter of James and Martha (Foster) Dennis. Mrs. Daggitt was born in 1843, in an old blockhouse on the site of Wilmette, once owned by the Beaubien family, one of the earliest families in Cook County. The property on which Wilmette stands was once owned by Mrs. Daggitt’s grandmother, Mary Johnson Dennis.

— Submitted by Sherri Hessick on March 23, 2001

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