SAMUEL C. BARTLETT

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 101-102

SAMUEL COLCORD BARTLETT was born December 11, 1845, in Peoria, Illinois, and died March 19, 1893, in Winnetka, in the same state.   His ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the United States.  John Bartlett, senior, emigrated to Newbury, Massachusetts, in the ship “Mary and John,” in 1634.  Richard Bartlett, senior, a brother of the above-mentioned John, came also to Newbury in 1635.  He died May 25, 1647.  The eldest of his four children was Richard, junior.  The descent from the latter to the subject of this sketch is traced through Richard, Stephen, Joseph, Samuel Colcord and Amos Pettegill.  The last-named was born May 14, 1812, in Salisbury, New Hampshire, and died in Peoria, Illinois, in March, 1895.  He married Sarah M. Rogers, and moved to Peoria in 1836.  He was a successful and reputable merchant, as was his father before him.  He had two sons and three daughters, namely: Mary E., Sarah M. (wife of John S. Stephens), Samuel C., William H. and Helen.

Samuel C. Bartlett was a graduate of the Peoria High School, and entered Dartmouth College, from which he graduated with the highest honors in 1867.  After leaving college, Mr. Bartlett was first employed in the grain office of Beardsley & Rankin, of Chicago.  The following year he returned to his old home, Peoria, and engaged in the insurance business.  A year later, he started there in the grain trade, under the firm name of S. C. Bartlett & Company, struggling along and gradually picking up a small New England shipping business.  In the summer of 1871 his brother, William H., then fresh from Dartmouth, went into the firm, first as bookkeeper and then as partner, and ever after the interests of the brothers were identical.  Mr. Bartlett was always a careful business man, but at the same time showed a great deal of enterprise, and did not confine himself at all to the beaten tracks of trade.  His firm established the first office for the sale of western grain that was opened in New England by any western house, and at the time of his death it was represented from Portland, Maine, to Jacksonville, Florida, at every grain center by their brokers or agents.  Its business expanded so rapidly and covered so large a territory, that for years before the death of the senior partner it had the largest all-rail shipping business in the West.    Starting, as he did, with no business connections and little practical knowledge, he built up little by little a magnificent grain trade, and at the end there was not a branch of it, from the books in the office to the inspection of grain, that he was not competent to eversee better than the best man in his employ.

He liked familiar faces about him, keeping them as long as they served him faithfully, and promoting them from the lowest to the highest positions as a reward of efficient service.  One of the most important of these positions is now filled by one who was an office-boy twenty years ago.  All claims or differences growing out of dealings with other firms were always settled promptly and on an equitable basis.  So well known was his reputation for fairness, honor and integrity, that it was not uncommon for him to be asked to act as arbitrator in matters between his own and other houses.

Always generous, he was never known to refuse to assist a case of actual need.  Public-spirited and willing to contribute more than his full share to public enterprises, he habitually refused all offices.  In fact, the only public positions ever accepted by him were in connection with the Peoria Board of Trade.  He was a member of the Chicago and Union League Clubs of Chicago.  Systematically a hard worker during the first ten years of his business life, latterly, however, he had been taking life much easier.  He had a decided taste for literature and had commenced to collect a library.  Having a great liking for gardening, he ornamented his house and grounds at Peoria with fine plants and choice flowers.  In the spring of 1892 he bought a lovely residence at Winnetka, an attractive suburb on the lake, north of Chicago.  The grounds are extensive, lying on a bold, high bluff, overlooking the lake, and he employed a landscape-gardener to lay them out in beautiful designs, which have since his demise been improved yearly, making them the most attractive grounds on the north shore.

His health gradually began to fail, and in January, 1893, he went to Pass Christian, a popular resort on the Gulf, east of New Orleans.  Remaining there some weeks and receiving no apparent benefit, he went to Asheville, North Carolina.   It was here that a physician, having diagnosed his case correctly, told him he had but a few months to live. He received the news with calm resignation, displaying that splendid courage which had never failed him in the most trying period of his life, and preparations were immediately made for the return home.   They reached Chicago on the morning of March 16, and three days later, surrounded by the faces he loved so well, one of the truest hearts that ever beat, a magnificent specimen of American manhood, calmly and peacefully obeyed the summons that awaits us all.

June 22, 1876, at St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Bartlett was married to Miss Laura Amelia Benton.  The sons of Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett, named Samuel Colcord and Edmund Benton, were born, respectively, November 1, 1882, and June 27, 1888.  Mrs. Bartlett’s father, William H. Benton, was for many years General Manager of the St. Louis Mutual Life Insurance Company.  He was a native of Harper’s Ferry, Virginnia, where his ancestors settled many generations ago.  He died while on a visit to Chicago in 1883.  He was a cousin of Hon. Thomas H. Benton, who represented Missouri so many years in the United States Senate.  This family has contributed many prominent and respected citizens to the country, especially in the South.   Eliza Ann Woodruff, mother of Mrs. Bartlett, was a daughter of William H. Woodruff, and a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where was the old homestead of the Woodruff family.  She died in St. Louis, November 18, 1882.

                                -- Submitted on February 26, 2000 by Sherri Hessick ( shessick@flash.net )