BUCHANAN, Thomas

1st Biography of Thomas BUCHANAN
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church.   Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pp 534-537

Thomas BUCHANAN, now deceased, who resided in Rockford 40 years ago and was engaged in manufacturing here for a number of years, was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, 15 May 1826.   [The second bio of Thomas BUCHAHAH which follows gives his date of birth as 1835.]   His father and grandfather were molders by trade and always lived in Scotland.   Both parents of our subject died during the early manhood of their son Thomas.   When a lad Thomas BUCHANAN acquired a fair education in the schools of Scotland, and while still a boy worked with his father, learning the molder's trade, which he followed during his residence in his native country.  He was first married there when 21 years of age to Miss Jane SMITH, a daughter of William SMITH, who afterward came to America, and died in Woonsocket [Providence County], RI.  Soon after their marriage the young couple started for the U. S., settling in Woonsocket, where Mr. BUCHANAN worked at the molder's trade for a few years.  Believing that he might have still better advantages in the middle west, he resumed his journey and took up his abode near Poplar Grove, IL, where he purchased a tract of land and engaged in general farming for some time.  On putting aside the plow he came to Rockford, where he again worked at the molder's trade for a brief period.  A stock company being formed with a capital stock of $50,000 for the purpose of manufacturing machinery, Mr.  BUCHANAN became the owner of one-fifth of the stock and was active in the management of the business, but after several years the company failed and Mr. BUCHANAN thus lost $6,000.  He afterward took charge of a foundry here and remained as foreman for several years.  During that time his health became impaired and he and his wife made a trip to Scotland, visiting for a short period in the land of his nativity among old friends and acquaintances of his youth.  He then returned to Rockford and was again engaged in the foundry business until he was obliged to retire from active life because of illness.

It was subsequent to his arrival in Rockford that Mr. BUCHANAN was called upon to mourn the loss of his first wife, who died in this city on 04 Aug 1873, leaving three children:   Thomas John, whose death occurred 22 Jul 1902; Jennie, now Mrs. HOWE; and Bertha, wife of a Mr. DODGE.  In Belvidere [Boone County], IL, Mr. BUCHANAN was again married, his second union being with Miss Mary CUNNINGHAM, also a native of Scotland, and a daughter of Hugh and Margaret (ANDERSON) CUNNINGHAM.  Her parents came to America at an early day, settling in Pawtucket [Providence County], RI, where the father engaged in business as a wholesale and retail clothing merchant.  He imported clothing on an extensive scale and also dealt in domestic articles, conducting his store with success for a number of years, after which he retired from the trade and removed to MA, living for a short time there.  He next came to the West, settling in Belvidere, IL, where in connection with his son and son-in-law he established a grocery store which he carried on for a few years.  Later he formed a partnership with a man who proved to be dishonest and caused the failure of the business in 1861.  Mr. BUCHANAN then joined his son and son-in-law in the establishment of a hardware store and after a few years he turned his attention to the grain business in Belvidere, but did [p 537] not meet with anticipated success in that venture.  He then gave up all business interests and lived retired in Belividere until his death.  His wife also passed away in that city.  Only three of the children are now living:  Mrs. BUCHANAN; Mrs. LIVINGSTON, a resident of Belivdere; and James Cunningham, of Nova Scotia.

The death of Mr. BUCHANAN occurred 04 Mar 1898, when he was about 73 years of age.   He was a member of the school board in Rockford for eight years and held other minor offices.  In politics he was a stanch Republican, and fraternally was connected with the Masonic lodge of Rockford.  He always took a deep, active, and helpful interest in church work, both he and his wife being zealous workers in the Presbyterian church here, in which he served as elder for some time.  His life was always in harmony with its principles and he advocated every measure which tended to uplift mankind or instill in the lives of those whom he met principles of integrity, morality, and benevolence.  Through long years he was most industrious and enterprising and by the careful manangement of his resources and judicious investment he was enabled to leave his family in comfortable financial circumstances.  More than 40 years ago he built a residence where his widow now resides, at No. 1127 Buchanan Street, that thoroughfare havng been named in his honor.  A Miss NORRIS resides with Mrs. BUCHANAN, assisting her in the work and acting as companion for several years.

2nd Biography of Thomas BUCHANAN
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 720-722

Thomas BUCHANAN, who is at present residing in Rockford [Winnebago County, IL], has undergone many hardships and privations that he might help to bring about the prosperous condition of this section which we see today.  He has been very successful in business interests, and for the past two years has lived retired from active life.   He was born in the village of Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in May 1835.   [The above bio gives his date of birth as 15 May 1826.]  His direct progenitor, John BUCHANAN, was a native of that shire.  His grandfather, Thomas, also born in that shire, was a molder by trade, and spent his entire life in Scotland.   His wife bore the maiden name of Ann GLEN; she was also born in Scotland, and there her decease occurred.

The father of our subject also followed the occupation of a molder, and in his native town married Miss Agnes BLACK, the mother of our subject, who was born in the parish of Shotts and is a daughter of William BLACK.  To them were born a family of five children:   Thomas, Agnes, William, John, and Robert.  Our subject and his brother John are the only members of the family who came to the New World.  The latter resides in Sacramento [Sacramento County], CA.

The original of this sketch commenced at the early age of ten years to learn the trade of a molder, which occupation he followed for seven years in Glasgow, then in 1847 set sail from that city on the packet "Henry Clay," and landed in NY after a voyage of 33 days.  From that city he went to Woonsocket [Providence County], RI, and was employed until 1855 with the Woonsocket Furnace Company.

In 1855 Mr. BUCHANAN came to IL and located on a farm which he had previously purchased eight miles north of Belvidere.  There he was engaged in cultivating the soil for a year, and in the spring of 1856 came to Rockford, at once entering the employ of EMERSON, TALCOTT & Company.  Remaining with them a few weeks, our subject engaged to work with CLARK & UTTER, by whom he was employed until 1858, when he went to CA via NY and the Isthmus of Panama.  He worked in the mines for seven months, then started a foundry at Downieville, Sierra County, [CA], where he remained until 1862, and then returned to Rockford and worked for F. H. MANNY, with whom he continued for 26 years, the greater part of the time acting as foreman of the foundry.  As before stated, Mr. BUCHANAN has retired from active work and is residing in his present home on the street which bears his name.

Our subject and Miss Jane SMITH were united in marriage in Jul 1847.  Mrs. BUCHANAN was born in Renfrewshire, town of Neilston, Scotland, and departed this life in 1878.   To them was born one son, Thomas J., who married Alice  BROWNELL and is the father of two children, Jennie and Bertha.  He of whom we write is an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church, and in politics votes with the Republican party.  For six years he was a member of the School Board and has been otherwise very actively interested in local affairs.  The present wife of our subject, to whom he was married in 1878, was Miss Mary CUNNINGHAM, a native of Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.