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Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 163-164.

WALES TOBEY, a leading citizen of Worth Township, claims New York as the State of his nativity, his birth having occurred near Plattsburg, on the 28th of September, 1831. His parents were Jesse and Statira (DeKalb) Tobey. The father, who was born in Champlain, N. Y., was an attorney by profession and became a large land-owner and iron-founder. He traveled extensively through the West, and in the community where he lived was recognized as one of its prominent business men. His death occurred in Plattsburg, N. Y., in July, 1873, at the age of seventy-three years. The Tobey family was of English origin. Jesse Tobey, Sr., the grandfather of Wales, was one of four brothers who in an early day came to America. The others settled in Connecticut, Vermont and Ohio, respectively. Mrs. Statira Tobey was a native of the Empire State, but her parents were born in Pennsylvania, and were of German descent. Her death occurred in 1841. Wales Tobey spent his boyhood days upon a farm in Jay Township, Essex County, N. Y., and attended the public schools and an academy. Thus he acquired a good English education, which well fitted him for the practical duties of life. At the age of nineteen he left home and entered upon his business career as book-keeper and salesman in a mercantile establishment in Newport, Mich., where he was employed for three years. He believed it would be to his advantage to begin business in the West, and his judgment was not at fault, as the years have shown. He worked for the firm of E. B. & S. Ward, relatives of his grandmother. When the three years had passed, he went to Grand Haven, Mich., where he began business on his own account as a dealer in wood, furnishing steamboats on the lake. In 1851 he became a resident of Milwaukee, and thence went to Strong's Landing, Wis. The following spring he came to Cook County, Ill., settling in Worth Township.

In 1856, Mr. Tobey purchased his present farm near Worth Station. It was then a tract of wild land, but he at once began to clear and cultivate it, and now has a finely improved farm, supplied with all modern accessories and conveniences. He has bought and sold considerable real estate, and this branch of his business has also proved to him a good source of income. For ten years after locating on his farm, his nearest postoffice was Blue Island, a distance of nine miles, but through his efforts offices were established at Worth, South Mount Forest and Grosskopf. For a year after this result was attained the mail was brought from Blue Island by private enterprise, for the Government had not then established a mail route. Mr. Tobey, in connection with two other men, supported the mail route by subscription.

On the 8th of January, 1858, Mr. Tobey was united in marriage with Elizabeth Van Horn, daughter of A. C. Van Horn, of Homer, Ill. They had three children: John Dillon, a dealer in hay, grain and ice, in Chicago; Emma, wife of F. Hepperley, of Norfolk, Neb.; and Marion, wife of John Elliott, of Winside, Neb. The mother of this family passed away February 14, 1870, at the age of thirty years. She was a member of the Methodist Church.

Mr. Tobey was married to his second wife, Elizabeth M. Burt, daughter of Alvin Burt, of Westport, N. Y., January 8, 1874. She was the mother of one child, Charles Clifford Tobey. She passed away June 14, 1892, at the age of forty-seven years.

Mr. Tobey attends the services of the Methodist Church at Worth, which was built upon land contributed by him. In earlier years he was a Republican, but since the formation of the Prohibition party has been identified with that movement. He has never sought, nor would he accept, public office. He has witnessed the marvelous development of Chicago and Cook County for more than forty years, and has borne no small part therein, ever striving to promote the moral and intellectual growth of the community as well as its material prosperity.


– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on May 27, 2007.


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