Click here to RETURN to the Cook Cnty ILGenWeb USGenWeb HOME page

Cook County ILGenWeb Genealogy User Submitted Data



                                      GEORGE G. LIGARE
                                         Biography
                                    Cook County, Illinois

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.



GEORGE G. LIGARE

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 23-26

GEORGE GOATER LIGARE, an old-time merchant and voyageur, was
born August 1, 1821, near Winchester, England.  All his
ancestors, so far as known, were of English birth.   His
grandfather lived in Derbyshire, where his father, Isaac
Ligare, was born.  The latter served as an officer in the
Third Ceylon Regiment in the British army, and was for many
years in the East Indies.  He was a brave and efficient
officer,  and died in the prime of life, about the time the
subject of this sketch was born. George G. Ligare received
his primary education in England, attending Blake's Academy,
in Winchester.  He was also a pupil of the Rev. Edward
McCaul, a noted divine of the English Church.  Mr. Ligare
was expected by his friends to enter the ministry, but at
the age of fifteen years he took up the study of law with
George Twynans, an old and well-known lawyer of ability at
Winchester.  The law had few attractions for him.  He had
resolved to enter upon a mercantile career.  His mother died
when he was about sixteen years of age, and shortly after he
set out for Georgetown, Demerara, South America, where he
had a relative already established in the mercantile
business.

He made the journey in the little brig "Reliance," of about
three hundred tons, commanded by Captain Beynon.   The
voyage consumed thirty-five days, and during a storm of
three days in the Bay of Biscay, neither sun, moon nor stars
were visible.  The yellow fever was raging on the coast of
South America at this time (1838), and Mr. Ligare relates,
as an example of its severity, that out of a regiment of one
thousand British soldiers landed there, only two hundred
survived, and most of the vessels lay at anchor with- out
sailors, on account of the ravages of the plague.  The
reader can easily conceive that in that wild region it was
not easy to secure medical attendance or good nursing.   Mr.
Ligare fell ill of the prevailing epidemic immediately upon
landing, but in spite of privations and hardships, his good,
youthful English blood brought him through to recovery.  The
large amount of calomel administered to him caused all the
hair to come out of his head, and his limbs to swell, and
for many months after his recovery his limbs caused him much
pain and inconvenience.

For six months he was employed by a merchant named Anderson,
after which he entered into a contract for three years with
the mercantile house of Henry Bruce & Company.  He still has
the original written contract, under date of March 18, 1839,
endorsed with his release, dated January 30, 1841.  The
stipulated remuneration of Mr. Ligare under this contract
was fourteen hundred guilders for the first year, eighteen
hundred for the second year, and twenty-one hundred for the
third year.  February 1, 1841, he formed a partnership with
a relative by marriage, named Robert McMurray.  Under the
firm name of George G. Ligare & Company, they engaged in a
general mercantile trade, and soon became well known, and
through McMurray's connection in Great Britain, their credit
was widely extended. Mr. Ligare's reminiscences of his
apprenticeship and subsequent business career during the
days of slavery in Demerara are intensely interesting. He
was successful in business, but the emancipation of the
slaves in the British West Indies caused a great depression
in trade and values, and he was glad to sell out his
interest to his partner for a mere song, and get of that
country. About this time, he had a second attack of yellow
fever, which hastened his determination to remove. When he
went to Demerara, slavery was in existence to its full
extent, and the arrival of cargoes of slaves was of frequent
occurrence, and later prize cargoes of slaves were landed
there by foreign men-of-war.  Soon all the slaves in the
British West Indies were emancipated by the British
Government by Compensation Emancipation. They had to serve
three years' apprenticeship before they were entirely free.
Mr. Ligare saw all the workings of this, but it proved the
ruin of the planters, and when he left plantations could be
purchased for less than the cost of machinery, because they
could not be run profitably with free negro labor.  Then
coolies were imported and tried, but the climate killed most
of them soon after their arrival at Georgetown.

It was his intention to visit his brother, Charles W.
Ligare, then serving as the First Surveyor-General of New
Zealand, but he could find no vessel on the Western Atlantic
Coast that would take him in that direction.  He embarked at
Georgetown on the small brig "Dromo," Captain Pickering, for
Old Salem, Massachusetts, where he hoped to find a whaler
bound for the South Seas.  He three times narrowly escaped
being shipwrecked.  Not finding a whaler at Salem, he
successively visited in this quest Boston, New London, New
Bedford and New York.  In the latter city he fell in with
Eliazer Williams, the pretended Dauphin of France.  In
company with Williams, he traveled West to visit the
Indians. They went by canal to Oneida, New York, where they
visited the remnants of tribes on the Reservation.
Proceeding onward, they took a steamer at Buffalo, by which
they reached Mackinaw. Here they chartered a small
sail-boat, and after narrowly escaping shipwreck at
Ashwishwa and at North Manistique, they reached Green Bay,
Wisconsin.  Here they endeavored to impart the Gospel to the
Indians, and here Williams remained, it being his home.  Mr.
Ligare spent the summer of 1844 in this vicinity, visiting
all the people on the Fox and Wolf Rivers, mingling freely
with the Indians.  He spent considerable time during the
summer on the Wolf River, in company with John Williams, son
of the Dauphin.  While among the Indians on the Fox and Wolf
Rivers, he became intimately acquainted with the famous
Indian chief, Oshkosh, who practically adopted him, giving
him the Indian name, "Autauwacomac" (lizard fish). This name
arose from the fact that he preserved a fish in whiskey.
During this year, he made his home part of the time with Dr.
Darling, of Fond du Lac. At Fox Lake (now Waushara),
Wisconsin, he met Hamilton Stevens, a land speculator and
capitalist from Old Mexico, and a friend of Almonte. From
him Mr. Ligare secured a sub-contract to carry the mail from
Fond du Lac to Portage, which he carried out during the
succeeding sum- mer, making the trips on the back of a pony.
This pony he rode into Chicago in the autumn of 1845, his
possessions also including at that time $16 in cash. He put
up at the old Sherman House, and by the time his resources
were exhausted, he secured employment, through the influence
of Augustus Garrett, then Mayor of Chicago, with Sylvester
Lynd, a dealer in lumber on Market Street.  Shortly after,
he went with George Armour to Ottawa, Illinois, where Mr.
Armour had a contract on the canal. He employed Mr. Ligare
as a clerk in his store at that point, but after several
months the latter returned to the service of Mr. Lynd, in
Chicago, by whom he was employed as before.

At length Mr. Ligare embarked in business, opening a
lumber-yard at the corner of North Water Street and Dearborn
Avenue for Timothy Wright.  This he conducted successfully,
and afterward opened another yard, on the present site of
the Chicago & Northwestern Passenger Station, for the same
party.  Subsequently he went into partnership with Darius
Clark, a lumber manufacturer, conducting a lumber-yard on
the southwest corner of Market and Madison Streets.   Mr.
Clark shortly afterward sold his mills to Milne & Ferguson,
and Mr. Ligare became the sole owner of the lumber-yard,
which he conducted for some years.  At the solicitation of
W. T. Richmond, Mr. Ligare entered into a partnership, under
the firm name of Richmond & Ligare, which continued the
business on the same site, ultimately selling out to Robert
Meadowcroft.   Mr.  Ligare  then became associated with
Thomas Richmond, the father of his former partner, and they
established a lumber-yard at the corner of Washington and
West Water Streets, under the title of George G. Ligare &
Company.  In this, as in all other undertakings, Mr. Ligare
was successful, but the partnership was ultimately
dissolved through the failure of Mr. Richmond's lumber
supply. Mr. Ligare then leased his yard and fixtures to F.
B. Gardner, and remained a short time as agent for the
latter in conducting the business.

Having purchased the Ford River Mills, in Michigan, Mr.
Ligare admitted Joseph Peacock into partnership, and in the
fall of 1851 they began operations in the woods.  The next
year they opened a yard in Chicago, on the river near
Twelfth Street, which they continued to operate until the
dissolution of the firm, in the fall of 1866, at which time
the mill was sold.  Out of this partnership arrangement grew
a law-suit, which continued in the courts for twenty-five
years.  At the end of a bitter contest, the case was
ultimately decided in favor of Mr. Ligare, who received a
judgment to the amount of nearly $20,000.  A condemnation
suit, involving from $100,000 to $200,000, with the Chicago,
Alton & St. Louis, the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe and the
Illinois Central Railroads, is now pending before the
Supreme Court of Illinois for the second time.  Upon its
first hearing, the Court's decision was favorable to Mr.
Ligare, one point of which was that the city of Chicago
cannot give a public street to a railroad company or a
corporation, thus securing private citizens some rights over
corporations.  This decision is being quoted by the legal
profession throughout the United States.

During the last twenty-eight years, Mr. Ligare has been
practically retired from active business. In 1876 he
purchased property in Glencoe, where he has completed a
handsome residence, which was first built by Waiter S.
Gurney, laid out with beautiful grounds, containing many
imported trees, among them being specimens of Scotch fir and
elm, English linden, maple and many varieties of pine, which
have no equal in the state.  The home is called "Maple
Lodge," and impresses every beholder with its beauty and
elegance.

Mr. Ligare was married, at what is now River Forest,
Illinois, to Miss Elizabeth Gray Steele, daughter of Ashbel
and Harriet (Dawley) Steele, the former a native of
Connecticut, and the latter an Englishwoman. Mrs. Ligare
received her first schooling from Miss Eliza Chappell, who
was the first public-school teacher in Chicago, and
afterward became the wife of Rev. Jeremiah Porter, the first
Protestant clergyman in Chicago. Mrs. Ligare was born in
1829, in Rochester, New York, and came to Chicago in 1833.
Four of her children grew to maturity, namely: Ashbel
George, Charles Albert, Edward Francis and Lizzie Louise.
The latter is now the wife of Lewis B. Mayo.  Mrs. Ligare
was reared an Episcopalian, and was a devoted mother and
well esteemed for her many noble qualities.  She died in
1886, aged fifty-seven years.

Upon the death of Mrs. Ligare, the Glencoe Woman's Library
Club issued the following: "As a friend and neighbor, as a
member of our village church, of the Ladies' Prayer-meeting
and Woman's Library Club, we have known and loved Mrs.
Ligare.  We count hers a full life, which has despised
selfish ease, a life whose powers have been largely used in
the quiet of the home, beside the cradle and sick-bed, in
loving ministrations. On her tongue was the law of kindness;
her friendliness and her Christian hospitality  em- braced
all.  Her life has enriched ours.   Her death brings heaven
nearer.''

Mr. Ligare's present wife, Lily Ruth, is the seventh
daughter of Conrad and Louise (Slifer) Collipp, of Silver
Lake, Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin.   She is a
musician and also an artist of ability.  Her musical talent
is inherited from her father, who was a native of
Hesse-Cassel, Germany, and a man of very refined tastes and
rare intellectual attainments. Two children have blessed the
second marriage of Mr. Ligare, named, respectively, George
Collipp and Ruth.

While a resident of Michigan, Mr. Ligare was appointed
Postmaster at Ford River, Michigan, in 1855, and held that
position until 1867, proving a most efficient officer, as is
testified by his long incumbency in that capacity. During
those years he was the intimate friend of honorable Peter
White, a banker and capitalist of Marquette, Michigan,
through whose influence he was made Postmaster, and was also
authorized by statute to organize Delta County, Michigan,
which he did in 1859.  He was instrumental in locating the
county seat at Sand Point (now Escanaba), and exerted great
influence in the management of public affairs.

It was not until about the time of the Civil War, that Mr.
Ligare became a full citizen of the United States.  He had,
however, taken an intelligent interest in the course of
events and the conduct of public affairs, preserving an
independent position in all partisan quarrels.  He was ready
to fulfill all obligations, and stood the draft three times
in one year.  When his name was found among the drafted, at
the third drawing, he procured a substitute, which was not
required of him. The large number of families dependent upon
his business made it imperative that he remain at home and
aid in furnishing men for the field.  Being Chairman of the
Board of Supervisors, it devolved upon him to make out the
list of those subject to draft in the county.  As numerous
citizens had fled to the lumber region to avoid the draft at
other points, his impartiality led many to look with
desperate disfavor upon him, and the lawless element only
lacked a courageous leader to put him out of the way.  But
he did his duty fearlessly, which he has always done in
every position held by him.

Mr. Ligare is a man of independent thought and action, and
while he does not bind himself to religious or political
organizations, he is ever ready to further anything
calculated to contribute to general welfare.  He has always
taken a keen interest in the Masonic order and its work.  He
joined La Fayette Lodge, the first organization of the order
in Chicago, soon after becoming a resident of the city.  He
is at present affiliated with Garden City Lodge, and with
his lodge occupied a position of honor at the dedication of
the Masonic Temple of Chicago.  He is now a member of the
Masonic Veterans' Association of Illinois, and occupies an
influential position in the fraternity, and also of another
early institution known as the Mechanics' Institute.  The
following extract indicates the esteem in which Mr. Ligare
is held by his associates, he having been President of the
Village Council of Glencoe for five years:
"Be it remembered, that at a regular meeting of the Council
of the village of Glencoe, held April 1, 1894, the following
was by unanimous vote adopted:
"Resolved, That a vote of thanks be, and that the same is,
hereby extended to George G. Ligare, retiring President of
the village of Glencoe, for his uniform kindness and
impartial ruling as such President for and during the year
now closing, and that the Clerk deliver a copy of this
resolution to George G. Ligare.  In witness whereof, I have
hereunto set my hand and affixed the corporate seal of the
village of Glencoe, this second day of April, A. D. 1884.
(Signed)	"JOHN DAY,
''Village Clerk.''

		






-------------------------------------------------------------------------
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any
format for profit or presentation by other organization or persons.
Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain
the written consent of the submitter or their legal representative,
and must contact the listed Cook County ILGenWeb Coordinator(s)
with proof of this consent.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Click Here for Photo of GEORGE G. LIGARE






Contact the Cook County ILGenWeb County Coordinators for written permissions.

Click here to return to the Research & Links page OR use your {BACK} icon on your browser...

Click here to return to the User Submitted Data page OR use your {BACK} icon on your browser...



This USGenWeb site is generously
Hosted by RootsWeb
Hosted by RootsWeb
© 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
by the Cook County ILGenWeb County Coordinators.   All rights reserved.
This PAGE was last updated: 18 May 2001 by the Cook County ILGenWeb County Coordinators.