Old Courthouse Museum
103 West Cherry Street
Watseka, IL 60970-1524
Matthew Henry Peters
|HON. MATTHEW HENRY PETERS. It has been said that a history of a country is best told in the lives of its people. Especially is this true of a new country possessed of superior advantages for comfortable and happy homes and the rapid development of a permanent civilization of a high order. There the man of ability, energy and character finds scope for his individuality and encouragement for the exercise of those qualities that influence and direct and leave a distinctive impress upon society. In such a field the subject of this sketch, possessing the qualifications alluded to above, has labored as a journalist, merchant and legislator, and a leader in military and civic societies, with a zeal, energy and ability that have characterized his whole life whether as soldier or civilian.|
Maj. Peters was born in Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, June 6, 1843, and is a son of George and Mary (Moock) Peters, who were also natives of that country. In the year of his birth, he was brought to America by his parents, who landed in New Orleans. The climate of that Southern city proved unhealthful, and within a year or two the mother and two sisters of our subject died, leaving the father with two small boys, a stranger in a strange land, unable to speak the language of the people among whom his lot had fallen. The expense of sickness and death soon exhausted the father's limited resources, and when in a brief time he fell a victim to that dread disease, yellow fever, the little orphans were left without means or friends to fight the battles of life as best they might. Samuel, the younger brother, was cared for in an orphan asylum.
Matthew, then but ten years of age, was taken by an acquaintance to bring up. Instead of finding the comforts of a good home and the tender care of a humane and worthy guardian, the little orphan fell a victim to the grasping cupidity of a cruel and heartless monster. He was poorly clad, nearly starved, beaten, and instructed in criminal processes that would have done credit to the Jew Fagan, made famous by the pen of Dickens as the tutor of little Oliver Twist. This man kept a small tailoring shop, where the boy was compelled to work from early morn until ten or eleven o'clock at night. A small slice of bread three times a day constituted his entire rations, so that he never knew while there what it was not to be hungry. Becoming desperate, he resolved to make his escape, feeling that any change must be an improvement; so early one morning in the winter of 1855-56 he, without the traditional bundle that the small apprentice is supposed to carry when he runs away, made a start for liberty and fortune. The rags on his back and the welts and bruises under them were all he had to take except a half-dollar that had been entrusted to his care overnight for market purposes. Feeling that he could justly appropriate that amount of capital in consideration of his unrequited service and privation, he made the most of it by soon getting something substantial with which to satisfy a much-abused stomach. With fear and trembling, he sought safety in a distant part of the city. His nights were spent sleeping among the cotton bales and sacks of coffee, or in other places where rest could be secured. In the daytime, he ran the streets, making a meal from anything he could find that was edible, the waste from partially decayed fruit and the refuse from hotel tables being his principal fare.
In the succeeding March, by good fortune, the little lad secured employment on a Mississippi River steamboat as assistant cook, and for once in many years he was well fed. This change marked an era of improvement in his fortune, for shortly afterward a traveling gentleman, Henry S. Roberts, attracted by the intelligent face of the boy and learning his sad story, took a fancy to him and offered him a home. This kind offer was gladly accepted, and in company with his new-found friend, Matthew went to Ohio. For a time everything went well; he made himself useful to his benefactor and was given school advantages; but misfortune again befell him with the death of Mr. Roberts, which happened only a few weeks after young Peters had found a home with him. He left the boy with his widowed mother, whose kindness and motherly love have found a full recompense in a life-long devotion and care on the part of the befriended boy. Since he has grown to manhood, Maj. Peters has given her a home in his family, where she is loved and revered as though indeed his real mother. Mrs. Roberts has now attained the remarkable age of one hundred and one years, and while she lives no change will be made in the Major's household that will cause her any discomfort.
For five or six years after going to Ohio, young Peters was employed in farm work and brick-making. With the limited advantage he had had in the way of schooling, he knew little of books, but he possessed a desire for education and the knowledge to be obtained by reading. He applied himself earnestly to study in his spare hours and often at night by the uncertain light from the burning kiln that he was watching. By persistent effort, having qualified himself for the position, he engaged in teaching school, in which vocation he was eminently successful, and at the same time pursued his individual studies. He began teaching in 1860 and would no doubt have continued in that line of work several years had not the Civil War broken out the following spring. Patriotism prompted him to abandon his chosen occupation and to enter the military service of the Government in defense of the Union.
On the 23d of April, 1861, Mr. Peters enlisted as a private in the Jefferson Guards of Springfield, Company E, Sixteenth Ohio Infantry, for three months' service in response to the first call for troops. His command was assigned to duty in Virginia, and he participated in the battles of Philippi, Laurel Hill and Carrick's Ford, at which place the first Confederate general, Garnett, was killed. Having served out the term of his enlistment, our subject re-enlisted in December of the same year at Xenia, Ohio, as a private of Company F, Seventy-fourth Regiment, under Col. Granville Moody, the fighting parson; Walter Crook, brother of Gen. George Crook, of Indian notoriety, being his Captain. At this time, Mr. Peters was made Sergeant, soon afterward was chosen Lieutenant by the company and was commissioned by Gov. Todd of Ohio on the 7th of January, 1862. During that year, he was in active service and participated in all the battles and engagements in which his regiment took part.
At the battle of Stone River, Tenn., December 31, 1862, our subject was severely wounded and was thought to have been killed; indeed, was so reported, his comrades being obliged to desert him on the field. However, he received attention in time and was eventually able to resume his post of duty. He participated in Sherman's march to the sea, including the successive battles of a hundred days' duration before Atlanta. On the 9th of May, 1864, Lieut. Peters, who had been made Adjutant of the Seventy-fourth by his Colonel on the reorganization of the regiment as veterans, was again wounded, while charging a rebel battery on Buzzard Roost Mountain, being struck by a fragment of a shrapnel shot in the right leg. He was left lying on the field two days. On the 13th of July following, by the recommendation of his Colonel, he was commissioned Captain for "gallant and meritorious services." During the greater part of that summer, he was confined to his hospital cot by the serious nature of his wound, but as soon as convalescent he rejoined his regiment in Savannah, Ga., though very feeble. During the remainder of the campaign, he was on active duty and participated in the closing battles of the war in the Carolinas under Sherman. He took part in the battles of Bentonville, Averysboro and Greenville, N. C., and the surrender of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, April 26, 1865. The proudest day of his military career was enjoyed at the Grand Review of the armies at Washington, May 24 and 25, 1865, when he was detailed by Gen. George P. Buell, commanding the brigade on his staff, as Assistant Inspector-General. Capt. Peters was retained on Gen. Buell's staff until notified that his regiment was about to be mustered out, when he asked to be relieved, rejoined his comrades in their march homeward, and was mustered out July 12, l865. But just prior to that happy event he was complimented by being commissioned Major of his regiment, the regiment in which he had enlisted as a private in the first year of the war. The compliment was the more gratefully received as it was unsought and came as an appropriate recognition of merit and faithful and gallant service in the field.
In April, 1866, Maj. Peters came to Watseka and engaged in the hardware trade in company with Alexander Archibald, but not finding the business congenial to his taste he sold out to his partner in the course of the year. In the spring of 1867, he opened the first book and stationery store in Watseka, which business he carried on with marked success until November, 1879, when he sold out to his worthy clerk, Henry H. Alter, who had served him faithfully for more than ten years. While engaged in the book and stationery business, the Major, in December, 1872, assumed control of the Iroquois Times, which for eighteen months he conducted with ability and success, making it a very desirable property. He then sold the paper but repurchased it in June, 1878, and continued its editor and proprietor until January 1, l891, when he sold out to its present proprietors. For fifteen years he published that paper and made its influence felt in Iroquois and adjoining counties as an enterprising and public-spirited journal, that was always to be relied on to fearlessly uphold and advocate what its editor felt to be the right, regardless of fear or favor.
The early political sentiments of Maj. Peters were formed during the trying scenes of the Civil War, when allegiance to the administration in power seemed the only logical idea for a patriotic soldier, and he became an earnest Republican. On his return from the war he worked in harmony with that party until the liberal movement of 1872 enlisted his sympathies and he followed the lead of Horace Greeley and other eminent Republicans in opposition to the leaders of the old party. In that year, he was nominated for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Iroquois County and received the endorsement of the Democrats, but was defeated, although by a largely reduced Republican majority. In 1875, he was elected Mayor of Watseka, serving two years very acceptably to its citizens, who again elected him to that office in October, 1877, to fill the unexpired term of the Hon. Franklin Blades, who had resigned to accept the Circuit Judgeship.
In August, 1878, Maj. Peters received the nomination for Representative to the Illinois Legislature at the hands of the Nationals, and in the following November was elected by a very flattering majority. His course as a Legislator of the session of the Thirty-first General Assembly was distinguished by an able and conscientious discharge of duty, whereby he won the respect and esteem of his fellow-members and the approbation of his constituents. In 1884, he was the Democratic candidate for State Senator, and in 1876 that party's candidate for Congress. The opposition's majority was too great to be overcome, although he received a complimentary vote.
Military matters always possessed a charm for the Major, and his interest in that direction led to his taking a foremost part in the organization of the first militia company of Iroquois County, in May, 1874. He was elected Captain. When under the military law of the State the various companies were organized into regiments and battalions, the Watseka Rifles were designated as Company A, Ninth Battalion, Illinois National Guards, and Capt. Peters was elected to command the battalion by the line officers who met at Champaign October 10, 1877, for that purpose, hence the later title of Colonel.
On the 19th of June, 1867, Col. Peters was united in marriage at Sycamore, Ill., by the Rev. J. T. Cook, of the Congregational Church, to Miss Clara M. Lyon, a most estimable and accomplished young lady. She was born in Ontario County, N. Y., and is a daughter of Oliver and Matilda (Hills) Lyon. The Colonel fortunately drew a prize in the so-called lottery of marriage, Mrs. Peters being a lady possessed of many excellencies of character, refined, cultured and of an amiable disposition; generous and public-spirited, active and energetic, she exercises a strong influence for good in the community that is so fortunate as to enjoy her fellowship. They have one son, Arthur Van Lisle, who was born May 10, 1886. Being an only child the family naturally dote upon him as their future hope and support, their solace and comfort in declining years.
Col. Peters is an active and honored member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, holding membership with Iroquois Lodge No. 74, and Iroquois Encampment No. 81, of that order. He has filled the chairs in each and has served as Representative to the grand bodies of the fraternity. He is also a prominent member of Watseka Lodge No. 1086, K. of H., of which he is Past Dictator, and has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge of the State, and in 1880 represented Illinois in the Supreme Lodge of the United States. He is the present Commander of Williams Post No. 25, G. A. R., with which he has been connected since August 28, 1868, having served as its Commander many terms and was its first Adjutant. The order of the Knights of Pythias recognizes him as a Past Chancellor Commander of Mon Ami Lodge No. 231. He is a member of the Illinois Commandery of the military order of Loyal Legion, a select and exclusive order of which to be a member is esteemed a great honor. Col. Peters has been a member of the society of the Army of the Cumberland since its organization. He also belongs to Watseka Lodge No. 446, A. F. & A. M.; and Watseka Chapter No. 114, R. A. M. In addition to the above-named societies, he is a member of the Illinois Press Association, with which he has been connected since 1874. During the exciting, and to his party successful, Presidential campaign of 1884, which resulted in the election of Cleveland and Hendricks, Col. Peters was Chairman of the Iroquois Democratic Central Committee and did good work for the party. In 1884, he erected the Times building in Watseka, one of the most imposing structures in that city. It is now occupied by the postoffice, Times office and law offices. The building is very centrally located and is one of the substantial improvements of Watseka.
This sketch will serve to perpetuate the memory of a worthy, public-spirited citizen, who has won his way from the condition of a waif by his own unaided efforts and natural ability, through hardships and privation to positions of honor and trust, and to the assured respect and esteem of all who are familiar with his history.
DAVID ALVIN OREBAUGH, a practicing attorney of the Iroquois County Bar and an enterprising young citizen of Watseka, claims Ohio as the State of his nativity. He was born in Hamilton County, on the 8th of August, l866, and is a son of Eli Orebaugh, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. He attended the common schools of his native State and afterwards pursued a course of study in the National Normal University, located in Lebanon, Ohio. In 1883, he came to Iroquois County, Ill., with his parents and was engaged in farming and teaching for several years. Determining to engage in the practice of law, he pursued a course of law study in the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, Ill., and was graduated from that institution in the spring of 1890, and admitted to the Bar in February, 1891. Until June of the same year he was employed in the Sheriff's office, since which time he has been in the practice of his profession at Watseka, being a law partner of C. H. Payson, of that place.
On the 30th of June, 1891, Mr. Orebaugh was married in Bloomington, Ill., to Miss Lillian E. Wiley, a daughter of John S. Wiley, Esq., formerly of that place, now deceased, and a native of McLean County, Ill. Our subject is a promising young lawyer, of good ability and studious habits, and is sure in the near future to win an honorable place in his chosen profession.
WALTER BRINCKERHOFF, who is now living a retired life in Onarga, was born in Dutchess County, N. Y., on the 23d of May, 1826. The family is of Dutch origin, and was founded in America in early Colonial days by Joris Brinckerhoff, who came from Holland to this country in 1638, and, history says, collected money to build the first church in Brooklyn N. Y. The parents of our subject, Isaac and Jemima (Cromwell) Brinckerhoff, were both natives of the Empire State and are now deceased. They had a family of five children, four of whom are living at this writing, in the autumn of 1892, two sons and two daughters: Catherine E., Mary, Theodore and Walter.
In the county of his nativity, Mr. Brinckerhoff whose name heads this sketch was reared to manhood. One of the most important events in his life occurred on the 20th of February, 1847, when he led to the marriage altar Miss Adeline Washburn, daughter of John and Sarah (Bogardus) Washburn, who were natives of Dutchess County, N. Y. Two children were born to the subject of this sketch and his wife, but the daughter died in infancy. The son, Leslie Brinckerhoff, is now connected with the wholesale drug house of Morrison, Plummer & Co., of Chicago.
The year 1851 witnessed the emigration of Mr. Brinckerhoff to the West. Disposing of his business interests in the Empire State, he came to Illinois, accompanied by his family, and located on a farm near Newark, Ill., where he engaged in agricultural pursuits for four years. On the expiration of that period he went to Galesburg and became one of its leading and influential citizens. While there residing he represented his ward in the City Council for a number of years. He afterward removed to Chicago and did business on the corner of Randolph and State Streets, where the Masonic Temple now stands. He ran the fist steam sausage machine ever run in that city. In 1865, he received an appointment to take charge of Government transports on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and held that position until after the close of the war. He then returned to Chicago and took charge of the Northwestern Glass Works, being connected with that manufactory until it closed.
It was in 1869 that Mr. Brinckerhoff came to Onarga, and since that time he has been one of its progressive and prominent citizens. He purchased four hundred acres of land seven miles southeast of Onarga, which he owned until 1891, when he disposed of a part of it. For more than seven years he has held the office of Village Trustee and is the present incumbent. His faithful and efficient service has led to his re-election and retention in office, and won him the high commendation of all concerned. Mr. Brinckerhoff is widely and favorably known throughout the community, and his sterling worth and many excellencies of character have won him an enviable position in the esteem of his fellow-townsmen.
JOHN M. DE PUY, one of the prominent citizens of Cissna Park, was born in Vermillion County, Ind., May 16, 1854, and is a worthy representative of one of the early families of this county. His father, John De Puy, was born in New Jersey, August 11, 1804, and is of French descent. The great-grandfather of our subject was a native of France, and the grandfather was a hero of the Revolution.
John De Puy, Sr., when eight years old removed with his parents from New Jersey to Ohio, and three years later went to Vermillion County, Ind., becoming one of its first settlers. That winter was spent in old Ft. Harrison. In that locality he resided for fifty years, or until 1869. Throughout the greater part of his life he has followed farming and stock-raising. He drove cattle to Chicago in an early day, and improved a number of farms. In 1869, he brought his family to Iroquois County, where he has since lived. Soon after he sold his farm of two hundred and forty acres, and later bought a tract of three hundred and twenty acres of prairie land in Ash Grove Township at $3.25 per acre and resided thereon until 1891, since which time he has lived at Cissna Park. He added to his lands until he owned eleven hundred and fifty acres, but has recently sold. His life has been a busy and useful one. He has acquired a handsome property and to each of his sons he has given good farms. He was married in Vermillion County, Ind., to Miss Scott, and unto them were born three children, one of whom died in infancy. Abraham is now a resident physician of Chicago, and Albert is a farmer of Vermillion County, Ind. For his second wife, Mr. De Puy chose Miss Jane McKee, who was born Kentucky in 1817, but came to Edgar County, Ill., about 1831. She is still living. Two children were born of this marriage, John M., and Oliver M., who resides with his father and mother.
Mr. De Puy has taken a very active part in church work. He united with the Baptist Church in Vermillion County, and aided in the organization of the Bloomfield Baptist Association. He built a church at Cissna Park, which formerly stood on his farm, and later donated it to the people of Cissna Park as a union church. He has often paid the ministers from his own pocket and has ever been liberal to missionary work. In manner, he is plain and unassuming and cares nothing for dress. It is said that on one occasion he went to Paxton in a homespun suit to the dedication of a church, but when pledges were called for the plainly dressed farmer gave $500. In 1840, he voted for William Henry Harrison and supported the Whig party until the organization of the Republican party, with which he has since affiliated. He took great pride in having a fine farm and fine stock arid is numbered among the highly respected and valued citizens of the community.
John M. De Puy, whose name heads this record, had very meagre educational advantages, as in early life his health was poor and he could not stand the confinement of a school room. At the age of fifteen he came with his parents to Illinois and had to begin buying stock and taking charge of this part of the work. He used to herd cattle at an early age and was almost raised in the saddle. He afterward attended school for a year in Onarga. Throughout his entire life he has engaged almost exclusively in farming and stock-raising and has met with excellent success in his business dealings.
April 30, 1881, at the age of twenty-seven years, Mr. De Puy was united in marriage with Miss Jennie Fleming, and unto them have been born two children, Carl and Maud, aged ten and eight years respectively. The parents of Mrs. De Puy reside with them. Her father, William Fleming, was born in the North of Ireland, October 29, 1816, and in 1832 began teaching school, having acquired a good education previous to that time. His father died, and as he was the eldest child, he aided in the support of a large family. In 184l, he crossed the Atlantic to Pittsburgh, Pa., and became Assistant Cashier in a bank. He was there married in 1844, to Jane Cullen, also a native of the Emerald Isle, and the following year they emigrated to LaSalle County, Ill., where Mr. Fleming entered a claim and developed a good farm. He was a civil engineer by profession and was County Surveyor of La Salle County much of this time. In 1870, he removed to Wheaton in order that his children might attend college, and in the fall of 1873 came to Iroquois County, locating on a farm in Pigeon Grove. He there resided until 1889, since which time he and his estimable wife have resided with their daughter, Mrs. De Puy. He has held a number of local offices and for sixteen years served as Supervisor in La Salle County and seven years in this county. To some extent, he still engages in surveying. He has been a great reader all his life and keeps well informed on all questions of interest. His business career has been one of success. In politics, he was an Abolitionist and afterward a Republican.
The Fleming family numbered eight children but one died in infancy. The others are: Alice, wife of J. L. Westgate, of Cissna Park. James H., who was educated in Wheaton College and is now a lawyer of Hastings, Neb. He served as County Judge for six years and is now serving as County Treasurer. Dora is the wife of Dr. Van Doren, of Saybrook, Ill. Albert is the next younger. Jennie is the wife of John M. De Puy. Jessie resides in Hastings, Neb.; and Will is employed in the Electric Railroad Company, in the State of Washington.
Mrs. De Puy was educated in Wheaton College and is a lady of culture and refinement. In 1891, our subject and his wife left the farm and removed to Cissna Park, where they now have a comfortable home, which is the abode of hospitality. In social circles, they rank high, and their friends throughout the community are many. Mr. De Puy engages to some extent in loaning on mortgages, but is practically living a retired life. In politics, he is a stalwart Republican and is a well-informed man, both politically and otherwise. He is a member of the Baptist Church and his wife of the United Brethren. He well deserves representation in this volume and it is with pleasure that we present to our readers this record of his life.
JOSEPH VANDERPOORTEN, Treasurer of Iroquois County, and one of the earliest Iroquois settlers of Chebanse Township, was born in Dendermonde, in the province of Flanders, Belgium, on the 16th of February, 1828, and is a son of John and Philippine (Heyvaert) Vanderpoorten, both of whom came of old Flemish families. Joseph was reared on a farm and was educated partially in select schools and at the college of the Holy Virgin in Dendermonde. His mother died in November, 1853, and in 1855 he emigrated from Flanders to America, making his first home in this country in Lewis County, N. Y., where he purchased a farm of eighty acres. Finding the land there too hilly and rough to suit him, he sold out and came to Iroquois County, I1l., the following year. He arrived in April, 1856, and settled in the town of Chebanse, where he bought an eighty acre tract of land. By subsequent purchase he has increased his acreage until he now has a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres of valuable land, well improved, on which he erected in 1877 a commodious and comfortable residence. His farm is situated about eighteen miles northwest of Watseka, and four miles east of Clifton, his nearest trading place.
On the 15th of January, 1861, Mr. Vanderpoorten was married in L'Erable to Miss Aurelia Bunker. The lady was born in the town of Chambly, on the Sorel River in the Province of Quebec, Canada, April 12, 1840, and is a daughter of Moses and Martine (Blaine) Bunker. Her father was born in the United States and her mother was a French-Canadian. She came with her parents to the United States in 1856, and located near Tipton, Cedar County, Iowa, and in Iroquois County in September, 1859. Nine children have been born unto Mr. and Mrs. Vanderpoorten, five of whom are yet living: Emily, the eldest, wife of Ferdinand Rivard, died July 15, 1891; Delphine is the wife of Joseph Dutour, and resides on the old home farm in Chebanse Township; Eugene C. married Jennie Franklin, of Chebanse, and resides in Watseka, holding the position of Deputy County Treasurer; Walter O. resides on the home farm with his sister; Norbert J. and Stephen I. are students in the Watseka schools. Edwin, Emma and Addie, all died in infancy.
Mr. Vanderpoorten and his family are members of the Roman Catholic Church. In politics, he is a Democrat and has held various offices of honor and trust. He served as Commissioner of Highways in his township and was School Director for twenty-four years successively. In the fall of 1890, he was elected on the Democratic ticket to the position he now holds, that of County Treasurer, and entered upon the duties of the office on the 1st of December following. Mr. Vanderpoorten makes an excellent officer, is prompt, correct and courteous, and is ably assisted by his son in the duties of the office. He came to this country in very moderate circumstances, but by industry, integrity and frugality has acquired a valuable property and, what is still more to be prized, a good name among his neighbors and fellow-citizens who have known him so many years. His father came to America the year following his son's arrival here and brought with him his daughter Rosalia. They made their home in Chebanse Township, where the father died in the latter part of August, 1859. The sister became the wife of Francis Cnudde, who died a few years later. In due time she married again, her second husband being Anton Clements, and her death occurred in September, 1890.
John D. Rothgeb
|JOHN D. ROTHGEB, one of the leading general merchants of Wellington and a prominent citizen, is a native of Page County, Va. He was born August 29, 1848, and is the fifth in a family of six children whose parents were Isaac and Barbara (Kaufmann) Rothgeb. The family is of French origin, having been driven from that country along with the other French Huguenots during the supremacy of Richelieu. They settled in Rhenish Bavaria, Germany. The progenitor of the branch of the family to which our subject belongs emigrated to America about 1730, locating in Virginia. On the same vessel came his betrothed, and for seven years they worked to pay their passage to this country. Having entered land he made a farm from the woods, which was his home as long as he lived.|
Our subject's father was born in Virginia, about 1810, was reared to agricultural pursuits, and acquired his education in the common schools. He came to Illinois in 1832, and entered land in Iroquois County, after which he returned to his native State, where he spent his last days. In politics, he was a Democrat, but voted against secession at the time when Virginia withdrew from the Union. With the Baptist Church he held membership, and his death occurred in 1862. His widow is still living. She was born in Virginia in 1811, and though now eighty-one years old, her age rests lightly upon her. She makes her home with her children in Illinois and Virginia. Both the parents of our subject were well known for their generous character and had the respect of all with whom they came in contact. Of their four sons and two daughters, five are yet living: Alexander is married and follows farming in Page County, Va.; Ambrose, a farmer, is married and resides in Frederick County, Va.; Anna is the wife of Joseph Brumback, an agriculturist of this county; Henry died at the age of sixteen years; John is the next younger; and Mary E. is the wife of William Rickard, a farmer residing in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
The boyhood days of our subject were spent in the Old Dominion, and he attended the subscription schools, but has been largely self-educated. Throughout the entire late war, he lived in the famous Shenandoah Valley, where occurred some of the most memorable scenes of that protracted struggle. He has seen that beautiful valley repeatedly devastated by both armies, and the events of those stirring times are indelibly stamped upon his memory. On the death of his father, the care and responsibility of the family fell upon his young shoulders. He was then but fourteen years of age. He was reared in the usual manner of farmer lads, but after attaining his majority engaged in teaching for a number of years and also worked at the carpenter's trade. He took a full commercial course of study in the Keokuk Commercial College, graduating from that institution in 1876, after which line located in Wellington, where he has since made his home. In August, 1887, he embarked in general merchandising and has since carried on business in that line.
Mr. Rothgeb was married on the 4th of May, 1879, to Miss Annie Austin, daughter of Potter and Rachel (Rothgeb) Austin, the former a native of New York and the latter of the Buckeye State. Her parents are still residents of this county, where Mrs. Rothgeb was born. Her education was acquired in the common schools and in Onarga Seminary. Unto our subject and his wife have been born three children: Wade H., who is now attending school; Austin R., who died in infancy; and Jessie B., the baby of the household.
Mr. Rothgeb is a stalwart Democrat and an ardent admirer of the true Jeffersonian principles. His first Presidential vote was cast for Hon. S. J. Tilden, of New York. He has frequently served as a delegate to the conventions of his party, but has never been an office-seeker, preferring to devote his time and attention to his business. However, he takes a commendable interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community, and is one of the building committee which erected the beautiful school building of Wellington. As a merchant, he carries a full and complete stock of goods in his line, and by his upright dealings and genial manner has secured a liberal patronage and gained the confidence and good-will of his many patrons. In 1882, he also began dealing in grain and has worked up an excellent business in that line. When he started out in life he had no capital but a pair of industrious hands and a determination to succeed, and his success is the result of his own well-directed efforts. Himself and wife are classed among the most prominent citizens of Wellington and are held in high esteem for their many excellencies of character.
JOHN C. KOEHN, a well-known and prominent business man of Buckley, who carries on general merchandising as a member of the firm of Koehn & Bowe, was born in Buetzow, Schwerin, Germany, on the 29th of July, 1863. His parents were Joachin and Sophia (Knoop) Koehn, both of whom were natives of Germany. Unto them were born three children, but our subject is the only one now living, his two older brothers, Frederick and Henry, being deceased.
The subject of this sketch remained in the land of his birth until he had attained his majority, when he emigrated to this country and became a resident of Peotone, Ill. He there engaged in clerking in a general store for six years, after which he came to Buckley and, forming a partnership with Philip S. Bowe, has since engaged in merchandising on his own account. They opened a general store, which they are now conducting. Mr. Koehn was educated in Buetzow College, of Germany, from which he was graduated in the Class of '78. Thus he was well fitted for a commercial career, and enterprise and industry have won him success.
On the 23d of October, 1891, Mr. Koehn was married to Miss Rachel Minier, daughter of Hiram Minier, of Sheldon, Ill. Their home has been brightened by the birth of a daughter, Ida W., who was born August 30, 1892. The young couple are highly respected people of this community, who are well and favorably known in social circles. Mr. Koehn is a member of Buckley Lodge No. 634, A. F. & A. M., and in politics is a supporter of Democratic principles. At this writing, in the fall of 1892, he is one of the Trustees of the village of Buckley, and was Clerk of the Village Board of Peotone before coming to this place. He takes an active interest in all that pertains to the upbuilding and welfare of the community and is a public-spirited and progressive citizen.
In connection with their store, the firm of Koehn & Bowe are also owners and operators of a creamery in Buckley, called the Artesia Creamery, being named for the township. They manufacture from two hundred and seventy-five to four hundred pounds of butter per day, and as the product of their creamery is of the very best quality, it finds a ready sale in the New Orleans market. Mr. Koehn, during his residence in this community, has won a high rank in business circles. He is a young man, who is wide-awake, and is rapidly winning his way upward to prosperity.
MOSES H. EUANS, County Judge of Iroquois County and a well-known resident of Watseka, was born on the 14th of July, 1848, in West Middleburg, Logan County, Ohio, and is a son of Joseph and Achsah (Sharp) Euans. With their family, the parents removed from Ohio to Watseka, Ill., in 1867. The mother was called to her final rest in 1888, but the father is still living.
The subject of this sketch was educated in the common schools and in the Ohio Wesleyan University, of Delaware, from which institution he was graduated in the Class of '67. On looking over the field in choice of some vocation, he decided to enter the legal profession, and to that end began studying law with the firm of Blades & Kay. He was admitted to the Bar in 1874, after which he formed a partnership with his old preceptors, under the firm name of Blades, Kay & Euans. Mr. Blades withdrew in 1877, and the business was continued by Kay & Euans up to January 1,1890, when the firm of Kay, Euans & Kay was formed. Thus co-partnership lasted until December 1,1890, at which time he entered upon the duties of his present official position.
On the 5th of May, 1880, Judge Euans was married to Miss Eva Sherman, a native of Iroquois County and a daughter of Charles Sherman, whose sketch is given on another page of this work. Of this union have been born two children: Nellie B. and Joseph S. The family is well known throughout this community, and have many friends and acquaintances in Iroquois County.
In politics, Mr. Euans is a Democrat, and as the regular nominee of his party, was elected Judge of Iroquois County n 1890, entering upon the duties of that office in December of the same year.
HORACE RUSSELL, Cashier of the Donovan & Vennum Bank, of Milford, Iroquois County, Ill., has held his present position since the establishment of this bank in May, 1876. He was born in the town of Pendleton, Madison County, Ind., August 8, 1848, and is a son of Maj. Lansou E. and Caroline (Patrick) Russell. His father was born in Rochester, N. Y., January 3, 1817, and his mother in Portsmouth, Va., January 6, 1823. The death of the father occurred at Anderson, Ind., December 10, 1889. The Major served in the late war in Company A, Ninetieth Indiana Infantry, of which he was commissioned Second Lieutenant, and was afterward promoted to be Brigade Commissary, with the rank of Major. His service lasted three years. The mother survives and resides in Anderson. Maj. Russell and his family once lived in Watseka, but returned to Anderson, Ind.
Horace Russell was reared in his native town, where he attended the public schools, and subsequently took a two years' course at Asbury (now DePauw) University, of Greencastle, Ind. In 1865, he engaged with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as brakeman, and later served as baggage-man. For a year and a-half, he was Station Agent at Walton, Ind. He went to Watseka in 1868, where he sold goods for John L. Donovan until the spring of 1870, and from that time until October, 1871 was clerking for Daniel Frey, merchant. In October of the latter year, he was appointed as clerk in the railway mail service, running at first between Chicago and Centralia on the Illinois Central Railroad. Afterwards, he was on the steamer plying between Cairo, Ill., and Columbus, Ky. He began on the last-named run in 1873, and continued there until May 15, 1876. During this time, yellow fever and cholera prevailed in that region with great virulence. On quitting the mail service, he accepted the position which he now holds, that of Cashier of the Donovan & Vennum Bank. In 1882, he was appointed Postmaster at Milford, which position he filled for four years, at the same time performing his duties at the bank.
Mr. Russell was married to Miss Frances Brooks in North Adams, Mich., on the 15th of May, 1879. The lady was born in Watseka, Ill., and is a daughter of William and M. A. Brooks, who are living and now residents of St. Ignace, Mich. Two children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Russell: William C. and Anna C., both born in Milford. Mrs. Russell is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Russell is a Republican and has held various local official positions. He has been more or less active in local politics, and for several years has served as a member of the Iroquois County Central Republican Committee. He was the first President of the Milford Town Board and the first President of the Milford School Board, which last-named position he still holds. Mr. Russell is a member of Milford Lodge No. 168, A. F. & A. M.; Watseka Chapter No. 114, R. A. M.; and of Athelstan Commandery No. 45, K. T., of Danville. He also belongs to Milford Lodge No. 253, I. 0. 0. F., and to Iroquois Encampment No. 81, of Watseka.
Mr. Russell has a fine, well-improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres of land, situated in Stockland Township, which he leases. The various positions of honor and trust, both public and private, held by Mr. Russell, and his long retention in the responsible position he holds in the Donovan & Vennum Bank, speak in no uncertain terms as to his high standing and the estimate placed upon his character by those best calculated to know his true worth.
WILLIAM SMITH, one of the early settlers of the county and a well-to-do farmer residing on section 35, Ash Grove Township, has here made his home since 1853, or for a period of thirty-nine consecutive years. His life record is as follows: He was born in Bellefontaine, Logan County, Ohio, September 7, 1834, and is a son of Joel R. Smith. The father was born in the Empire State and became one of the pioneers and the first Sheriff of Wabash County, Ind. In 1853, he came to Illinois and cast in his lot with the early settlers of Iroquois County, locating on section 35, Ash Grove Township. This was then a wild and almost unimproved region, the land was in its primitive condition, and the prairies were covered with thick grass as high as a man. Mr. Smith purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land at $2.50 per acre and began the development of a farm. In 1888, he removed to Buckley and afterward went to Olney, Ill., where he died in 1885, at the age of eighty-four years. He was married in Ohio to Eliza Bunker, who died in Buckley, and after her death he wedded Mrs. Kimball. He served as Justice of the Peace and Police Justice for many years and was a prominent and influential citizen. He held membership with the Methodist Church, and was long connected with the Masonic fraternity. In politics, he was a Whig and afterward a Republican.
In the Smith family were the following children: Mrs., Mary Collins; who now resides in Chicago; William, whose name heads this sketch; Joel R., a resident of Kansas; Almer A., who makes his home in Watseka; Eliza, wife of Dr. Homer, of Buckley; and Daniel, the youngest child, who is living in Decatur.
Our subject was only two years old when with his parents he removed to Indiana. He acquired a good education in the public schools and is a well-informed man. At the age of nineteen he came with his parents to Iroquois County and aided in the development of a new farm until 1859, when he built a log cabin upon a tract of land, moved into it and began life for himself. His labors were interrupted, however, when, in August, 1862, he donned the blue and became a member of Company E, Seventy-sixth Illinois Infantry, under Capt. Irwin and Col. A. W. Mack. The regiment assembled at Kankakee and was then sent South. The troops participated in the engagement at Columbus, Ky., and in the siege of Vicksburg until its surrender on the 4th of July, 1863. They then participated in the battles of Jackson and Selma, Ala. Our subject was on detached duty at Cairo, Ill., with Gen. Sherman, and went with him to Atlanta and on to the sea. Later, he accompanied him into the Carolinas. He rejoined his regiment at Mobile, participated in the capture of Ft. Blakely, and then went to Galveston, Tex. The regiment lost many men in traveling over the hot sands of the Lone Star State. Mr. Smith received his discharge in Chicago exactly three years after his enlistment, and on the 11th of August, 1865, returned to his home.
January 3,1859, Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Caran H. Higgenson, a native of Owen County, Ind., born February 26, 1833. Unto them have been born the following children: Freeman L., who was educated in the public schools and took a commercial course, teaching penmanship to pay his tuition. He married Maria Butcher, of Paxton, and unto them were born two children. Having studied law he became an excellent and successful practitioner. His death occurred April 19, 1891, in his thirty-first year. William G. died at the age of twenty-three; Francis S. is at home; Joel R. married Dollie Leach, and is living on the old homestead; Clara died at the age of eleven months; Clarence died in his second year; Etta and Albert B. are still under the parental roof. Mrs. Smith was born in Owen County Ind., and at the age of ten years removed to Vigo County. Her father, Samuel Higgenson, was reared in the Empire State and in Ohio married Edith Chestnut. They came to Iroquois County in the spring of 1865, locating in Ash Grove Township. The Higgenson family is of English origin on the maternal side and of German descent on the paternal side. The grandfather served in the Revolutionary War.
Socially, Mr. Smith is a member of Williams Post No. 25, G. A. R., of Watseka, and of the Knights of Pythias Lodge of Cissna Park. He cast his first Presidential ballot for Fremont, also supported President Lincoln, and has since been a stalwart advocate of the principles of the Republican party. He has frequently served as a delegate to its conventions and is an influential man in its councils. For twelve years he served as Constable and is now Notary Public. Since his return from the war, Mr. Smith has devoted his entire energies to agricultural pursuits. His pleasant residence, neatly and tastefully furnished and supplemented by other good improvements, stands in the midst of a highly cultivated farm of two hundred and seventy-five acres of land, whose rich and fertile fields yield to him a golden tribute. He is also engaged in buying and selling cattle, and has been quite successful along that line. He is Secretary of the Goodwine Grain Company, which owns an elevator in Goodwine. Mr. Smith has a wide acquaintance throughout the community and is one of the valued and highly respected citizens of the township. He was also a brave soldier during the late war and is an honored pioneer of Iroquois County.
SAMUEL MALO, a wagon-maker and blacksmith residing in Milford, claims Mosco,w Canada, as the place of his nativity. The date of his birth is May 1,1843, and he is a son of Samuel and Mary (Fercia) Malo. In the family were five children, four sons and a daughter. Matilda, the eldest, and the only daughter, died on the 21st of June, 1880. Samuel of this sketch is the next younger. Huzeb was married in 1871 to Mary A. Brady, of Chicago, and unto them have been born three children, Elizabeth, Huzeb and Lillie. Ferdinand was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary McKnight, daughter of Thomas McKnight, of Milford, and they have a family of seven living children: Huzeb, Samuel, Ferdinand, John, Frank, Alfred and Libbie. One daughter, Mary, is now deceased. James, the youngest of the Malo family, wedded Miss Maggie McKnight, and their union has been blessed with five children, but the eldest, James, died in infancy. Those living are Nora, Tommy, Willie and Lydia.
On leaving the land of his birth, Samuel Malo of this sketch came to Illinois and made a location in Malta, De Kalb County. When a young man he learned the trade of wagon-making and blacksmithing and followed the dual occupation in Malta until 1868, when he removed to Iroquois County, locating in Milford. Since that time he has operated a wagon-making and blacksmith shop, with the exception of four years, during which period he was engaged in the restaurant business. He then returned to the business in which he is now engaged. He is an expert workman, is industrious and fair and honest in all his dealings, and has acquired a liberal patronage. On the 15th of August, 1862, Mr. Malo enlisted in Company C, One Hundred and Fifth Illinois Infantry, and served till honorably discharged June 7, 1865. He was a faithful soldier, ever found at the post of duty. He is a member of Vennum Post No. 471, G. A. R., of Milford.
July 28, 1869, Mr. Malo was united in marriage with Miss Lizzie Bunker, a native of Canada East, and a daughter of Moses and Mattie (Blaine) Bunker, the father a native of New Hampshire and the mother of Canada. Four children have been born unto our subject and his worthy wife, three sons and a daughter, namely: Samuel Edward, born June 21, 1870; Lizzie Matilda, October 17, 1873; Stephen C., February 9, 1880; and Ray B., on the 12th of September, 1886. In his social relations, Mr. Malo is a Mason, holding membership with Milford Lodge No. 168, A. F. & A. M. He exercises his right of franchise in support of the Republican party, and, as every true American citizen should do, feels an interest in political affairs. He has served three terms in the office of Village Trustee and proved himself a capable and faithful official. He is regarded as an upright, honorable business man, and in the years of his residence here has won the confidence and high regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact.
Hon. John H. Jones
|HON. JOHN H. JONES, one of the prominent and influential citizens of Iroquois County, is one of its honored pioneers and one of its most extensive land-owners. He has long been identified with its history, its upbuilding and development, and this work would be incomplete without the record of his life. He was born in Brown County, near Georgetown, Ohio, October 30, 1823. His parents, John and Mary (Pitzer) Jones, were both natives of Kentucky. In the fall of 1829, when our subject was six years of age, they left the Buckeye State and removed to Warren County, Ind., where they spent the remainder of their lives. The death of the mother occurred in 1851, and the father, who survived her about twenty years, departed this life in 1871.|
Mr. Jones' family numbered ten children, eight of whom grew to mature years, while two died in early childhood. Those who attained their majority are as follows: Ellen became the wife of Jesse Garland and both are now deceased; Louisa married George Statzell, and her death occurred many years ago, but the husband is living near Pine Village, Ind.; Nancy Ann is the widow of John B. Herriman, who died about three years and she resides on a farm six miles from Milford; John H. is the next younger; Sarah, who in 1890, was the wife of John Garland, a resident of Chariton, Iowa; Lewis married Miss Brown, by whom he has two children, death occurred about 1860, and he afterward married Mrs. Rebecca Dunshey, by whom he had six children, five of whom are living; the family reside in Benton County, Ind. Mary became the wife of Hugh McDade, and both died in Missouri; and Tarpley married Mary Harper, and with their three children they make their home in California.
The subject of this sketch was reared to manhood in Indiana, and received a common-school education. After attaining to mature years he married Miss Nancy, daughter of William and Rebecca Hooker, of Warren County, Ind. After a short married life of two years she was called to her final rest. In November, 1845, Mr. Jones was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Hannah Mercer, daughter of Jesse and Sarah Pugh, of Warren County, Ind. By her first marriage she had one child, William Mercer. By the second union have been born nine children, and with one exception all are living: Stephen, born August 26, 1846, married Martha Gray, daughter of John and Rebecca Gray, and by their union four sons have been born, three of whom are yet living: John, Edgar and Guy. Russell is now deceased. They reside about four and one-half miles from Milford. Charles 0., who was born April 9, 1848, married Miss Katie Holmes, and with their four children, Ruby, Homer, Earl and Charles Watson, they reside in Springfield, Ill.; John Milton, born May 25, 1850, died in February, 1860; Sarah M., born July 26, 1852, is the wife of 0. P. Harman, of Milford, by whom she has one son, Leroy; Lewis, who was born May 5, 1854, and resides on the old homestead, married Miss Susan Wise, and their family numbers two children, Nellie and Ray; Alba M. and Edgar A., twins, were born May 23, 1856. The former was joined in wedlock with Miss Fannie Monette, daughter of John Monette, of Milford. The latter, who is a resident of Milford, married Miss Maggie Collins, of Shelby County, Ill., and one son, Harry, graces this union; Priscilla was born April 3,1859; and Luther, who was born October 27, 1861, married Miss Jessie, daughter of Aaron Dazey, of Milford, and owns and operates a farm four miles east of that place. By his marriage he has two children, Gracie and Leroy.
Mr. Jones dates his residence in Iroquois County from 1851. Removing from Indiana he located on a farm five miles east of Milford, in Stockland Township. He there owned and operated four hundred acres of land, and upon that farm, where he resided for twenty-nine years, he reared his family. He then traded two hundred and forty acres of that land to his son Lewis, and bought for himself a tract of fifteen hundred acres one mile nearer the village. Here he has resided for twelve years. He devotes his attention principally to stock-raising. He keeps on hand an excellent grade of horses, cattle and hogs, and has been very successful in his operations. By his own efforts he has worked his way steadily upward, and by his enterprise and good management has each year added to his capital until he is now one of the wealthy citizens of the county.
In politics, Mr. Jones is a stalwart supporter of Republican principles. For the long period of twenty years he has served as School Treasurer, for thirteen years has held the office of Supervisor, and in 1883 he was a member of the House of Representatives during the Thirty-third General Assembly. His long-continued service is a high testimonial of his ability as an officer and the faithfulness with which he discharged his duties. He is alike true to every public and private trust, and by his upright life he has won universal confidence, he is classed among the representative and leading citizens of Iroquois County, where he has made his home for forty-one years, and it is with pleasure that we present to our readers the life record of this honored pioneer.
ROBERT MELL, Notary Public and insurance agent, is one of the leading and representative citizens of Cissna Park. He claims Kentucky as the State of his nativity. Born in Campbell County on the 17th of March, 1852, he is a son of John and Catherine (Wycoff) Mell. His father was a native of Pennsylvania and was of German descent. He removed to Ohio and afterward to Kentucky, and in 1871 came to Iroquois County, Ill., locating on a farm in Ash Grove Township. Throughout his entire life he followed agricultural pursuits. His death occurred in Pigeon Grove Township about 1886. In politics; he was a supporter of Democratic principles. His wife makes her home with her son in Missouri. Of the family, William is now deceased; Mrs. Louisa Parker and Mrs. Alice Nelson both reside in Kentucky; Garrett served in a Kentucky regiment during the war; Rhoda died in childhood; John is living in Coles County, Ill.; Mrs. Margaret Spalding makes her home in Kentucky; Mrs. Mary Jane Higgins is living in Missouri; Robert is the next younger; Joseph is living in Union, Brown County, Minn.; Mrs. Sidney Newlin resides in Cissna Park; Thomas makes his home near Cissna Park; and La Fayette is living in Missouri. All but the eldest were born and reared in Kentucky.
Mr. Mell, whose name heads this record, spent the days of his boyhood and youth upon his father's farm and was early inured to hard labor. When a young man, he made a trip to Ohio, and was there married on the 18th of September, 1871, to Miss Martha E. Anderson, who was born and reared in the same locality as her husband. She died in Iroquois County, September 18, 1877, on the sixth anniversary of her wedding day, leaving two children, Jessie B. and Lucy Hester. On the 6th of February, 1879, Mr. Mell was again married, his second union being with Miss Katie Schultz, a lady of German descent, whose parents now reside in Minnesota. Unto them have been born five children: Georgia (deceased), Anna Belle, Elsie, Myrtle (deceased), and Robert.
On his removal to this county, Mr. Mell embarked in farming in Ash Grove Township, and later carried on farming in Pigeon Grove Township. To that business he devoted his energies until December, 1891, when he left the farm and came to Cissna Park, where he purchased a lot and has erected a comfortable residence. He has since been engaged in business as an insurance and collection agent and as Notary Public. He has also read law for the past two years and has practiced to some extent. He does a good business and is a well-to-do citizen.
Mr. Mell takes an active interest in political affairs and is a stanch Democrat. His first Presidential vote was cast for Gen. Hancock. He has served as Assessor for one term. Socially, he is a member of the Knights of Pythias. He takes an active interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community and is ever found in the front ranks in support of all enterprises calculated to prove of public benefit.
HARTMAN SCHWARTZ, one of the early settlers of this community, is numbered among the prominent and representative farmers of Prairie Green Township. He resides on section 24, where he owns and operates one hundred and sixty acres of valuable land. This is one of the best-improved farms in the township. In all its appointments it seems complete, and its neat appearance indicates the enterprise and industry of the owner, which qualities are known to be among his chief characteristics. His home is a beautiful country residence, supplemented by good outbuildings, and these in turn are surrounded by waving fields of grain.
The owner of this desirable farm is of German birth. His parents were Thomas and Selma Schwartz, and they also were natives of Germany; a sketch of them is found with that of Philip Schwartz. Their family numbered five children, of whom our subject was the fourth in order of birth. He was born on the 30th of October, 1835, in Baden, and the days of his boyhood and youth were spent in his native land, where he acquired an education in the common schools. It was at age of twenty-three years that he bade adieu to home and friends, and in 1857 crossed the Atlantic to America. The vessel in which he sailed dropped anchor in the harbor of New York and he landed in that city with only $1 in his pocket, among a people whose language was strange to him. He remained in New York City for about a month, after which he came to Illinois, where he was first employed as a farm hand and served in that capacity for twelve years. He then came to Prairie Green Township, and with the money he had acquired through his own hard labors, purchased one hundred and sixty acres of partially improved land, the same upon which he has since made his home.
August 22, 1861, Mr. Schwartz was married, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary M. Cook, of McLean County, Ill. Their union has been blessed with the following children, the eldest of whom, John T., was born June 15, 1863; Charles S., born September 15, 1866; William A. died in infancy; Edwin L., born February 21, 1870; Phoebe L., born November 11, 1873; one died unnamed and Hulda A., who also died in infancy; Benjamin F., born January 13, 1878. The surviving children are still under the parental roof. Their parents have provided them with good educational advantages, thus fitting them for the practical and responsible duties of life.
In politics, Mr. Schwartz is a stalwart supporter of Democratic principles, having been identified with that party since he became an American citizen. Himself and family, save one child, are all members of the Christian Church, and they are people of sterling worth, who are widely and favorably known throughout the community, and are held in high esteem by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
JOHN W. MEIER, one of the efficient County Supervisors and well-to-do farmers of Ash Grove Township, residing on section 3, was born in Will County, Ill., June 22, 1849. His father, J. O. Meier, was born in Hesse, Germany. In the usual manner of farmer lads he was reared to manhood, and in his youth also learned the trade of a weaver. In 1844, he crossed the Atlantic to America, locating in Chicago. Four years later he went to Will County, Ill., and bought forty acres of land. Subsequently he made additional purchases until he became the owner of a large and valuable farm, but is now living retired in Crete. He has held a number of local offices, including Supervisor for some twenty years, Road Commissioner for about twelve years, and Tax Collector, and is a prominent and honored citizen of the community where he makes his home. In politics, he is a Republican. He received a good education in his native land and was a well-informed man. Mr. Meier married Sophia Rine, and unto them were born eleven children, five of whom are yet living, namely: John; Sophia, who resides in Crete; William, who is living on the old homestead; Mary, a resident of Will County; and Louise, who resides with her father. The mother of this family died in 1869, and Mr. Meier afterward married Engel Scheiwe. Her death occurred two years ago. By that union were born two children, one of whom is yet living, Henry, who is now employed in the County Clerk's office in Joliet.
The subject of this sketch was born and reared on his father's farm and acquired a good education in both the German and English language. He remained at home until twenty-five years of age, and then started out in life for himself. His father had purchased three hundred and twenty acres of raw prairie land in Iroquois County, to which John W. removed in 1874 and began its development. He now has one of the finest farms of the county. Its many improvements and well-tilled fields attest his thrift and enterprise, and the neat appearance of the place indicates the supervision of a careful manager.
In 1874, Mr. Meier was married to Miss Sophia Scheiwe, of Will County, and by that union were born ten children, eight of whom are yet living namely: John, William, Caroline, Herman, Martin, Henry, Emma and Otto. The two eldest children died in infancy. The mother was called to her final rest in 1888, and Mr. Meier was again married in 1890, his second union being with Miss Frieda Daus, a native of Germany, who, when three years of age, was brought by her parents to America, the family locating in Whiting, near Chicago.
Since casting his first Presidential vote for Gen. Grant Mr. Meier has been a stalwart supporter of the Republican party and a warm advocate of its principles. He is now serving his seventh year in succession as a member of the County Board, The prompt and faithful manner in which he has discharged his duties has led to his frequent re-election and has won for him the high commendation of all. Himself and wife are members of the Lutheran Church. Mr. Meier has a wide acquaintance throughout the county and is held in the highest regard by his large circle of friends and acquaintances. His life has been well and worthily spent, and by his good management, perseverance and business ability, he has won a handsome property, and now owns one of the finest farms in the township.
JAMES WARREN GREGORY, County Clerk of Iroquois County and a leading resident of Watseka, is a native of Indiana. He was born in Warren County, October 5, 1854, and is a son of Alford and Lucy (Templeton) Gregory. The parents were also natives of Indiana. A sketch of their lives is given on another page of this work.
In 1861, James W. Gregory accompanied his parents to Illinois, the family settling in Middleport Township, near Watseka. On coming to Iroquois County, Mr. Gregory was a lad of only seven years. He was reared to manhood on the farm and attended the country schools, completing his education in the city schools of Watseka. His occupation has been that of a farmer and stock-raiser from early manhood, and for several years he was also engaged in buying and selling live-stock. He has bred and dealt principally in Short-horn cattle and Norman horses, and is still interested in that line with his brother, George F. Together they own a well-improved farm of five hundred and twenty acres, situated in Middleport Township, in which our subject has a controlling interest.
In politics, Mr. Gregory is a Republican. He has served six years as Road Commissioner in Middleport Township, and in the autumn of 1890 was elected County Clerk of Iroquois County, entering upon the duties of the office on the 1st of December following. He has proved a very capable and popular county officer, discharging his duties with a promptness and fidelity that have won him the commendation of all concerned. He has for his Deputy the old and experienced ex-County Clerk, H. A. Butzow.
Mr. Gregory was reared under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which his mother and himself are both members. He is a member of the order of Modern Woodmen of America, belonging to Watseka Camp No. 339. He has long made his home in this county, in fact, almost his entire life has here been passed, and he has a wide acquaintance throughout its borders.