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Capt. Stephen T. Strattan

Stephen T. Strattan Died Saturday Evening.

Funeral Tomorrow Afternoon at 1:30 O’clock from the M. E. Church.

Although his health was known to be precarious, the community was greatly 
startled Saturday night by the announcement of the death of Capt. Stephen 
Thatcher Strattan, one of the oldest and best known citizens of Mt. Vernon. 
Capt. Strattan had been an invalid for several months, but his condition 
was not such—until Saturday afternoon—as to warrant much apprehension in 
the minds of his family that his end was so near, notwithstanding the heavy 
drain made upon his natural vitality by his long and exhausting illness. 
His recovery was not anticipated, but his rapid decline during the last few 
hours of his life was equally unexpected by those who watched at his bedside, 
and his death produced an inexpressible shock by its suddenness.

His death was due to an affection of the heart from which he had suffered for 
some time and which at intervals during his illness gave him great anguish. 
Capt. Strattan was not unconscious of his approaching end, and a short time 
before he died he sat upon the edge of the bed, upon which he had been resting, 
in an effort to get some relief from the pain from which he suffered. His family, 
noticing that he was rapidly growing weaker, laid him down upon the pillow, and 
a few minutes after nine o’clock his soul took its flight from its earthly tenement 
to the realms of rest.

Deceased was born of sturdy old Quaker ancestry in Wilmington, Clinton county, Ohio., 
October 1, 1818, consequently was aged seventy-nine years, two months and seventeen 
days at the time of his demise. Imbued with the prevalent idea of the time that the 
newer states of the West afforded greater opportunities for a young man of thrift and 
energy —Capt. Strattan emigrated to Mercer county, Illinois, in 1833, where he engaged 
in farming and stock raising for a couple of years, but the venture proving unremunerative 
on account of the remoteness of the location from a profitable market, he disposed of his 
property and returned to Ohio. Shortly afterward he became associated with G. F. Stevens, 
C. W. Pavey, Mr. Irons and Mr. Dixon, and the four men started down the Ohio river in quest 
of a new field for their enterprise and energy. Reaching Shawneetown, they hired a man to 
drive them through the country that they might make a canvass of its resources for themselves.

After a trip through Gallatin, Saline and other counties to the southward, they reached 
Mt. Vernon July 4, 1837, weary from their long and somewhat tedious journey. It was late 
in the afternoon when the party reached Mt. Vernon, and in passing the home of Mr. and Mrs. 
John Johnson, a short distance south of town and now owned by Dr. A. C. Johnson, they were 
attracted by the cheerful, homelike surroundings of the place and at once decided they would 
purchase it and take up their abode in Jefferson county. They came into town and put up at 
the hotel for the night, but early next morning walked down to the Johnson homestead and made 
an inspection of the property before breakfast and returned to town while a majority of the 
citizens were still in bed. A short time after this Mr. Strattan purchased the property, his 
companions having decided that they would invest their capital in other enterprises. The farm, 
which consisted of about 400 acres, was purchased by Mr. Strattan largely on credit, but his 
appearance and natural business aptitude were sufficient guarantee to Mr. Johnson that the 
debt would be paid at the time agreed upon.

About this time Boyles & Estes, who had been conducting a general merchandising business in 
a building which stood on the site of the present Columbian block, had their stock taken 
possession of by the sheriff, who was about to sell it out under foreclosure proceedings, 
when Mt. Strattan persuaded the sheriff to let him take charge of the goods and sell them 
out by auction, as he felt assured that in this way he would be able to satisfy all the 
creditors and save something for Boyles & Estes. The stock was turned over to him, and, 
being a good auctioneer, he soon disposed of it in such a way as to meet all the debts and 
obligations placed upon him and at the same time realize a handsome surplus for the bankrupt 
firm. His skillful management of this self-imposed task gave him great prestige as an astute 
business man, and a few months later he sold his farm and purchased the general stock of goods 
owned by William Thorn, located at the southwest corner of the public square. He continued the 
business for a few months, when he formed a partnership with R. W. Lyon and moved to the building 
now occupied by J. Hill Williams & Co., where the business was afterwards conducted. The 
partnership with Mr. Lyon did not last very long and was dissolved by mutual consent, Mr. 
Strattan purchasing his partner’s interest. A partnership was now entered into with J. E. 
Fergerson, and for many years a varied and extensive business was carried on under the firm 
name of Strattan & Fergerson. In addition to their stock of merchandise the firm conducted a 
number of other enterprises, among which were pork packing, saw and flour milling, cotton 
ginning, etc. For many years they operated their flour mill day and night and shipped its 
product to Cincinnati in exchange for dry goods and other merchandise. This was before the 
era of railroads in this county and everything had to be transported by teams from either 
Ashley or Salem, these being the nearest railroad points in those days. An almost continual 
string of teams was engaged by Strattan & Fergerson in hauling merchandise between Mt Vernon 
and these points during the war period, which added much to the prosperity of teaming at that 
time. They received a contract to furnish material for building the approach to the great Eads 
bridge at East St. Louis and sawed an immense amount of lumber for that purpose, but much of 
it was rejected by the inspectors and the firm lost a large amount of money in the fulfillment 
of the contract.

When the war came on, Mr. Strattan raised a company for the defense of the Union and was 
commissioned by Gov. Richard Yates as captain of Co. E, Ill. Volunteer Infantry. His health 
was undermined by the exposures of camp life and after an active service of less than a year 
he resigned his commission and returned to Mt. Vernon and again took up the business career 
he had thrown aside from patriotic impulses. At the close of the rebellion Mr. Strattan’s 
business capacity had been so well demonstrated that both himself and his partner, Mr. Fergerson, 
were invited by one of the most prominent wholesale dry goods firms in Chicago to come to that 
city and become members of the firm, but after visiting Chicago and canvassing the opportunities 
such an investment promised, Mr. Fergerson was dissatisfied and the proposed federation of the 
two firms was abandoned. The Chicago firm that made them the proposition has now a world-wide 
reputation for the extent of its operations and the wealth it has accumulated.

Mr. Strattan was one of the foremost promoters of the old St. Louis & Southeastern railroad, 
now the St. Louis division of the L. & N., and furnished its constructors an immense amount 
of goods for which he accepted orders in payment which were never redeemed, on account of 
the company going into bankruptcy.

Deceased was a man of indomitable energy and hardly an enterprise was started in this city 
for many years but what he was a contributor. In conjunction with the late Geo. Varnell he 
was for a long time one of the financial magnates of the community and hardly any new business 
could be launched without enlisting the sympathy and assistance of Mr. Strattan and his business 
associates. He was a man of wonderful executive capacity and continued to direct his business 
affairs with great vigor till about a year ago, when he was compelled to relax, in some measure, 
at least, the attention that he had hitherto bestowed upon them. On the 26th of last May 
Mr. Strattan sustained a partial stroke of paralysis and for several weeks his condition was 
very alarming to his friends, but his natural vitality reasserted itself and in the course of 
a few months a gradual improvement began and later in the summer he was able to drive about town, 
but was never afterward strong enough to walk to his place of business unassisted. About a month 
ago he sustained a second attack but appeared to be getting better, when heart trouble arose to 
complicate matters and which eventuated in his death.

On October 3, 1840, Mr. Strattan was married to Miss Nancy Jane Lawder at Wilmington, O., 
Mrs. Strattaan died before her husband removed to Illinois, and November 1, 1847, Mr. Strattan 
was married to Miss Isabella Jane Pavey, sister of Gen. C. J. Pavey. The second Mrs. Strattan 
dying August 1, 1880, he was married to Miss Eliza J. Koser at Mt. Carmel, Illinois, March 16, 1882. 
Capt. Strattan was the father of eight children, of whom six, three of the first and three of 
the second family, are still living. He also leaves four half-brothers and one half-sister, of 
whom three of the former live in Illinois and other in Kansas. The surviving half sister resides 
in Iowa. Mr. Strattan was a member of the M. E. church, with which he had been affiliated 
considerably more than half a century.

The record of Mr. Strattan’s life is a history of earnest and faithful work: of the actions 
and employments of one who has done thoroughly and well whatever he undertook to do and whose 
life will, imperceptibly perhaps, but none the less surely, exercise an influence for good on 
those with whom he has been brought in contact.

The funeral services will be held at the First M. E. church at 1:30 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. 
The body will lie in state at the family residence from 9 till 12 o’clock tomorrow morning. The 
interment will be at Oakwood..

Mayor’s Proclamation. I would respectfully request that all places of business be closed tomorrow, Dec. 21st, from 1 to 8 o’clock p.m.: that all may have an opportunity to attend the funeral services and pay a last tribute of respect to our esteemed and worthy citizen, Capt. S. T. Strattan. Andy Hall, Mayor. Source: Mount Vernon Register News Date: Dec 20, 1897 Submitted by Brenda Hereford and Nancy E. Davis Relationship: Great niece
The funeral services of the late Capt. S. T. Strattan were held at the first M. E. church at 1:30 o’clock this afternoon and were largely attended. Half an hour before the cortege left the house members of Coleman Post G.A.R., who had previously assembled at their hall on West Main street, marched in a body to the home of the deceased to pay the last rites of respect to the memory of their departed comrade. Shortly after their arrival at the house the funeral procession started for the church where the obsequies were to be held, the old army comrades of the deceased, to the number of thirty-five, preceding the hearse and followed by the members of the official board of the M. E. church, of which Mr. Strattan was a member. After them came a few footmen, who in turn were succeeded by the hearse and a long line of carriages, buggies and other vehicles, containing members of the family and their friends. Out of respect to the memory of the deceased, Judge Pierce adjourned court till 2:30. A large number of business houses on the public square closed their doors during the obsequies, many of them not opening again till 3 o’clock. At the church the opening prayer was delivered by Rev. B. R. Pierce, of Sumner, an old friend of the deceased, and the Scripture lessons were read by Revs. McCammon and Yates, after which brief but impressive addresses were delivered by Revs. Pierce, Douglas and Harmon. The remains were then taken to Oakwood and deposited in the family lot. Source: Mount Vernon Register News Date: Dec 21, 1897 Submitted by Brenda Hereford and Nancy E. Davis Relationship: Great niece

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