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Biography of John Deere

No citizen in Rock Island County, or throughout the country, was probably more widely known than John Deere of Moline. He was born at Rutland, Vermont, February 7, 1804, and died May 17, 1886. 1805 the family moved to Middlebury, Vermont, where the children attended school in a district schoolhouse, which had a long fire place across the end of the room. The reading, writing and little arithmetic obtained here, before he was twelve years old, was the principal educational start Mr. Deere had for life. He afterwards attended private school for a few months, but the inborn inclination for active practical work must assert itself, and the career began, which, for unconquerable energy, determined will, and self-made success, has few equals, if any superiors. Becoming tired of the schoolroom, he hired himself to a tanner to grind bark, and the pair of shoes and suit of clothes purchased with the wages were the first inclination the mother had of John’s doings. At the age of seventeen he became an apprentice to Captain Benjamin Lawrence, and began learning the blacksmith trade. He faithfully worked out his engagement of four years, and was then employed in the shop of William Wells and Ira Allen, to construct iron wagons, buggies and stagecoaches. A year later he was in Burlington, and did the entire wrought iron work on the saw and linseed oil mill built at Colchester Falls. This indicates the mechanical ability of the young man; for it must be remembered that work which is now done by machinery, in those days must depend upon the skill and strength of the...

Biography of Judge J. M. Gould

In the early days of the west the more favored districts naturally drew to them-selves the men of greatest ambition, foresight, and business sagacity. These sought the fields that held out the most to them in. the way of promise for the future, and settling there, bent their energies to laying the foundation of prosperity for themselves and their posterity. Thus it is that Rock Island County has been fortunate in the character of its pioneers. They were not only of sturdy stock fit to endow their descendants with the physical strength to build up a great community but they were also above the average in mental grasp and moral fibre. They were able to discern the opportunities which the region held forth for agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce, and possessed the sound judgment, executive ability, courage and perseverance to organize and direct these to their full fruition. Of this sort was Hon. John M. Gould, merchant, lumberman, banker and manufacturer. Few men have had so large a share in the upbuilding of any city as Judge Gould has had in making Moline what it is and rarely, indeed. has any one lived to see the changes wrought in any community that he has seen take place in this thriving manufacturing center. His activities have extended into many fields and in all of them he has left a permanent impress. Probably no other American of English descent can boast of an ancestry inhabiting American soil longer than that of Judge Gould. Zacheus Gould came to what later became Massachusetts from England in 1634, fourteen years later the Pilgrim fathers landed...

Biography of Colonel Elhanan John Searle

Soldier, jurist and publicist, a man of many attainments and widely diversified talent, was Elhanan J. Searle, the subject of this sketch. He was born January 18, 1835, at Royalton, Ohio, coming to Rock Island County with his parents when about two years of age, and died at Rock Island, August 18, 1906. Colonel Searle, or Judge Searle as he was perhaps more familiar known throughout Rock Island County, received his education at the Rock River Seminary, an institution located at Mount Morris, Illinois, and after completing his studies in that school, which was largely preparatory in its scope, he entered Northwestern University at Evanston; from which institution he graduated with the highest honors of his class; and at the time of his death was the oldest alumnus of that institution. After the completion of his collegiate course he decided to fit himself for entrance to the legal profession, and with that end in view he entered the law office of John L. Beveridge, afterwards Governor of Illinois, at Chicago. He remained in Mr. Beveridge’s office until November, 1859, when he entered the law office of Abraham Lincoln and William H. Herndon, the firm being known as Lincoln & Herndon, at Springfield, and here he remained continuing the study of his chosen profession until March, 1861. Daily association with a character such as Abraham Lincoln’s and the intimacy naturally arising from their relation as student and mentor, must have made a deep impression upon the young man, and doubtless exerted a formative influence upon the whole course of his after life. As we can view it now, such an...

Biography of W. E. Taylor, M. D.

Placed at the head of a great state charitable institution, carrying the responsibility for the welfare of hundreds of unfortunates whose reason has been shattered and imbued with an earnest desire to restore his unfortunate charges to health and friends, stands Doctor W. E. Taylor, superintendent of the Illinois Western Hospital for the Insane at Watertown. He was born at Waukesha, Wisconsin, May 24, 1854, where his parents, E. T. and Esibell (Irving) Taylor resided. Here his boyhood was spent, and after thoroughly fitting him-self in preparatory schools, he entered the University of Wisconsin, and upon completing a course in that institution, took up the study of medicine at the Hahnemann Medical College at Chicago, from which he graduated. After his graduation, he began the practice of his chosen profession at Monmouth, Illinois, and remained in that city until his appointment as superintendent of the Watertown Hospital for the Insane in 1897, which position he still holds. August 5, 1879, he was married to Miss Vagima McCleary, and of this union two sons have been born, Don and Mac Taylor. Dr. Taylor is a Republican and is prominent in the councils of his party, not merely locally, but throughout the State of Illinois. During the time he resided in Monmouth, he was at the head of the health department of that city for ten years, and was mayor of Monmouth for two years. In 1896 he was a presidential elector. He has campaigned throughout the state for his party every year since 1884. He is recognized throughout the medical profession in the United States as an authority on nervous...

Biography of Mansfield M. Sturgeon

One of the most brilliant and astute attorneys practising at the Rock Island County Bar is Mansfield M. Sturgeon, senior member of the legal firm of Sturgeon. Stelck & Sturgeon, a man whose great ability and profound learning as an attorney has been demonstrated in the trial of many important suits, as well as in sound counsel and legal advice. He was born September 10, 1843, at Letart Falls, Ohio, his parents, being Oliver Hazard Perry Sturgeon and Mary Ellenor (Summers) Sturgeon. The father was born March 14, 1818, at Sistersville, Virginia, the date of the marriage of the senior Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon being December 25, 1839. The death of the father occurred at Windom, Kansas, in 1902, he being then in his eighty-fifth year. The mother was born in Morgantown, Virginia, June 11., 1819. She is still living, and is in her eighty-eighth year. The grandfather of our subject, William Sturgeon, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was with the land forces at Lake Erie when Commodore Perry won the memorable naval battle there. Hence when his son was born he bestowed upon him the somewhat lengthy name of Oliver Hazard Perry Sturgeon, in honor of his hero. This rather cumbrous cognomen was abbreviated by his boyhood companions to simply “Perry “, and by this name he was known throughout his life. The Sturgeons were of Scotch-Irish ancestry, one of the members of that family settling in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in an early day. The great-grandfather of our subject was born in Uniontown. When a young man he erected a grist mill on the banks...

Biography of Frederick C. Otto

Frederick C. Otto. A prosperous and substantial farmer and a dominating figure in the financial affairs of Riley, Kansas, Frederick C. Otto is also a leading factor in democratic politics in Riley County, at present being the democratic nominee for state senator. The achievements that may be justly credited to Mr. Otto have been fairly won. Deprived early of a father’s protection and assistance, he had, in large measure, his own way to make in the world, and it was through a process of struggle that he advanced for many years only step by step. Industry, frugality, efficiency in everything concerning his agricultural operations, made easier the entrance into other lines of business in which he developed still other qualities, and now his position as one of Riley County’s best farmers and soundest financiers cannot be questioned. On the same basis his political fortunes have been advanced and he has become his party’s choice for a high public office because of his solid qualities and known integrity. Frederick C. Otto was born August 1, 1862, in Ogle County, Illinois, the youngest of six children born to Christ and Mary (Peperling) Otto. His parents were born in Hanover, Germany, and were married there and remained until after the birth of one child, Dora. In 1858 they emigrated to the United States and settled on a farm in Ogle County, Illinois, and there five additional children were born, namely: Henry, Lewis, August, Mary and Frederick C. The father died in 1863. His widow was a woman of courage and resource. She determined at all hazards, to keep her children together and...

Biography of Allen C. Mason

ALLEN C. MASON. – The well-known fact that a city presents, as a whole, the characteristics of the individuals who compose it, finds no better illustration than in the city of Tacoma, Washington. It is wide-awake, enterprising and progressive, and is such not only because of its unrivaled location and its commanding position as the terminus of the great Northern Pacific Railroad, but because its business men are themselves possessed of a spirit of progressive enterprise, are thoroughly imbued with confidence in the great destiny of their city, and are united in their efforts to promote its welfare. Prominent among these public-spirited men, standing at the very front of progress, is Allen C. Mason, to whom Tacoma is largely indebted for its widespread reputation, and for the moneyed interest so many people have taken in it. Since he settled in Tacoma, Mr. Mason has done more to advance its interests than any citizen within its limits. He has had the handling of more real estate, has caused the investment of more money, has more extensively advertised its advantages, and has induced more people to cast their lot in the Terminal city, than any other of its enterprising citizens, of whom there are many. He has seen the city grow, from a few board shanties scattered among the trees and stumps, to its present grand array of brick and stone structures; and this marvelous growth, the work of but a few years, he expects to see continued until Tacoma becomes the largest city in the Northwest, to take rank with the leading commercial cities of the United States. In this...

Biography of Harrison B. Oatman

Harrison B. Oatman, of Portland, was born in Courtland county, New York, February 25, 1826. His father, Harvey B. Oatman, died one year after the birth of our subject. One year later he accompanied his mother to Bellevue, Huron county, Ohio, where the family remained ten years and then settled in West Liberty, Ohio. Here they remained four years, after which they removed to Elgin, Illinois, and a few years later to Ogle county, in the same State. The latter place was at this time a new country and here Mr. Oatman commenced life on his own account as a farmer on land obtained from the government. On December, 25,1847, he was married to Miss Lucena K. Ross, a most estimable lady, who from that day to the present time has not only shared his fortunes, but has been a most excellent wife and mother and in its highest sense a worthy helpmate and companion. He remained at Ogle until the fall of 1852, when he removed to Des Moines, Iowa, and the following summer (1853) with his brother, Harvey B. Oatman, and their families, started on the long journey across the plains to Oregon. After several weary months of traveling they arrived in the Rogue River Valley, in the fall of 1853, and here the two brothers and their wives took up a claim of 640 acres to which they were entitled under the donation ate, near Phoenix. The old wagon which had survived the journey of more than 3,000 miles was placed on the line dividing the respective claims and served as a place of habitation until...

Biography of John Fosha

JOHN FOSHA, of Silver Creek township, Stephenson county, is widely known as one of the most successful farmers of northern Illinois, and he has achieved his present enviable position solely through his own efforts. He has extensive real estate holdings in Kansas as well as this state, as substantial results of his wise use of brain and brawn, and can congratulate himself that while he is still erect and vigorous he has accumulated such a property and stands so well in the business world. Frank and Anna Maria Fosha, the grandparents of the Silver Creek farmer, were born in Lippe-Detmold, Germany. He was a common laborer, and died in America in 1860, aged ninety-one years, ‘seven months and twentynine clays. Frank Fosha, the father of John, was born in the ancestral home in 1805, and died March 5, 1879. He was a linen weaver in Germany, and came to this country in 1836. He sailed from Bremen October 30th, and was seventeen weeks on the water. It was a stormy passage and terminated at Baltimore after many almost unendurable hardships. He found employment in a store at Frederick, Maryland, and was then employed in a fulling factory at Chilcott in the same state. He went to Shepherdstown, Virginia, where he made his home for a number of years, and worked in a cloth factory. In 1848 he made his appearance in this state, locating in Ogle county. He drove through with a two-horse wagon and found the way difficult. There were few bridges, and the roads were at times all but impassible. At Cincinnati he took passage on a...

Biography of John Piper

John Piper, now living a retired life in Freeport, was born Feb. 7, 1832, in Washington county, Maryland, at the place where, thirty years later, the great battle of Antietam was fought. His parents were Jacob and Anna (Kitzmiller) Piper, both of Washington county, and his grandfather, Daniel Piper, was born February 4, 1780, and died March 3, 1857. He was a farmer and spent all of his life in the above county. His wife, whose maiden name was Brown, was born September 2, 1774, and died July 8, 1851. Grandmother Kitzmiller was born January 23, 1777, and died July 30, 1860. May 15, 1845, Jacob Piper started for the west by wagon train, in a pasty composed of twenty-one persons, eleven of whom are now living, as follows : Mrs. Henry Dovenberger, Forreston, Illinois; John Dovenberger, Forreston; D. J. Piper, Brookville township, Ogle county, Illinois; Elizabeth Shearer (now married), Maryland township, Ogle county; Mrs. August Bergman, Freeport; Mrs. D. D. Iler, Ridott Village; Sarah Kitzmiller, Ridott; John Piper, subject of sketch; Elizabeth A. Trime, Le Grande, Iowa; Jacob W. Piper, Le Grande, Iowa; J. M. Piper, county superintendent of schools of Ogle county, Illinois. Those deceased are: Jacob Piper and wife; Anna Piper; Henry Shearer and wife; Mrs. Shearer; Jacob Dovenber and wife ; Henry Dovenberger; Mrs. Geo. Dowel; Samuel Fiper (soldier in Union Army); John Kitzmiller (drafted in the war of 1812). Only two of the above died under seventy-five years of age and the oldest was ninety-one. None now living are under fifty-five. Jacob Piper located on a farm in Ogle county, Illinois, where he died,...
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