Location: Stephenson County IL

Biography of John J. Pluemer

John J. Pluemer, for many years a resident of Freeport, is now passed eighty-two years, and has given up all active business enterprises. He has been an active and pushing man of affairs, and has borne his part in life manfully. He was born in Ost Friesland, now a part of Prussia, Jan. 3, 1817, where he attended school until he was about 16. To secure for him a better education his father put him into a lawyer’s office where he remained until he was nineteen. His father was a farmer and dealer in peat for fuel purposes, the latter on an extensive scale, and as John J. was an only son, the business required and received personal attention. When he reached the age of twenty-seven his father retired and turned the entire business over to him. Mr. Pluemer conducted it until 1852, but as he was outspoken in his convictions and antagonized the opinions of the world around him, he sold out and sought a home in the freer world of the new west. Despite his peculiar views and the opposition of the ministers, he had been elected to a position in his German home corresponding to that of supervisor in this country. In March 1852 he sailed from Bremen, leaving his wife and family to follow him the next August. He landed in New York May 1,...

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Biography of Gen. Smith D. Atkins

Smith D. Atkins, who is a lawyer, soldier, journalist and politician, was born on the 9th of June, 1836, near Elmira, Chemung Co., N. Y.; he came with his father’s family to Illinois in 1848, and lived on a farm until 1850. He then became an apprentice in the office of the Prairie Democrat, which was the first paper published in Freeport. He was educated at Rock River Seminary, Mt. Morris, Ill., working in the printing-office and studying during his spare hours, and in 1852 obtained the foremanship of the Mt. Morris Gazette, while he was yet a student in the seminary. In 1853 he became associated with C. C. Allen, who, during the war, was a Major on the staff of Maj. Gen. Schofield; they bought this paper and established the Register at Savanna, Carroll County. In the fall of the same year he entered the office of Hiram Bright, in Freeport, as a student of law, and was admitted to practice June 27, 1855. After his admission he continued to read law for some time in the office of Goodrich & Scoville, of Chicago, Ill., and then entered upon his practice in Freeport, dating his entry into the active duties of his profession Sept. 1, 1856. In 1860 Mr. Atkins made a spirited canvass for the election of Lincoln to the Presidency and one address of his...

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Biography of Charles Betts

Honorable Charles Betts, Freeport, is one of the most prominent figures of the Stephenson county bar, and his long association with legal affairs gives him the colloquial title of “Judge” Betts. He is called the Nestor of the bar, and is now living in an honorable retirement from professional life. He was born in Batavia, Genesee county, New York, June 13th, 1825, and up to the time of his admission to the bar his life was passed in the Empire state. His educational privileges eminently fitted him for the profession of his choice. At all times he has made the most of his opportunities, and endowed by nature with, strong mentality, his advance has been rapid and commendable. While still a youth he began the study of law in his native state with Honorable Heman J. Redfield and Honorable Benjamin Pringle as his preceptors, and completed his course in the office of Hon. Isaac A. Verplanck and General John H. Martindale, of Batavia. The counsel and assistance of these distinguished gentlemen and able attorneys had great influence in moulding his character and educating him to a standard of excellence in the profession before him, from which he has never deteriorated. Honorable, high-minded and faithful through inbred moral principles, he early gave evidence of fitness for that high career that was opening before him. He was esteemed and loved, not more...

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Biography of C.N. Bentley

C.N. Bentley, whose home is on section 21, Harlem township, is one of the venerable figures of the pioneer gatherings of Stephenson county. It indeed has few if any residents whose settlement antedates his own. He knows what it means to open up a new country to civilization, and he is now living in the peace and comfort that follows a long and useful career. Eldred Bentley, the grandfather of the subject of this article, was born in Rhode Island, but spent the greater part of his life in Rensselaer county, New York, and died in Chautauqua county of that state in 1851, at the age of ninety-three. His wife, Nata, was an own sister of that Ethan Allen, who linked his name with fame beyond divorce in the capture of the fort at Ticonderoga at the opening of the Revolutionary struggle. Eldred Bentley, Jr., the father of C. N. Bentley, was born in Rensselaer county in 1793, and died in Chautauqua county in 1843. Mr. Bentley was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, July 24th, 1826, and of his brothers and sisters mention is briefly made. John lives in Winnebago county, and Eldred at Ellington, Chautauqua county, New York. Louisa married Norman Carr, and died in Ellington in 1891. Jemima married Mr. Jeffords, and died in Pennsylvania in 1896. Sarah died at Ellington while still a young girl, and...

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Biography of Tobias Engle

Tobias Engle, one of the early settlers of Freeport, is a native of Lancaster, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he was born May 9, 1829. He is the son of Jacob and Nancy (Myers) Engle. Jacob Jingle was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. In early days he ran a clover huller, later. a grist mill, and afterward took charge of his father’s farm in Lancaster county, residing there until 1851 when he removed to Stephenson county, Illinois, locating in Freeport where he remained two years. Deciding to return to Pennsylvania they started eastward but stopped in Montgomery county, Ohio, where Mr. Engle purchased a farm on which he spent the remainder of his life. His wife was a native of Lebanon county, Pennsylvania. They had eleven children, as follows : Benjamin, who died in Kansas ; Tobias; Jacob, who resides in Montgomery county, Ohio, on the old homestead; Abram, who lives on part of the old farm in Montgomery county, Ohio ; Betsy, wife of Jacob Huntzbiger, both deceased; Annie, wife of Adam Hocker, a farmer in Montgomery county, Ohio; Leah, wife of Jacob Castle, of Montgomery county, a farmer; Martha married Eli Boyer who runs a boarding house in Dayton, Ohio, and three others deceased. Tobias Engle received a limited education in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he worked on his father’s farm until 1851, removing at that time with...

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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...

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Biography of William A. Horan

Rev. William A. Horan, late pastor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, at Freeport, Ill., was born in Pierce township, DeKalb Co., Ill., on Feb. 2nd, 1851, and is the son of the late Patrick M. and Mary (Hanaghan) Horan. Patrick M. Horan was a native of Ireland,, and was born in the year 1800. When a young man he removed to England, where he served in the British army. In 1839 he married Mary, a daughter of Malachy Hanaghan, of county Mayo, Ireland, their union resulting in the birth of twelve children, five of whom are still living. In 1849, in company with their parents and other members of their family, they emigrated to the United States intending to land at New Orleans, but on account of the cholera were not permitted to land but sent up the river and made the first landing at Beardstown, 111. They went directly to DeKalb, Ill., where the father-in-law purchased a tract of 160 acres of fertile farm land in the township of Pierce. Mr. Horan passed away in Aug., 1897, having survived his wife, Mary, twenty-four years. William (our subject) attended the public schools of his native town and the High school at DeKalb, from which he graduated with honor, at the age of fifteen. During the following two years he remained at home on the farm, but, determining to...

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Biography of Thomas Carroll

Thomas Carroll  is an engineer who has seen many years service with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Road. Beginning on the engine when only eighteen years old, he has come to understand its very life, and almost make it a part of himself. He knows every whim and fancy of the iron horse and can coax it to its utmost exertion. Thomas Carroll, Sr., the father of the Freeport engineer, was born in county Monaghan, Ireland, and came to America when a young man. He lived in New York for a time and came to Freeport in 1854, the year after the Northwestern was built into the city, securing a place on the road and held it until his death in 1863. He was a democrat and a member of St. Mary’s Catholic church. His wife, Ann Duffy, a native of the same county, still survives, making her home with the subject of this writing, and is upwards of eighty years old. She became the mother of six children, four of whom survive. Thomas Carroll was born December 23, 1847, and came to Freeport when a lad only seven years old. He had the usual school privileges of the time and when he was eighteen years old began life for himself as a fireman on the Racine & Mississippi Railroad, since incorporated into the St. Paul System. Four...

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