Collection: Biographical History of Rock Island Illinois

Biography of Frederick C. Liekefett

Born in Germany and brought to America by his parents at a tender age, the subject of this sketch is one of the many German-Americans who has made his mark in Rock Island County. His birth and early training started him aright and he has hewed to the line and become one of the most prosperous and substantial citizens of the community. Mr. Liekefett’s native province was Hanover, where he first saw the light November 28, 1848. The parents from whom he descended were Franz and Christina (Giltmacher) Liekefett, who came to the United States in 1855, first settling at St. Louis, Missouri. Here they remained but a short time, removing to near East St. Louis and taking up farming. After two years they came to Rock Island and the husband and father, being a tailor by trade, followed that occupation for two years. At the end of that period, satisfied that there were greater opportunities on the farm than in the shop, Mr. Liekefett purchased land in Bowling Township and settled thereon. Some years later this property was disposed of and the farm in Black Hawk that the couple occupied till death and on which the subject of this review now resides, secured. Frederick C. Liekefett was married in Rock Island County December 19, 1876, his wife’s maiden name being Maria Simser. She was born in this County...

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Biography of James Brackett

James Brackett, a prominent lawyer of Cherry Valley, Otsego County, New York, who graduated in the class with Daniel Webster, at Dartsmouth College, came to Rock Island in 1847 to spend the last years of a long and useful life. John Ely Brackett, eldest son of James Brackett, graduated from West Point and later was appointed a Lieutenant in the Second Regiment of Artillery. Later he became a Captain in Colonel Stevenson’s Regiment, which was to sail for California to serve during the war with Mexico, and afterwards, as Major-General John Ely Brackett, was very active during the troublous California days in 1849, and is much lauded in the annals of that State. He died in Rock Island some years later. Joseph Warren Brackett, second son of James Brackett, was appointed midshipman in the navy, at the age of fifteen, in 1830, from which he resigned four years later. In 1840 he was admitted to the bar of New York, and practiced nine years in Cherry Valley, his birthplace. He then went to Rock Island, where he remained till his death. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Brackett joined the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, and was appointed successively Battalion Quartermaster and Regimental Commissary. This Regiment made a record second to none in brilliancy and secured the special thanks of General Curtis and Thomas. He was a member of...

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Biography of Robert E. Little

Robert E. Little, for ten years postmaster of the Village of Milan, is one of the successful native sons of the County. He was born on a farm in Bowling Township May 22, 1861. His parents, William and Elizabeth (Rea) Little, were both of Irish birth, the former’s natal day being December 7, 1815, and the latter’s August 16, 1819. They were married in their native land and immigrated to America and to Rock Island County in 1844. The farm on which they settled and which they occupied till death was entered by them from the Government. Mr. Little passed away August 6, 1891, his wife having preceded him to the beyond September 12, 1884. Their children are: Margaret C., wife of O. C. Wells, of Bruning, Nebraska; Ann J., widow of Arthur O’Neal, of Milan; Francis A., of Conway Springs, Kansas; Mary L., widow of Robert Elliott, of Conway Springs; William R., of Cushing, Oklahoma; David T., of Conway Springs; Evaline E., wife of William L. Heath, of Davenport, Iowa; and Robert E., the subject of this review. The last named received his early training on the farm, being educated in the public schools and at the Dixon Business College. He continued to make the farm his home till 1892, when he removed to Milan and took a position as salesman in the hardware store of his brother-in-law,...

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Biography of Douglas E. Hall

While not a long time resident of Rock Island County, the subject of this sketch is a native of Illinois, son of pioneers of the State, and is descended from an ancestry that has participated in all the wars that the United States has waged. Mr. Hall was born in Menard County April 6, 1861, his parents being James P. and Mary J. (Pierce) Hall. His father was born in Lawrence County, Ohio, July 1, 1818, and his mother in Sangamon County, Illinois, August 16, 1830. James P. Hall was a son of Elisha Hall, a native of Bedford County, Virginia, and a descendant of the early pioneers who settled in that State long before the Revolutionary War. Elisha Hall married Nancy Overstreet, also born in Bedford County and of pioneer ancestry. Her father, John Overstreet, was a Revolutionary soldier under General Washington, and participated in the battles of the Cow Pens, Brandywine and Monmouth, among others, and was at the siege of Yorktown, when Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender. During the War of 1812, Elisha Hall, his son-in-law, was drafted, and being the father of a large family who needed his support, he offered $100 for a substitute. Mr. Overstreet accepted the offer and, though well advanced in years, again bore arms against the British. Elisha Hall, in an early day, settled in Lawrence County, Ohio, where...

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Biography of John H. Wilson

John H. Wilson has been a constant factor in the up building of the Cities of Rock Island and Moline for half a century. As president of the Wilson Moline Buggy Company and in other business enterprises in which he has engaged since coming to this community in 1856 he has given employment to many men and has directed their energies into channels that have brought adequate rewards to themselves, to their employers and to the cities in which they have lived and labored. Like many another of the substantial early residents of Rock Island County, Mr. Wilson is a native of Pennsylvania, having been born in Mercer County. His parents and grandparents were tillers of the soil and established one of those elegant old homesteads which excite the admiration of visitors to the Keystone State nowadays, and which exert a powerful influence in drawing the absent sons home from time to time to renew the associations of their childhood. Mr. Wilson often goes back to the old farm home built over eighty years ago, but still in a perfect state of preservation. During his youth the subject of this sketch attended the public schools, and when about eighteen years of age took a course at Alleghany College at Meadville, Pennsylvania. For several years afterward he worked on his father’s farm in summer and taught school in winter. Subsequently...

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Biographical Sketch of Henry E. Brown

Mr. Henry E. Brown was born and uneducated in Elmwood, Peoria County, Illinois, until his sixteenth year when he moved to Peoria and entered the high school, afterwards entering Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, from which he graduated in 1899, with the degree of Bachelor of Physics. Since then he has been connected with the Rock Island Public Schools, starting as a teacher and five years ago becoming principal of the high school. Mr. Brown has always been greatly interested in all educational matters and has received much recognition for his interest by educational associations. He is at the present time president of the Western Section of the Northern Illinois Teachers’ Association. He is also author of a text book which has had a very wide sale among the schools of the country. Mr. Brown is at present thirty-five years old, and was married in 1906 to Miss Bertha...

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Biography of Robert J. Montgomery

Robert J. Montgomery, the Moline manufacturer, was born May 20, 1864, on a farm near Orion, Henry County, Illinois. His parents were Alexander E. and Margaret Montgomery. When but eight years of age the family removed and took up residence on Rock Island Arsenal, where the son grew to manhood. After completing a course in the Moline public schools our subject learned the tinner’s trade at Rock Island Arsenal, but being ambitious to enter business for himself, he formed a partnership with his brothers to operate a machine shop. under the firm name of Montgomery Brothers. This was done in 1891. Two years later the concern was consolidated with the Moline Elevator Company, and Mr. Montgomery has been actively connected with this firm since. He has had charge of the outside construction of the company and as superintendent of the erection of elevators, operating in nearly every city of any size in the United States and Canada. In addition to his holdings in this particular factory Mr. Montgomery was one of those interested in the Deere-Clark Motor Car Company, and holds stock in the Moline Automobile Company, Root & Vandervoort Engineering Company, and the American Harvester Company. He has also extensive land holdings at Alberta, Canada. In politics Mr. Montgomery is a Republican. He joined the United Presbyterian Church of Rock Island in 1883 and transferred his membership to...

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Biographical Sketch of Warner L. Eddy, M. D.

One of the successful medical practitioners of Rock Island County is the subject of this review, who for fifteen years has followed his profession at Milan with a steadily increasing business. Dr. Eddy is a native of the Empire State, having been born in Madison County, New York, December 17, 1869. He is a son of Homer and Edith S. (Townsend) Eddy. His father was born in Madison County, New York, May 22, 1842, and his mother in Cape May County, New Jersey, May 17, 1846. The parents were married in New Jersey, and after a residence of several years in New York settled permanently on a farm in Cape May County, New Jersey, where they still reside. They are the parents of three children, Lucien C., Arthur and Warner L., of whom this sketch treats. The last named grew to manhood on the farm, obtaining his education in the public schools and under a private tutor. In 1887 he began reading medicine under the instruction of Doctor Julius Way of Cape May Court House, New Jersey. Two years later he took up a regular course at Rush Medical College at Chicago, graduating in March, 1892. After a few months spent in Chicago he came to Milan and has since followed his profession there. Dr. Eddy was married April 5, 1893, to Miss Alice V. Fellows, the ceremony being...

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Biographical Sketch of Peter F. Trenkenschuh

Born in Rock Island in 1875, the above named gentleman, young though he is, has, by persistency and application to his chosen vocation, forged to the front until he is now one of the best known and capable contractors and builders in the City. Many structures throughout the City attest his mastery of the building trade, and the several large contracts which he now has on hand indicate that his ability and workmanship are fully appreciated. Mr. Trenkenschuh is a son of Phillip and Elizabeth Trenkenschuh, who were of German descent. In 1902 he married Louise M. Nold, of Rock Island, and the fruit of this union was: Paul, born 1903, and Florence, born 1905. Mr. Trenkenschuh received a common school education, supplemented by a course at the Davenport Commercial College. He began his trade when but sixteen years of age, and he tenaciously clung to it until his present success has rewarded him. He is a member of Rock Island Lodge, No. 658, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and of Rock Island Chapter, No. 18, Royal Arch Masons. In politics he is a Republican, and was at one time alderman from the Third Ward. During his entire business and political activity he has been esteemed for his integrity, his progressiveness and alertness, and for his generous and congenial...

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Biography of Dr. A. H. Arp

There is no period in the world’s history which fails to demonstrate that exceptional ability and knowledge are invariably triumphant and lasting, and live in memory long after the finite clay has returned to mother earth. In medicine, as. in every profession or business, nothing succeeds like success, but to attain success requires a master mind, a logical and conservative policy and a thorough understanding of one’s chosen calling. This being. true, what shall be said of those who are inordinately endowed with genius and ability of accomplishment? Hence, is so much as success is measured by achievement, and in turn, success is bona fide proof of exceptional capability, it can be perceived that the prolific mind if not permitted to hide its lamp of genius under a bushel. Personal adaptation and knowledge are recognized with a certainty that passes understanding, and are never permitted to remain dormant for any great length of time. Whether it be found in business, politics, art or medicine, the result is the the same-cream will not cease rising until it has reached the top. A timely and parallel case for illustration is to be found in Doctor A. H. Arp, of Moline. Born December 4, 1861, in Davenport, Iowa, and being left fatherless at the age of three and a-half years, he was never the less endued with the perquisites which go to...

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Biography of Charles Deere

The American plow and the name of Deere are synonymous in the public mind. Neither widespread commercialism inspired by the plow nor its constant development toward perfection by other hands and minds has effaced the intimacy between the inventor and his invention. There is no such close sympathy between Fulton and the steamboat, Morse and the telegraph or others among the pioneers of practical ideas. The living force of most inventors has been in the ideas they have given to the world, but the perfection of these ideas has been carried forward by others. The living force of the Deere invention is the Deere plow and the Deere industry and the faithful association of the inventor with every phase of the development of his invention. The Deere plow was the product of the genius of John Deere, the father; the Deere industry was the triumph of business acumen akin to talent of Charles Henry Deere, the son. The Deere plow and the Deere industry have ever been foremost in setting a standard for agriculture and manufacture, both in perfection of the implement and the magnitude of the industry. Seldom has history brought into such close relation such a remarkable combination of practical genius and business capacity in father and son. They were true pioneers of American products in the markets of the world and they made the name of...

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Biographical Sketch of Francis Coyne

One of the prosperous young farmers of Rock Island County is Francis Coyne, son of William and Margaret (Morrison) Coyne. He was born in Bowling Township, where he now resides, March 8, 1876. He received a common school education in the County and started out for himself in 1902, following his marriage, when he established himself on the old homestead. In the Fall of 1904 he removed to the farm he now occupies. He now owns two hundred and twenty acres of well improved land and is considered one of the well-to-do and substantial citizens of the County. Mr. Coyne’s marriage to Miss Theresa M. Koch took place in Rock Island County , February 5, 1902. His wife is the daughter of Rudolph and Ella (Collins) Koch, and was born in the County September 22, 1884. Her parents are residents of Bowling Township. The father is a native of Pennsylvania, having been born at Erie June 2, 1859. The mother was born at Dixon, Illinois, May 17, 1862. They were married at Rack Island August 15, 1883, and are the parents of three children, Theresa M., Raymond G. and Sylvia...

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Biographical Sketch of Edward S. Coyne

A well known native son of Rock Island County is Edward S. Coyne, son of William and Margaret (Morrison) Coyne. He was born on the old homestead in Bowling Township, on which he now resides, October 25, 1873. Tilling the soil has been his sole occupation. In the Spring of 1896, he settled on one of his father’s farms in section eleven, Bowling, where he resided till the Spring of 1900. Then he removed to the farm he now occupies in section one, same township. He now owns two hundred and sixty acres of good land, which he cultivates with much success. Mr. Coyne was married in Rock Island December 23, 1895, his wife being Miss Margaret J. Clark, daughter of William and Eliza (Gauley) Clark, early pioneers of the community. The parents are natives of Ireland, who took up their residence in Rock Island County soon after their marriage. The children born to them are: Robert A. and Sarah E., both deceased; David B., Lydia A., William A., James H, and Margaret J., the last named being born in Bowling February 23, 1876. Mr. and Mrs. Coyne are the parents of five, children: Florence M., born May 21, 1897; Raymond D., born April 26, 1898; Edward R., born July 22, 1900; Mildred E., born March 31, 1902; and Ethel L., born July 26,...

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Biography of H. E. Casteel

Herbert E. Casteel, one of Rock Island County’s most enterprising and highly regarded citizens, prominent in banking and business circles and a self made man, was born in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa, March 15, 1860, and was the son of Appleton and Elizabeth Gardner Casteel. Mr. Casteel’s strides to prominence are the result of hard toiling and struggle in his early days and his keen business methods and perseverance in later years. Terminating his studies in the public schools of Davenport, he was not any too well provided with education with which to enter the great field of business struggle, but with optimistic ideas he quietly worked them to a point of value and with each change of position came a promotion and higher salary. To this end he directed his ardent ambition until he reached the estimable position of bank president. Mr. Casteel’s business career dates back many years, owing to the fact that he started out for his own livelihood at an early age. When only thirteen years of age he went to Port Byron, Illinois, and two years later, in 1875, he entered the employe of the Port Byron Lumber Company as bookkeeper, which position he held for two and a half years. In 1875 he went to Rapids City, Illinois, where he entered the employe of Taylor Williams at the same occupation and, for two...

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Biography of William A. Meese

When that evil day shall come whereon William A. Meese exchanges his 7 1/8 derby of commerce for the starry crown of heavenly reward, doffs his conventional haberdashery of the Mississippi Valley for the celestial cerements of eternal bliss, Moline will pause in its onward march to industrial eminence, consider well this life-time of devotion to the city’s interests, drop a tear of affection for a departed comrade and wonder with apprehension where the half-dozen men are to spring from to take his place in the struggle for civic improvement. He has been for a half-century the loyal friend of his town, the unwavering champion of Moline’s claims to consideration, her press agent, advocate and guardian spirit. This esteem is mutual and reciprocal and the constant plea of Moline is that William A. Meese may long be spared to serve as her envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. His list of activities for the good of his city before deliberative and legislative bodies and as a member of organizations which have built the city into its present proud condition, spiritually, morally, educationally and industrially has not been written. The record is long, honorable and fortunately incomplete. William A. Meese was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, February 1, 1856. It has been a subject of regret that he was not a native of Moline, but this error, not his own, he repaired...

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