Stout, a native of Morris county, New Jersey. He was born on Suckasunny Plains, January
30, 1818, being a son of Charles and Margaret (McCord) Stout. Both parents were also born in
that state, his mother on the same plains. The Stouts were originally from Holland. Joseph
fitted for college at Springfield, Ohio, and is a graduate of Miami University, Oxford, that state,
class of 1842. He studied medicine at Springfield, with Doctor Rodgers, and at Cincinnati with
Professor Mussey; attended the Medical College of Ohio, Cincinnati; received the degree of doc-
tor of medicine in 1845; came directly to Ottawa, and has been in regular practice here thirty-
seven years. Physicians were few and far between in those early days, and Doctor Stout had all
the surgical cases in this part of the state, and all the medical practice any young man, however
ambitious and however robust, could reasonably desire, his rides in some directions often extend-
ing fifteen and twenty, and sometimes thirty miles. He had an excellent opportunity to study
the geography of this part of the valley of the Illinois, and to fathom the depths of most of its
quagmires, being obliged on three occasions to lie out over night. There are very few old settlers
of La Salle county, living within twenty miles of the seat of justice, that do not know Doctor
Stout, know him and esteem him for his arduous and self-sacrificing labors in behalf of the sick
or the disabled. Most physicians ought to retire from any but consulting practice by the time
they are sixty or sixty-five years old, and no doubt our subject would be glad to, but he has too
many old patrons, who will call nobody else, to completely abandon the field. His practice, how-
ever, is mostly in and near the city of Ottawa, except in cases of consultation, when he is some-
times called out of the county, which is the largest in the state.
Doctor Stout was for years a member of the American Medical Association, and met with that
54 UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
body a few times, forming a pleasant acquaintance with some of the leading members of the fra-
ternity in the country, but latterly has enjoyed no such privilege. He has written a few articles
for medical periodicals, reporting cases of especial interest to the medical brotherhood.
The doctor was a county coroner, and a member of the city council a period of four years
each, and has held the office of school director, he being willing to bear such a share of that class
of burdens as would be consistent with the exacting character of his professional duties.
His political views were always anti-slavery, and in 1859, when a slave was taken to Ottawa
under a habeas corpus, and Judge Caton decided that the fugitive must be sent back to his master,
Doctor Stout aided in running him off. For that act he was arrested and imprisoned in jail at
Chicago. At the end of the five months he was tried and sentenced to pay a fine of one thousand
dollars, and confined ten days more. He went to jail January i, 1860, and during that winter,
while the Chicago Medical College was in session, he had permission to attend lectures during
the clay, returning nightly to durance vile, so doing until the close of the session of the college in
He was an active Odd-Fellow years ago, and passed all the chairs. He is a warden of Christ
Episcopal Church, and a man of unblemished record in all the spheres of life. The doctor has a
third wife. The first was Catharine Fowler, married in 1847, and dying in child-bed in 1848.
The second was Adelia E. Fowler, married in 1851, and dying of cholera in 1853, leaving one son,
John Stout, now a physician in Peoria, this state, and his present wife was Mrs. Mary E. (Bacon)
Cotton, married in 1858. By her he has had three children, losing one of them, Mary, the first-
born. The living are Josephine and Margaret.
COLONEL BENJAMIN. F. SHEETS.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SHEETS, a leading merchant of the town, was born in Wattsburgh,
Erie county, Pennsylvania, October, 6, 1832, his parents being David F. and Lucy (Macom-
ber) Sheets. His father was born in Dansville, Livingston county, New York, and his grand-
father, Jacob Sheets, in Germany. David Sheets moved to Pennsylvania in early life, and was
engaged in tanning, and running a boot and shoe factory at Wattsburgh for many years.
Our subject came to Illinois in 1844, and settled at first at Blackberry, Kane county, where he
was engaged in farming until 1852, when he went to Mount Morris, Ogle county, and took a
course of studies in the Rock River Seminary, being graduated in 1855, the valedictorian of his
class. During that period he taught a public school a short time, and also in the seminary while
He then became a merchant and miller at that "place, remaining there until January i, 1861,
when he removed to Oregon, the county seat, to serve as deputy circuit clerk. He filled that post
until May, 1862, when he was elected sheriff of the county. In the summer of that year the
demands of his country were too urgent for him to think of remaining at home. When the call
for six hundred thousand men was made, he promptly enlisted, and was mustered in as lieutenant-
colonel of the Q2d Illinois infantry, September 4. His regiment was. in General Thomas' corps.
Colonel Sheets resigned April 21, 1864, and was brevetted brigadier-general. He is a member of
the Grand Army of the Republic, and colonel and aide on the staff of the commander-in-chief of
the Illinois national guard.
In December, 1872, General Sheets was appointed postmaster at Oregon, which office he still
holds. In 1881 he built a brick block forty-four by eighty feet, and two stories above the base-
ment, and moved the postoffice to his new quarters, corner Main and Fourth streets. He occu-
pies three fronts, carries the largest stock of merchandise in town, consisting of hardware, hollow
ware, agricultural implements, etc., and is one of the most active and enterprising business men
in Ogle county.
r. \~ITKD ST.-ITKS KlOGKAriUCAL DICTIONARY. 55
General Sheets is a member and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has been
superintendent of the Sunday school for twenty-one consecutive years. He is, and has long been
quite active in the temperance reform, and is a man of ths most humane and noble impulses.
He has been twice married, first at Mount Morris, June 25, 1855, to Alice V. Hill, daughter of
Mrs. F. G. Petrie, she dying December 8, 1870, leaving two children, Frank D. and Frederick H.;
the second time, at Oregon, April 16, 1872, to Kate Gale, daughter of Lewis Hormell, she being
a native of Dayton, Ohio. He has had by her five children: George Benjamin, Carrie Maud,
Kate Alice (now dead), and Horace and Homer.
At the time that this sketch is prepared (May, 1882), the name of Mr. Sheets is prominently
before the public as a nominee for congress, and a republican paper in Oregon thus speaks of him:
" The people of this community, we believe, heartily indorse him as a man well qualified for
the position, and as their choice as a congressman to represent this district. He is a man of more
than average education and unexceptionable habits. For years he has identified himself with
every good work. Possessing fine business abilities, he is at the same time an eloquent speaker.
We think he possesses all the needed qualifications for the position. Colonel Sheets has always
been an earnest and active republican. He has done good service in every campaign since the
organization of the party, and the position would be but a fair reward to him for his past services."
A democratic paper, also published in Ogle county, thus honorably speaks of General Sheets
as a possible nominee:
"The newspapers of this county are engaged in a heated discussion over the congressional
question. The office of course is almost certain to be filled by a republican, and we do not see
why Ogle county should not be entitled to the position, having quietly acceded to the claims of
other counties for a long term of years. Several names have been suggested, but none possess
more real merit for the position than Colonel B. F". Sheets, of Oregon. A gentleman of scholarly
attainments and an eloquent speaker, we are sure that he would carry more ability into our con-
gressional halls than has been the case since the days of Baker, Turner or Campbell. As one of
the most aggressive republicans of our county, every voter in his party should enlist himself in a
hearty demand for his nomination. This is a democratic suggestion which republicans will do
well to profit by, and is offered only with a knowledge of the almost hopeless minority in which
as democrats we find ourselves in this district."
HON. JAMES H. STEWART.
TAMES HARVEY STEWART, judge of Warren county, and one of the oldest lawyers in this
J part of the state, dates his birth at Elkton, Kentucky, January 5, 1818, his parents being Rev.
William K.Stewart, a -Presbyterian minister, and Lucretia (Moore) Stewart. His father was born
in Rowan county, North Carolina, and his mother in South Carolina. Her father, William Moore,
was a revolutionary soldier. When James was twelve years old the family moved into this state,
settling at Vandalia, then the capital, where his mother died many years ago. His father died at
Macomb, after preaching more than forty years. Our subject was educated at Hanover College,
Hanover, Indiana, taking a partial course, and taught schools in Illinois and Kentucky. He read
law at Macomb, in this state, with Cyrus Walker, and was admitted to the bar January i, 1840.
Mr. Stewart practiced one year at Lewistown, Fulton county; four years at Millersburgh, Mercer
county; fifteen at Oquawka, Henderson county; between one and two years at Knoxville, Knox
county, and in 1861 settled in Monmouth. While at Oquawka he held the office of state's attorney
for one term, for the 151!) circuit, and at Knoxville and Monmouth was for eight years state's
attorney for the roth circuit. He was elected to his present office of county judge in 1881.
As a lawyer Judge Stewart has stood for many years among the prominent men in this part of
Illinois, and has preserved an untarnished record, both professional and personal. As a judge he
56 UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
is very regular at his post of duty, and attends faithfully to probate and other matters pertaining
to his office. His politics are democratic, and he usually takes much interest in pending elections.
He was a delegate in 1880 to the Cincinnati convention, which nominated Hancock and English
as candidates for president and vice president.
Judge Stewart was married in 1842 to Miss Isabella C. McKarney, of McDonough county, this
state, and of ten children, the fruit of this union, only three are living. William R. is an attor-
ney-at-law in partnership with his father. Isabella S. is the wife of D. M. Hammack, lawyer,
Burlington, Iowa, and Mary M. is at home. The family attend the Presbyterian Church, of which
most of them are members.
JOHN W. SWANBROUGH.
THE sheriff of Lake county, whose name heads this sketch, was a brave young soldier during
the civil war, and is making a good record as a county officer, and merits mention in a work
like this. He dates his birth at Ithaca, New York, November 13, 1843, being a son of Henry and
Ann (Brewster) Swanbrough, both natives of the Empire State.' The family immigrated to this
state in 1855, and settled on a farm in Lake county, both parents still living. The son received
an academic education in Waukegan, and at eighteen years of age, August, 1862, enlisted as a
private in company G, 96th Illinois infantry, being soon afterward appointed color sergeant. He
carried the colors at Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain, and was slightly wounded in both
battles; was also in several other engagements in the Atlanta campaign, and shortly afterward
was promoted to second lieutenant; was subsequently in Jhe battle of Nashville, where he re-
ceived his third wound, and was mustered out with his regiment in July, 1865. An officer under
whom our subject fought, states that he was the only color bearer out of nine who did not come
out of the battle at Lookout Mountain either killed or severely wounded, and that he was one of
the bravest members of the regiment, always at his post, and ready for duty.
Mr. Swanbrough farmed for a few years after coming out of the army, and has been for some
years engaged in speculating and breeding fine horses at Waukegan, and in 1876 was elected to
his present county office. He was reelected in 1878 and again in 1880, and was reelected again in
1882 for a term of four years, and is discharging the duties of his office to the satisfaction of all
parties except criminals. He is a republican and a third-degree Mason.
The subject of this notice married, in 1866, Mary, daughter of J. L. Williams, at that time a
resident and prominent lawyer in Waukegan, and they have had three children, losing two of them.
REV. CHESTER COVELL.
THE gentleman whose name heads this sketch is pastor of the Union Church at Buda, and in
early life was a teacher in western New York, and later in Marshall county, this state. He
is largely self-educated in the sciences, and wholly in theology, and is a man of a good deal of
mental culture and social refinement. He was born in the town of Ogden, west of Rochester,
New York, June 18, 1817, being a son of Edward and Polly (Oilman) Covell, members of the
farming community. He lost his mother when he was only five years old. His father is still liv-
ing in western New York, being in his ninety-third year. Most of the school drill which our
subject received was at the Middlebury Academy and Whitesboro Manual Labor School, one of the
oldest schools of the kind in the country. The means of attending these institutions were earned
by Mr. Covell in teaching. Ten years of his life at different periods were devoted to this work,
and while thus engaged he took a course of studies in theology, being his own tutor, and was
ordained in Orleans county in 1842. Among the places where he taught and preached was
UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY* 57
Freehold, Greene county, where he filled the pulpit for five years. In 1851 he was married to
Miss Harriet Morrison, daughter of Rev. A. C. Morrison, of western New York, she being a grad-
uate of the Le Roy Seminary.
In 1852 he came to this state, opened a select school at Henry, Marshall county, and con-
ducted it for one year, being assisted by his wife, preaching at the same time in the Christian
Church. While there, during part of the time he was also city superintendent of schools. In
1855, Mr. Covell moved to Mineral township, in Bureau county, where he spent two years in farm-
ing, preaching at the same time, every other Sunday, at Buda. In the autumn of 1857 he was
persuaded to return to Henry, where he and his wife taught a few more terms, and in 1859 he
settled in Buda as pastor of the Union Church, which he organized, and which now numbers
about fifty families in its society. It is entirely independent of all ecclesiastical bodies, Unitarian
in faith, and is having a healthy growth. Mr. Covell has also a charge at Sheffield, to which he
preaches regularly on Sunday afternoons. It is almost needless to say that he is a busy man on
Sundays, and a hard student the rest of the week. Since becoming a resident of Buda, our sub-
ject has served his community as a member of the board of supervisors, as school director, and
as county school superintendent. Latterly his time has been given exclusively to his calling as a
minister. He has a good deal of power in the pulpit and out of it; gives his whole time to the
enlightenment and social and moral elevation of the people, and he and his accomplished wife
are very important factors in Buda society.
HON. GEORGE W. ARMSTRONG.
EORGE WASHINGTON ARMSTRONG, a prominent farmer, is a son of Joseph and
Elsie (Strawn) Armstrong, and dates his birth in McKane township, Licking county, Ohio,
December n, 1813. His grandfather, John Armstrong, came from Fermanagh county, Ireland,
with his family, in 1789, and settled in Somerset county, Pennsylvania. Before coming to this
country he was a flax and linen dealer, and in this country a merchant and general business man.
Joseph Armstrong was a farmer, merchant and woolen manufacturer, and at a very early age
George was put to splicing rolls and winding bobbins in the factory, having no schooling after
that age until he had reached his majority, and then only one month. He went through all the
rooms in the factory but the spinning, and became an expert weaver, thoroughly mastering the
In April, 1831, Mr. Armstrong came to Putnam, now Marshall county, this state, and in the
following July settled in La Salle county, where he has lived since that date. He was the second
son in the family, which accompanied him, all but the father, who remained behind to adjust
business. The oldest son soon went back, and our subject had charge of the family, the father
dying not long afterward, before leaving Ohio. The family settled in the township of South Otta-
wa, where the widowed mother lived until 1851. She moved to Ottawa and died in Morris, June, 1871.
In 1832, Mr. Armstrong shouldered his musket, and had a little taste of the Black Hawk war.
In the autumn of 1833 he bought a claim in congress lands, in Brookfield township, and in
November of that year commenced building a log house. He was in the woods with two work-
men early in the morning of the I3th of that month, when the stars commenced falling, and the
two hired men were very much frightened But Mr. Armstrong had read Humboldt's travels,
and having learned that most of stars were very much fixed, and that the capers of other heavenly
bodies were innocent and usually harmless, was more calm.
In December, 1834, Mr. Armstrong attended a canal meeting at Ottawa, acted as its secretary,
carried its proceedings to Vandalia, then the seat of government, and spent the winter there, aid-
ing to get a canal bill through the legislature, having his newly formed friend, Stephen A Douglas,
to assist him. Before returning to La Salle county, Mr. Armstrong spent a short month at school
58 UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
in Jacksonville, paying most special devotions to Pike's arithmetic. He was also, about that
period, paying his devotions to Miss Anna Green, whom he married at that place, March 15,
1835, and they went to housekeeping at Brookfield. In 1836 Mr. Armstrong built a saw mill in
the eastern part of the county, and in 1837 took a contract on the Illinois and Michigan canal at
Utica, La Salle county, and moved thither. There he remained until 1841, when he returned to
his home, and resumed farming.
Mr. Armstrong has always been a politician, and was of the Douglas school while that great
statesman and his life-long friend was on the stage of action; was elected to the legislature in
1844, and to the convention for the revision of the constitution in 1847, and was t ic Douglas
democratic candidate for congress in 1858, and received more than 15,000 votes, then jting also
a Buchanan democrat on the course. Hon. Owen Lovejoy, the republican nomine-;, distanced
both. Mr. Armstrong was a nominee, with Judge Caton, to revise the constitution in 1870, but
was defeated. He was a member of the 27th, 28th, agth and 3Oth general assemblies, serving
eight consecutive years, and was an eminently useful member of that body.
He has served as a member of the county board of supervisors for twenty-two years, and was
its chairman for fourteen of them. He is now (summer of 1882) chairman of the La Salle county
court house and jail building committee, and the people of the county have most implicit confi-
dence in his judgment in such matters. Mr. Armstrong was one of the five directors who built
the Kankakee and Seneca railroad, a track forty-three miles in length, built on a capital stock of
$10,000, requiring the expending of over $500,000, without a mortgage or lien on anything.
Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong have raised a family of nine children, and given them a good educa-
tion, and all but two are married and settled in life. John Green, the eldest son, is a journalist
in Ottawa; William was a captain in the army, a provost marshal under General Sherman on the
march to the sea, and is now in Colorado; Julius C. was also a soldier, carrying his Greek and
Latin grammar in his knapsack, pursuing his studies when .not pursuing the enemy, and is now
a Congregational minister at Western Springs, Cook county, near Chicago; Elisa P. is the wife
of William Crotty, a large cattle dealer in Kansas; Marshall Ney is an attorney-at-law, Ottawa;
Joseph is at home; Susan Ida is the wife of L. B. Laughlin, farmer, Grundy county, this state;
James E. is a graduate of the Industrial University, Champaign, and a teacher in that institution,
and Charles G. is a graduate of the same school, and a druggist in Ottawa.
HON. WILLIAM ALDRICH.
WILLIAM ALDRICH, representative to congress from the first Illinois district, is a native
of Saratoga county, New York, dating his birth at Greenfield, January 19-, 1820. His
parents were William and Mercy (Farnum) Aldrich, both families being from Rhode Island, and
were Quakers or Friends. Mr. Aldrich received a public-school education, supplemented with
one term with a private tutor, devoted to the higher mathematics, including surveying, and one
term at the Aurora Academy, Erie county, New York. He was reared on his father's farm, at
Greenfield; taught district schools during the winter season for six years; came west as far as
Jackson, Michigan, in 1846, and engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1851 he pushed on to Two
Rivers, Manitowoc county, Wisconsin, and there to merchandising added the manufacturing of
lumber, furniture and wooden ware. While a resident of Wisconsin he held several offices, such
as superintendent of schools for three years, chairman of the county board of supervisors one
year, and a member of the legislature one term (1859). It is a loss to any state to lose such a man.
In 1861 Mr. Aldrich settled in Chicago, and for fifteen years was engaged in the wholesale
grocery business. For the last three or four years he has filled the office of president of the Chi-
cago Linseed Oil Company, whose manufactory is at Grand Crossing, Illinois, and their office at
No. i Wabash avenue. Mr. Aldrich is a painstaking, shrewd business man, careful in his man-
agement, and has been eminently successful in most of his ventures.
r\'ITl-:n STATES RfOGRAPlflCAI. DICTIONARY. 6 I
He was chosen alderman of the third ward of Chicago in the spring of 1876, and the next
autumn was elected to congress for the first Illinois district, and was reelected in 1878 and 1880,
each time by a majority which indicated that he was very popular with his party. His district
includes the first six wards in Chicago, thirteen townships of Cook county, and all of Du Page
county, and is one of the wealthiest districts in the state. It is represented by a practical, thor-
oughgoing business man, and he is giving great satisfaction to his constituents. He belongs to
that class who wear well, and whose usefulness increases with their experience.
Mr. Aldrich is more of a worker than talker in congress; but when he does get the floor he
always speaks right to the point. As a specimen of his style we give a short extract from his
speech, made May 2, 1878, on the revision of the tariff, Wood's bill then being before the
house. In the bill it. was proposed to increase the tax on foreign sugars, Mr. Wood hoping by
that means to please the Louisiana sugar manufacturers and catch southern votes for his bill. On
this point Mr. Aldrich spoke as follows:
"With pepper and salt, sugar is the universal element of every meal of the rich and the poor.
Poverty may separate its victim from tea and coffee, but from sugar never while starvation is kept
at bay. Every increase of tax upon this article means exaction universal upon one of the neces-
saries of life. It invades the almshouse and the hovel, and the exaction is more nearly in pro-
portion to the mouths to be filled than upon any other article that can be mentioned. Now, why,
in the name of revenue reform and reduction of taxation, this new exaction upon sugar, while
silks and velvets, at once the badges of wealth and costumes solely of the rich, are relieved of a
large part of the tax which they now pay ? "Judas professed and kissed." The advocates of this