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Biographical review of Hancock County, Illinois : containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past online

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Online LibraryChicago Hobart Publishing CompanyBiographical review of Hancock County, Illinois : containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past → online text (page 1 of 95)
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"Biography is the only true history." EMERSON



"The history of a nation is best told in the lives of
its people." MACAULAY.


The present age is happily awake to the duty of writing its own records,
setting down what is best worth remembering in the lives of the busy toilers of
today, noting, not in vain glory, but with an honest pride and a sense of fitness,
tilings worthy of emulation, that thus the good men do may live after them.
The accounts here rendered are not buried talents, but of used ability and op-
portunity. The conquests recited are of mind over matter, of cheerful labor
directed by thought, of honest, earnest endeavor which subdues the earth in the
divinely appointed way. "The great lesson of biography," it is said, "is to show
what man can be and do at his best." A noble life put fairly on record, acts like an
inspiration, and no more interesting or instructive matter could be presented to an
intelligent public.

In this volume will be found the record of many whose lives are worthy the
imitation of coming generations. It tells how some, commencing life in poverty,
\by industry and economy have accumulated wealth. It tells how others with
limited advantages for securing an education, have become learned men and
women, with an influence extended throughout the length and breadth of the land.
It tells of men who have risen from the lower walks of life to eminence as states-
n, and whose names have become famous. It tells of 'those in every
walk of life who have striven to succeed, and tells how success has usually
crowned their efforts. It tells also of those who, not seeking the applause of the
world, have pursued the even tenor of their way. content to have it said of them,
as Christ said of a woman performing a deed of mercy, "They have done what
they could." It tells how many, in the pride and strength of young manhood,
left all, and at their country's call went forth valiantly "to do or to die," and how
through their efforts the Union was restored and peace once more reigned in the

Coming generations will appreciate this volume, and preserve it as a sacred

^ treasure, from the fact that it contains so much that would never find its way into

^ public record, and which would otherwise be inaccessible. Great care has been

_ taken in the compilation of the work, and every opportunity possible given to

j those represented to insure correctness in what has been written ; and the pub-

r lishers flatter themselves that they give to their readers a work with few errors

O^of consequence.

Yours Respectfully.

=> January, 190?.


"A people that take no pride in the noble achievements of remote

ancestors will not achieve anytliing worthy to be remembered

with pride bv remote generations." MACAULAY.


3K1 JO






For forty-three years Dr. Charles Hay
was a resident of Illinois and though
more than two decades have been added
to the cycle of the centuries since he
passed away, his name is revered and his
memory cherished by all who knew him.
It was not alone his skill in his profes-
sion, although he was an able medical
practitioner of his day, his scholarly at-
tainments nor the success he achieved,
which gained for him the place which he
occupied in the regard of his friends, but
rather his sterling traits of character, his
kindly spirit, his deference for the opinion
of others, his loyalty to all that was right
and just in man's relations with his fel-
lowmen and his fidelity to high ideals.

The life record of Dr. Hay began on
the 7th of February, 1801, in Fayette
county, Kentucky. In the paternal line
the family is of Scotch lineage, the ances-
try being traced back to John Hay, who
with his four sons emigrated from the
Rhenish Palatinate to America about the
middle of the eighteenth century. This
John Hay was the son of a Scotish soldier

who left his own country about fifty years
before and attached himself to the army
of the elector Palatine. Following the
arrival in the new world the brothers sep-
arated and John Hay, the eldest, became
a resident of York, Pennsylvania, where,
prospering in business affairs, he accumu-
lated considerable property. He was also
influential in public life and served as
one of the magistrates of Pennsylvania
during colonial days. Interested in the
grave questions which elicited public at-
tention prior to the Revolutionary war
and advocating the cause of liberty, he
filled several important offices in the or-
ganization of the patriot forces prepara-
tory to the Revolution and when war
was inaugurated he joined the military
forces and won promotion to the rank
of colonel. Following the establishment
of the republic he represented York
county in the assembly. Another brother,
Adam Hay, who, like his brother John,
had received military training in Europe,
became a resident of Berkeley county, Vir-
ginia, and also served with some distinc-
tion in the Revolutionary war. He was
a friend and associate of Washington and



one of the earliest recollections of his son,
the late John Hay of Springfield, Illinois,
was of meeting General Washington on
a country road and hearing him greet
Adam Hay as an old comrade, at the
same time bestowing a friendly pat on
the head of the young lad.

It was this John Hay who became the
father of Dr. Charles Hay of Warsaw.
His birth occurred February 13, 1779.
His youth was passed in his parents'
home, but the discipline of the household
was somewhat stern and arbitrary, owing
perhaps to the military training, as a
German soldier, of the father. As he
approached manhood John Hay was un-
willing to endure the inflexible rules laid
down by the father and resolved to estab-
lish a home and seek a fortune for him-
self elsewhere. This plan he announced
to his father and although there was a
lack of sympathy to some extent between
them, that there was 110 positive breach
is indicated by the fact that he was pro-
vided with money sufficient to enable him
to take up a good piece of land in Fayette
county, Kentucky, to which place he made
his way. In early manhood he married
Jemima Coulter and they became the
parents of fourteen children, all of whom
reached maturity. Three of the sons,
Charles, Joseph and Theodore Hay, be-
came physicians, while another son, Mil-
ton Hay, for many years occupied a most
distinguished position at the Illinois bar.
In his business affairs in Fayette county.
John Hay, the father, met with gratify-
ing success and for thirty years continued
a resident of that locality, but feeling that
the influence of slavery was detrimental
he determined to take his family to a

region which was free from that objec-
tion and when fifty-five years of age re-
moved to Sangamon county, Illinois, ac-
companied by all his children save his
eldest son, Dr. Charles Hay, who had
already begun the practice of medicine in

It was the intention of John Hay to
engage in the manufacture of cotton
goods in Illinois and he brought with him
from Kentucky the machinery and appli-
ances necessary for the conduct of such
an industry, but the business proved un-
profitable and he soon concentrated his
efforts upon other interests. He dealt to
a greater or less extent in land and his
speculations and investments in this re-
gard brought to him a good financial re-
turn. He was the first man to sign a
in the public square of Springfield. In
promissory note to the state bank which
secured the erection of the old state house
matters relating to the general welfare
he was deeply interested and his co-opera-
tion could be counted upon to further
plans and measures for the public good.
His name became a synonym for integrity
and honor in business affairs as well as
in private life and his record was at all
times in harmony with his professions as
a member of the Baptist church, in the
work of which he took an active and help-
ful part. The contemporary biographer
has said, "His long white hair, his com-
pact and powerful form, were for many
years a noticeable sight in the streets of
the town. He was a devoted friend of
Lincoln and the death of the president
affected him profoundly. He was then
in failing health and for several days
after the assassination he could not dis-


miss the subject from his thoughts. He
forgot his ninety years and often said,
'If I had been in the box with him, that
should not have happened.' He sat at
the window to watch the funeral cortege
which bore the martyred ruler 'to his
grave and then went to his own rest, May
20, 1865, in the ninety-first year of his

Dr. Charles Hay, the eldest son of John
Hay, spent his childhood and youth in
Kentucky upon the old plantation which
his father there developed. He was pro-
vided with the best educational privileges
that the state afforded and his aptitude in
his studies was ever a marvel to his teach-
ers, who it is said could hardly be con-
vinced that he was not playing a practical
joke upon them when they saw him learn-
ing his alphabet one day and reading
with facility a fortnight later. He quick-
ly mastered the branches of learning
taught in the common schools, after
which he continued his studies in a clas-
sical school at Lexington, where he made
the same easy progress in Latin and
Greek. He never allowed his knowledge
of those tongues to lapse with the passing
of the years and the assistance which he
rendered to his children in the reading of
Homer and Virgil later made for them
an intellectual pastime of what otherwise
would perhaps have been a dreaded
school task. He , was always a man of
scholarly tastes and habits, his reading
covering a wide range and his assimila-
tion of knowledge being such as to render
him a pleasing and entertaining com-
panion of men of widest thought and
culture. His choice of the practice of
medicine as a life work was followed

by preliminary reading under the direc-
tion of Dr. William H. Richardson and
later of Dr. Dudley and others who were
prominent in the medical fraternity in
Kentucky at that day. His collegiate
training was received in the medical de-
partment of Transylvania University, the
most important institution of learning in
the west and when his graduation won
him the degree of M. D. he located for
practice in Salem, Indiana, where for ten
years he followed his profession with uni-
form success.

It was during his residence in Salem
that Dr. Hay was married in October,
1831 to Miss Helen Leonard. She was a
daughter of the Rev. David A. Leonard,
of Bristol, Rhode Island, whose erudition
and oratorical power won him wide fame
at the beginning of the nineteenth cen-
tury. He was a graduate of Brown Uni-
versity of the class of 1/93 and was class
poet. Entering upon the active work of
the ministry, he became pastor of the
First Baptist church in Gold street in
New York city and in 1817 removed to
the west, purchasing a large tract of land
on the Ohio river. His death occurred
two years later. He had wedded Mary
Pierce and to them had been born thirteen
children. Among this number was a
daughter, Evelyn, who became the wife
of John Hay Farnham, whose acquaint-
ance Dr. Hay formed during his resi-
dence in Salem and this brought to him
the acquaintance of Helen Leonard,
whom he afterward made his wife.
Other members of the Leonard family
were: Charlotte, who married William
P. Thomasson, who represented the
Louisville district of Kentucky in con-


gress ; Sarah, the wife of Governor David
Meriwether, who was a prominent rival
of Mr. Thomasson as leaders in the whig
and democratic parties of Kentucky ; and
Cornelia, the wife of William N. Grover,
afterward United States district attorney
for Missouri.

Following their marriage Dr. and Mrs.
Ha}' established their home in Salem,
Indiana, and the young physician soon
won a large practice, his position in pub-
lic regard being fully established through
the energy and devotion with which he
combatted an epidemic of cholera in 1833,
which carried off both Mr. and Mrs.
Farnham. For weeks together Dr. Hay
took little time for either sleep or food,
but gave his attention untiringly to the
work of checking the ravages of the dread
disease. From that time forward he en-
joyed a large and lucrative practice in
Salem and became recognized moreover
as one of the local leaders in the whig
party and was induced to become the
editor of a weekly whig paper in Salem,
which he conducted for several years,
making it one of the strongest organs
of that political organization in Indiana.
His kindness of heart brought him into
financial ruin through securities which
he signed for friends and with the hope
of retrieving his lost possessions he re-
moved frorrv Salem to Warsaw, Illinois,
in 1841. Until death claimed him he
continued an honored resident of this
city, his life being actuated by honorable
and benevolent principles and filled with
good deeds. His professional capability
was soon recognized and brought him a
large and important practice. Warsaw
at that time was situated in what was

largely a pioneer district and the practice
of a physician was in consequence fraught
with many hardships incident to the long
rides which it was necessary to take
through the hot summer sun or the win-
ter's cold in order to administer to the
needs of patients far removed from his
home. He was engaged in practice here
during one of the most notable epochs in
the history of this city. From the east had
come a colony of people known as Mor-
mons. Their belief in and practice of po-
lygamy was so distasteful to the residents
. of Hancock county that they arose in their
wrath to drive the new sect out of the dis-
trict and a bitter warfare arose between
the Mormon people and their opponents.
The roads were infested with bands of
lawless persons on both sides, a large
number of houses were burned and many
persons shot from the ambush of the
woods. Dr. Hay's friends, fearing for
his life, urged him to give up his country
practice, but this he refused to do, merely
purchasing a faster horse and continuing
his work on either side of the hostile
lines. He was often stopped but never
otherwise molested, although he was
known to be inflexibly opposed to the
Mormon people and practices. However,
he stood for justice and right and was
ever found on the side of law and order
and protested vigorously but ineffectually
against the march to Nauvoo which re-
sulted in the death of Joseph and Hiram
Smith, brothers, who were prophet lead-
ers among the Mormons.

In his practice Dr. Hay met with suc-
cess. He was a student of any subject
or theory which seemed to bear upon his
professional work and eagerly embraced


every advanced idea that he helieved
would promote his efficiency and enable
him to give more capable service to his
fellowmen in checking the ravages of
disease and restoring health. A broad
humanitarian spirit was ever the basis of
his professional work and yet he was not
without that laudable ambition for achiev-
ing success, that he might provide well
for his family, and as his financial re-
sources increased he from time to time
made judicious investments in real estate
which added to his prosperity. His farms,
however, did not bring him the profit
which would have accrued to many men
who look upon the proposition only from
the business standpoint. It is said that
Dr. Hay regarded his tenants somewhat
as if they were his children or his wards
and he looked first to their interests rather
than to the financial benefits that he
might receive from their labors. How-
ever, the normal man always has appre-
ciation for nature and Dr. Hay greatly
enjoyed riding out to his farms and
watching the growth of the crops. His
was a well-rounded nature. He never
concentrated his energies and efforts so
closely upon one line of thought or ac-
tion as to become abnormally developed.
The study of nature, his professional ser-
vice, his deep interest in his fellowmen,
shared with his books in his attention.
He passed many of his most pleasant
hours in communion with the strong and
cultured minds of the past, the essay, his-
tory and natural science being the prin-
cipal themes which claimed his attention.
The welfare and progress of his adopted
city was ever a matter of deep and intense
interest to him and he was particularly

helpful along lines of intellectual prog-
ress and advancement. The public-
school system received his most earnest
endorsement and he co-operated to the
full extent of his powers in the work of
upholding the standard of education and
introducing improved methods of instruc-
tion. The school teachers recognized
that they had no stancher friend in all
Warsaw than Dr. Hay and a word of en-
couragement and appreciation was to
them often an inspiration that enabled
them to put forth further effective effort
for the public schools. He was instru-
mental in establishing a free public library
in Warsaw and was for many years pres-
ident of the library board. He held a
prominent place in all the associations for
the improvement of agriculture, horticul-
ture and other important interests of the
county and in local religious and chari-
table organizations. His endorsement of
such movements was not that of words
alone, for he was an active co-operant in
all plans for public progress and im-
provement and considered no task too
unimportant to claim his best efforts if it
proved a factor in the result for which
they were striving.

As the years passed there were added
to the family of Dr. and Mrs. Hay six
children, of whom the eldest, Edward
Leonard, died in infancy. Leonard Au-
gustus Hay, the second son, retired army
officer, died in Warsaw, November 12,
1904. Mary Pierce is the widow of
Major Austin Coleman Woolfolk, A. Q.
M., United States army and afterward
a circuit judge in Minnesota. John Hay
rose to national prominence, his last pub-
lic work being as secretary of state under



President Roosevelt. Charles Edward,
captain of the Third Cavalry, United
States army, and afterward twice elected
mayor of Springfield, Illinois, it the only
surviving son. Helen became the wife
of Harwood Otis Whitney and died in
1873. The death of this daughter came
to Dr. and Mrs. Hay as their greatest
bereavement. "Her bright, .sunny tem-
per, her witty and original conversation,
her devotion to those she loved and her
absolute unselfishness, qualities which
she seemed to derive with her name from
her mother, made her the idol of her
home." The lives of Dr. and Mrs. Hay
were bound up in their children and. as
Dr. Hay expressed it, no personal dis-
tinction for himself could bring him the
joy that could come to him through the
intelligence, honor and thrift of his chil-
dren. No personal sacrifice on the part
of the parents was considered too great
if it would promote the welfare of their
sons and daughters. They felt that no
economy must be practiced for their edu-
cation and there was always means of
providing teachers and books of the best
within reach. They lived to see them at-
tain positions of honor and distinction
and the sons attributed to their early
parental training much of their success
in later life. In the spring of 1879. Mrs.
Hay met with a serious accident, so that
for many weeks it was thought that she
could not recover and she was unable to
walk afterward. During these days of
trial Dr. Hay waited upon her with un-
tiring patience and heroic endurance and
following her convalescence became more
than ever her inseparable companion.
They celebrated their golden wedding in

October, 1881, having terminated fifty
years of a marriage relation which in
every respect reached the ideal. It was
not long after this that Dr. Hay recog-
nized that because of heart disease his
own end was near. He never spoke of
the matter except to his physician, Dr.
Hunt, and he charged him strictly never
to mention it, for he did not wish to bring
one feeling of alarm or danger to his
wife, his children or his grandchildren,
in whom his life was wrapped up. He
passed peacefully away September 18,
1884. "He walked serenely down to the
gates of death with nothing of the in-
difference of the stoic but with the cheer-
ful resignation of a philosopher and the
loving self-sacrifice of a Christian hus-
band and father bearing the burdens of
others-." He had attained the age of
eighty-three years. Resolutions of re-
spect were passed by the library board
and by the cemetery board, of both of
which he was a member and perhaps no
better estimate of his life work and of
his character can be given than by quoting
fromthelocal papers of Warsaw, for in that
city where he had so long made his home
his life record was as an open book. "He
soon acquired a competency by judicious
investments and by his practice, from
which he retired several years ago, to
enjoy the leisure he had so well earned.
Even in his peaceful and honored age,
however, he was no idler. He preserved
to his latest days the studious and schol-
arly habits of his youth. He read with
avidity everything of interest which ap-
peared, especially in the line of science
and history. He took the greatest in-
terest in state and municipal affairs, and


was active in every enterprise which
promised to advance the cause of educa-
tion and enlightenment. As in his early
manhood he was never too busy to help
his own children in their Greek and Latin
lessons, so in his latest days he was never
so indolent as to refuse his assistance to
any scheme to extend to the people those
benefits of sound learning which had been
of so much advantage and pleasure to
himself." Another publication said,
"The Doctor was of the highest stamp of
manhood upright in all his dealings ; un-
swerving in the discharge of what he be-
lieved to be his duty ; kind, generous, and
charitable with all men; a lover of man-
kind, and ever thoughtful of their wel-
fare; strong in his convictions of the
right, and true to their teachings. He
was a nobleman in the true sense of the
word." "In his chosen profession of
medicine he was an acknowledged mas-
ter; and in his devotion to his profession
he had but few equals. He was courte-
ous, kind, and considerate in his inter-
course with those of like profession. In
his friendship he was ardent and faith-
ful. So long as a man was worthy, he
remained his friend." The funeral ser-
vices were conducted at his home by the
Rev. John G. Rankin, who in his remarks
said, "There has been much, especially
in his, latter years, to make life desirable.
Having, by his diligence and frugality
in the noonday of life, acquired a com-
petency, which enabled him to free his
mind from all anxiety; living among
friends and neighbors with whom he had
been associated for more than forty years ;
honored and loved by the entire commu-
nity in which he had so long lived (for

Dr. Hay had no enemies) ; permitted to
see all his children occupying honored
and useful positions in life; and, perhaps,
above all, receiving from his children, in
their frequent visits to the home of their
childhood, such love and honor and
thoughtful and tender care as but too few
parents receive ; surely there was much in
such surroundings to make life desirable,
yet, as he expressed it to a friend, he had
been living for years as a "minute man."
He had done life's work day by day, as
it was presented to his hand, and he
stood ready to answer the Master's call
any minute." A minute analization of
the life of Dr. Hay, however, would cer-
tainly bring forth the fact that with all
his love of learning, with all of his de-
votion to the public welfare, with all of
his scientific knowledge and medical skill,
his deepest interest centered in his family.
The ties of home were to him sacred.
He found his greatest happiness in the
companionship of his wife, who survived
him until the i8th of February, 1893,
when she, too, passed away.

Online LibraryChicago Hobart Publishing CompanyBiographical review of Hancock County, Illinois : containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past → online text (page 1 of 95)