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Past and present of DeKalb County, Illinois (Volume 2) online

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who come within the closer circle of his friendship
can always count upon his loyalty, and true worth
can always win his friendship. He is a prominent
representative of one of the old pioneer families
of the county and has made a record wliicli justly
entitles him to representation in tlii;^ volume.


F. J. Pobstman, who carries on general agri-
cultural pursuits in Pierce township, was born in
Delaware county, New York, September 4, 1858.
His parents were George and Margaret (Vuirich)
Pobstman, and the father was born in Germany,
July 18, 1802. He came to America in the '40!,,
settling in New York where he resided until 1866
when he brought his family to Illinois. He was
a shoemaker by trade and followed that pursuit
for some time or until he took up his abode upon
the farm where his son, F. J. Pobstman, now re-
sides. There he continued to make his home until
his death, February 19, 1892.

F. J. Pobstman was a young lad of eight sum-
mers when he left his native state and came with
his parents to Illinois. He lived at Cortland for
two years at the end of which time the family re-
moved to the farm upon which he yet makes his
home. Here he was reared to general agricultural
pursuits and in the district schools of Pierce town-
ship acquired his education. He now owns two

hundred and twenty-nine acres of choice land on
sections 3 and 4, worth between one hundred and
twenty-five and one hundred and fifty dollars per

On the 5th of February, 1884, Mr. Pobstman
was married to Miss Elizabeth Kauth, who was
born June 9, 1863. They became the parents of
eight children: George J., born May 10, 1885;
Mary M., born March 24, 1887; Esther A., born
February 6, 1892; James F., born December 27,
1893 ; Isadore E., born May 10, 1895 ; Alice J., l)orn
January 26, 1898; Harold N., liorn June 28, 1901 ;
and Frederick F.. born September 15, 1904. Mrs.
Pobstman was a daughter of Peter and Margaret
(Bartz) Kauth. Her father was born September
29. 1827, and died March 8, 1904, while the
mother's birth occurred in Prussia, Germany,
which was also the natal place of her husband.
They came to the United States in the '40s, set-
tling at Lament, Illinois, where they resided for a
few years, afterward removing to Wisconsin. It
was in the public schools of the latter state that
Mrs. Pobstman was educated.

In religious faith the family are Eoman Cath-
olics while in political belief Mr. Pobstman is a
democrat. He belongs to Port Clinton camp, No.
2GG2, M. W. A., of which he is a charter member.
His life has been characterized by untiring toil
and good management and in this way he has ac-
cumulated a comfortable fortune so that he is
now enabled to provide his family with all the
necessities, many of the comforts and some of the
luxuries of life. His fellow citizens speak of him
and his family in terms of high praise and warm
regard. Mr. Pobstman indeed deserves much
credit for what he has accomplished and his life
record should serve as a source of in.spiration and
encouragement to others, showing what may be ac-
complished wlien one has the will to dare and do.


It is a utilitarian age. and in no other period in
the world's history has there been such rapid ad-
vance in the line of invention of useful articles.
im])lements and machinery which lessen labor and
promote trade. America is the exponent of this
spirit, her inventions far exceeding those of other


countries in number and practical utility. Henry
F. Condon, of De Kalb, well known as an inventor
and manufacturer has given to the world many
valuable devices — the tangible evidence of a fertile
brain and skilled hand.

He was born in Will county, Illinois, May 13,
1853. His father, John Condon, was a native of
Mitchellstown, County Cork, Ireland, while the
mother, Mrs. Eliza (Davelin) Condon, was born
in County Down, Ireland. She came to America
at the age of thirteen years, settling in Canada,
where she gave her hand in marriage to John
Condon, who had crossed the Atlantic at the age
of fifteen. They came to Illinois in 1831, settling
in Will county. The father was a farmer by oc-
cupation, thus providing for his family, which
numbered fifteen children, of whom Henry F. was
the seventh in order of birth. In 1852 Mr. Con-
don sold his property in AVill county and removed
to De Kalb county, settling on a farm in May-
field township, where he lived for a considerable
period, giving his time and energies to the culti-
vation of the fields and the care of the crops. Later
he retired from active business life and took up
his abode in De Kalb, where both he and his wife
passed away.

Henry F. Condon began his education in the
country schools of De Kalb county and completed
his studies in the high school of Sycamore. After
leaving school he learned the carpenter's and build-
er's trade, which he followed for fifteen years, and
about 1890 he became associated with J. F. Glid-
den, the inventor of barbed wire. He has from
early youth displayed marked mechanical skill and
ingenuity, and entering the Glidden w-orks, he
turned his atttention to the invention of different
articles, among which is a folding mouth speculum
for horses, for the use of veterinary surgeons. His
inventions also include a tubular farm gate, exclu-
sively of steel, which was the first of its kind. He
likewise invented an automatic pipe bending ma-
chine, so constructed as to bend the pipe without
the use of fire or filling, and upon this he has se-
cured four patents. Another invention of im-
portance is a humane driving bit for horses, which
is being manufactured by 0. B. North & Company,
of Hartford, Connecticut, and is having a large
sale, being manufactured on a royalty. Later Mr.
Condon turned his attention to hardware special-
ties and his inventions in this line include a sim-

ple and useful tool for lacing heavy belts, a very
complete article which has no competition, also a
suit hanger, so simple and complete that it is
revolutionizing trade in that respect. He has
likewise produced an angular hoe for removing
the overgrowing grass from cement sidewalks, and
this is also the only one of the kind on the mar-
ket. A steel wdre mop which is entirely new
in its construction is likewise attracting the at-
tention of the entire country in its simplicity and
usefulness. Mr. Condon's mind continually dwells
upon the study of mechanical problems and the
evolution of different devices, implements and ma-
chines, and his labor has been of direct benefit to
the world along these lines. He has brought forth
two valuable inventions in connection with the
famous Glidden patent, for which he received con-
siderable money. He also has invented several
important improvements on automobiles, including
a flexible steel tire protector, an anti-skid device
and a gravity steering device, also the four-wheel
drive and a four-wheel steering device. He has
thirty-eight patents. He is a man of broad,
scholarly attainments along scientific lines, espe-
cially in the development of mechanical construc-
tion, and he has furnished much valuable informa-
tion to Chicago papers and to Tli& Iron Age.

Mr. Condon was married in De Kalb, August
18, 1879, to Miss Margaret Carton, who was born
in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1854, and came to
America at the age of sixteen years, settling in
De Kalb county. Her father was James Carton,
a farmer of this county, and her mother was Mary
Dougharty. Both were born in Ireland, wdiere their
marriage was celebrated. They became the par-
ents of four children, Mrs. Condon being the
youngest, and by her marriage she has also four
children, John Emmett, Mary E.. James Henry
and Andrew- H.

In politics Mr. Condon is an independent demo-
crat. He has never sought office, preferring to
concentrate his time and energies upon business
interests. His industry and genius have been the
key which have unlocked for him the portals of
success, and he has made his way in the world by
his diligence, perseverance and inventive power
until today he has an ample income from hxs
royalties. He and his family live at No. 141 John
street, in a beautiful home, where comfort and hos-
pitality are the leading factors. Mr. Condon is a



man of broad, general information, possessing a
very retentive memory and a wonderful store-
house of knowledge. He can give the day and date
of the most important inventions of the world
and interesting data concerning the men who have
brought these forth. He is quick to recognize and
improve opportunities, is generous in his sympathy
and manifests in his life the traits of a true and
noble gentleman.


Few men who attain the age of eighty-eighl
years bear so few of the marks and scars of the
warfare of business life as did Daniel Pierce. In
a vast majority of cases those who attain a large
measure of success cannot justly claim that theii
paths have not been strewn with the wrecks oi
other men's fortunes. Daniel Pierce, however,
was one who from a most humble financial posi-
tion worked his way upward to wealth and promi'
nence and at the same time enjoyed in full meas-
ure the honor and respect of his fellowmen by
reason of the straightforward business policy which
he ever followed. Coming to De Kalb county
w-hen there were still many evidences of frontier
life here, he figured for almost a half century as
one of its leading citizens, becoming known
throughout northern Illinois as an able financier.
Moreover, his word was as good as any bond sol-
emnized l)y signature or seal and today his name
is honored and his memory cherished by all wlio
knew him. His was a stalwart manliood and as
the years passed he grew in that intellectual and
moral strength which makes a life record an
example to the young and an inspiration to
the aged.

Mr. Pierce was a native of the town of Never-
sink, Sullivan county. New York, and the dat'-:
of his birth was July 18, 1814. His parents were
Joseph and Elizabeth (Cargill) Pierce, the former
a native of ^Yestchester county, New York, whence;
he removed to Sullivan county when fifteen years
of age. Having attained his majority, he w:is
there married to Miss Elizabeth Cargill and at
the years passed six children were added to the
family — William. Pollv. John, Daniel, Penelope

and Catherine. The father, however, died ir
March, Iblti, at the comparatively early age of
thirty-one years, and three years later Mrs. Pierct
became the wife of Edward Porter.

Daniel Pierce was but five years of age at the
time of his father's death and when a youth of
but twelve years started out to earn his own liv-
icg. He worked for seven months at a wage of
three dollars per month. The opportunity which
most boys enjoy of attending school and thereby
preparing for the later responsible duties of life
was denied him, owing to the necessity of pro-
viding for his own livelUiood. His youth was a
period of unremitting toil and labor, such as was
common to the farm hand of that day, who rose
early in the morning and continued his labor:
in the fields until night came. Desirous of en-
joying educational privileges, he would work dur
ing the winter months for his board and the oppor-
tunity of attending school. In the summer months
his undivided attention was gi%-en to farm labor
and when he attained his majority he rented
land and began farming on his own account.

Mr. Pierce sought and obtained a companion
and helpmate for life's journey through his mar-
riage on the 17th of December, 1835, to Miss
Phelie J. Brundage, a native of Orange county,
New York, born August 17, 1818. Her parents
were Abijah and Sarah (Lane) Brundage. The
father, whose birth occurred April 23, 1781, served
his country as a soldier in the war of 1818 and
followed farming as a life occupation, continuing
in that pursuit until his death, wdiich occurred
ir. Sullivan county, April 23, 1850. His wife,
who was born September 23, 1786, died October
21, 1837. Abijah Brundage was the son of John
and Martha (Ogden) Brundage, the former born
February 12, 1733, and passing away February 9,
1796, while the latter, born December 10. 1738,
died October 28, 1799. Mr. and Mrs. Pierce be-
came the parents of three children but the first
born died in infancy. Eleanor became the wife ol
A. W. Townsend and died December 20, 190 i.
Sarah became the wife of G. P. AVild, cashier o'
the banking house of Daniel Pierce & Company,
and died June 11, 1896. The mother, Mrs. Pierce,
passed away October 4, 1876, leaving many friends
to mourn her loss. She had indeed been a faith-

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ful companion and helpmate to her husband for
more tlian forty years.

Following their marriage Mr. Pierce operated
the old homestead farm for four years and then
purchased the lease of a farm in a different local-
ity, which he operated five years, and upon a
third farm he remained until 1848, when he pur-
chased the titles of three farms in Sullivan county,
New York, including the old homestead. At a
later date he became a resident of Deeming, Ulster
county. New York, where for two years he owned
an interest in a tannery. Reflection concerning
the business conditions of the country led him i,o
the belief that he might have better opportunities
in the new but rapidly growing west and accord-
ingly he made his way to Illinois after selling the
greater part of his possessions in his native county.
He arrived in De Kalb county in 18.55 and through
the succeeding year cultivated a rented farm ii'
Mayfield township. In 185G, however, he took
up his abode in Sycamore, where he engaged in
the real-estate business, buying and selling both
improved and unimproved farm property. His
time was thus occupied until 1807, when he be-
lieved a still more advantageous field was opened
to him and he organized the banking firm of
Pierce, Dean & Company. He became the active
manager of the new institution, which operated
under the original name until 1883, when it be-
came Pierce & Dean, to be succeeded in 1888 by
Daniel Pierce & Company. Mr. Pierce remained
at the head of the institution for a long period
but in the later years practically lived retired
although he devoted considerable time to the
supervision of his investments in Iowa property.
The bank from the beginning was regarded as one
of the safest financial institutions in the state
He inaugurated a conservative policy and his per-
sonal integrity and enterprise won for the bank
unifonn confidence and trust from the public.
The patronage therefore grew to gratifying pro-
portions and from the beginning the enterprise
was very profitable. A contemporary biographer,
wilting before his death, said of him, "For more
th.an forty years Mr. Pierce has ranked among
the ablest financiers of northern Illinois. Suc-
cessful beyond even his own highest expectations,
he has added to his possessions until he is the
owner of many large and productitve farms in
De Kalb county and several thousand acres in

Iowa and other western states. While his early
education was limited, by reading and observa-
tion he became well informed and his judgment
01 men and affairs, especially as affecting financial
interests, has been almost infallible. He always
knew when to buy and when to sell a piece o£
real estate and the fluctuations in the money mar-
ket were generally foreseen by him. His word
was always kept inviolate and a promise made
by him was fulfilled to the letter."

Daniel Pierce continued to make his home in
De Kalb county until he was called from this life
ou the 27th of April, 1902, when in the eighty-
eighth year of his age. For forty-seven years
he had lived in Illinois and throughout this period
had borne an unassailable reputation for strict,
unswerving business integrity. He was recog-
nized as a strong man, strong in his honor and
his good name, in his purpose and in his accom-
plishments, and his work was so closely associated
with the financial history of this part of the stare
ai, .to render it. imperative that mention be made
of ;"hini ^ijj this volume, else the history of the
county will be incomplete.


Nathaniel Buzzell, a retired farmer residing in
Sycamore, was born in Kane county, Illinois, Jan-
uary 18, 1850. His father, Daniel P. Buzzell, was
a native of Vermont and died at the age of sixty-
five years upon a farm about seven miles from
Sycamore. He had been left an orphan at the
age of six years and afterward made his home with
an uncle, with whom he came to this state in
1835. Only three years before the Black Hawk
war had occurred, which practically ended the
reign of the Indians in this state, but there were
many evidences of pioneer life and the family had
to endure all of the hardships and privations in-
cident to settling on the frontier. They took up
their abode where the city of Elgin now stands,
but the place at that time contained only three log
houses. Daniel Buzzell was rcareil in that locality
upon a farm, sharing in all of the hardships and
privations of pioneer life and aiding in the arduous
task of developing new land. He was married
there on the 15th of December, 1846, to Miss


Lucina Henrj', who was born December 1, 1829,
and ^ras therefore about eight years his junior, for
his birth had occurred on the 27th of June, 1821.
In 1852 they removed to De Kalb coimty, where
Mr. Buzzell purchased eighty acres of land upon
which only slight improvements had been made.
He bought the crops and land for three hundred
and fifty dollars and began the further develop-
ment of the place, making his home there until
his death. He was a practical farmer, accom-
plishing what he undertook, and as the years went
by he met with success, leaving an estate valued
at twenty thousand dollars. He was born June
27, 1821, and died on the 1st of May, 1886, being
at that time about sixty-five years of age. His
wife survived him for about three years, passing
away March 23, 1889. They were the parents of
ten children: Lydia J., the wife of Abram Cook
of California; Nathaniel, of this review; Henry,
a resident farmer of Franklin county, Iowa;
George, who died at the age of twenty-four years;
Orrin, who is living on a farm in Sycamore town-
ship ; Ira, a resident farmer of Tracy, Minnesota ;
Mary, the wife of S. J. ilason, who is near Iowa
Falls, Iowa; Lottie, wlio is living in Iowa Falls;
Otis S., a farmer whose home is in Sycamore town-
ship; and Ada, the wife of George Bumb of Iowa

The boyhood days of Nathaniel Buzzell were
passed upon the home farm, the pleasures of the
playground, the duties of the schoolroom and the
work of the fields occupying his time and atten-
tion. In the fall of 1871 he bought twenty acres
of land. Later he sold that property and invested
in one hundred and twenty-two acres on sections
10 and 1.3, which at that time had been improved
but little. He still owns the farm, which is now
an excellent property. In its midst stand fine
buildings, including an attractive residence and
substantial outbuildings for the shelter of grain
and stock. These are a monument to his thrift
and enterprise, having been erected by him. He
also laid over three miles of tiling on his place.
He engaged in dairy farming until about a year
ago, when he retired from active business life and
removed to Sycamore, where he now owns and oc-
cupies a nice home at No. 473 East Elm street.

On the 4th of October, 1871, Mr. Buzzell was
married to Miss Nettie A. Lawrence, whose birth
occurred in DeKalb countv, a daughter of Will-

iam C. Lawrence, one of the early settlers of this
part of the state. Six children graced this mar-
riage but the youngest died in infancy. The others
are : Carrie May, now the wife of John E. Perry,
who is living near Elgin in Kane county, Illinois ;
Nora Edna, the wife of Arthur Helson, of Cort-
land township, this county ; Mary, at home ; Jesse,
who married Miss Loraine Hall and lives upon
his fathers farm; and Florence, at home. The
family attend the Methodist Episcopal church and
Mr. Buzzell gives his political allegiance to the
republican party but has no aspiration for oiSee.
The rest which he is now enjoying is richly mer-
ited, for in former years he led a most active and
energetic life and his diligence and industry con-
stituted the basis of an honorable success.


The name of Ellwood has figured in connection
with the history of De Kalb county since 1837,
when Reuben Ellwood, father of Abram Ellwood.
came to Illinois and entered a claim of one hundred
and sistv' acres of land near Sycamore. He was
then a youth of but sixteen years and during the
four succeeding years he was employed upon dif-
ferent farms in the locality and at the same time
secured the title to his own claim by meeting re-
q^iirements of the law in regard to entering land.
For many years he was spoken of as the most dis-
tinguished citizen of De Kalb count}'.

His birth occurred in Minden, Jlontgomery
countv'. New York, February 17, 1821. his parents
being Abraham and Sarah (DeLong) Ellwood. At
the usual age he entered the public schools, but
his opportunities for attendance were somewhat
limited, and the more extended and valuable les-
sons of his life were learned in the school of ex-
perience. He was an apt scholar, however, and his
ready adaptability to the changing conditions
which life brings enabled him to make the most
of his opportunities and win for himself a promi-
nent place and an honored name in business cir-
cles in the county in which he so long lived. He
was ambitious, resolute and detennined, and it was
these qualities which enabled liim when only six-
teen years of age to leave his home in the Empire



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state that ]ie might enjoy the broader business op-
portunities of the new but growing west.

As stated, he came to De Kalb county and se-
cured a claim of one hundred and thirty-seven
acres, working for four years at farm labor until
he had secured the title to his property. He then
returned to his old home in New York and after
a brief period entered the Cherry Valley Semi-
nary, where he remained a student for six months,
desirous of acquiring a better education than had
been previously permitted him. He then went to
Glenville, Schenectady county, New York, where
he engaged in raising broom com and in the man-
ufacture of brooms, continuing in that line of
business for about eight years. The year 1857
witnessed his return to De Kalb county and he
joined his brother Alonzo in the conduct of a gen-
eral hardware store at Sycamore. He also began
operating in real estate and in 1870 he began the
manufacture of agricultural implements in Syca-
more. Five years later work was begun on the
construction of the large buildings which were
afterward used by the E. EUwood Manufacturing
Company, in which Mr. EUwood invested about
fifty thousand dollars. To the development of his
manufacturing industries he gave undivided at-
tention until the enterprise became one of the fore-
most business institutions of Sycamore and the
county. He also extended his efforts into other
fields of industrial and manufacturing activity,
realizing the importance of such business con-
cerns as factors in the upbuilding and material
prosperity of the community. He displayed keen
discernment and ready understanding of business
conditions, and this, together with his unflagging
energy, constituted one of the strongest elements
in his success.

On the 8th of August, 1849, Mr. EUwood was
united in marriage to Miss Eleanor Vedder, who
was born in Schenectady county, New York. Their
family numbered six children: Abram, Albert,
Frank, Kate, Jennie and Alida.

While still residing in the east Eeuben EUwood
became deeply interested in political questions
and was elected to represent his district in the
New York legislature in 1851. He became one
of the stalwart advocates of republican principles
upon the organization of the party and never
swerved in his allegiance thereto throughout the
remainder of his life. In De Kalb countv his

worth and ability were soon recognized and he was
called to public office, becoming the first mayor of

Online LibraryLewis M. GrossPast and present of DeKalb County, Illinois (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 67)