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teacher of painting. French and Italian in Lom-
bard University for twelve years.


William Lucas Steele. A. M.. son of William
Lucas and Anna (Johnson) Steele, was born In
Adams County. Ohio, July 22. 1854. His par-
ents were Scotch-Irish Covenanters. His
father, who was a farmer, and a teacher in the
winter season, died at the age of thirty-nine,
when William L. was a year old.

In 1859, his mother moved with her family
of three children to Randolph County in south-
ern Illinois. In 1869, she moved to Monmouth,



Illinois, in order to secure the educational ad-
vantages presented there for her children.

Young Steele's elementary training was ob-
tained at the various public schools where he
lived. His ambition was to make the most of
his opportunities. Even at eight years of age,
he performed the ordinary work of a man on
the farm. Not satisfied with merely a common
^school education, he entered Monmouth Col-
lege and graduated in the classical course with
high honors. After graduation in 1876, his
first employment was teaching. He took charge
of the Yates City schools in this county, re-
maining there tor seven years, when he was
elected County Superintendent. The latter of-
fice he resigned to accept the superintendency
of the Galesburg City schools, which position
he has held with distinguished credit since
August, 1885.

At Yates City, he laid the foundation tor
the school library, which has been flourishing
for over twenty years and has at present over
two thousand volumes. As County Superin-
tendent, he wrote the first "Outlines for Un-
graded Schools," which was published by the
Board of Supervisors. As City Superintendent,
he has introduced "Manual Training" and
"Elective Studies" for the High School.

As an educator. Professor Steele is a popular
man. He is popular among his teachers and
among the citizens. In the educational fratern-
ity throughout the State, he is well and favor-
ably known. Before the State Teachers' Asso-
ciation, he has frequently been invited to read
papers on educational subjects which have re-
flected great credit upon his ability. In every
moral enterprise, he is a worker. He never
has aflSliated with any society, secret or other-
wise, but is a firm adherent of the Presbyterian
Church. He has been the secretary of its Board
of Trustees for the past six years.

In his political sympathies. Professor Steele
is a republican. On that ticket, he was elected
County Superintendent.

He was married October 20, 1887, to Helen
Carter Benedict, who died May 3, 1893. She
had been a teacher in the city schools for three
years. To them were born two daughters:
Gertrude Helen, born July 27, 1889, and Helen
Benedict, born February 11, 1893.


Hon. Loren Stevens, son of Cassius P. and
Clamentia (Smith) Stevens, was born in West-
ford, Vermont, May 25, 1845. His father was a
farmer, whose sturdy habits were acquired and
strengthened among the rocks and green hills
of his native State. In early life, he joined
the State Militia and attained to the rank of

Young Loren passed his childhood and his
youth at home on his father's farm. He was
helper in the fields, when not attending school.
His early educational advantages were not the
best, but he was possessed of a spirit and dis-
position for improving all his opportunities.
At the common schools in Essex, Vermont, to
which town his parents removed when he was

three years old, he acquired his early educa-
tion. At the age of fourteen, he attended the
Essex Academy, and subsequently, at the age
of eighteen, took a course in Bryant and Strat-
ton's Business College in Burlington, Vermont.

After leaving home at the age of seventeen,
he spent the first eight months in driving a
team for a manufacturing establishment.
Afterwards, he was a brakeman on the Central
Vermont Railroad, and while so employed, met
with an accident, which incapacitated him for
work. During the period of convalescence, he
attended the Business College at Burlington,
and after completing the course, was employed
as a teacher in the same institution for a year
and a half.

Not satisfied with the business opportunities
presented to young men in Vermont, he left
on November 13, 1865, for the West. He came
directly to Cleveland, Ohio, and remained there
and in Bedford, Ohio, until the following
Spring, when he came to Galesburg, Illinois,
arriving on May 25, 1866.

He was first employed in the office of George
W. Brown, where he remained for one year.
He then went into the office of B. Lombard, Jr.,
remaining for two years. He next returned to
the office of George W. Brown, remaining there
for the long period of seventeen years, when
he tendered his resignation as Secretary, July
1, 1886. During the next ten years, he devoted
his time to his personal affairs and to buying
and selling real estate. On June 1, 1896, he
assumed the duties as Cashier of the First Na-
tional Bank of Galesburg, which position he
now holds.

Mr. Stevens has won for himself a good de-
gree of popularity and is highly esteemed by
his fellow-citizeus. He was elected Mayor of
Galesburg on the Citizens' ticket and held the
office for two years. He is also a member of
the City Park Commission and still holds that

Mr. Stevens is a public spirited man, and is
ever ready to aid any enterprise that will be
of benefit to the city. He has taken great in-
terest in the establishment and management
of the Galesburg Hospital. He was elected one
of the first trustees and still holds that posi-
tion. He is also Secretary, Treasurer, and Di-
rector of the Galesburg Electric Motor and
Power Company; was a charter member of the
Galesburg Club; was one term a director of
the same, and has always retained his mem-

Mr. Stevens has traveled quite extensively in
his native land, having visited thirty-six States
and territories and taken trips into Canada
and Mexico. By these travels, he has become
well acquainted with the industries of his own
country and has enlarged materially the sphere
of his knowledge. Moreover, in his charitable
gifts, he has been liberal, as the Hospital, Y.
M. C. A.. Dorcas Society, and Universalist
Church will testify.

Mr. Stevens is well informed and industrious.
His manners are frank and simple, and his
actions are courteous towards every one. His


record is that of a faithful, conscienUous, and
patriotic citizen.

In his religions views, he is liberal, — not
bound by creed or ritual. He attends the Uni-
versalist Church, but is not a member. In
politics, he is a republican. He is not a
politician, but an earnest believer in the prin-
ciples of that party.

He was married May 25. 1870, to Lizzie C.
Simmons, a native of New York State. To
them was born, December 11, 1S7G, one daugh-
ter, Ethel; died August 30, 1877.


Mary Evelyn Strong. Principal of the Gales-
burg kindergarten Normal School, was born
at Glens Falls, New York. February 14, 1854.
Her parents. Ira Harrington and Mary Ann
(Holt) Strong, were natives of New York,
spending the larger part of their lives in Glens
Falls. They were a frugal and industrious peo-
ple, and brought up their children in the strict
rules of morality and right living. They came
to Galesburg. Illinois, when Mary Evelyn was
only three years old. In the Spring of 1861,
the mother was left a widow without means
and with the care of five children. She was a
frail woman with great energy, which enabled
her to support her family. The children's suc-
cess is largely due to the tender care and early
training of the mother.

Miss Strong, when only six years of age, met
with an accident, which disabled her. Conse-
quently she was never able to attend school.
She had. however, excellent teachers at home
and learned much from the open book of na-
ture. Every bud and flower, bird and insect,
and sparkling dew drop had an attraction for
her. She saw in them God's handiwork.

Though an invalid, her childhood was a very
happy one. Her waking hours were spent in
reading the instructive books furnished her
by loving friends. Much time was spent with
pets: and the raising and care of chickens was
a pleasant pastime. She engaged, too. in rifle
practice and became an expert marksman. Her
skill was never exercised in taking life; for
her humane feelings were too sensitive to kill
the innocent beings that God has made.

Her love for teaching was an inborn passion,
and when only a child, she gathered children
about her to instruct. At the age of twelve,
she taught Bible stories to the children of the
neighborhood, on Sabbath afternoons. The
numbers increased until her home was not
large enough to accommodate them, and finally
this school was made a part of the City Mis-
sion School. Her first real teaching, however,
began when she was fourteen. It was a private
school, which she taught for two years. On
account of ill health, this was discontinued.
She still pursued her studies, and in order to
obtain the necessary books, she engaged in
embroidering and similar work, as this could
be done in a reclining position. Soon, how-
ever, she was sent to the National Surgical
Institute at Indianapolis, for surgical treat-
ment, and while there, she took a six years'

course in Miss Alice Chapins Training School
for Kindergartners, spending part of the time
in her school and part of the time teaching at

Miss Strong's first kindergarten was begun in
her mother's dining room, in the Spring of
1879. In the Fall of that year, a pony and bas-
ket phaeton was secured to bring the children
from different parts of the town. This con-
veyance was nick-named the "Kindergarten
Clothes Basket."

In the Fall of 1880, Miss Strong's mother
moved to Creston, Iowa, making it necessary to
find other quarters for the school. Rooms
were obtained over O. T. Johnson's store; but
Main street was found to be an undesirable
place for little children. Then apartments were
obtained over the old fire-engine house on
Prairie street, which proved to be less desir-
able. All this time the kindergarten was mak-
ing friends, and among whom was the Rev.
Dr. Thain, pastor of the "Old First Church."
It was he that secured for the school the First
Church Chapel, where it remained for six
years. From this time, may be dated the kin-
dergarten's real success and recognition as a

In 1885, Miss Strong first began the training
of public school teachers, who wished to use
kindergarten methods in their work. Having
never attended the public schools, she found
that her lack of knowledge concerning grade
work would be a barrier to her success. So
she closed her school at the end of the Winter's
term, in order to study the common school
system. She t< ok an agency in Iowa, canvass-
ing half a day and visiting school the other
half, until she became thoroughly acquainted
with common school methods. She says:
"This trip proved to be financially so success-
ful that my friends urged me to give up teach-
ing and accept a permanent position offered me
by the firm for which I worked. I had no such
thought, however, and September found me
again in the schoolroom, with my little ones
and my first Normal School."

In order that this school should be a siic-
cess, permanent quarters must be obtained.
The old Christian Church property was se-
cured, and the church and the school occupied
it in harmony for six years,— Miss Strong re-
siding in the same building.

In 1890. Miss Strong took the initiatory step
to form a "free kindergarten." A free kin-
dergarten association was organized, composed
of three members from each church in the
city, and to-day this school is in successful

Miss Strong is a living example of one who
not only has piirsued, but has acquired knowl-
edge under difficulties. With poor health and
for manv years prostrate upon a couch of pain
and extreme suffering, she has risen to a
height that the physically strong might envv.
In this city she has done a noble work for the
cause of education, and in the hearts of the
people, she is not without honor. In her work,
she is thorough, and never attempts to give


instruction on subjects in wliich siie is not well
versed. She is gentle and kind, and her moral
influence over children and others is great and
of a highly exalted kind. In the cause of tem-
perance, she has labored, and in 1S94, she was
elected a member of the Board of Education on
the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
ticket, which was endorsed by the general pub-
lic. She was re-elected in 1897, with no op-
position, although there were four tickets in
the field. In religion, she is an earnest
Christian, and for many years was a member
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but later
united with the Central Congregational
Church. Her travels have been somewhat lim-
ited and connected mostly with her work as a
speaker on educational subjects. For educa-
tion, for morality, for temperance, she has
been a faithful worker, and her reward is
found in the universally expressed sentiment
of all,— "Well done; good and faithful

Josiah Tilden is a "Green Mountain Boy."
He is the son of Joseph Foster and Clemen-
tine (Lyman) Tilden, and was born in
Rochester, Vermont, February 14, 1830. His
parents were natives of Hartford, Vermont,
and were married in that town, January 16,
1828. After marriage, they lived in Rochester,
until 1840, when they removed to Newbury in
the same State, living there fourteen years.
In April, 1854, they came to Galesburg. Illinois,
where they resided until 1864. They then went
to Rochester, New York, in order to make their
home near a daughter who resided there. In
early life, the father's occupation was that of a
merchant, live-stock dealer, a wool-buyer and
shipper. He was an industrious man and a
good citizen.

The name Tilden is common in the County
of Kent, England. At an early date, one of the
"dens" or "dales" bore this name before the
period of the adoption of surnames. The name
is found in the will of John Tilden, of Benen-
den, England, recorded September 12, 1463. He
was born about the year 1400. Another of the
name, Joseph Tilden, was one of the merchant
adventurers of London, who fitted out the May-
flower, and furnished quite a portion of the
means which enabled her passengers to found
and maintain the infant settlement in America.
Nathaniel Tilden, with his wife Lydia and
seven children, came over in the ship Hercules
in March, 1634. On the list of passengers, his
name stands first, and the first conveyance of
land, recorded at Scituate in the Massachu-
setts Bay Colony, was made to him in 1628.

Another of the Tilden family, Stephen, mar-
ried Hannah Little, of Plymouth, whose an-
cestors came over in the Mayflower in 1620.
One of the same name, Stephen Tilden, living
In Lebanon. Connecticut, in 1724, moved to
Hartford, Vermont, in 1767, settling near White
River Junction. He purchased a proprietor's
right of four hundred acres of land for two
dollars and fifty cents. Afterwards, he bought

for his children several other proprietor's

Josiah Tilden received the customary educa-
tion given in the district schools of that early
day, supplemented by a course in the seminary
at Newbury, Vermont. He seemed to have the
ability to extract much from little, for he is a
well informed and a well educated man. After
leaving school, his first occupation was clerk-
ing in the store of Freeman and Henry Keyes
in Newbury, where he remained six and a half
years. His work was very laborious, and his
wages were small. With the greatest economy
and self denial, he scarcely saved enough to
defray his expenses to Galesburg, Illinois, — a
trip he had planned with a view of bettering
his fortune. He came across Lake Michigan
to Chicago; thence by "limited" canal to
LaSalle; thence down the Illinois River to
Peoria; and lastly by stage-coach to Galesburg,
arriving, October, 1851, at the celebrated "Pal-
mer House" which stood at the corner of Main
and Cherry streets. After spending a little
time visiting his sister, who was then Prin-
cipal of the Ladies' Department of Knox Col-
lege, he began to look around for employment.
So poor was his success that he was on the
point of returning East, when a fortunate op-
portunity was offered him. The Central Mili-
tary Tract Railroad Company employed him to
open its accounts. Before this, no books had
been opened, and the papers were kept in a box
in a loose condition. Thus it may be said that
Colonel Tilden was the first person to open the
books of what has now become the great Bur-
lington system.

On January 6, 1852, Colonel Tilden began
clerking in the store of Silas and Warren
Willard, situated on the southeast corner of
the "Square" and Main street. He remained
with them until March, 1853, when, with David
Sanborn as partner, he bought the general
stock of goods of William Butcher. This store
was situated two or three doors east of the
Willard store, and was known from the sign
over the door as "Uncle Sam." This copart-
nership continued for two and a half years,
when Colonel Tilden sold out to Mr. Sanborn,
and built a modern building, twenty-five by
sixty feet, the finest store room then in Gales-
burg. It was the first building with large glass
in the windows, four to the window, and was
rendered attractive thereby. He continued in
the mercantile business until the Civil War
broke out, when he sold out to Warren C.

Colonel Tilden's military record is a worthy
one, and he is deserving great credit for the
part he took in the War of the Rebellion. He
was appointed Paymaster in the United States
Army. May 27, 1863. His commission bears the
signatures of Abraham Lincoln, and Edwin
M. Stanton as Secretary of War. Hon. Owen
Lovejoy. then member of Congress from this
district, was the bearer of the document to
him. During his service in the army, he paid
to soldiers nearly ten million dollars. Colonel
Tilden was one of eight paymasters, going on


the steamer Ruth, August 4, 1SG3, to Vicksburg,
Mississippi, with two million six hundred thou-
sand dollars, when she was set on Are by a
rebel and burned with all the money. His
clerk, Simeon Martin, son of Deacon Martin,
of this city, was drowned with about thirty
others, among whom were two paymasters'
clerks, who could not swim. Colonel Tildeu
swam ashore, saving nothing but the clothes
he had on. It was midnight, and the struggle
was with fire and water, and impenetrable
darkness. The rebels had offered a prize for
the destruction of United States boats. To
counteract this, summary punishment was
meted out to all when captured, who made the
attempt. Without delay, a court-martial was
held and the guilty one was loaded down with
heavy pieces of iron, taken to the rear of the
boat and commanded to swim ashore.

Colonel Tilden, during the war. had several
very fortunate escapes from capture. At one
time, at Springfield, Illinois, he had in the safe
two hundred thousand dollars for payment to
soldiers on the following day. The next morn-
ing, he was to go to the camp to disburse this
money. During the night his office was broken
into, and his clerks, probably chloroformed,
were robbed of about three hundred dollars
of their own money. Colonel Tilden says:
"The largest check I ever drew was two hun-
dred eighty thousand dollars, and many others
for large amounts. I remember well, coming
over from Indianapolis to Springfield one
night, bringing four hundred thousand dollars
in two carpet satchels, tied up with a rope. I
dressed in old clothes, my clerk carrying
one satchel; and I, the other, to pay soldiers
mustered out, and waiting for their pay. I
felt a relief when I had turned it in at the First
National Bank, Springfield, to Cashier Tracy,
now President of the bank.

For three j'eais of faithful service, and it
might be said, for honesty and ability, he re-
ceived a commission as Lieutenant Colonel,
dated April 15, 1S66, and signed by Andrew
Johnson, President, and Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War. His certificate of non-in-
debtedness and adjustment of accounts from
the Second Comptroller of the Currency and
E. B. French, Auditor, is dated. August 27, 1870.

Colonel Tilden, by his manliness and upright
character, has won the respect and confidence
of his fellow citi.:3ns generally. In some good
degree, they havo tried to repay him for his
services in the field. May G. 1SG7. he was ap-
pointed Deputy United States Collector by
William Kellogg Collector, for the counties of
Knox, Henry, and Bureau. At the end of one
year, he resigned, went to Missouri, and bought
1.525 acres of land near Carthage. In the
Spring of 1870. he moved there with his family
and lived for twelve years. Impressed with the
duty and responsibility of educating his chil-
dren, he returned to Galesburg in 1882. Since
his return, he was elected .Justice of the Peace
in April. 1884. ard has been re-plected three
terms, serving in that office thirteen ypars. He
was also Secretary and Treasurer of the Gales-

burg Gas Company, owning stock in the same,
which he sold when he went tn Missouri.

Colonel Tilden is decisive and unswerving In
his political views. When in Vermont in 1851,
he voted the whig ticket. He has been identi-
fied with the republican party since its or-
ganization. He says; "I have voted that
ticket first, last, and all the time." His travels
in this country have been quite extensive —
having visited more than twenty-five States.

Colonel Tilden is a man of great moral
worth. To his convictions and to his friends,
he is true as steel. Double-mindedness is no
element of his character, but firmness of pur-
pose and stableness of action are his ruling
traits. He is open hearted and frank, and
despises all innuendoes and deceit. He is thor-
oughly patriotic, and benevolent and charitable
in his dealings with his fellow-men. In his
church relations, he is a Congregationalist, and
was one of the fifty-one persons that organized
the "Brick Church" of Galesburg. He went to
Boston with Warren C. Willard to invite Dr.
Edward Beecher to become their pastor. In
church, city, and county, he has acted a con-
spicuous part, and the reward that comes from
duty is his.

Colonel Tilden was united in marriage at
Galesburg, Illinois, October 26, 1857, to Jean-
nette Lucretia Abbott, born in Vernon, Con-
necticut, June 3, 1836. The marriage ceremony
was performed by the Rev. Edward Beecher, D.
D. She was the daughter of Bickford and
AraeUa Abbott.

They have had seven children, four sons and
three daughters — Emma, Edward. Alice, Jean-
nette, Bertrand Josiah, Joseph Abbott, Earnest
Lyman, and Amelia Clementine.

Emma, Edward, and Joseph Abbott are de-

George Wallace Thompscm was born in the
Dominion of Canada, near St. Mary's, Ontario,
August 9, 1850. He is the son of Robert and
Theresa (Lee) Thompson and was brought
up on a farm. His parents came to Knox
County in 1872, and are now living on a farm
near the city of Galesburg. They were born in
the northern part of England, and the father in
his younger days was a stone-cutter.

Judge Thompson received the customary in-
struction of the common school of his native
town. Afterwards, he attended the grammar
school at St Mary's, working on the farm dur-
ing summer. He then entered Upper Canada
College at Toronto, and finally Toronto Uni-
versity, where he took a full literary course.
He graduated in 1874 with the degree of
Bachelor of Arts, winning a scholarship every
year and a gold medal at graduation. By the
labors of his own hands, he earned the means,
principally, to meet the expenses of his college
course. He read law while a student at col-
lege, and afterwards, with William Davis in
Galesburg He was admitted to the Bar in
Iowa at Fort Madison in 1875 and practiced
at Sibley, Iowa, for two years. In June, 1877,



he came to Galesburg, and practiced uninter-
ruptedly in the courts of Knox County and the
State, until he was elected to the office of Cir-
cuit Judge.

His boyhood was passed on his fathers
Canada farm, which was stony and once heav-
ily wooded. Early, he had a great fondness
for books and a desire for learning. While
attending the district school in winter, he bor-
rowed books to begin the study of the classics;
and while working on the farm during the day,

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 157 of 207)