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The biographical record of Livingston County, Illinois online

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Biographical Record


Livingston County



A people that take no pride in llie noble aeliieveinents of remote aiieestors \eill never neliiei'e
anything— Morthy to be renieniberej icith pride by remote i^enerations." — M At Ai'r.i-n .


The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.






ri.'1'KTII »T,, LOi; 4 MifORT. I>!0.


HE greatest of English historians, Macaulay, and one of the most
biilliant writers of the present century, has said : "The history of a
country is best told in a record of the lives of its people.'" In con-
formity with this idea, the Biographical Record has been prepared.
Instead of going to musty records, and taking therefrom dry statistical
matter that can bi- appreciated by but few, our corps of writers have
gone to the people, the men and women who have, by their enterprise
and industry, brought this county to a rank second to none among
those comprising this great and noble State, and from their lips have tlie story of their life
struggles. No more interesting or iiistructixe matter could be presented to an intelligent
public. In this volume will be found a record of many whose lives are worthy the imitation
of coming generations. It tells how some, commencing life in poverty, by industry and
econoni)' have accimuilaletl wealth. It tells how others, with limited advantages for securing
an education, iiaye become learned men and women, with an intliience extending throughout
the length and breadth of the land. It tells of men who have risen from the lower walks of
life to eminence as statesmen, and whose names have become famous. It tells of those in
every walk in life who have striven to succeed, and records how that success has usually
crowned their efl'oits. It tells also of many, very many, 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 the woman performing a deed of mercy — " They nave done what they could."' It
tells how many, in the pride and strength of young manhood, left the plow and the anvil, the
lawyer's office and the counting-room, left every trade and profession, and at their country's
call went forth valiantly " to do or liie," and bow through their efforts the Union was
restored and peace once more leigned in the land. In the life of e\ erv man and of every
woman is a lesson that should not be lost u[jon those wlio follow after.

Coming generations will appreciate this \olume and preserve it as a sacred treasure, from
the fact that it contains so much that would never lind its way into public records, and which
w<nild otheiwise be inaccessible. (jreat care has been taken in the compilation of the work,
and every opportunity possible given to those lepresented to insure correctness in what has
been written ; ami the publishers Halter tliemselves that thes' give to their readers a work with
few errors of consequence. In aildition to biographical sketches, portraits of a luimber of
representative citizens are given.

The faces of some, and biographical sketches of many, will be misseil in this volume.
l"or this the publishers are not to blame. i>Iot having a proper conception of the work, some
refused to give the information necessary to compile a sketch, while others were indifferent.
Occasionally some member of the family would oppose the enterprise, and on account of sue!)
opposition the support of the interested one would be withheld. In a few instances men
never could be found, though repeated calls w^ere made at their residence or place of business.

October, 1900.

The S. T- Cl.^rkk PfBLi.sHiNc; Co,

"rsiO(|r(if)lui b the onlij hue hLstorg."— En^crson.



PATTON. At the
present time it is sel-
dom that one wins
prominence in sev-
eral lines. It is the
tendency of the age
to devote one's en-
tire energies to a special line, continnally
workingupwardand concentrating his efforts
toward accomplishing a desired end ; yet in
the case of Judge Patton it is demonstrated
that an exalted position may be reached in
more than one line of action. • He is an emi-
nent jurist, an able judge and a leader in
political circles. For several years he was
successfully engaged in the practice of law in
I'ontiac, and is now serving as judge of the
eleventh judicial circuit.

The Judge is a native of Pennsylvania,
and during his infancy was brought to
Woodford county, Illinois, in 1851, by his
parents, Samuel R. and Jane (Haines) Pat-
ton, who were also natives of the Keystone
state. His paternal grandfather was Rev.
James Patton, and his great-grandfather,
Rev. John Patton. both of whom achieved
some local celebrity as Bai)tist ministers in

western Pennsvlvania.the latter having been

pastor of the church at Smithfield, Fay-
ette county, for thirty consecutive years, as
the inscription on his monument, erected by
his church, still attests. Judge Patton's ma-
ternal grandparents were John and Marga-
ret (Anderscin) Ilaines, farming" people of
western Pennsylvania. The latter was a
daughter of James Anderson, a native of
Ireland, who carried a mu.sket for six years
in General Washington's army during the
Revolutionary war. During their entire
residence in this state the parents of Judge
Patton made their home in Woodford coun-
ty, where the mother died in 1873, the father
in 1886. He was a Democrat in politics, a
successful farmer, a man of great industry,,
indomitable will and strong common sense,
while the mother was a woman of keen wit,
remarkable memory and forceful intellect.

Reared on the home farm in Woodford
county, Jutlge Patton attendctl the common
schools of the neighborhood until twenty
years of age, and then took a three years'
course at Xonnal, Illinois, completing the
same in 1871. During the following two
years he taught school in Secor and El Paso,
\\'oodford county, and with the monej' thus
earned he commenced the study of law with
Hav, Green & Littler at Springfield, Illinois,



and was admitted to the bar in 1875. being
a member of tlie same class as W. J. Cal-
houn. ex-Senator T. C. Kerrick and Cleorge
Torrance. Subse<|uently lie again taught
school and engaged in other pursuits until
1881, following farming for three years
to regain his health. In 1881 he com-
menced tiie practice of law at Fairbury, this
county, and two years later located in Pon-
tiac, where he formed a partnershij) with C.
C. Strawn, which was dissolved in 1888. Af-
ter that time he was alone and succeeded in
building up a large and lucrative ])ractice.
On the 7th of June, 1897. he was elected one
of the judges of the eleventh judicial circuit,
composed of Livingston, Woodford, Ford,
McLean and Logan counties, and is now
most creditably tilling that office. His mind
is analytical, logical and inductive. With
a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of
the fundamental principles of law, he com-
bines a familiarity with statutory law and a
sober, clear judgment, which makes him
not only a formidable adversary in legal
combat, but has given him the distinction
of being one of the ablest jurists in this sec-
tion of the state.

Although reared in a Democratic at-
mosphere. Judge Patton has never voted
that ticket, but is a stanch Republican. He
was a member of the state central commit-
tee of his party from 1894 to 1896. He was
made a Mason at F^airbury, and is now a
member of Pontiac lodge. Xo. 294, 1". &
A.M.; Fairbury chapter. R. A. M.; Chenoa
council. R. & S. M.; and St. Paul com-
mandery, K. T., of F'airbury. He also be-
longs to the Odd Fellows lodge and en-
campment, and Ixith he and his wife are
members of the Pontiac Methodist Episco-
pal church, in which he is serving as an offi-
cer. The Judge was married, September

20. 1877. to Miss Flo Cook, daughter of
James and Lucinda Cook, of Fairbury. and
they now have two chiKlren. Marie and
1 'roctor.


Hamilton R. Stewart, who fur the last
hfteen years has successfully operated the
farm of B. M. Stodtlard on section 8. Avoca
township. Livingston county, was born in
cnunty Derry. Ireland. June 4. 1854. and is
the oldest child of William and Mary A.
(McLaughlin) Stewart, also natives of
county Derry. where the father successfully
engaged in farming from early manhood un-
til his death in 1868. Subsecjuently his
widow came to America with her family of
five sons and one daughter, namely: Ham-
ilton R., the subject of this sketch; Joseph,
a farmer, who died in Iowa ; Samuel, a resi-
dent of Avoca township; William, a laborer
of Ogden, Iowa; Tohn, deceased: and Han-
nah, wife of William Scott, who lives near
Kochelle. Ogle county. Illinois. On their
emigratit)n to .America the family located in
Lexington. Illinois, where they made their
I'.ome for four years, and in 1872 moved to
La Salle county, where the following two
years were passed, coming to Livingston
county at the end of that time. While in
I^xington the mother married Thcjmas
L'linton. by whom she had <!ne son. Thomas
I'., now a school teacher in Swygart. Illincjis.
Her second husband died in Livingston
county and she is now living with our sub-
ject at the age of sixty-seven years.

Hamilton R. Stewart commenced liis
education in the common schiM>ls of his na-
tive laiul. and after coming to .\merica, at
the age of fourteen years, attended school in



Lexington, Illinois, for a short time. Be-
irsf the oldest of the faniilv he had to so to
work on a farm that he might aid in their
support, and lived at home until twenty-
two. While in La Salle county he worked
in a coal mine in Streator for two years. In
1876 he left home and was employed as a
farm hand ahout five years, at the end of
wiiicli time he rented land and emljarked in
tanning on his own account.

In 1883 Mr. Stewart married Miss Jane
I'dair. who was horn in Tazewell comity,
this state, in 1862. Her parents, \\'illiam
and Mary (Gillian) Blair, hoth natives of
Ireland, located in Tazewell county on their
emigration to the United States, and after
residing there for a few years moved to Mc-
Lean county, where they now make their
h.ome. The father is a successful farmer.
In the family were seven children, namely:
Thomas, a farmer of McLean county ; Jane,
wife of our suhject ; David, a prosperous
farmer of McLean county; Annie, wife of
li. .Gillian, of the same county; William.
also a resident of McLean county ; and L}-dia
and Addie, both at home. Of the nine chil-
dren horn to Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, one died
in infancy. The others are as follows;
William J. and Mabel M.. who passed the
central school examinations at the ages of
fifteen and thirteen years respectively, be-
in.g the youngest who ever passed from their
school, and standing high in rank in a classof
forty; Minnie P.. Litta G., Ira J.. Hamil-
ton G.. Geneveive and Morris M. The par-
ents are giving their children the best possi-
ble educational advantages.

After his marriage Mr. Stewart located
en a farm in McLean county, where he siic-
cessfuUy engaged in general farming for two
years, and in 1885 moved to the farm of two
hundred acres in Avoca township, Livings-

ton county, where he now resides. He is
a conscientious man. upright and honorable
ir. all his dealings, as is shown by his re-
maining on one farm so long. During his
residence here he has been prominently iden-
tified with local politics. He was justice of
the peace fi\c years, school trustee six years
and assessor two years, being re-elected for
a third term. an<l serving in each office to
the best of his ability anil for the interests
of the peoi)Ie he represents. He is a man
who does not draw party lines in local af-
fairs, but supports those whom he believes
best c|ualilied to fill the positions, regardless
of party affiliations. For the past twelve
years in national elections he has supjiorted
the nominees of the Prohibition party and at
present is township C(immitteeman of that
party. Socially he is a member of Fairbury
Camp. No. 6, M. W. A., and religiously is
a member and active worker in the Meth-
odist Episcojjal church and Sunday school,
serving as a member of the board of trustees
for the past fourteen years. He is a genial
gentleman, who is well liked 1)y a large circle
of friends and ac(|uaintances.


Success is determined by one's ability to
recognize opportunity, and to pursue this
with a resolute and unfiagging energy. It
results from continued labor and the man
who thus accomplishes his purpose usually
becomes an imjtortant factor in the business
circles of the community with which he is
connected and also jjrominent in public life.
Through such means Mr. Duckett has at-
tained a leading place among the representa-
tive men of Livingston cmuity, which he is
now serving as county clerk.



A son of Benjamin and Jane (Redmond)
Dnckett. lie was born November lo, 1840,
iii Wechncire, Somersetshire. England, wliicli
place lias l)een tiie ancestral home of the
family for many generations. There the fa-
ther engaged in farming until his death,
\vhich occurred when our subject was a boy
of fi\e or six years. The mother was left
with si.x children, five sons and one daugh-
ter. She spent her entire life in her native
land and died in the faith of the Episcopal
church. Those of the family who came to
America were Francis, now a resident of Des
Moines, Iowa ; Daniel, a physician, who died
ill Forrest, this county, in 1890; Sarah, wife
of Jesse Arney, of Kent, Washington ; and
Frederick, our subject. The youngest son,
Gabriel, is a resident of Australia.

Frederick Duckett received a good prac-
tical education in the schools of his native
lr.nd. In 1854, at the age of thirteen years,
he came alone to the United States and spent
two years in Xew York state, where he found
emi)lo_\ment. In 1856 he came to Illinois
and first located in Henry, Marshall county,
working on a farm near there until fall, when
lie went to Peoria county and obtained a
position, where he worked for his board with
the ])rivilege of attending school. He re-
mained in that county until the Civil war
broke out and in the spring of 1862 enlisted
in Company K, Eleventli Illinois Cavalry.
Going immediately to the front, he joined
his regiment at Memphis, Tennessee, and
was first under fire at Lexington, that state.
He took part in the second battle of Corinth
and the siege of Vicksburg. antl remained
ji. active service until mustered out Septem-
ber 30. 1865, being never ofif duty a single
day. He was serving as second lieutenant
at the time of his discharge. Returning to
Peoria county he remained there until i8(j7>

when he removed to Forrest, Livingston
county, and entered in the drug business with
liis brother. Later he became sole proprietor
of the store, and though he began in a small
way he carried a large and well-selectetl
Slock and had built up an excellent trade at
the time of disposing of his business.

On the 19th of February, 1866, Mr.
Duckett married I\Iiss Mary E. Munhall.
of Peoria county, a daughter of Samuel
Munhall, and to them have been born six
children: Jeanette, now the wife of H. C.
Amsbury, of W'ellsville Xew York ; Arthur
F., who married Grace Stillwell and resides
in Forrest : Jesse, now serving as deputy
county clerk under his father; Nellie M. ;
Maliel M., wife of Everett Tate, of Pontiac;
and Aldine, at home.

Mr. Duckett attends and supports tb.e
Methodist Episcopal cluux'h. of which his
wife is a member. He is a very active and
prominent member of several civic societies,
was one of the organizers of Forrest Post,
G. A. R., and served as its first commander.
He has represented it in the state encamp-
ment several times and was a member of the
commander's staff one year. He was a
charter member of Forrest lodge. No. 614,
F. & A. M., of which he was master about
ten years, and is now a member of Pontiac
lodge, No. 294. F. & A. M., oi" which he has
been secretary, while at present he is high
priest of Pontiac chapter, R. A. M., and
past C(immander of St. Paul Commantler\-,
K. T.. of Fairbury. He also belongs to
Chenoa Council, R. & S. M., of F"orrest
ledge. K. P., of which he is past chancellor,
and the Modern Woodmen of America, of
which he is past venerable consul.

Since attaining his majority Mr. Duckett
lias been an active Republican. He served
as collector of his township several terms



and was a member of tlie township lioard at
ditterent times. In 1894 he was elected
county clerk liy a .sfood majority and after
filling that office for four years was renom-
mated by acclamation in 1898 and elected
by an increasing- majority, which sj^eaks well
fur the estimation in which he is held 1)\- the
].eople of the county, who recognize his abil-
ity and fitness for the office. His present
term will not expire until Deceml)er. 1902.
.\s a citizen lie has always been found true
to every trust reposed in him, so that liis
loyalty is above question, being manifest in
tiays of peace as well as when he followed
the old flag to victory on sduthern battle
fields. Since he entered upon the duties of
his present office he has made his home in


James P. Dahl, who is successfully en-
gaged in farming on section 3,Eppards Point
township, Livingston county. Illinois, two
miles from Pontiac, is a native of Denmark,
horn on the Baltic Sea March 24, 1839. and
i.- a son of Lars P. and Christina f Peter-
son) Dahl, who .spent their entire lives as
farming people in that country.

Our subject was reared on a farm and
educated in the common schools of his na-
tive land. His knowledge of the English
language has been acquired through his own
tinaided efforts. It was in i860 that he
crossed the broad Atlantic.' sailing from
Liverpool, England, to New ^'ork, and land-
ing in the latter city on the 25th of Mav,
that year. He came direct to La Salle coun-
ty, Illinois, where he had friends living,
and where he worked on a farm by the
month for some time. Later he was similarh'

employed in Putnam county for five vears,
and from there went to Peru, Illinois, where
he formed a partnership with his brother-in-
law. John Dixon, and engaged in fruit grow-
ing and the milk and dairy business for nine
years, .selling out on coming to this county.

On the ioth of .\pril. 1877. '" Peru. Mr.
Dahl married Miss Lydia Jensen, a native
of Coijenhagen, Denmark, and a daughter
of Paul and Louisa ( Otto) Jensen, who were
also born in that country. The father was
a business man of Copenhagen. Mrs. Dahl
\yas well educated in the schools of that city
and came to the new world in 1875. To our
subject and his wife have been Ijorn six chil-
dren, of whom four are living, namely:
.Anna is a well educated young lady, who is
now successfully engaged in teaching music
and also serves as organist of the McDowell
Methodist Episcopal church: William assists
his father in the operation of the farm: and
' Joseph and Clinton are also at home. Carrie
died at the age of ten years : Mary, at the
age of six months.

The day after their marriage Mr. and
I\]rs. Dahl came to Livingston county and he
purchased eight\ - four acres of land on sec-
tion 3,' Eppards Point township, where he
now resides, and has since -bouglit forty
acres more, making a fine farm of one hun-
(h-ed and twentv-four acres, which he has
tiled and ])laced under a high state of cul-
tivation. He has remodeled the house,
l)!anted an orchard, erected outbuildings and
made many other useful and valuable im-
provements on the place which add greatly
to its attractive appearance. He is quite suc-
cessfully engaged in general farming and
stock raising. Originally he was a Repub-
lican in politics, but is now a Prohibitionist,
and at local elections votes for the men whom
he believes best qualified to fill the offices.



regardless <>t party affiliations. He is now
an efficient member of the scIukjI board and
president of his district. Religiously Mr.
Dalil and bis family are members of the
Methodist Episcopal church of McDowell
and are highly respected and esteemed by
all who know them.


James H. Gaff, a prominent old resident
of Pontiac. Illinois, who is now serving as
justice of the peace and deputy sheriff of
Livingston county, was born in Xenia,
Greene county, Ohio. March 27,. 1827, a son
of David M. and Hannah (Mock) Gaff.
His jjaternal grandparents were John and
Martha (Scott) Gaff, natives of Pennsyl-
vania and Maryland respectively, the birth
place of the former being not far from Get-
tysburg and Hagerstown. They were of
Scotch- Irish descent and members of the old
Covenanter church. The maternal grand-
parents were John and Mary (Horney).
natives of North Carolina. In 1801 they
removed from that state to Xenia, Ohio, in
a one-horse wagon, resting always on the
Sabbath dav during the journey. Mr. Mock
helped build the first house ever erected in
Xenia and owned one hundred acres of heav-
ily timbered land about five miles south of
where that city now stands. This he cleared
and transformed into a gfxid farm. Leav-
ing bis family and several children at home,
lie enlisted in the war of 1812. and was sta-
tioned at Mcpherson's block bouse on the
line between Indiana and Ohio. He and
his wife spent their last days upon a farm
which he imjirovcd in Fayette d'unty. Ohio.
She was nf Ouaker descent and was a flaugh-

ter of James Horney. who had charge of the
train of seventeen wagons in which the Mock
familv moved to Ohio from North Carolina.
They became members of the Metliodist
Episcopal church and old Peter Cartwright
preached in their house.

David M. Gaff, the father of our subject,
was born in Maryland near the Pennsylvania
hue, and. was a young man when the family
moved to Xenia, Ohio, where he married
Hannah Mock, a native of Ohio. He fol-
lowed farming, but died at the early age of
twenty-seven years, being accidentally killed
March 2j. 18,^1, when our subject was only
four vears old, leaving his widow with three
small children to sup]Dort. This she tli<l In-
engaging in weaving. Later she married
John Calhoun and moved to Montgomery
county. Ohio, locating si.x miles south of
Dayton, wiiere the family lived until about
1857. when they came to Illinois and settled
near Decatur. Macon county. Mr. Calhoun
died in Decatur in 1866 and his wife died
near Bloomington. this state, in 1892. at the
age of eighty-five years. .\t an earlyday John
Gaff, our subject's paternal grandfather, who
was also a soldier of the war of 18 12, floated
down the Ohio river on a flat boat to Cin-
cinnati, and from there drove across the
oumtry to Xenia. where in the midst of the
forest he commenced to develop a farm,
which was to have been inherited by our
subject's father had he not been killed so
early in life.

Just before he attained his eighth year
James H. Ciaff. our subject, went to live with
an uncle, with whom he remained for four
years, and then made his home with his
grandfather Mock. L'ntil eighteen years old
In attended school not to exceed thirty days
a year, his first l>ooks being an elementary
speller and ttstameiu, which were later sup-



l;!eincnteil 1)_\- tlie American reader and
Smitli's aritlimetic. Tlie scliool house where
ho pursued Iiis studies was a ])riiuiti\e struc-
ture huilt of log's, witii punclicon floor and
seats and greased paper windows, and the
little room often had to accommodate forty

After leavinjj school at the ag^e of eight-
een years Mr. Gaff learned the blacksmith's
trade in Teffersonville, serving a three-years
apprenticeship, and then working as a jour-
neyman at that ])lace for a time. \\'hile there
he was married. December 2I1. 1850, to Miss
Catherine Powell, a nati\e of Fayette coun-
ty, Ohio, and a daughter of Harper I'dwcll.
a farmer. They have one child, Ann E.,
now the wife of Charles Tanquary, of Chi-
cago, by whnm she has a daughter, Helen G.

On leaving Jeffersonville. Ohio, in the
fall of 1 85 1, Mr. Gaff moved to what is now
Cooksville. McLean county. Illinois, where
he bought eighty acres of land and com-

Online LibraryBenjamin FranklinThe biographical record of Livingston County, Illinois → online text (page 1 of 67)