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a period of four years, until January, 1878.
On leaving the bank he came west a second
time and assumed duties in a broader field,
involving larger personal responsibility.
He became financial manager of the Mich-
igan State Military Academy at Orchard
Lake, as the personal representative of Gov-
ernor John J. Bagley, of Detroit. On tin-
retirement of Governor Bagley in 1880, Mr.
Wheeler's connection with the academy
ceased. He came directly to Chicago and
accepted emj)loyment with N. K. Fairbank,
as his private secretary, a position which he
still holds. He, also, from time to time,
embraced opportunities to connect himself
with manufacturing enterprises, which have
proved very successful. He is now president
of the Northwestern Exj)anded Metal Com-
pany, whose large factory is located at
Twenty -sixth street and Stewart avenue ;
president of the Abbott Machine Company,
which has a factory on South Canal street ;
president of the Chicago Spring Balance
Company, which is engaged extensively in
the manufacture of scales. He is also pres-
ident of the Todd Cotton Harvester Com-
jiany, organized for the manufacture of a
labor-saving machine which promises to rev-
olutionize the work of picking cotton in the
fields as Whitney's invention one hundred
years earlier revolutionized the separation of
the fiber from the seed. In addition to the
foregoing he is engaged in the manufacture
of the Wheeler railroad coach and reclining
seat, with factories in Dayton, Ohio, and on
Clinton street, Chicago. Governor Cullom
recognized the military capacity of Mr.
Wheeler by conferring upon him a staff ap-
pointment, with the rank of Colonel, July,
1881. The same compliment was bestowed
by Governor Hamilton, the successor of
Governor Cullom. On the first of July,
1884, he was elected Colonel of the Second
Regiment of Infantry, Illinois National



Guards, a position which he held with credit
to himself and satisfaction to the regiment,
until 1890, when he declined re-election.
A prominent business man of Chicago, for-
merly an officer in the Second Regiment
says: •• NVlicn Colonel Wheeler assumed
command it was quartered on the second and
third floors of a l)uildingon Randolph street,
near Fifth avenue. The entire roster of the
regiment including officers and privates was
only three hundred. Under his administra-
tion the command was greatly sti'engthened
by the resignation of many and the muster-
ing of a larger number of recruits with sol-
dierly qualities. In a short time, through
the instrumentality of the commanding offi-
cer, the rink at the corner of Washington
boulevard and Curtis street was purchased
and converted into an armory. When the
1st Illinois Cavalry disbanded, the four com-
panies comprising it united with the Second
Infantry, making a full regiment of twelve
companies. The armory on Michigan ave-
nue, near Monroe street, which had been
occupied by the Cavalry, was, turned over,
and since that time the Second Regiment has
used both armories." Conscious of the
power of, martial music as an inspiration to
pride and courage, the young Colonel de-
cided soon after assuming command, to
organize and equip a regimental band. For
that purpose he appointed Prof. A. D. Har-
low as band-master and rendered him the
necessary financial support. In a surpris-
ingly short time the new organization be-
came celebrated as the best concert band
west of New York and the best military
band in the United States. Colonel Wheel-
er's genius for military affairs, su))plemented
by service in the army and management of
the Michigan Academy, and directed by
executive ability of a high order, brought
the Second Regiment up to a standard of
excellence in discipline rarely equaled in
militia ortraiiizalioiis. Under his command

it rendered valuable service when called out
by the Governor during the stock yards'
strike some years ago, a service distinguished
HI) loss by the Tuoderation and gentlemanly
bearing of the soldiers than by their disci-
pline and courage. When he retired in
1890, the regiment was completely officered
and the regulation complement of more than
a thousand men, fully equipped with modern
arms, accoutrements and paraphernalia, in-
cluding the full dress regulation uniform of
the United States Infantry was occupying
comfortable, commodious quarters. Better
than all and above all, he had secured and
retained the respect and esteem of the entire
regiment, and the retirement occasioned uni-
versal regret on the part of his comrades.
It is not surprising, therefore, but quite in
the natural order of things, that the Gov-
ernor tendered him the a])pointment of com-
mander of the 1st Brigade of the State of
Illinois, conferring upon him the rank of
Brigadier General, by a commission dated
June2-t, 1893. General Wheeler is repub-
lican in politics and Congi'egational in relig-
i(in. His activity in politics is prompted by
principle rather than self-seeking. His re-
lationship to the church may be regarded as
an inheritance, because his parents were
members of the Congregational church.
He was married in Chicago, July 3rd, 1884,
to Miss Anna M. Ayer, daughter of Caj)tain
John Ayer, formerly of Bangor, Maine,
who was killed in the liattle of Fredericks-
burg, during her infancy. Their only child,
iMalcolm Locke Wheeler, was born July 2,
1885. He was made a Master Mason in
Bangor, in 1 876, and the following year
took the several degrees of .the chapter and
the conimandery. After coming west he
procured a dimit from St. John's Cora-
mandery at Bangor and placed his member-
ship with Detroit No. 1, until 1881, when
he became a member of Apollo Commandery
of Chicaao. At the annual election in






1884, he was chosen Captain General; in

1885, Generalissimo, and for two succeeding
years Eminent Commander. He is also a
member of Oriental Consistory, having
taken the degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry
to the 32d degree in 1882. General Wheel-
er's success in business may be attributed in
a large measure to his executive ability,
quick perception and e.xcellent judgment.
His perception is intuitive and his decision
witliout hesitation, argument or doubt.
Immediate action follows prompt decision.
Endowed with such qualifications he is en-
abled to manage concerns involving varied
interests and to dispose of business rapidly
with the quiet serenity of one who is con-
scious of his own mastery of the situation.
His manner is genial and magnetic, qualities
which inspire in soldiers enthusiasm for a
commander. His social characteristics may
be estimated by his membership in some of
the best clubs : The Chicago, Union League,
Hlinois, Washington Park, Chicago Athlet-
ic, Fellowship, Argo and Forty.


John B. KiKic was born in Utica, New
York, November 8, 1842. He is the second
son of the late James S. Kirk, who removed
from Utica, New York, to Chicago in 1859
and there founded the house of James S.
Kirk and Company, which at the time of his
death, in 1886, was one of the most exten-
sive manufacturers of soaps, perfumes, etc.,
in this country. He was born In Glasgow,
Scotland, though his father, James A. Kirk,
emigrated to America when the son was an
infant, settling in Montreal, Canada. Here
James S. grew to manhood and married
Nancy Ann Dunning, of Ottawa, Canada.
In his l)oyhood John B. attended the jiub-
lic schools in Utica, and at the age of seven-

teen, wiien by reason of the removal of his
l)arents to Chicago he was obliged to leave
the Utica schools, he had acquired a sound
English education. Had he yielded to his
own desire he would have espoused a profes-
sional career, possibly that of a physician,
as his tastes ran in the direction of medical
studies. But the wishes of his father were
too highly respected to be questioned, and
when the elder Kirk suggested that his son
enter into and continue after him the great
business he had founded and so successfully
developed, the youth put aside his personal
preferences and entered upon a business
career. Under his father's eye he was in-
ducted into all the mysteries of chemistry con-
nected with the manufacture of the varied
products turned out by the firm. He was
also instructed in bookkeeping and business
methods. After serving a regular appren-
ticeship and having shown his fitness to be
promoted, he was taken into the firm as a
partner. Under such a thorough tutor the
son became an adept in every department
and while he was still a young man he
shared with his father in the responsibility
of management. When the business of the
firm was temporarily prostrated by the
destruction of its plant in the disastrous
conflagration of 1871, which entailed a loss
to the firm of nearly a quarter of a million
dollars, Mr. Kirk was active in the work of
reorganization. In this he had the hearty
cooperation of all the members of the Kirk
family and the business was soon again
placed upon a substantial foundation. The
site occupied by the plant of James S. Kirk
and Company is historic from the fact that
upon it was reared the first house built in
Chicago. The structure was a mere hut,
erected by a hermit, who chose this spot for
his abode at the dawn of the century. The
plant itself is as perfect as human ingenuity
and liberal expenditure of money can make
it. Its output in soap alone exceeds seventy



millions of pounds annually, besides a very
large output of other products. The busi-
ness policy devised and so successfully fol-
lowed by the esteemed founder of the firm
has been faithfully pursued by his sons and
successors and the results have borne out the
wisdom in which it was conceived. Accus-
tomed in his business to large money tran-
sactions, Mr. Kirk acquired a thorough
experience as a financier, which was soon
perceived in the monetary world and led to
his being chosen vice-president of the Amer-
ican Exchange National Bank of Chicago.
In 1890 he was elected president of this
bank and retained this position until 1894.
Following in the footsteps of his worthy
father, Mr. Kirk, prompted thereto also by
his own tastes and sympathies, takes a deep
interest in the North-Western University at
Evanston, one of the leading educational in-
stitutions of the west, and at present attended
by over two thousand students in all depart-
ments. He is a trustee of this institution and
also a member of the executive committee ;
and has always been ready to assist both
financially and otherwise, any project hav-
ing the good of the University for its object.
For the encouragement of oratory and elo-
cution he has provided an annual prize of
one hundred dollars "to be awarded to the
successful competitor in the annual oratori-
cal contest held by the senior students of
the University." This contest is one of the
most intesting events of the collegiate year,
and has already done wonders in improving
the oratory and elocution of the students.
A resident of Evanston for many years Mr.
Kirk has made a host of friends and admir-
ers by his upright and honorable life, active
sympathies and general usefulness. He dis-
penses a most generous hospitality to his
friends and acquaintances, and in the matter
of charity he may always be relied upon to
aid deserving persons or projects. The solid
(lualitics wliich made his father one of the

most respected men in Chicago have de-
scended to the son in a marked degree. Mr.
Kirk was married on October 4, 1866, to
Miss Susie MacVean, daughter of Mr. D.
MacVean, of Chicago. Mrs. Kirk presides
with grace and dignity over her household
and is no less active than her husband in true
philanthropy. The family of Mr. and Mrs.
Kirk consists of four children — James M.,
Frederick I., Josephine and Susie.


Paul O. Stensland was born in Sandeid
Stavanger Amt, Norway, on the ninth day
of May, 1847, the fifth son in a family of
nine children. Young Stensland grew up in
the healthful surroundings of farm life in
his native land and received his early ele-
mentary education in the schools of the dis-
trict. He made good use of his time at
study and had a great faculty of acquiring
knowledge. At the early age of eighteen he
left the family home and farm and traveled
to Hindostan, Asia. In this new field he la-
bored with his characteristic energy and suc-
cess. He immediately connected himself
with the cotton and wool industries of India
and became a large buyer. For nearly six
years he traveled extensively through that
country in the interest of his business. In
the success which crowned his efforts, at that
early age, in a land so exclusive and peculiar
as Hindostan, we have a proof of the business
instincts and foresight which marked Mr.
Stensland's early career. His residence in
the East he made good use of, not only to
transact business, but to acquire knowledge
and experience by travel. From Cape Com-
orin to the Himalayas, and from the Indus
to the Brahmapootra he traveled, gaining a
thorough knowledge of the customs of the
l)eople and the physical features of the conn-


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try. After a residence of five aii<l a half
years among the Hindoos he returned, in the
fall of 1870, to his native land to visit his
parents. His return was most timely, for
his parents, who had been for some time in
delicate health, both died during his short
stay of three months. This severe family
bereavement, and the natural disposition for
venture which he possessed, prompted him
to again leave his home. This time he chose
Chicago as the field of his future labors. He
arrived here in the spring of 1871 and has
resided here uninterruptedly ever since. His
first venture here was in the dry goods trade.
His efforts were successful, and for fourteen
years he carried on a lucrative business. In
1885 he entered the real estate and insurance
business, and four years later he opened a
private lianking house. This enterprise was
so successful that it warranted him in chang-
ing it to a state bank in 1891. He is now
president of the Milwaukee Avenue State
bank ; and because of his efticient and busi-
ness-like management of its affairs he has
gained the confidence and support of the
business men of the district. Mr. Stensland
is also secretary and treasurer of the ceme-
tery of Mount Olive, and also the publisher
of the Scandinavian newspaper, Norden.
He has large real estate interests in the
northwestern portion of the city. For nine
years, from 1879 to 1888, he was a member
of the board of education, a position to
which he brought his large business experi-
ence and varied knowledge with good effect,
and acquired a high reputation by the ener-
gy and executive ability di8j)layed in the dis-
charge of his duties as member and chairman
of the most imj)ortant committees. Another
honor was paid to Mr. Stensland by Mayor
Cregier, who appointed him a member of a
cominittee in connection with Ferd. W.Peck,
General Fitz Simons and Washington Hes-
ing, for the purpose of revising the charter
of the city of Chicago. On the occasion of

the resignation of Mr. James W. Scott,from
the directory of the World's Columbian Ex-
position, the vacancy was filled by the elec-
tion of Mr. Stensland. He was reelected in
Ai)ril, 1892. This was a high compliment
paid to him by his fellow-citizens, one to
which he was justly entitled as a repi-esenta-
tive man, and for the character of high busi-
ness ability which he has earned. Very few
of the many excellent and able men who di-
rected the working of this great national un-
dertaking, brought so much experience and
varied knowledge to the discharge of their
duties as did Director Stensland. To knowl-
edge of the people, the languages and the
geography of Asia, he adds an extensive
travel through Europe ; but he has not con-
tented himself with travel in the old world
— his inquiring mind has sought informa-
tion, not only by careful study, but by years
of travel through the new world. In poli-
tics Mr. Stensland is a democrat, but only
takes that intei-est in elections which he con-
siders the duty of every good citizen. He
is a member of the Lutheran church and
while earnest in the defense of its doctrine
and teachings he is tolerant and liberal. He
is a memljer of the Iroquois Club and sev-
eral Scandinavian organizations. Mr. Stens-
land was married in August, 1871, to Karen
Quei-k, daughter of Torris Eide, of Sond-
hordland, Norway. The result of this hap-
py union is two children, a boy and a girl.
In the companionshijj of his devoted wife,
and in the affection of his children, he en-
joys his greatest happiness. Few men more
fully deserve or more enjoy the smiles and
sunshine of a happy home than Mr. Stens-
land, and few men exert themselves more to
surround it with every comfort and luxury.
His son, Theodore, is a student at Harvard.
His daughter is married to Dr. Karl Sand-
berg, of this city. Tradition informs us,
and learned archaeologists confirm the state-
ment, that a number of bold and experienced



Sfaniliiiaviau seamen, led by Lief Eriuksoii,
visited this country in the tenth century —
four hundred years before Columbus crossed
the broad waters of the Atlantic and pro-
claimed to the inhabitants of the old world
the existence of a new continent. These
hardy Norsemen were the ancestors of the
race that at present inhabit the rugged soil
of the Scandinavian peninsula, and which
has given to the world such men as Gustavus
Adolphus, the "Lion of the North," Karl
Linne, better known by his Latinized name,
Linnieus, and in our own day the celebrated
inventor of battle-ships, Ericson. No race
has done more, in j>roportionto its members,
to build up and to defend this great western
republic than the intelligent and industrious
sons of the northern peninsula. Paul O.
Stensland, the subject of this sketch, stands
forth not only as a representative citizen of
this great commonwealth, but also as a stur-
dy type of the proud and ancient nationality
from which he comes. He is the enxbodi-
ment of the energetic, resourceful and ear-
nest character of his Scandinavian country-


Hon. Walter Olds, late judge of the
Supreme Court of Indiana, is a resident of
Chicago. He was born in Morrow county,
Ohio, in 1846. He descended from the best
New England stock, his genealogy hav-
ing been traced to ancestors who lived in
Connecticut in 1669. His ancestors were
distinguished for patriotism and exalted
character. His grandfather served in the
continental army during the revolution, and
his father enlisted at the age of seventeen in
the war of 1812. His father, Benjamin
Olds, was an ordained minister of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, but not a pas-
tor under the control of the conference and

the bishop. He was a preacher of ability
and moral excellence, whose ministrations
were in places of his own choosing. His
mother, before her marriage, was Miss
Abigail Washburn, a lady endowed richly
with the graces of Christianity and the vir-
tues that adorn refined womanhood. With
such a lineage it may be assumed that
Walter inherited traits of character that in-
here in the best and noblest manhood, and
these were strengthened and developed by
careful training and education, received
from intelligent Christian parents. At the
age of seventeen he also yielded to the
])atriotic impulse and enlisted in the One
Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Ohio Volunteer
Infantry, in which he served to the close of
the war. Afterwards he pursued his studies
in school and read law with his brother.
Major James Olds, at Mount Gilead, Ohio.
In January, 1869, he was admitted to prac-
tice in the supreme court, and in Aj)ril fol-
lowing removed to Indiana, locating at
Columbia City. He formed a professional
partnership with A. Y. Hooper, an estab-
lished lawyer, and shared in a lucrative
practice from the very beginning. Four
years later he married Miss Marie J. Merritt,
of Mount Gilead, Ohio. He gave his un-
divided attention to the practice of law until
1876, when he was nominated by the repub-
licans and elected to represent the counties
of Whitley and Kosciusko in the State Sen-
ate. He served his constituency creditably
during the sessions of 1877 and 1879,
though he was not beguiled by the allure-
ments of political life to abandon his profes-
sion. In 1884 he was elected circuit judge
for a term of six years. Ascending the
bench of the circuit court almost a year after
election he soon evinced special qualifica-
tions for the functions and duties of a
judicial office. In November, 1888, although
his terra as circuit judge was only half com-
pleted, he was elected judge of the supreme


OF The




court of the state, and inducted into office
January, 1889, the youngest member of that
court and one of the youngest judges ever
elected in the history of the state. Some of
the most important decisions rendered by
that tribunal during his connection with it
were written by him. The number of polit-
ical and constitutional cases was unusually
large, involving questions of local self-gov-
ernment, legal construction and political
rights. If an opinion of the court, in which
he concurred, did not seem explicit enough
in the argument, he wrote a concurring opin-
ion, stating ai)tly, directly and forcibly, with-
out tergiversation, precisely what the decision
intended to decide and the reason of it.
His dissenting opinion in a case was equally
terse and all of his opinions were the result
of painstaking research, written on his con-
science. After a service of four years and
five months on the supreme bench, he re-
signed and removed to Chicago, to reenter
the practice of law in a broader field. He
formed a partnership with Hon. Charles F.
Griffin, formerly Secretary of State of Indi-
ana, who was already established in the
city. The firm is one able to comman<l a
lucrative business from the best sources.
Judge Olds became enamored of the law
when a boy and his regard for it increased
in later years with the intensity of a first
love. In practice he is equally faithful to a
client and earnest in his behalf, whether tlie
pecuniary interest is large or small. As a
counselor he is safe and honorable. His
statement of a fact is never questioned, and
his construction of law is usually accepted.
His manner is uniformly dignified and cour-
teous. In the examination of witnesses his
evident purpose is to disclose the truth
rather than to confuse the witness. As an
advocate he impresses the jury by his sin-
cerity and clearness of statement. He has a
clear and comprehensive knowledge of law,
a high sense of justice and integrity of

character. His briefs are strong, pliilosoplii-
cal arguments, in which an epitome of the
facts proved is supported by his theory of
the law in a terse, logical statement. He
possesses the mental characteristics and per-
sonal qualities most desirable in a lawyer or
a judge. His mind is well poised for the
consideration of questions judicially. He
listens courteously, considers deliberately
and decides impartially. He hears a case
without prejudice and renders judgment
without bias. His judicial opinions are
characterized by clearness of expression and
cogency of reasoning. His statement is
direct and forceful, his meaning never
obscure. In social intercourse he is genial
and popular. His wife is a true gentle-
woman, with personal accomplishments and
exceptional mental force, loyal and devoted
in her domestic attachments. She is a
woman of excellent judgment, well versed
on all important topics. Their only child,
Lee Merritt, passed through the preparatory
department of Wabash College and was
graduated from the Michigan Military Aca-
demy. He is now pursuing a classical
course in the Northwestern University.


As an example of the success which
may be attained by sturdy endeavor, even
when the seeker is a poor lad in compe-
tition with men of wealth and long-estab-
lished business reputation, the life history
of Egbert W. Gillett is worthy of study.
Mr. Gillett was born at Dexter, Jefferson
county, New York. His parents were Paul
W. and Caroline IT. (Rogers) Gillett, both
of whom were natives of Jefferson county.

Online LibraryHyland MacGrathEncyclopaedia of biography of Illinois (Volume 2) → online text (page 54 of 66)