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and constitutes one of the most beautiful spots in
New England, and has ever since been owned
by the family. His father, John Swett, was born
in Buckfield, Maine, February 4, 1789, and mar-
ried Remember Berry, on August 29, 1816. The
latter was born at Buckfield, Maine, December
22, 1794. They settled after their marriage on
the above-named hill, and lived and died there.
The father was seventy years old, and the mother
in her eighty-ninth year at the date of their
respective deaths June 25, 1859, and May 19,



1883. They had six children. Mr. Swett fol-
lowed the occupation of farming many years, but
subsequently traveled, selling patent rights for
different men, and for several years before his
death was an agent for R. B. Dunn, a scythe
manufacturer, at Wayne, Maine. He was a good
business man and had the confidence of his em-
ployers. He was a strict temperance man, he
and his wife being members of the first temper-
ance society formed in Turner. Mr. Swett was
also a soldier in the War of 1812, being a private
of Captain Richmond's company of Massachusetts
Militia, his widow receiving a pension in acknowl-
edgment of his services.

The story of this home is thus simply told by



74



LEONARD SWETT.



one of its members: "We each had our daily
tasks, which we were always ready and willing
to perform; our daily fare was always an abun-
dance of plain, well cooked food, eaten with a
relish known only to the industrious. The twi-
light hour was almost invariably spent in song.
How well I remember those concerts, of our eight
voices, as we joined in singing our hymns of
praise. It was a happy, peaceable, religious,
industrious, frugal home. Sickness seldom in-
vaded it, and its blessed memory is a source of
joy to me yet." Here in the midst of a grandly
rolling country Leonard Swett grew to manhood,
developing a character sweet and healthful as the
balsamic odor of the pines, yet strong and rugged
as his native hills.

Leonard Swell's great-grandfalher was Dr.
Slephen Swell, of Gorham, and surgeon of Col.
Edmund Phiimey's 315! Regimenl of Foot of
1775, in the war of the American Revolution.
Pierce, in his history of Gorham, says, "Dr.
Stephen Swett came from North Hampton in
1770. He was the tenth physician in the town.
He was patriolic and possessed greal energy."
He died al Otisfield, Maine, January 6, 1807,
aged sevenly-nve years or over. Dr. Swell's
wife was Sarah Adams. Tradition says she was
a cousin (probably second cousin) of President
John Adams.

Dr. Stephen Swett and Sarah Adams Swett,
his wife, had fourteen children, the fourth of
whom John Swett, born at Durham, New
Hampshire, June 23, 1763, and who was married
at Gorham, Maine, March 27, 1788, lo Belsey
Warren was Leonard Swell's grandfather. "He
setlled in Buckfield, Maine, Ihe year he was
married and resided Ihere until his death, July
14, 1844. He was a farmer, and everything
aboul his premises was a pallern of neatness and
thrift. He had a good property and enough of
everylhing for Ihe comforls of life. He and his
wife were bolh industrious, prudent, temperate,
moral and religious. He brought Ihe first wagon
owned in Ihe lown from Gorham. II was very
much admired and considered quile wonderful in
Ihose days. II was used to carry the family lo
church. Bolh he and his wife died of old age,



respecled and beloved, and cared for by Iheir sou
and sixlh child, David Warren Swell." Betsey
Warren Swell was born June 28, 1763, and died
June 3, 1846.

As lo Ihe origin of Mr. Swell's family nothing
is known definitely back of Dr. Slephen Swell,
bul as he came from towns in New Hampshire
(Durham and North Harnplon) , bul a few miles
from Newbury and Hampton, which was the
home in 1642 of John Swett, of England, who,
through his son, Benjamin Swell, left a large
family, il is thought probable thai Dr. Slephen
Swell is one of his numerous descendanls.

Remember Berry Swell was born December
22, 1794; she was Ihe daughter of William Berry
and Joanna Doane; granddaughter of George
Berry and Sarah Stickney; greal-granddaughler
of Maj. George Berry and Elizabelh Frink;
great-great-granddaughter of George Berry and
Deliverance Haley.

Mr. Swell, the subject of this sketch, died
June 8, 1889. He married Laura R. Quigg, of
Bradford, Massachusells, July 20, 1854, and Ihey
had one son, Leonard H. Swett. March 5, 1886,
his wife died, and July 14, 1887, he married
Marie A. H. Decker, who survives him.

Leonard Swett was the second son and fourth
child of his parents, and they conceived Ihe idea,
al an early dale, of giving him a beller educalion
than the lown afforded, consequenlly he was senl
to selecl schools in Ihe vicinity, and completed
his educalion al North Yarmouth Academy and
Waterville College, now Colby Universily. He
then read law for two years with Messrs. How-
ard & Shepley, at Portland, Maine, and slarled
in the world lo seek his fortune. Al firsl he
Iraveled in Ihe South for nearly a year, then, with
the spirit of adventure, he volunteered as a sol-
dier in Ihe Mexican War, and was under General
Scoll from Vera Cruz lo Ihe City of Mexico.
The war closed in May, 1848, when Mr. Swell
relurned and seltled al Bloomington, Illinois. He
commenced the praclice of his profession in Ihe
fall of 1849, and gave lo that profession the labor
of a life. He was in indifferent health, on ac-
count of a disease conlracled in Mexico, which
rendered il impraclicable for him lo sil in an office



LEONARD SWETT.



75



and do office work, and, therefore, at first he
commenced to travel the circuit. The bar of that
circuit, the eighth at that time, embraced many
men of marked ability, some of whom have since
acquired a national reputation. David Davis,
since distinguished as a judge of the supreme
court and a senator of the United States, was the
judge from 1849 to 1862. Abraham Lincoln, for
two years a member of congress, and afterwards
known to the world as the martyred President
and the emancipator of a race, was one of its
lawyers. Edward D. Baker, a member of con-
gress from the Sangamoii District, also afterward
from the Galena District, later a distinguished
citizen of California, and a senator of the United
States from Oregon, who died leading his men at
the battle of Ball's Bluff, in the Civil War, was
also one of its lawyers. There were also Edward
Hannagan and Daniel W. Voorhees, since sena-
tors from Indiana, who attended the eastern part
of the circuit, and Stephen T. Logan, John T.
Stuart, U. F. Linder and Oliver L. Davis. The
sessions commenced the ist of September, and
ended about the ist of January. The spring
circuit commenced about February and ended in
June. In a life with these men and upon this
circuit, Mr. Swett spent his time from 1849 to
1862. The lawyers would arrive at a county seat
of from five hundred to two thousand inhabitants,
and the clients and public came in from the coun-
try adjoining at about the same time. The law-
yers were employed in such suits as were then
pending in court, and the trials were immediately
begun. After from three days to a week spent
in this manner, the court would adjourn and the
cavalcade start for the adjoining county seat, when
the same processes would be repeated. Twice
a year fourteen counties were traversed in this
way, and in this manner Mr. Swett received his
earlier legal education. David Davis, in a speech
at Springfield, said in substance that this time
constituted the bright spot of his life. In this
expression he would doubtless be joined by every
man named, most of whom now live beyond the
river.

In 1865 Mr. Swett moved to Chicago, where
he soon acquired a prominent and leading position



as a lawyer. During his life in the country, in
Illinois, he took an active part in politics, taking
part in the agitation of the slavery question, and
canvassed nearly the whole state in the years
1852, 1854, 1856, 1858 and 1860. He, however,
held but one office, which was that of member of
the legislature, in 1858 and 1859, and this was at
the special request of Lincoln himself, to save to
the latter the vote of McLean County. That
county at the previous election had been carried
by four votes. Lincoln thought Swett could be
elected, and asked him to run. He did so, car-
rying the county by nearly five hundred majority.
He then engaged earnestly in the work of secur-
ing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for Pres-
ident, writing to public men and organizing other
workers. The three men who did more than all
others to make Mr. Lincoln the nominee in 1860
were Leonard Swett, David Davis and Norman
B. Judd; and the two men who were closest of all
to Mr. Lincoln until his death were Swett and
Davis. Norman B. Judd was given a foreign
mission, David Davis was made supreme judge,
but Leonard Swett declined to take office under
the administration. He was closer to Lincoln's
innermost thoughts and sympathies than any man
in the world. He was much like Lincoln in per-
son, complexion and manner, so much so that he
was often mistaken for the President in Washing-
ton, and he was much of the Lincoln mould, in-
tellectually.

It has often been remarked that intimate as
Lincoln was with Leonard Swett, he never gave
him any office, and Swett was often asked the
reason why. He always evaded the question,
but, in a letter to W. H. Herndon, the author of
the ' ' Life of Lincoln ," written a short time before
Mr. Swett died, the latter explained this fact:
When David Davis was a candidate for the su-
preme bench, soon after Lincoln's election to the
presidency, he was opposed by a senator of great
influence, named Browning, whom Lincoln was
almost ready to appoint. Leonard Swett was a
warm friend of David Davis, and, going to the
president, he said: " If you will give that place
to Davis I will take it as one-half for him and
one-half for myself, and never again will ask you



7 6



LEONARD SWETT.



for anything." David Davis got the appoint-
ment, and Leonard Swett was true to his word.
He said, not long before his death, that he was
always glad he kept out of office.

After his removal to Chicago, he devoted him-
self exclusively to his profession, and absolutely
ignored politics. Mr. Swett was distinguished as
successful in the trial of causes, in fact, he did
little else during his professional life. In Chicago
the most important cases were intrusted to him,
and it was a rare thing that he lost one of them.
The reason of this was, that he attended to the
details of the preparation personally, himself see-
ing and talking with his witnesses, so that when
the cause was heard in court it fitted together
"without noise of axe or hammer."

His business, in the main, was in civil cases;
for instance, Thomas A. Scott, during the war,
employed him for the Quicksilver Mining Com-
pany to go to California to get possession of
the great quicksilver mine near San Jose, after
an adverse decision in reference to the Almaden
claim. This country acquired by the treaty of
Guadeloupe Hidalgo, at the close of the Mexican
War, a large tract of land, now embracing many
States and Territories, described by boundaries,
and our Government agreed, wherever individu-
als owned lands within these boundaries, it would
issue to such parties a patent. Under the Mexi-
ican law there were two kinds of titles, a mineral
title, or a right to what the land contained under
the surface, and a surface title. One man might
own one title and another man the other. We
have but one, the surface, and one owning that
owns all above and below. The Barons had a
mineral title to what they called the Almaden
mine, and had made, prior to the decision, im-
mense improvements. Justos Larios owned the
surface title, and this was bought, and the Quick-
silver Mining Company was organized upon this
title. In 1863 the Supreme Court of the United
States decided that the Baron title was a forgery.
The quicksilver claim of Justos Larios had not
been heard, and this left this property of immense
value belonging either to the Government or to
the quicksilver company. A contract was made
between the Government and the quicksilver



company, by which a possession might be taken,
which should be joint as between the Government
and said mining company, and Mr. Swett was
appointed by President Lincoln to go to California
and acquire this joint possession, it being under-
stood that he would offer the Barons one million
dollars for their improvements. It was also a con-
dition of this agreement that the proceeds of the
mine should be deposited in the mint at San Fran-
cisco until the termination of the litigation between
the Government and the Quicksilver Mining Com-
pany. He went to California, arriving there
May 19, 1863, and leaving September 14, having,
by aid of the courts and negotiations, secured the
possession of the mine. Although Mr. Swett
maintained a large office at Chicago, he, occasion-
ally, at home and abroad, defended persons from
criminal accusations, when the defense presented
something attractive. In the vindication of honor,
or if, upon the common frailty of the race, an act
was done, he was a most accomplished and effect-
ive advocate for the accused. He dealt, like a
mental philosopher, with the purposes of the
mind of the accused, and revealed to the compre-
hension of the court and jury the mysterious in-
fluences which produced the act of the party.
He tried the will, purpose and intent, and not the
mere physical act upon which the charge was
founded. His mind delighted in the beautiful
philosophy of the law; he dealt with its spirit, not
with its letter. In this manner, in thirty-six
years, he defended twenty men for murder, en-
tirely clearing eighteen and two escaping with
light punishment in the penitentiary.

He was called out of the city in criminal cases
from Hartford, Connecticut, to defend the officers
of the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company for
conspiracy; to Denver, where, with Hon. Thomas
Patterson, he defended Stickney, who shot a man
in a fit of jealousy, killing also a young and at-
tractive woman; and to Yankton, where he de-
fended Wintermute for the killing of McCook.

His style in a trial was simply the abnegation
of every consideration except winning that case.
To this he sacrificed everything. His style of
speaking was earnest and convincing. He was
the Chicago counsel for the Union Mutual Life



LEONARD SWETT.



77



Insurance Company, of Maine, and distinguished
himself by gaining a suit for that company against
the Chicago University, which had become fa-
mous in the legal reports for its knotty problems
of law and equity.

On the 2ist of June, 1888, he made the nom-
inating speech for Walter Q. Gresham for Presi-
dent of the United States. Mr. Swett's address
was an independent utterance, touching in an
extremely effective manner the salient qualities
of the individual eulogized, and also those points
in his public career which had brought him so
prominently before the people as a possible presi-
dential candidate.

In private life Mr. Swett was a man of social
disposition and strong attachments. He was a
pleasant companion and a warm and steadfast
friend, and was generous almost to a fault. His
nature was kind, genial and sympathetic, and his
social intercourse was enlivened by so many gen-
erous and endearing qualities, that it won for him
the affectionate regard of those who knew him
intimately to an extraordinary degree. In person
he was imposing; six feet two inches in height,
and weighing, when in health, two hundred and
twenty-five pounds or more. He possessed a
strong face, with heavy, bushy, black eyebrows,
over-hanging deep-set brown eyes, sparkling and
brilliant, but kindly withal. An expansive, in-
tellectual forehead betokened his strength of
character. His voice was extremely rich and
musical, and always pleasant to listen to.

The Chicago Bar, by Frank B. Wilkie, said of
him the following:

' ' As a speaker he had few or no superiors at
the bar. He required scarcely any preparation to
make a speech on any subject. He saw a case
clearly, and had the faculty of presenting it with
equal clearness. He had that tendency toward
amplification found in all true orators, and by
whose aid he presented a single point in so many
salient aspects, that it became as apparent as sun-
light to his auditory. This ability to not only
clearly present a point, but to restate it and reit-
erate it under a slightly changed form up to a



boundary where it becomes thoroughly under-
stood, and yet, which is not carried beyond into
the region of verbosity and tiresome and useless
reiteration, is one of a high order, and it is one
which Mr. Swett seemed to possess to perfection.
Its due and judicious exercise requires an accur-
ate knowledge of the men whom it is employed
upon, and the precise ideas and illustrations which
are demanded by their comprehension. Mr. Swett
had all these qualities, and the additional one of
being an excellent logician and an admirable
manager, who thus not only knew what should
be presented, but the very best form in which the
presentation should be made.

" Possibly the not least remarkable feature of
his oratorical power was his ability to employ
pathos. Herein, when occasion required, he rose
to a most effective level. He was both rhetorical
and natural in this direction, the former being to
some extent a sequence to the latter, in that he
felt what he said, and therein, as usually happens,
was eloquent. He was exceedingly happy in the
use of this powerful element. When in this mood
he smote the rock of men's hidden emotions, and
obediently, as in the case of Moses, the waters
gushed forth in response to the summons. From
the possession of this subtle power to touch ef-
fectively men's emotional natures, Mr. Swett had
what the world would suspect from seeing him,
and that was a powerful element of poetry in his
character. This was true; and its existence was
not only the source of his power to touch the
hearts of others, but it refined his nature and
gave him a chivalry that exhibited itself in a lofty
regard for women, an integrity in business mat-
ters that could not be disturbed, and a kindly con-
sideration that leavened all his intercourse with
others. In fine, the poetical quality, while it in-
troduced no element of effeminacy in his char-
acter, while it did not detract from his masculine
vigor or interfere with his comprehensive ability,
softened his naturally rugged make-up, and gave
him an efficient refinement." Leonard Swett was
one of nature's noblemen, and worthy to be re-
membered as Abraham Lincoln's most trusted
friend.



LESLIE LEWIS.



LESLIE LEWIS.



I ESLIE LEWIS, who is assistant superin-
I C tendent of schools of the city of Chicago,
l~/ has been one of the prime factors in the de-
velopment of the comprehensive school system of
the city. Coming from a direct line of educated
and refined ancestors, Mr. Lewis has devoted his
entire life to educational work. He was born at
Otsego, New York, December 10, 1838. When
Leslie was ten years of age, his father, Corydon
Lewis, removed his family, consisting of his wife
and three children, to Freeport, Illinois.

Leslie Lewis was graduated from the Freeport
High School, and subsequently attended for two
years Phillips Academy, at Andover, Massachu-
setts. After completing the course at the last-
named institution in 1862, he was graduated from
a four years' course at Yale College, finishing in
1866. He soon after accepted a position as
principal of the Washington Academy. In Sep-
tember, 1867, he was elected principal of the old
Dearborn School, Chicago, which was on Madison
Street, opposite McVicker's Theater. Mr. Lewis
was next made principal of the Haven School,
which position he held until 1876, when he
resigned to enable him to take up the duties of
superintendent of schools of Hyde Park, to which
office he had previously been elected.

He had taken up his residence in this town a
short time before the fire of 1871, having pre-
viously resided in a house which was located
near where the Lelaud Hotel now stands. He
has been re-elected to the office mentioned every
year since that time, but the office became
subordinate to the city of Chicago when Hyde
Park was annexed, in 1889. He has now held
the office twenty-two years, and under his super-
vision the growth in number of pupils, as well



as number and quality of teachers, has been
phenomenal. The examinations were not so rigid
then as now, and as teachers were not so numer-
ous, the requirements were less. Over five thou-
sand teachers, who have passed through the pres-
ent rigid system of examinations, are at present
employed. The school buildings have been
greatly improved, and in the place of wooden
and poorly ventilated buildings, stand fine brick
structures of the most modern pattern. The
schools are now conducted with the view to fur-
thering the physical as well as mental welfare of
the pupils.

Leslie Lewis was married to Miss Mary E.,
daughter of John Waterman, of Chicago. She
was born in Grafton, Worcester County, Mas-
sachusetts, her father being a native of Vermont.
Mrs. Lewis is the mother of two children, Mary
Catherine and Susan Whipple, who are now
young ladies.

The Lewis family is of very old American
stock, and the grandfather of Leslie Lewis served
with distinction in the War of the Revolution.
His name was Justus Lewis, and his son, Corydon
Lewis, was the father of Leslie, whose name
heads this article.

Mr. Lewis is a thorough-bred American, and
believes in upholding, at any price, the good
name of his country. He is a man of sturdy
character, and believes that -what is worth doing
at all is worth doing well. He affiliates with the
Republican party in national politics, but in
municipal matters is always thoroughly inde-
pendent. He owns his pleasant residence at No.
5605 Madison Avenue. Being a man of pleasant
personality, he is alike beloved by friends and
relatives.




ELISHA GRAY



EUSHA GRAY.



79



ELISHA GRAY.



QROF. EUSHA GRAY, whose inventive
LX genius and persevering industry have played
Y$ no inconspicuous part in revolutionizing the
business methods of the modern world, bears in
his veins the sturdy and vigorous blood of some
of America's founders. His grandfather, John
Gray, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was a
farmer in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where
he died. Mary Moore, wife of John Gray, was a
native of Delaware, presumably of English blood.
She survived her husband and moved, with her
younger children, to the vicinity of Georgetown,
Ohio, and afterward to Monroe County, in the
same State, where she died. She was the mother
of Thomas, Elijah, Elisha, David, John and
Samuel Gray.

David Gray was an Orthodox Quaker; a quiet
man, of noble character, and beloved by all who
came within his benign influence. He was a
fanner, and lived near Barnesville, Ohio, whence
he moved to Monroe County, in that State, where
he died, in 1849, in the prime of life, at the age
of about forty years. His wife, Christiana Edg-
ertoti, was a native of Belmont County, Ohio,
where her parents, Richard and Mary (Hall)
Edgerton, were early settlers. Richard Edgerton
was born in North Carolina, of English descent,
and was a prominent member of the Society of
Friends. The family was noted for the large size
of its members, all being six feet or more in
height. They were also brainy people. John
Edgerton was a noted leader of the "Hicksite"
Quakers, and a powerful anti-slavery agitator in
Ohio and Indiana. His brother, Joseph Edger-
ton, was the leading Orthodox Quaker of his day,
and a great preacher. He was vigorous to the



end of his life, which came after he had attained
the age of eighty years. The Halls were also a
vigorous and intelligent people, and prominent
among the Quakers.

David Gray and wife were well-read and intell-
igent, and engaged in teaching in early life.
Mrs. Gray was liberally educated for that day in
Ohio, and her influence went far in preparing her
son for the prominent part he was destined to
take in the development of modern practical
science. She survived her husband many years,
reaching the venerable age of seventy-eight, and
died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Sarah
Cope, in New Sharon, Iowa.

Elisha Gray was born near Barnesville, Bel-
mont County, Ohio, August 2, 1835. From a
recent work, entitled "Prominent Men of the
Great West, ' ' the following elegant and carefully
prepared account of Professor Gray's life is taken:



Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 11 of 111)