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in 1835, and became one of the leading men in
that locality, and in later years his son George



86



J. M. HANNAHS.



was elected State Senator from Michigan. Will-
iam, another son of Daniel Hannahs, became a
prosperous woolen merchant of New York City.
His son, a law student, immediately after his
graduation from Yale College, raised a company
of cavalry in New York City, in the first month
after the Civil War opened, and took the field.
He was made Captain of this company, but, sad
to relate, was killed in Virginia, in May, 1861.

Chauncey Hannahs, the father of James Mon-
roe, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in the
year 1791, and removed with his parents to New
York State, assisting his father in clearing
up his farm. In later years, in this same lo-
cality, he engaged in the foundry business. In
1835116 removed to Wisconsin, then considered
in the very far West, and located on Government
land in Kenosha County, where the rest of his
days were spent, his demise occurring in 1873,
from old age. While living in New York State
he had been Captain of an artillery company,"
and the title then gained he ever afterwards bore.
In person large and strong, he delighted in out-
door pursuits, and the pioneer life which he
chose on leaving his old home in the East was
one well suited to him in every respect. In his
early life he had been an ardent Whig, but on
the formation of the two great parties of Repub-
licans and Democrats, he allied himself with the
latter, and proved an equally earnest champion
of its principles. In his religious leanings he
was a Presbyterian, his wife being of the same
faith. The latter was born in the year 1793, in
Oneida County, New York, a daughter of Enos
Nichols, a pioneer of that county, where he lived
in a covered wagon until he could erect for him-
self a house in the wilderness. He later became
a pioneer of I,ake County, Illinois, near the Wis-
consin State line, and his family thus became
neighbors of the Hannahs family.

Mrs. Chauucey Hannahs died on the old home-
stead in Kenosha County in 1882, also from old
age. She had been the mother of seven children,
as follows: Mrs. Ann Doolittle, William H.,
James M., Thomas J., Francis G., Frederick, and
Adeline, who died at the age of fourteen years.
A strange and shocking fatality occurred in this



family, no less than six deaths taking place with-
in twenty-two months, three children dying with-
in three days of each other. All who now sur-
vive are James M. and his brother, Francis G.

The subject of this sketch was born June 26,
1821, in Herkimer County, New York, and re-
ceived a common-school education in a little
schoolhouse on the banks of the historic Mohawk
River. On leaving school he entered his father's
foundry to learn the business, and after coming
to Chicago he followed the trade of a foundry-
man in connection with a partner, the firm name
being Hannahs & James. He continued thus en-
gaged until he entered the employ of Wahl
Brothers, manufacturers of glue, with whom he
remained for twenty-five years, during part of
that time representing the firm in New York
City. After leaving Wahl Brothers he was act-
ively engaged in promoting elevated railroads in
Chicago, on a new principle.

July 3, 1851, in Cook County, Illinois, Mr.
Hannahs married Miss Matilda Irish, a daugh-
ter of Perry Irish, and a native of Holley, New
York. Several children were born of this mar-
riage, but all died in infancy. Mrs. Hannahs
died September 19, 1885, in Chicago.

Mr. Hannahs has been for over forty years a
consistent member of the Baptist Church. In re-
gard to politics he is a Republican, having been
a stanch Abolitionist previous to the war. He
is a strong believer in the efficacy of free silver,
and champions his cause with great ardor. While
in the employ of Wahl Brothers, his business led
him to travel extensively throughout the United
States, and he has hosts of friends up and down
the country, as well as in Chicago. Like many
other Chicago business men, he was at one time
a farmer in Cook County, but he yielded to the
superior attractions of city life and sold his farm of
one hundred and sixty acres, which he had bought
for $3 per acre. He has many reminiscences of
early days in Illinois, and has contributed many
interesting articles to Chicago newspapers, de-
scribing the scenes and incidents of early days
in this locality, and noting the stupendous
changes wrought in the face of the country since
he came here, a pioneer of 1836.



JACOB FORSYTH.



JACOB FORSYTH.



(JACOB FORSYTH. In every community,
I no matter how small, the intelligent observer
(~/ will find men who have risen above their
fellows, both in fame and fortune, by sheer force
of character and the ability to seize fortune at the
tide. Though to the casual onlooker there often
has seemed an element of "luck" in the chances
of prosperity which have come to them, a closer
observer will see that it has more often been the
fortunate meeting of the man and the opportunity ;
the opportunity may, perhaps, have occurred
a hundred times before, but the man who should
seize it, and by his ability and energy force results
from it, has never before appeared.

Jacob Forsyth, an old resident of Chicago, and
one of its leading citizens, exemplifies the truth
of the foregoing in a marked degree. Born in the
North of Ireland, of Scotch descent, he possesses
those fortunate characteristics which have placed
so many of his countrymen on the highroad to
success honesty, ambition, energy and resistless
tenacity of purpose. Overlooking the daily dis-
couragements, disappointments and hardships of
their life, they keep ever before them the high
object of their ambition; and if failure instead of
success is their portion, it is through no weaken-
ing of their powers by self-indulgence or idle re-
pining.

In the days of King James I. of England there
sprang up a class of men known as "under-
takers," who, in consideration of certain grants
of land, undertook to locate a specified number of
settlers upon the vast tracts of vacant ground in
northern Ireland. It was at this time that a great
emigration was made from Scotland to this region,
and gave to the world that sturdy, industrious



and highly moral class of people called Scotch-
Irish. Prior to the siege of Londonderry, an
epoch in the history of northern Ireland, the an-
cestors of Jacob Forsyth settled in what is now
the county of Londonderry. They were a rural
people, and, as near as can be learned at the
present time, were engaged in agriculture.

To John Forsyth and his wife, Margaret Cox,
was born a son, whom they christened Jacob. The
latter married Elizabeth Haslette, and their son
John was the father of the subject of this sketch.
John Forsyth married Mary Ann Kerr, a native
of County Londonderry, who was the daughter
of Alexander Kerr and Anne Osborne, the latter
of English descent. The Kerrs were of Scotch
lineage, and very early in Ireland. The parents
of Alexander Kerr were Oliver and Elizabeth
(Wilson) Kerr.

The father of Mr. Forsyth was an intelligent
farmer, and the possessor of a small landed
property. Anxious that his son should have the
' 'schooling' ' which is the ambition of most of his
countrymen, he sent him to a celebrated private
academy, the principal of which was a famous
Greek and Latin scholar and a renowned
mathematician, in his vicinity. Possessing the
studious inclination and the quick perceptions of
an apt scholar, the youth profited greatly by his
attendance here, and the proficiency he ac-
quired in penmanship gained for him his first
position in America.

Jacob Forsyth was born January 12, 1821, at
the old town of Limavady, near the present rail-
road station and thriving village in County Lon-
donderry, Ireland, known as Newtown, Limavady.
Filled with the ambitious spirit which builds



88



JACOB FORSYTH.



cities and develops the commercial possibilities of
the world, he set out for the United States at the
age of fifteen years. Settling in Pittsburg, Penn-
sylvania, he there first found employment as
copying clerk and errand boy for the great com-
mission and forwarding house of Forsyth & Corn-
pan y , a member of which firm was a near relative.
The firm was the oldest commission house in the
city, and owned a large fleet of steamers, running
on various western rivers. In those days the
copying book had not been invented, and all let-
ters had to be copied by hand, and this work fell
to young Forsyth. By the interest he took in
his work, and the care with which everything
entrusted to him to do was performed, he soon
won his way into the confidence of his employers,
and was promoted from one responsible position
to another, until he had attained that of head
bookkeeper.

Mr. Forsyth remained with Forsyth & Com-
pany for fifteen years altogether, and at the end
of that time his abilities had become so well
known outside of the concern that he was offered
several other advantageous positions. Accepting
one of these, he became the Through Freight
Agent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, with head-
quarters in Chicago, and by this means became a
permanent resident of this city in 1857. After a
few years' service in this capacity, he accepted
the position of General Western Agent for the old
"Erie" Road.

About this time, his business giving him op-
portunities for observing the prevailing real-es-
tate conditions, he became impressed with the
excellent opportunities to buy land cheaply; and
with a premonition of the growth of the city, and
the consequent rise in land values, he resigned
his position and began to invest largely in real
estate. His wife had inherited a large amount
of land in L,ake County, Indiana, from her brother,
George W. Clarke, who died in 1866, and to this
Mr. Forsyth added by purchasing the holdings
of small owners in the vicinity, until he had ac-
quired ten thousand acres, a large estate for this
land of comparatively small holdings. He had
the shrewdness to buy this so as to form one im-
mense tract, arguing that one large tract would



possess more value than the same amount in scat-
tered portions. During subsequent years he ex-
perienced much annoyance and was caused many
years' litigation in his efforts to expel squatters
from the tract. They were very numerous
around Lakes George and Wolf at the time, and
their dislodgment was a matter of much difficulty.
Mr. Forsyth was in litigation for five years before
he finally obtained redress, and during this time
read book after book on land decisions and the
question of riparian rights, on which he is now
one of the best-posted men in the country, and
able to give information to many an intelligent
attorney in that line of practice.

When, finally, a decree was pronounced in his
favor, he sold eight thousand acres of his land to
the East Chicago Improvement Company for one
million dollars, one-third of which sum was paid
down. The company, however, failed to meet
subsequent payments, and as a compromise the
present Canal and Improvement Company was
formed in 1887. From this Mr. Forsyth ac-
cepted as reimbursement part cash, a large
amount of bonds, and some stock in the company.
In 1881 he bought another large tract on the
lake shore, lying directly north of the present
site of East Chicago, and in 1889 he sold a por-
tion of this to the Standard Oil Company, and
on it has since been built its large plant, known
as Whiting. The limits of the city of Chicago
having been extended to the Indiana line, across
which lies Mr. Forsyth's land, the latter has been
consequently enhanced in value, and has been
greatly benefited thereby.

AtUniontown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Forsyth mar-
ried Miss Caroline M. Clarke, daughter of Robert
Clarke, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, who
has borne her husband nine children, five sons
and four daughters, all of whom are living.
The family occupies a handsome, comfortable
house on Michigan Avenue, and the home is per-
vaded by an air of taste and refinement which
is not always an element in the homes of the rich.

In politics Mr. Forsyth is a Republican, a
stanch advocate of his party's men and principles,
though, owing to the stress of his extensive busi-
ness interests, he has never found it convenient



T. T. PROSSER.



89



to take an active part in political affairs. Had
he done so, and brought the same energy and
discernment to bear that he has displayed in the
management of his private interests, it is safe to say
that he would have made his mark in the political
world, as he has made it in the business affairs of
his adopted city.

In appearance Mr. Forsyth is a large, well-



proportioned man, with a kindly, shrewd face,
the true index of a man who has lived an honest,
helpful and kindly life. Though bearing the
weight of seventy-five years and the responsi-
bilities which the possession of great wealth al-
ways brings, he is elastic in mind and body, and
bids fair to live to an extreme old age.



TREAT T. PROSSER.



"REAT T. PROSSER. There are few tasks
more difficult than to sketch the life of an
inventor. The world is so jealous of inno-
vation and improvement upon established meth-
ods, so wedded to the past, and withal so disin-
clined to recognize the brilliancy of more prac-
tical genius, that the man who discovers de-
ficiencies in practical mechanics and supplies them
often goes to his grave unrewarded, even by the
gratitude of the world he has benefited. He
hears the name of the warrior, of the statesman,
of the poet, even of the politician, in every
household or business mart, but often his own, if
mentioned at all, as of one who is building cas-
tles in the air.

But gifted innovators, while deeply feeling the
lack of appreciation, have often adopted the sen-
timent of Keplar, who said: "My work is done;
it can well wait a century for its readers, since
God waited full six thousand years before there
came a man capable of comprehending and admir-
ing His work." Now and then, however, genius
is so practical, and its fruits contrast so brilliantly
with what has preceded, that it compels almost
instantaneous recognition and homage, and
among the fortunate possessors of the latter class
was the subject of this article, the late Treat T.
Prosser.



The Prossers are of Welsh descent, but the
Treats, from whom Mr. Prosser was descended
on the maternal side, were English. The first
ancestors of the former family to come to America
were two brothers, who came from Wales some
time prior to the Revolutionary War, in which
supreme contest two of their descendants partici-
pated, and one met his death. The family lived
on Prosser Hill, just outside of Boston, and it
was in the Prosser barn that the members of the
historic Boston "tea party" disguised themselves
as Indians, previous to throwing the tea over-
board into Boston Harbor. Grandfather John
Prosser was one of the two members of the family
mentioned previously as having served in the
struggle with the Mother Country. He married
Bethia Truesdale, daughter of a Connecticut phy-
sician, and had eight sons and one daughter.

Of these children, Potter A. Prosser, the father
of Treat T. , married Eliza, a daughter of Timo-
thy Treat, whose son, a physician, became famous
through the services he rendered during the
great cholera epidemic. The Treat family came
from Pitminster, Somerset, England. Richard
Treat was baptized in 1584. Among the prom-
inent descendants are Gov. Robert Treat, and
Rev. Samuel Treat, of Pitminster. The father's
birth occurred August n, 1793, and the mother



T. T. PROSSER.



was born March 29, 1798. Their marriage was
solemnized on the 5th of November, 1818, and
of their union were born five children. The
mother, a woman of many domestic virtues and
lovable traits of character, died at the compara-
tively early age of fifty-five years, but the father
lived to the great age of ninety-six.

Treat T. Prosser was born in the little town of
Avon, New York, January 22, 1827. His youth
and early manhood were passed in his native
State, and his early education was received in its
common schools. After reaching his majority he
attended the academy at West Avon, feeling the
need of a more thorough school training before
starting out to earn his own way in life. Always
handy in the use of tools, at the early age of
fourteen he had been engaged at the trade of a
millwright, in which he soon became a proficient
workman. But while his hands were busily
engaged at this work, his thoughts were wander-
ing out upon the whole broad domain of mechan-
ical science, and his studies at the academy were
for the purpose of fitting himself for the career to
which all his talents and his inclinations urged
him.

From the young millwright developed an
inventor of agricultural implements of great
value; of a superior system of machinery for the
manufacture of bolts; of universally recognized
improvements upon steam engines; of a practical
and widely used machine for pegging boots; of
coal machinery; of the Prosser Cylinder Car, and
of -many other mechanical devices, which either
are now, or will become in the future, of great
benefit to mankind. He drew the plans for the
Chicago Hydraulic Company, which built the
first water-works system in Chicago.

In 1851 Mr. Prosser came to Chicago, and the
wisdom' of his choice of a location was demon-
strated long ago. No other city has ever opened
such welcoming arms to men of genius as has
she, nor out of her own prosperity rewarded them
so bountifully. The great fire of 1871 found him
among its victims, and he lost the greater part of
the accumulations of years; but financial loss is
one of the minor evils to a man who has within
himself the power to mould, in a great measure,



his own destiny, and is no mere inert mass, lying
helpless under the buffetings of the winds of ill-
fortune. The energy which was one of jthe
marked points in his character asserted itself, and
his days were ended in the prosperity he deserved.

From 1851 until the date of his death, Decem-
ber n, 1895, Mr. Prosser made Chicago his home,
with the exception of two years spent in the
Rocky Mountains, six years in Boston, and a
short vacation spent in Europe. He was the first
man to introduce the steam engine and the
quartz-mill into the Rockies, the engine being
constructed of material shipped from the East, the
boiler being literally built in that wild region.
While in Europe he was elected a member of the
Society of Mechanics of England and Scotland,
an honor which speaks of his high merits as a
mechanical engineer.

In West Bloomfield, New York, September 26,
1849, Mr. Prosser married Miss Lucy J. Phillips,
and of their union two children were born:
Henry Blinn Prosser, of Chicago; and Mary
Augusta, wife of Oscar E. Poole, of Lakeside,
Illinois. Mrs. Prosser was the daughter of Isaac
Webster Phillips, a relative of the famous Web-
ster family, his mother being a sister of Noah
Webster's father. Isaac Phillips was a native of
Hartford, Connecticut, but removed to West
Bloomfield, where he served as Justice of the
Peace, and was commonly known as Judge Phil-
lips. He came to Chicago late in life, and died
at the home of Mrs. Prosser, at the age of sev-
enty-two years. His wife, whose maiden name
was Laura Miller, reached the advanced age of
ninety-two years.

Closely wedded to his profession, Mr. Prosser
generally refused the responsibilities of official
positions, but made an exception to this rule after
the Great Fire, when he acted as superintendent
of the distribution of food to the destitute in
Districts Four and Five. These duties he filled
in an energetic and impartial manner, which
accorded well with the other actions of his well-
spent life. In his politics he voted with the
Republican party.

Oscar E. Poole, who married Mr. Prosser's only
daughter, was born January 18, 1857, i n Will



J. W. LARIMORE.



County, Illinois, and is a son of Ezra and Eliza
Treat Poole, pioneers in Will County, where they
settled in 1850. He received his principal educa-
tion in Joliet, where his guardian lived. His
father died when he was but one and a-half years
old, and his mother died when he was ten
years old. His boyhood was spent in Joliet.
At the age of eighteen years he became a clerk in
his uncle's store, and three years later became a
partner. At the age of twenty-two he entered the
employ of the State, in the capacity of storekeeper



at the State Penitentiary, remaining a number of
years in that position. From there he went to
Chicago, where he first started a milk business
and then became a traveling salesman for Kinney
& Company, aud, later, their manager. He finally
bought out the business, and it is now conducted
under the name of Poole & Company. Mr. Poole
was married, February 27, 1885, to Miss Mary
Augusta Prosser, who is the mother of four
children now living: Edward Prosser, Helen
Irene, Lucy Eliza and Malcolm Alan Poole.



PROF. JAMES W. LARIMORE.



(I AMES WILSON LARIMORE, who died
I suddenly of heart failure at his home in Chi-
Q) cago, May 30, 1894, was for many years
prominent in the literary, social and religious
work of the city. He was born in Steubenville,
Ohio, May 6, 1834, and was a son of Joseph and
Mary Jane (Wilson) Larimore, both also natives
of that place. The earliest progenitors of the
family known were French Huguenots, who fled
from their native land after the cruel revocation
of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV., locating
in Scotland. There the name was difficult of
pronunciation on the Scotch tongue, and from
"Laird o' the Moor," the name gradually came
to its present form.

The first settlement of the family in Amer-
ica was made in Chester County, Pennsyl-
vania, where David Larimore, grandfather of
the subject of this sketch, was born March 31,
1782. For many generations the Larimores had
been distinguished for literary tastes and attain-
ments, and David Larimore was no exception to
the rule. He was a man of affairs, and conserved



the family estates, which were considerable. He
died at Norristown, Pennsylvania, March 16,
1857, having almost completed his seventy-fifth
year.

James Wilson, father of Mrs. Mary J. Lari-
more, came of a Scotch-Irish family, which has
borne a prominent part in the literary and social
life of the United States, furnishing many not-
able statesmen, attorneys and generals to the
Nation. This family is also a strong factor in
the literary life of America, and Professor Lari-
more inherited talents from both lines of ances-
tors.

The youth of the latter was spent at Niles,
Michigan, whither his parents removed when he
was two years old. He early manifested a fond-
ness for books, and most of his life up to the age
of twenty-six years was spent in school. He
was sent, in 1852, to Olivet Institute, in Eaton
County, Michigan. Having an uncle in the
faculty of the Hampton and Sidney College in
southern Virginia, he was induced to go there.
He remained some time, but the climate did not



J. W. LARIMORE.



agree with him. Consequently, he decided to
finish his education at the North. He took a
course at the University of New York City, which
graduated him in the Class of 1860. He had a
thorough theological education, having spent a
year at Union Theological Seminar}', later taking a
full course at Princeton Theological Seminary,
Princeton, New Jersey, preparatory to entering
the Presbyterian ministry. He preached most of
the time, supplying different churches during the
latter part of his theological studies, his first
regular ' 'call' ' being to one of the largest and
most important churches at that time in Albany,
New York, the Third Dutch Reformed. He had,
however, a decided preference for life in the grow-
ing West, and became pastor of the First Presbyte-
rian Church of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Under his
able ministry, this soon became the largest so-
ciety of that denomination west of the Mississippi
River. In 1863 he accepted the Chaplaincy of
the Ninth Iowa Cavalry, at the earnest solicita-
tion of his particular friend, Adjutant- General
Baker, of Iowa, and at once went into the field
with the regiment, spending most of the time in
the Department of Little Rock, Arkansas, being
Post Chaplain at De Vails Bluff. Just before the
death of President Lincoln, in 1865, he was by
him brevetted Major, and also assigned to the
position of Hospital Chaplain in the regular
United States army. He resigned his position



Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 13 of 111)