John Morley.

Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) online

. (page 59 of 111)
Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 59 of 111)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ler, and died in 1823; their son, Christian, born
in 1788, of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, mar-
ried Ann Custer, of Montgomery County, and
died in 1843; their son, John C., in 1843, married
Elizabeth Eberly, of Cumberland County, Penn-
sylvania; and their eldest son, Samuel E., is
the subject of this biography.

Through his great-grandmother, Rachel Sah-
ler, wife of Capt. John Gross of Revolutionary
fame, Samuel E. Gross is directly descended from
Matthew Blanshan, Louis Dubois and Christian
Deyo, Huguenots of France, who, like Jacob de
Gros, at the time of the persecution, removed to


the Palatinate in Germany, and thence emigrated
to America in the middle of the seventeenth cen-
tury. Matthew Blanshan and his family were the
first of the refugees to try their fate in the New
World, sailing from the Palatinate April 27, 1660.
Louis Dubois and Christian Deyo soon followed,
and were two of the twelve patentees who, in
1677, obtained title to all the lands in Eastern
New York State lying between the Shawangunk
Mountains and the Hudson River, and were in-
strumental in founding New Paltz and Kingston
in Ulster County.

Rachel Sahler was the daughter of Abraham
Sahler and Elizabeth Dubois. Her mother, Eliza-
beth Dubois, was the daughter of cousins, Isaac
Dubois and Rachel Dubois. Isaac Dubois, her
father, was the son of Solomon Dubois, and her
mother, Rachel Dubois, was the daughter of Sol-
omon Dubois' eldest brother, Abraham. The
mother of Rachel Dubois was Margaret Deyo,
daughter of Christian Deyo, the patentee. Abra-
ham Dubois, Rachel's father, and Solomon Du-
bois, her husband's father, were both sons of
Louis Dubois, the patentee and founder of New
Paltz, and his wife, Catherine Blanshan, daugh-
ter of Matthew Blanshan, the first of these Hugue-
not arrivals.

In 1846, Mr. Gross came with his parents to
Illinois, and after residing for a time in Bureau
County removed to Carroll County. His early ed-
ucation was acquired in the district schools, and
he afterwards attended Mt. Carroll Seminary.
Prompted by patriotic impulses, he enlisted in his
country's service on the breaking out of the late
war, although only seventeen years of age. He
joined the Forty-first Illinois Infantry, and took
part in the Missouri campaign, but was then mus-
tered out by reason of the strong objections made
by his parents to his sendee, on account of his
youth. He spent the following year as a student
in Whitehall Academy, Cumberland County,
Pennsylvania, but in June, 1863, he again left
school, for the Confederates had invaded the Key-
stone State and he could no longer remain quiet-
ly at his books. On the 2gth of June he was made
First Lieutenant of Company D, Twentieth Penn-
sylvania Cavalry, being one of the youngest offi-

cers of that rank in the army. His faithful and
valiant service won him promotion to the rank of
Captain of Company K, February 17, 1864. He
participated in many of the important battles of
the eastern campaign, and when the war was
over was mustered out at Cloud Mills, Virginia,
July 13, 1865.

At this time Chicago was becoming a city of
prominence and gave rich promise for a brilliant
future. Attracted by its prospects, Mr. Gross
here located in September, 1865, and entered Un-
ion Law College. The following year he was ad-
mitted to the Bar, entering at once upon practice.
In the mean time, however, he had invested a
small capital in real estate. He built upon his
lots in 1867, and as his undertakings in this di-
rection met with success, he gave more and more
attention to the business. He was instrumental
in the establishment of the park and boulevard
system in the winter of 1869. When the great
fire broke out in 1871, and Mr. Gross saw that his
office would be destroyed, he hastily secured his
abstracts, deeds and other valuable papers, as
many as he could get, and, putting them in a row-
boat, carried them to a tug. When the flames
had completed their disastrous work, he returned
to the old site of his office and resumed business.
A financial depression from 1873 until 1879 fol-
lowed the boom, and Mr. Gross gave his time to
the study of politics, science, and to literary

On the revival of trade, Mr. Gross determined
to devote his entire time to real-estate interests,
and to the southwest of the city founded several
suburbs. In 1882, to the north, he began what
has now become Gross Park. In 1883, he began
the work which has made him a public benefac-
tor, that of building homes for people of moderate
means, and the selling the same to them on time.
Thus many a family has secured a comfortable
home, where otherwise their wages would have
been expended in rent, and in the end they would
have had nothing to show for it. Unimproved
districts under his transforming hand became pop-
ulated and flourishing neighborhoods. In 1886,
Mr. Gross founded the town of Brookdale; platted
Calumet Heights and Dauphin Park the following



year, and platted a forty-acre subdivision on Ash-
land Avenue. A large district near Humboldt
Park was improved by him, and some three hun-
dred houses were built near Archer Avenue and
Thirty-ninth Street. The beautiful town of Gross-
dale has been one of his most successful ventures.
He established the town one mile west of River-
side, and beautiful drives, lovely homes, churches,
a theatre and fine walks make this one of Chica-
go" s best suburbs. He has also recently founded
the beautiful town of Hollywood, and during the
last twelve years he has founded sixteen thriving
suburban towns and cities. His fortune is esti-
mated at $3,000,000, or over, and although his
reputation is that of a multi-millionaire the United
Workingmen's societies showed their confidence
in him by nominating him to the mayoralty in
1889, an honor which from press of private busi-
ness he was obliged to decline.

Constantly has the business of Mr. Gross in-
creased, until his dealings have reached the mill-
ions. He buys property outright, and then sells
as the purchasers feel that they can pay. It is
said that he has never foreclosed a mortgage, and
his kindliness, forbearance and generosity have
won for him the love and confidence of the poorer
people and the high regard of all.

Mr. Gross was married in January, 1874, to

Miss Emily Brown, a lady of English descent.
He is a member of the Chicago Club, the Union
Club, the Washington Park, the Athletic, Mar-
quette and Iroquois Clubs. He is a patron of the
Art Institute and the Humane Society, and his
support is given to other benevolent organizations.
He holds membership with the Chicago Union
Veteran Club; U. S. Grant Post No. 28, G. A.
R.; the Western Society Army of the Potomac,
and the Sons of the American Revolution.

In 1886, Mr. Gross made a trip to Europe,
spending four months in visiting the leading cit-
ies and points of interest in that continent. He
also made investigations concerning city develop-
ment. In 1889, he traveled through Mexico and
the cities on the Pacific Coast, and later in the
year attended the Paris Exposition. In 1892, he
went to Europe once more, and also visited the
Orient. In manner, Mr. Gross is genial, pleas-
ant and entertaining, and the kindliness of his face
at once wins him friends. Although he would
not be called a professing philanthropist, his life
has certainly been characterized by a practical
charity, which has probably proven of more bene-
fit than the acknowledged philanthropic work of
some others. His success in business seems mar-
velous, yet it is but the result of industry, enter-
prise, and careful and well-directed management.


EALVIN DE WOLF, now one of the foremost
citizens of Chicago, is an example of the
manner in which men rise to stations of
wealth and honor through sturdy moral integrity
and unceasing, ambitious toil. His story is that of
a young man who came to Chicago with nothing
in the days of the city's infancy, and by a sustained
effort has grown with the city's growth, until he
is numbered among the representative men of the
' 'great city by the inland sea. ' '

Calvin De Wolf was born in Braintrim, Luzerne
County, Pennsylvania, on the i8th of February,
1815, and was one of the family of fifteen children
of Giles M. De Wolf, a well-to-do farmer. His
father and grandfather were born inPomfret, Con-
necticut, and his more remote ancestors were
among the early settlers in Lyme, Connecticut,
being colonists who came over from Holland, to
which country they had probably been driven from
France (where the family originated) by religious

3 86


persecution. His mother, whose maiden name
was Anna Spaulding, was born in Cavendish, Ver-
mont, and was a descendant of Edward Spaulding,
who settled in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, in


Soon after the birth of Calvin De Wolf, his par-
ents removed to his mother's native place and re-
mained there until he was five years of age, and
then returned to Braintrim, Pennsylvania, from
whence, four years later, they removed to the ad-
joining county of Bradford, where his father pur-
chased a farm in the beech woods of that county.
This farm was covered with heavy timber, the
clearing of which was a task of a different kind
and of much greater magnitude than falls to the
lot of most farmers of the present day. Putting
this land into condition to be sufficiently produc-
tive to support the large family of its owner fur-
nished work for every hand for years.

Calvin De Wolf was the eldest of his father's
sons who lived beyond the infantile period, and
converting the beech forest into tillable land was
a task in which he was required to practice, and
which, with the tilling of the soil, required all his
time except the three winter months, when he at-
tended school until he was twenty-one years of
age. After attaining his majority he made up his
mind to obtain an education, and, under the in-
struction of his father, who was a man of more
than ordinary ability, had a good common-school
education and was well versed in mathematics, he
obtained a good knowledge of arithmetic, algebra
and surveying. He was also assisted to a knowl-
edge of the elements of Latin by a gentleman of
liberal education who lived in the neighborhood.
When he had progressed to this point in educa-
tion, he left home and entered Grand River In-
stitute, in Ash tabula County, Ohio, in 1836. That
institution, then famous throughout eastern Ohio
and western Pennsylvania, was conducted some-
what on the plan of agricultural colleges of the
present day, in that students who desired to do so
could partially support themselves by manual la-
bor and pursue a course of study at the same time.
For a year and a half young De Wolf maintained
himself at this school and fitted himself for teach-
ing; he also presided for a term or two at the peda-

gogue's desk. At all times, however, when op-
portunity offered, he was intent on study and made
the most of his educational opportunities.

Then, as now, the West was looked to as the
land of opportunities and the goal of the ambition
of every aspiring young man. Calvin De Wolf,
with his industrious habits and ambitious desires,
was not content to spend his days in the East, but
looked westward with longing eyes, and in those
days the West was not so far away as now and
Chicago was ihcluded in the term. In the fall of
1837, young De Wolf arranged with a trader who
was making a shipment of fruit by boat from Ash-
tabula to Chicago to pay his passage between the
cities by assisting to load and unload the fruit and
take charge of it in transit, which agreement he
faithfully carried out and, in due time, found him-
self in this city, then covering a small area of ter-
ritory at the mouth of the Chicago River and hav-
ing but one four-story brick building the old
Lake House, then the pride of the West. The
first thing the young man had to do was to look
for employment, for he had come West with very
little money. He hoped to obtain a situation as
teacher in the city schools, and passed the required
examination for license to teach, but his hopes
were disappointed and he had to seek elsewhere,
as there were others whose claims had to be first
considered. Disappointed but not cast down, he
set out on foot across the prairie to seek like em-
ployment in some other locality. After traveling
thirty-five or forty miles, he at last arrived at
Hadley, Will County, Illinois, with only a York
shilling in his pocket. He was more fortunate in
his quest there, and obtained the position of vil-
lage schoolmaster, teaching during the winter of
1837-38, and returning the following spring to
Chicago. Here he again made application for em-
ployment as teacher, and was successful. While
teaching school he also engaged in various other
occupations which were calculated to improve his
financial condition.

In 1838, Mr. De Wolf began the study of law
in the office of Spring & Goodrich, a firm com-
posed of Giles Spring, afterward Judge of the Su-
perior Court of Chicago, and Grant Goodrich, for
many years one of the prominent lawyers of the



city. In 1843, he was examined and admitted to
the Bar by Judge Richard M. Young, and The-
ophilus W. Smith, then sitting on the Supreme
Bench, and immediately after began practice in
this city, which then had a Bar consisting of about
thirty lawyers, a large number of whom became
prominent as jurists in later years. Up to 1854,
Mr. De Wolf was engaged in the active practice
of law. He was then elected Justice of the Peace,
an office which at that time and place was a highly
important and responsible one, as the city was de-
veloping rapidly and the amount of business in-
cident to its growth gave rise to a great deal of
friction, which had to be adjusted in the tribunal of
law. Mr. De Wolf held this office six successive
terms, four by popular election and two by ap-
pointment. The whole period covered was more
than twenty-five years, and more than ninety
thousand cases were disposed of by him, a far
greater number than any other judicial officer in
this State had ever decided. Preliminary exam-
inations in many important cases which afterward
became celebrated in the higher courts were heard
in the earlier years of his magistracy by Judge
De Wolf, as he was then known to the profession
and the public.

Judge De Wolf had been taught from childhood
to hate slavery, and as early as 1839 became Sec-
retary of an anti-slavery society, of which Rev.
Flavel Bascom, a Presbyterian minister, was the
first President, and Judge Manierre, Treasurer,
and of which many of the prominent business and
professional men of the city were earnest and ac-
tive members. In 1842, the Illinois State Anti-
Slavery Society held a meeting in Chicago, at
which an organization was effected to raise funds
for establishing an anti-slavery newspaper in Chi-
cago. Henry L. Fulton, Charles V. Dyer, Shu-
bal D. Childs and Calvin De Wolf were appointed
a committee to collect funds and set the enterprise
on foot, Mr. De Wolf being made Treasurer of the
committee. As a result of their efforts, the West-
em Citizen came into existence, with Z. Eastman
as editor and publisher, and for several years it
was recognized as one of the leading Abolition
newspapers in the country. It was in 1858, that
Mr. De Wolf, in connection with other Abolition-

ists of Chicago, brought down upon himself the
wrath of a disappointed slave-hunter and his sym-
pathizers, who sought to inflict upon him condign
punishment for facilitating the escape of a liberty-
seeking black woman.

Stephen F. Nuckolls was a southern man who
had carried his slaves with him into Nebraska.
One of these slaves, a young negro woman, Eliza,
made her escape, and by some means or other
found her way to Chicago, to which place she was
followed by her master, Nuckolls, who came near
effecting her capture. His scheme was frustrated
by the parties who appeared before Judge De
Wolf, charging him with riotous conduct. Under
the warrant issued from the magistrate's court,
the slave-owner was arrested and locked up for
a few hours, and in the mean time the colored wo-
man made her escape from the city. Nuckolls
carried the matter to the United States Courts, and
succeeded in having the magistrate, Mr. De Wolf,
George Anderson, A. D. Hay ward and C. L.
Jenks indicted for "aiding a negro slave called
Eliza to escape from her master," -she having
been ' 'held as a slave in Nebraska and escaped to
Illinois. ' ' This involved the constitutional ques-
tions as to whether or not slaves could be held
in free territory. The defendants held that the
negro woman was not lawfully held as a slave in
Nebraska, and moved to quash the indictment on
that ground. This motion was never passed upon
by the court, but, in 1861, the case was dismissed
by advice of the Hon. E. C. Larned, United States
District Attorney.

It is almost superfluous to state that a man hold-
ing the radical views of Calvin De Wolf became
identified at the outset of its existence with the
Republican party, and that he still remains in
the ranks of the same organization. But he has
never been an active politician. He served two
terms as a member of the Board of Aldermen ot
Chicago, and from 1856 to 1858 served as Chair-
man of the Committee on Revision and Publication
of Ordinances, where he rendered important service
to the city in codifying and putting the ordinances
in form to be easily referred to, to be generally un-
derstood and easily and systematically enforced.
He retired from the position of Magistrate in 1879,



and is not now engaged in the practice of law, but
devotes his time mainly to the management of his
financial affairs.

Mr. De Wolf is a member of the Presbyterian
Church, and is now one of the Elders of the Sixth
Presbyterian Church of Chicago, in which he is
an influential member, and in the work of which he
bears a prominent part. "Do right" is a motto
which he has made the rule of his life. In the
discharge of his duties as a public official he was

conscientious and upright; as a lawyer, watchful
over his client's interests and honorable in his
dealings with both court and client; in his general
business dealings he has been a man of his word,
upright and honest. His residence in Chicago
from pioneer times has caused him to be well
known, and he is regarded as one of the land-
marks of a generation of sagacious business men
now rapidly passing away.


0R. CALVIN MAY FITCH, one of the oldest
physicians now in active practice in this city,
graduated at the medical department of the
university of New York in 1852, and subse-
quently studied in Europe. He came to Chicago
in 1855, and is therefore in the fortieth year of
his practice in this city. Doctor Fitch was born
January 3, 1829, in Sheldon, Franklin County,
Vermont. His grandfather, Dr. Chauncey Fitch,
married the daughter of Colonel Sheldon, for
whom the town of Sheldon was named, and prac-
ticed there until his death. Colonel Sheldon com-
manded the Connecticut Cavalry during the Revo-
lutionary War, and the family have several letters
of Washington's still in their possession. Doctor
Fitch's father, Rev. John Ashley Fitch, an Epis-
copal clergyman, married the daughter of Dr. Cal-
vin May, who for nearly fifty years practiced
medicine in St. Armand, Canada, just across the
Vermont line. Doctor May graduated from Yale
about the close of the Revolutionary war, and he
and Dr. Chauncey Fitch were the pioneer physi-
cians in that section, and although eighteen miles
apart, frequently met in consultation.

Doctor Fitch is of old New England stock, the
sixth in descent from Rev. James Fitch, who came
to this country from Bocking, England, in 1638.
Maj, James Fitch, son of Rev. James Fitch, served

in King Philip's War. He was active in promot-
ing the founding of Yale College, donating to the
college in October, 1731, six hundred and forty-
seven acres of land in the town of Killingsly, and
all the glass and nails which should be necessary
to build the college edifice. Rev. Ebenezer Fitch,
a grandson of this Maj. James Fitch, and brother
of Dr. Chauncey Fitch, was a tutor in Yale for
several years prior to 1791, when he resigned from
Yale to take charge of the Academy at Williams-
town, Massachusetts, and when that academy was
chartered as a college (Williams College) in 1793,
Mr. Fitch was elected its first President, which
position he held for twenty-two years.

In 1860 Doctor Fitch married Susan Ransom,
daughter of Daniel Ransom, originally from
Woodstock, Vermont, and for many years in
business in this city. In 1871 Mr. Ransom re-
moved to Longmont, Colorado, where he recently
died at the age of eighty-one. Doctor Fitch has
one son, Dr. Walter May Fitch, a graduate of
Rush Medical College, who is associated with his
father in practice.

Doctor Fitch is or has been a memberof several
medical societies, the Chicago Medical, the South
Avenue, the State Medical and American Medical
Associations, but has never been connected with
any medical school, although a professorship has



been twice offered him. He has always enjoyed
the study of languages, and speaks several fluently,
and it is partly in consequence of this fact that no
small percentage of his large practice is among

our foreign-born citizens. A practice of this char-
acter involves much hard work, but carries with it
the chance to do much good.


HARLES HUNTINGTON, a veteran of the
railroad service in Chicago and the oldest
\,J general baggage agent, in point of service,
in the United States, was born in Hartford, Con-
necticut, May 29, 1824. He is a son of Christo-
pher and Mary (Webb) Huntington. The Hunt-
ington family is one of the oldest in Connecticut.
All persons of that name in America are supposed
to be descendants of Christopher Huntington and
his brothers, who came from England in the early
days of the Connecticut colony. They sprang
from an ancient English family, and the name is
supposed to have originated as a military title.
Their posterity is numerous, and includes many
noted American citizens. The name of Christo-
pher Huntington was perpetuated through seven
successive generations, the father of the subject of
this sketch being the last. His father, Christo-
pher Huntington, was a physician who practiced
in Connecticut. The father of Charles Hunting-
ton was a wholesale manufacturer of shoes, and
was a member of the Governor's Foot Guards, a
regiment of Connecticut militia. He died in 1832,
at the premature age of thirty-five years.

Mrs. Mary Huntington was a daughter of Ab-
ner Webb, a Revolutionary soldier, who also rep-
resented one of the early Connecticut families.
She survived her husband but one year, dying in
1833, and leaving three orphaned sons. Charles
is the eldest. Henry is now a prominent citizen
of Burnham, Michigan, and George died in 1850,
of yellow fever, at Mobile, Alabama.

Soon after his father's death, on the 3d of July,
1832, Charles Huntington left his boyhood home
and took passage by stage to Albany, en route to
the home of an uncle at Penn Yan. His young

heart was sorely tried by this separation from
natal ties, but the celebration of the Nation's
birthday at Albany the next morning after his ar-
rival there distracted his attention from his child-
ish sorrow and so cheered the way that his further
stage journey to Schenectady was made in com-
parative comfort. Here he took passage on the
Erie Canal as far as Geneva, whence the journey
was completed by stage. At Penn Yan, he found
a comfortable home with his uncle, Elisha H.
Huntington, who afterwards became a banker in

Charles received about two years' schooling in
all, spending most of his boyhood in working at
odd jobs. Being a robust youth, he was adapted
to many useful employments, and among other
things, assisted in building the Congregational
Church at Penn Yan, for which his uncle had the
contract, handling all the material for that struc-
ture. At the age of nineteen, he was entrusted
by his uncle with an important mission to Phila-
delphia, where he was sent to purchase an outfit
for bottling mineral waters, and subsequently took
charge of a drug store at Rochester, owned by
Elisha Huntington. At one time, he was em-
ployed as conductor of a construction train on the
Canandaigua & Elmira Railroad.

Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 59 of 111)