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

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was the first settler in this new grant, and one of
the organizers of New Marlboro. The winter of
1739-40 was spent by him entirely alone in his
log cabin, provisions being brought from Shef-
field, the nearest settlement, ten miles distant.
The next year he brought his family, who, the
following season, were reinforced by the arrival
of several other families.

The old Wheeler homestead is situated one
mile northwest of New Marlboro Center, on the
road to Great Barrington, on the right of An-
thony Brook (so called from the last Indian oc-
cupant of the valley), and remained in the family
for one hundred and forty years, through five
generations of direct descendants, four of the
number bearing the Christian name of Benjamin.
From the first Benjamin Wheeler, above named,
the descent is traced to the subject of this biog-
raphy through Zenas Wheeler and his wife,
Azubah; their son Zenas, born October 22, 1756,
and his wife, Elizabeth; their son, Warren Wheel-
er, born March 10, 1788, who was the father of
Uriah H. Wheeler, as related below. Trans-
planted to new soil, the family tree throve and
spread out its branches, many of them bearing
distinguished offspring, conspicuously Capt. Ze-
nas Wheeler of Revolutionary War times.

In the western part of New Marlboro, at a
place locally known as "Mill River," is a fine
water power upon the Konkapot River, where in



436



U. H. WHEELER.



later years paper and lumber manufacturing has
been extensively carried on. Attracted thither
in 1836, Warren Wheeler erected the first mill
for the manufacture of writing paper. So rapidly
did the new industry develop, that in 1855, of
three paper mills then running there, that of
Warren Wheeler & Co. was the largest, more
than forty hands being employed and a yearly
output of $50,000 worth of stock being made a
remarkable showing for so early a day ; therefore
no wonder the firm was rated very high in the
metropolis of New York.

This firm later became Wheeler & Sons, after-
wards Wheeler, Sheldon & Babcock, and was
finally sold out to a syndicate known as the
Marlboro Paper Company, and later to the Brook-
side Paper Company, while to-day these large in-
dustries of the vicinity are controlled by the well-
known Berkshire Paper Company. It will thus
be seen that Warren Wheeler was one of the
founders of the trade.

The subject of this sketch, Uriah Harmon Wheel-
er, was born at New Marlboro in the year 1825,
being a son of the said Warren Wheeler and wife,
Alice (Harmon) Wheeler. Of delicate mould,
he was an apt pupil, and we know made the
most of opportunities at local schools and later at
Meriden (Connecticut) Academy. At the age of
twenty-one, he became a partner with his father
in the paper mill, succeeding to a place made
vacant by the death of an elder brother, Warren
Wheeler, junior, who had formerly been the first
partner of Cyrus W. Field, father of the Atlantic
Telegraph Cable.

Uncertain health led to disposing of this
lucrative business in 1854, at which period father
and son came West; the former to Berrien
Springs, Michigan, the latter to the welcoming
city of Chicago, where he located on the South
Side, destined henceforth to be his home. For
ten years he was a partner and Chicago repre-
sentative of the great lumber firm of E. & J. Can-
field of Chicago, and Manistee, Michigan, which
then owned extensive local yards, situated on the
West Side, near the Lake Street Bridge. When
this branch of the business was sold out,
not wishing to leave Chicago, Mr. Wheeler



severed his pleasant relationship with this firm.
Subsequently he bought from the well-known
John B. Idson his interest in the wholesale belt-
ting and rubber business at No. 174 Lake Street,
thus becoming a partner of Sylvanus Hallock
(formerly of New York), under the firm style
of Hallock & Wheeler, one of the first, largest
and most reputable houses of its kind in their
day.

Here failing health found him in January, 1875,
obliged to halt midway in life's pleasant march.
For the final two years, he endured the lot of a
patiently resigned invalid; and so when the Angel
of Death visited his earthly home, April 21,
1876, he found not an anxious but a prepared
well-doer, at peace with both God and men. The
remains were borne by loving friends from the
family mansion at Twenty-second Street to their
last home, Rose Hill. The Rev. Dr. Mitchell
officiated at the obsequies of one who had for a
long time been a stanch supporter of the First
Presbyterian Church. In politics, he was an
unswerving Republican; never aggressively active
in political life, but quietly fulfilling his duties of
citizen as he wisely knew them.

Mr. Wheeler was married, in 1846, to Miss
Lorinda Canfield Wheeler, of New Marlboro,
who was born at Hudson, on the Hudson, where
her parents were for a time residing. She was a
daughter of Abraham Wheeler, who married a
Miss Lorinda Canfield, of eastern New York, a
descendant of an old Connecticut family.

Their happy union was blessed with four chil-
dren, whom unkind fate removed upon the very
threshold of their lives. Mr. Wheeler possessed a
typical old-school Massachusetts face, intellectu-
ally refined and bearing an expression almost
feminine in gentleness. Deeply set dark blue
eyes lent a spirituelle radiance to finely chiseled,
classic features, as vividly portrayed by the
skilled brush of the well-known New York artist,
Theodore Pine. Beloved by those with whom
he became intimate, he was held in respectful
esteem by all acquaintances in business relations.
Socially he was an ever- welcome, genial compan-
ion, full of clever, refined thoughts, delivered
without ostentation. His superior success was



AARON OLLENDORFF.



437



mainly due to a well-defined, consistent conser-
vation of energies, for while naturally conserva-
tive, a delicate constitution was continually teach-
ing this essential lesson. And here we stay our



narrative, with an observation of an honored fel-
low-citizen: "He was faithful in all things.
None of our business men has better merited
the epithet gentleman."



AARON OLLENDORFF.



REV. AARON OLLENDORFF, one of the
most highly respected citizens of Chicago,
died at his home in that city October 30,
1895, and his remains were deposited in Wald-
heim Cemetery. He was born August 31, 1816,
in Rawicz, in the Province of Posen, Prussia,
and was a son of Marcus Ollendorff, a wealthy
contractor of that city, where his ancestors had
been born and reared for many generations.

The subject of this sketch received a liberal
education, preparing for a teacher, and com-
menced his career at the age of seventeen as tutor
in a private family in Kozmen, Germany. At
the age of twenty- five years he was a teacher
and minister in Holland, where he achieved con-
siderable fame through an address made at the
funeral of a noted rabbi. This address was
printed and sold throughout the entire kingdom,
the proceeds being devoted to the building of a
synagogue. Proceeding to Pleshen, in the Prov-
ince of Posen, he opened a school, and also be-
came an instructor in the Jewish religion. He
received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from
the Theological Seminary at Posen.

In 1855 he accompanied his brother and broth-
er-in-law to Australia, whither they were led by
the brilliant promise of the newly opened gold-
fields. They were ten weeks on the voyage from
England to Australia on a sailing-vessel. Arriv-
ing in Melbourne, he immediately became pastor
of a Hebrew congregation, but returned in 1858
to Germany, locating in Breslau, where he opened
a college for boys in company with his brother-
in-law, P. Joseph, Doctor of Philosophy.

Mr. Ollendorffinvested his means in real estate,
but the speculation proved unfortunate, and in



1866 he came to America to retrieve his fortunes.
He located for a time in Baltimore, where he
was associated for a time with Mr. Joseph, a
brother-in-law, in the wholesale jewelry business.
From there he was called to Chicago to take
charge of the North Chicago Hebrew congrega-
tion, the first of that sect on the North Side.
He ofiiciated there three years, the house of wor-
ship being located on Superior Street, near Wells
Street, and his residence was on Illinois Street,
near LaSalle Avenue. He was next called to
Quincy, Illinois, where he ofiiciated three years,
thus escaping the great Chicago fire. In 1873
he returned to the city and became an active
member of his former congregation, devoting
himself for the remainder of his life to private
pursuits.

Beside the subject of this sketch, the Ollen-
dorff family has produced another noted scholar
Professor Ollendorff, of Paris, France, who was
the author of grammars in all modern languages,
many of which are still in use.

Doctor Ollendorff was married in Great Glogau,
Germany, March 29, 1853, to Miss Sophia Joseph,
of Great Glogau, Silesia, Germany. She was a
native of that place and daughter of Jacob and
Henrietta (Peisach) Joseph. The children of
Doctor and Mrs. Ollendorff were Fannie, Martha,
Max, Paul and Arthur. The only survivor,
Fannie, is the wife of Millard Cass, a prominent
real-estate dealer of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs.
Cass are the parents of two sons, namely: Mr.
Philip Cass, a promising young man of twenty-
one, who is an expert electrician and bicyclist;
and Sigmund Cass, now eleven years old, a stu-
dent of the Chicago public schools.



438



S. P. SKINNER.



Doctor Ollendorff's mother, Helen Ollendorff,
was a famous beauty, born and reared in Dantzig,
West Prussia. The fame of her beauty extended
to Rawicz, where her future husband lived. He
hastened to Dantzig and succeeded in bringing
her home as his bride. The beauty of this lady
was transmitted to her posterity, and is noticeable
in her only granddaughter living on this side of
the Atlantic. She lived to the great age of
ninety-six years, and preserved her remarkable
beauty and vivacity of spirits until her death.



Reverend Doctor Ollendorff was one of the
greatest Talmudic and Hebraic scholars of the
age, and was considered an authority on all mat-
ters pertaining to ancient Hebrew history. His
funeral was one of the most imposing ever seen
on the North Side, and was conducted from the
new temple of the North Side Hebrew congrega-
tion, corner of LaSalle Avenue and Goethe Street,
the Reverend Doctor Norden, pastor of the con-
gregation, and Reverend Doctor Felsenthal offici-
ating.



SAMUEL P. SKINNER.



REV. SAMUEL PROUTY SKINNER, one
of the fathers of Universalism in the West,
and for seven years the publisher of its lead-
ing western organ, passed away in Chicago,
August 12, 1858, at the age of forty-eight years.
He was the son of Baxter Skinner, a farmer in
Manchester, New Hampshire, where he was born
in 1810. The family was noted for its intellect-
ual force, and furnished one of the Presidents of
Lombard University, at Galesburg, Illinois, Otis
A. Skinner.

Samuel P. Skinner was educated in New Eng-
land, and at the age of twenty-two was married,
in Conway, Franklin County, Massachusetts, to
Miss Armenia Pulsifer, a native of that town.
She survived him two years, dying in Chicago
in 1860. They had no children, but adopted a
niece, Sarah A., who is now the wife of Charles
E. Lake, residing in Chicago. Dr. Skinner, as
he was called by his contemporaries, was justly
so styled, for Lombard College (as it was then
known) conferred upon him the degree of Doc-
tor of Divinity; but he did not accept it, for reasons
best known to himself. He was a man of rare
beauty of character, and spread sunshine wherever
he went. He was beloved by all who knew him.
He first preached at Cambridgeport, Massachu-
setts, whence he went to Baltimore, Maryland,
and was pastor ol the Universalist Society there



ten years. Returning to Boston, he preached oc-
casionally at Newton Upper Falls, near that city.
His health was never robust, and he decided to
try the western climate.

He arrived in Chicago in October, 1845, and
six months afterward accepted a call to the First
Universalist Church, now known as St. Paul's,
and at present presided over by Rev. A. J. Can-
field, D. D. He purchased land at the north-
west corner of Van Buren Street and Wabash
Avenue, upon which was erected in i856achurch
edifice patterned after the church of Rev. Dr.
Neal, at Boston. This was destroyed in the
great conflagration of 1871, soon after which the
society built a church at great expense on the east
side of Michigan Avenue, between Seventeenth
and Eighteenth Streets, on what was known as
the Widow Clark property, for years a land-
mark of Chicago. Later the church was abandoned
as being too far down town, and the present
handsome house of the society was put up at
Thirtieth Street and Prairie Avenue. Rev. Mr.
Skinner continued as pastor until 1852, when he
was compelled to give up the ministry on account
of feeble health. Though not possessed of a good
voice, his sermons were able, and he held the
society together and established it firmly.

Upon abandoning the pulpit, he did not get
out of church work, and bought the Better Cove-



J. Y. SANGER.



439



nant, a small denominational paper, which he en-
larged and improved, changing the name to the
New Covenant. It is now a flourishing religious
journal, known as the Universalist. He was an
easy writer and superior editor, and continued
the management of the paper for some years,
when he sold it to Rev. D. P. Livermore, who con-
ducted it a long time, until his removal to Bos-
ton, where he now resides.



In his last years Dr. Skinner gave some atten-
tion to real-estate investments, and he left a com-
petence to his family. Cut off at a comparatively
early age, the church lost in him one of its most
faithful and useful workers, and his memory is
still lovingly cherished in its records. He was of
a retiring disposition, and those who intimately
knew him best appreciated his worth. His works
live after him.



JAMES YOUNG SANGER.



(TAMES YOUNG SANGER was conspicuous
I for many years among the prominent eastern-
O born citizens of Illinois. His birthplace is
in Sutton, Vt. , his birth having occurred on the yth
of March, in the year 1814. He received a prac-
tical common-school education, and was a pre-
cocious youth in business matters. At the age
of fourteen, he became head clerk in the store of
Isaac Harris, of Pittsburgh, Pa. , then the largest
mercantile establishment of its kind in the city.
He was methodical, devoted to the interests of
his employers, remarkable for his readiness and
facility in business, and commanded the admiring
commendation of his associates.

His father, David Sanger, after removing from
Vermont, associated with himself one of his sons,
and they became contractors on the Erie Canal
and other public works in the State of New York.
They built some of the locks at Lockport, N. Y.,
and had other contracts on the canal, James Y.
Sanger being associated with them. The four sons
of David Sanger all became contractors and build-
ers of public works. After completing their work
in New York, they went to Pennsylvania and
engaged in the same kind of business. Going
from there to Ohio, they assisted in the construc-
tion of the Ohio canals; still going westward,
they performed similar work on the Wabash &



Erie Canal. Following the completion of this
undertaking, J. Y. Sanger moved to St. Joseph,
Mich. , where he opened a general store, and was
interested in bridge-building and similar enter-
prises.

In 1836 James Y. Sanger, his father and Gen.
Hart L. Stewart came to Chicago and bid for
contract work on the Illinois & Michigan Canal,
which was let by the State of Illinois. Several
of these contracts were secured by these gentle-
men, who had formed a co-partnership for that
purpose, and their first work was in the vicinity
of Chicago. As the work progressed southwest-
ward, the canal was constructed where now the
famous quarries of L,emont and neighboring towns
are situated, and a vast amount of rockwork was
excavated. They also built the aqueduct and bridge
at Ottawa, the locks at Peru, and constructed
various other public works. In the spring of
1840 J. Y. Sanger moved to Chicago.

The year 1842 proved disastrous to them.
There was due them a large amount of money
for work which they had performed at an im-
mense outlay. The State defaulted payment,
and they were compelled to accept in satisfaction
of their claim State script, whose commercial
value was twenty-five per cent, of its face repre-
sentation. Mrs. Sanger received as a present



440



T. Y. SANGER.



from her husband $2,000 of this script, worth
$500, with which she bought a lot, on which the
Stewart House now stands. One half of this she
afterward sold to her sister, the wife of Gen.
Stewart, at cost price; upon the other half, which
constituted the corner lot, she erected a two-
story frame house, with frontage of twenty-five
feet, and planted the remainder, a strip of fifteen
feet, with trees and flowers for ornament. This
property she sold a few years afterward for
$12,000.

In the year 1850, James Y. Sanger, Gen.
Stewart, L. ? Sanger and others organized a
company to build public works, especially rail-
roads, on a more extensive scale than the people
of the West had ever seen them carried on be-
fore. This organization was known as Sanger,
Camp & Co., and its first undertaking was
the construction and equipment of the Ohio &
Mississippi Railroad, which was projected to run
from East St. Louis to Vincennes, Ind. For the
completion of one hundred and fifty miles of line
the compensation was to be $5,000,000. Shortly
afterward, they contracted with the Belleville &
Alton Railroad Company to build a line from
Belleville, by way of St. Louis, to Alton for
$1,000,000. In the winter of 1853-54, the North
Missouri Railroad Company contracted with this
firm for a railroad from St. Louis to the Iowa
State line, northwesterly one hundred and eighty
miles. The estimates for this work were about
$7,000,000. In 1855 another contract was made
by Sanger, Camp & Co. to complete a railroad
from St. Louis, by way of Vandalia, to the Wabash
River, near Terre Haute, a distance of one hun-
dred and sixty miles, and for this they were to
receive $8,000,000. The total of the contracts
undertaken by this company, within the dates
mentioned, amounted to more than $21,000,000.
Nothing more clearly illustrates the energy and
enterprise of the members of this company than
the mention of these figures. Their work was
pushed with vigor, and their operations were
watched with interest by the people of the entire
West.

In addition to the works which the company
constructed, and which have been already men-



tioned, a line of railroad fifteen miles in length
was built from St. Louis to Belleville, which be-
came one of the most profitable pieces of railroad
property in the United States, in proportion to its
length. The year 1857 scattered broadcast its
calamities with an impartial hand, and financial
troubles involved Sanger, Camp & Co. , as they did
thousands of others. The railroad companies
with which their contracts were made were una-
ble to meet their financial obligations, and this
company was compelled to take $8,000,000 for
the work they had performed, which, if completed
according to the contract, would have brought
them $21,000,000. In 1857 James Y. Sanger,
disappointed in his expectations with regard to
eastern railroads, turned his attention toward the
West, and went to California, where he put in
operation a railroad from Sacramento to Marys-
ville, the first one ever operated in California.
He remained on the Pacific Coast for two years,
and then returned to Chicago.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he became a
contractor for Government supplies, which con-
tinued to be his principal business during the
continuance of the war. After the return of
peace, he again engaged in railroad work, and
associated with Gen. James H. Ledlie in the or-
ganization of a syndicate to build the Union Pa-
cific Railroad. The syndicate secured several
large contracts. Before any considerable amount
of work had been done, Mr. Sanger's health
failed, and he was disappointed in his expecta-
tion of putting his whole time upon this pro-
ject. In a short time his condition compelled
him to abandon it entirely. His interest in the
company was taken by Gen. John M. Corse, who
was afterward Postmaster at Boston. Thus it
was that Mr. Sanger missed an opportunity of
sharing the large profits of this enterprise. He
returned to Chicago, where he remained until his
death, on July 3, 1867.

It was after his settlement at St. Joseph, Mich.,
that Mr. Sanger met Miss Mary Catherine Mc-
Kibben, daughter of Col. James McKibben,
whose family had moved from Pennsylvania to
Michigan after his death. Col. McKibben'swife
was the daughter of William Nelson, an Irish



H. W. THOMAS.



44i



gentleman, who emigrated to America after the
Revolutionary War and settled in Bedford, Pa.,
where his family grew up and his only daughter
married Col. McKibben. The acquaintance of
Mr. Sanger and Miss McKibben resulted in
mutual affection and led to their marriage, which
occurred at Lockport, 111., April 5, 1841. Miss
McKibben was born in Westmoreland County,
Pa. , and was one of four children born to Col.
and Mrs. McKibben. She was the true help-
mate and companion of the noble husband whom
she survives, and for the honor of whose memory
she has performed many good works. She is
familiar with the history of Chicago from the
period of its early growth, and is still a resident of
this city. She has been the mother of two sons and
one daughter, all of whom were born in Chicago.
One son, James McKibben Sanger, died Septem-
ber 19, 1877, leaving two sons, James P. and
John Foster Sanger. The other son, Fred W.



Sanger, resides in his native city. The daugh-
ter is the wife of George M. Pullman, of Chicago.
For more than thirty years Mr. Sanger was one
of the most prominent citizens of Illinois, and one
whose efforts contributed as much as those of any
other toward the growth and development of the
State. The influence of the enterprises with
which he was identified upon the commerce of
the West is incalculable. The four hundred and
fifty miles of railroad in the construction of which
he was largely instrumental, were built at an out-
lay of $12,000,000. It is not necessary to speak
of the many lesser enterprises with which he was
identified. He was widely known, not only in
commercial, but also in social circles, and was a
prominent member of the Masonic order. His
success in life was due to his fertility of resource,
his wonderful ability to recover from pecuniary
embarrassments, and his indomitable energy.



REV. HIRAM WASHINGTON THOMAS.



REV. HIRAM WASHINGTON THOMAS,
D. D., the subject of this sketch, is the son
of Joseph and Margaret (McDonald)Thomas,
who were well-to-do farmers in Hampshire Coun-
ty, W. Va. On his father's side he is of Ger-
man and Welsh, and on his mother's Scotch and
English, extraction. Hiram is the fourth in a
family of six children, having three brothers
older and two sisters younger than himself, and
was born in Hampshire County, among the moun-
tains of West Virginia, April 29, 1832. When
but a year old the family removed to Preston
County, near the Maryland line, where he grew
to manhood. He was naturally of a slender con-
stitution, with a massive brain overtopping his
body, and it was fortunate that his childhood and
early manhood were spent on a farm among the



rugged mountains. The outdoor active life of a
farmer toned up his physical constitution to a
reasonable equality with his mental capacity,
so that he has been able to bear an amount of in-
tellectual work surpassed by few, and at the age
of sixty years his vigor is unimpaired and his
personal appearance still youthful. The educa-
tional facilities of his native place were, fortu-
nately perhaps for him, meagre and primitive,
and he was left to the very necessary work of
preparing a constitution for future use. The
thirst for knowledge was, however, so great in
him, that at the age of sixteen he went one hun-
dred miles on foot to Hardy County, Va., and
worked nights and mornings for a winter's school-
ing at a little village academy. Two years after,
one Doctor McKesson, of his neighborhood, took



442



H. W. THOMAS.



him under his private tutelage for two years, after



Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 67 of 111)