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ters. The sons were Absalom, Richard and
John. Richard Farwell married a Miss Pickett,



and removed to Nelson, New Hampshire, about
1772. He cleared a farm which is still known
as his place, and here he made oars, which he
took to Boston and exchanged for such articles
as could not be produced at home. April 12,
1776, nearly three months before the passage of
the Declaration of Independence, he signed what
was called the "Association Test," which read
as follows: "We, the subscribers, do hereby
solemnly engage and promise that we will, to the
utmost of our power, at the risk of our lives
and fortunes, with arms oppose the hostile
proceedings of the British fleet and armies
against the Americau colonies." Richard and
his brother Absalom were soldiers of the Revolu-
tion and fought under Stark at Bennington. A
prominent and wealthy neighbor, named Batch-
eldor, had joined the English forces, and Richard
Farwell used to say that he saw Batcheldor there
in the ranks of the British and ' ' took as good
aim at him as he ever did at a black duck." At
the battle of Beunington, Richard and Absalom
were in the thickest of the fight. Richard, who
knew no fear, was standing out completely ex-
posed to the murderous fire, while his comrades
were behind trees and rocks. The fight was in
the woods. Absalom, seeing him thus exposed,
called out to him: "Get behind a tree, brother
Richard, get behind a tree. They'll put your
daylights out." But Richard continued to load
and fire where he was. It was there he said he
saw Batcheldor and fired at him. These Far-
wells were so prominent, on account of their size
anl bravery, that Stark knew them, and said if



624



M. A. FARWELL.



he had a regiment of such men, he could drive
the British into the Atlantic. Richard was also
noted for his feats of strength. He lived to be
about seventy-seven years old. His eldest son,
Absalom, married a Lovejoy, and their son,
Zophar, was the father of the subject of this
sketch. Zophar Farwell's wife was Miss Betsey
Knight.

Marcus A. Farwell was born in Coshocton
County, Ohio, July 8, 1827. His parents came
thither from New Hampshire. The boy Marcus
grew up environed by the wholesome, albeit rus-
tic, scenes of his nativity. Most of the time he
was at work, and he received but the limited
schooling customary in those days. The benefits
of a Christian home and an educated self reliance
were all his worldly stock in trade when he set
sturdy foot abroad to make his fortune.

At nineteen he bade an affectionate and eternal
farewell to boyhood haunts, and entered upon a
life work destined to be crowned with exceptional
success and happiness. For four years he
labored faithfully, early and late, in a country
store in the then wilds of Eaton Rapids, Michigan.
Thereafter, he made the cross-country trip in a
"prairie schooner" to try his luck in pioneer
Iowa. That state, fifty years ago, was not by
any means the Iowa of to-day. He was soon
satisfied that for himself there were better oppor-
tunities nearer his old home. In 1851 he set
out for Chicago, coming in from Elgin on the
old, now historic, Galena & Chicago Union
Railway.

His first experiences in our midst were such as
usually fall to the lot of a clerk in a wholesale
grocery store; and such they continued to be for
three years, in the employ of M. D. Oilman,
located at No. 153 South Water Street. Thrift
and industry bring their rewards. At the end of
this period he had saved enough out of his earn-
ings to buy an interest in the newly forming
firm, M. D. Oilman & Company. January i,
1856, along with W. C. D. Grannis, he was ad-
mitted into fuller partnership. His fortunes and
abilities expanded rapidly with the pace of the
business community of which he was now an in-
tegral important factor. Successively he became



a member of the firms of Gilman, Grannis & Far-
well, Gilman & Farwell, Grannis & Farwell,
and when Mr. Gilman retired in 1867, a new or-
ganization became Farwell, Miller & Company,
which continued in active operation until 1883.

Following upon the heels of the big fire, Mr.
Farwell was the very first one of our merchants
to telegraph advices East, "I'll pay everyone I
owe one hundred cents on the dollar." Taking
up temporary quarters at Michigan Avenue and
Twenty-first Street, they built their substantial
block of 1874 upon Michigan Avenue near Ran-
dolph Street. And here was enjoyed an ever in-
creasing era of old prosperities, until his volun-
tary retirement from mercantile life to take up
with fuller amplitude the development of an en-
terprise dearest to his heart, the Oakwoods
Cemetery.

To the easterly of Cottage Grove Avenue and
between Sixty-seventh and Seventy-first Streets,
was a handsome quarter-section of land, contain-
ing the customary one hundred and sixty acres,
which Mr. Farwell had the shrewd foresight to
purchase. Revolving in his acute mind the uses
to which this acquisition might be profitably put,
he said to himself one day, " Let us have here a
burial place for the dead which shall be worthy
of South Chicago. ' ' His plans were henceforth
rapidly matured, and in the year 1864 was in-
corporated the Oakwoods Cemetery Association.
The controlling interest therein was reserved for
himself, that he might not be hampered in pursu-
ing his noble plans. The controlling interest still
rests in those dear ones he has left behind. Mr.
Farwell was secretary and treasurer until 1879,
and was subsequently president.

Mr. Farwell was an enthusiastic Republican
and able politician, and might have made a brill-
iant record, had his tastes run in such lines; but
he was more than content with local honors,
which were ever and anon attempted to be thrust
upon him. In 1879 he was city candidate for
treasurer; in 1880 and 1881 he acted as collector
for the South Town. He was repeatedly tend-
ered the aldermanic office, but invariably refused,
on account of the pressure of business cares.

Personally Mr. Farwell was a typical Yankee,



M. A. FAR WELL.



625



of a race which he proudly asserted was the
smartest in the wide world. Yet there was
nothing of the braggart in his make-up. Univer-
sally affable, courteous and popular, he found his
worldly walks crowded with admiring friends,
and made easy by the assurance of duties cour-
ageously performed. He was the first president
of the Fox Lake Club, for a period of three years;
was a time-tried member of the Union League
Club, also a member of Oriental Lodge No. 33, An-
cient Free and Accepted Masons. Democratic in
his sympathies and habits, a man for the public
when matters of weight demanded his attention,
he was essentially a domestic person, and found
in the well-being and development of those en-
trusted to his paternal solicitude his greatest
happiness. For twenty years Mr. Farwell had
been an uncomplaining sufferer from the lasting
effects of an attack of spinal meningitis. In the
spring of 1894 he went South, in hopes of attain-
ing at least temporary relief, and the following
summer changed to Waukesha, Wisconsin. In
June of that year he passed away.

Mrs. Marcus A. Farwell, whose maiden name
was Miss Lucia Day Cross, has in her veins
some of the best Puritan strains of blood, as de-
veloped in stanch old New England, whose
principles now, as ever, have continued to domi-
nate the policy of our entire country. She was
born in the picturesque village (now city) of
Montpelier, Vermont. Married February i, 1860,
she came directly to her adopted home; since
when, her own and her family's history has been
a conspicuous part of Chicago development. Mrs.
Farwell' s father, Luther Cross, was descended
from a noble English family, whose principal
seat was in St. John's Wood, London. The
American progenitor was Nathan Cross, who
came from England and is found at Dunstable,
Massachusetts .about the time of " Lovell's War."
September 4, 1724, while collecting turpentine
near the Nashua River, he was taken prisoner by
the Mohawks. A captive for several months in
Canada, he escaped and found his way home
through the wilderness, in the spring of 1725.
Singularly enough, he found his gun in the tree
where he had hidden it on the morning of that



eventful day, months gone, and it is now preserved
in the museum of the Nashua Historical Society.
Thereabouts he had extensive landed possessions,
including a farm on the east side of the Merrimack
River, as well as two meadows and an island in
the mouth of the Nashua River. The old farm
homestead, then in the town of Dunstable, has,
as the extensive boundaries have been cut down
from time to time, been later in the town of
Nottingham, afterwards Nottingham West, finally
Hudson of to day. The exact spot is about a-
half mile above Taylor's Falls Bridge. It re-
mained in the Cross family for over two centuries.
Here, after his return from Canada, Nathan built
a house, the cellar of which is still to be seen.
He died September 8, 1766.

By his first wife he had an eldest son, Capt.
Peter Cross, born September 28, 1729. By his
wife, Sarah, daughter of Deacon Henry Hale, of
Nottingham West, he had an eldest son, Joseph
Cross, born February 17, 1759, who served in
the Revolutionary War and resided at Swanzey,
New Hampshire.

Joseph's eldest son was Luther Cross, the
father of Mrs. Farwell. Born at Keene, New
Hampshire, in 1802, Luther obtained a good
academic education, after which he taught
mathematics and surveying. Later he went to
Boston to engage with his uncle Stearns, again
removed to Woodstock, Vermont, where he met
his wife, Miss Polly May Day; removed thence
to Barre, Vermont, to go into partnership with
his uncle, Ira Day, an extensive merchant of his
time, who owned the famous Boston stage line;
and finall}', still in partnership, removed to his
long honored and honoring residence, Mont-
pelier, Vermont. Here he built three fine brick
residences, known to-day as the "Fifield,"
"Page" and "Cross" places. A stanch Whig,
he was quite a prominent and successful politician.
He was Selectman sixteen years, Sergeant-at-
Anns for the same length of service, and a Jus-
tice of the Peace for a period of greater duration
than any predecessor. Of benevolent disposition
and sincerely pious, he was universal!}' esteemed
and generally beloved. His death, which oc-
curred in 1873, was mourned by all his towns-



626



J. T. REA.



men. He was laid to rest in Green Mountain
Cemetery, as peacefully beautiful a last resting-
place as one could wish to choose.

Mrs. Farwell's mother, Polly May Day, who
died at the remarkable age of ninety-five years,
also was descended from a very ancient and noble
family. William Day, in the twenty-fourth
year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, had a
family coat-of-arms confirmed to him by Norroy,



King of Arms. This family is widely distributed,
Burke recording eleven coats claimed in different
parts of the kingdom. William Day was a son
of Richard, a son of Nicholas, a son of John Dee
(called Daye in England). Traditionally the
family is from Wales, where Dee (signifying dark
or dingy) is the name of an important Welsh
river, from which the family name, probably, at
a remote day had its origin.



JOHN T. REA,



(lOHN THOMAS REA, one of the most suc-
I cessful and esteemed contractors in his line
O of business in the city of Chicago, comes of
a very old and highly respected Scotch family.
His ancestors were men and women of education
and refinement, and he does justice to the family
name, the teachings which he received and the
hereditary honor. Born in Williamsport, Pennsyl-
vania, of William Henry and Sarah Brown (Wille-
min) Rea, he first opened his eyes to the troubles,
trials and joys of this world on the 2?th of Au-
gust, 1843.

The first immigrant to America of this family
of Rea was the great-grandfather of the man
whose name heads this article, John Rea, who
was captain of a company in the Revolutionary
army. His son, John Rea, was a sailor with
Captain Bainbridge in the war with Algiers. His
children were named: George, Samuel and Will-
iam. The maternal grandfather of John Thomas
Rea, Thomas Willemin, conducted a distillery in
Pennsylvania. He had four children, the names
of only three of whom are now known: Thomas,
Levi and Sarah. Thomas Willemin married Miss
Sleigh, daughter of Francis Sleigh, the only son
of Lord Francis Sleigh, whose estate was near
Dublin, Ireland.



William Henry Rea, father of John T. Rea, was
born in Philadelphia, February 14, 1805. He
was a finely educated man and was for many
years an instructor in Williamsport. In 1846 he
came to Rock Island, Illinois, and taught a
country school. He was later occupied in the
same manner in Polo, Cedarville, Charleston and
Decatur. He then went to Urbana, Illinois,
where he died, in July, 1880. While living at
Polo he was made agent for the American Bible
Society and remained in this capacity until the
time of his death. About eight years before his
death he lost his sight, while working in the in-
terests of the society. He was a follower of the
teachings of the Presbyterian Church. In politics
he was a Whig, but at the organization of the
Republican party, took up interest in this party
and upheld it after.

Mrs. W. H. Rea was born in April, 1814, in
Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Her death
occurred in November, 1879, her remains being
interred in Urbana. Her children are accounted
for as follows: William Henry is a teacher; Robert
McCormick, born March 10, 1840, died March 7,
l &93'> John Thomas is next in order of birth; and
Alfred Willemin, born July 15, 1845, died in
August, 1 86 1.



C. J. L. GEBERT.



627



In the public schools of Illinois, the subject of
this sketch received his education, after which
time he began the battle of life. He enlisted in
the army June 15, 1861, in Company A, Twenty-
first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, General Grant's
old regiment. He remained with this body until
August 10, 1862, when he was discharged on
account of ill health, at Jacinto, Mississippi.
January i, 1864, he re-enlisted and became at-
tached to Company I, Seventh Illinois Volunteer
Cavalry, and he did detached service a part of the
time, on the military commission, and was dis-
charged November 16, 1865.

After the Civil War was over he returned to Illi-
nois, and took up the occupation of house and sign
painting and decorating. He was thus occupied
five years, until 1870, when he located in Urbana,
to remain until 1878. He then removed to Chi-
cago and opened a place of business at No. 3532
State Street, being employed for some time by



several firms. He is at the present time engaged
in contracting, and makes a specialty of sign
painting and decorating.

October 28, 1866, Mr. Rea was married to Miss
Sarah Grabill, daughter of Abraham and Eliza-
beth Grabill. Mrs. Rea was born July 27, 1845,
in Shenandoah County, Virginia, near Mount
Jackson. Mr. and Mrs. Rea are the parents of
seven children. Irene May, the eldest, is the
wife of Ritchie DeLan, the mother of two chil-
dren and resides in Omaha, Nebraska. The
others are as follows: Stella Eugenie; Laura
Bertha, wife of Henry Clay Keniston, and a resi-
dent of Chicago; Walter Raleigh, Louis Albert,
Jesse Thomas and Arthur Alfred.

Mr. Rea is independent in politics, and not a
seeker after public office. He is a valued and
consistent member of the Advent Christian
Church, and is connected with A. E. Burnside
Post No. 109, Grand Army of the Republic.



CHARLES J. L. GEBERT.



JOHN LUDWIG GEBERT was
one of Chicago's prominent and worthy citi-
\J zens. He was born October i, 1836, and
passed beyond the border February 14, 1885,
being a son of George and Dorothea (Rohlk)
Gebert, proper mention of whom appears else-
where in this volume. He came to Chicago in
1856, and was at home until the time of his mar-
riage. He was employed by the Illinois Central
Railroad Company, in its shops, until 1858. He
was in charge of a matching machine, and proved
himself one who would do well, whatever he un-
dertook to do. He was interested in the service
of the same company until the time of his death.
February 25, 1866, Mr. Gebert was married to
Miss Augusta Ernestina Charlotta, daughter of
Christian and Charlotte (Schade) Frank. Mrs.



Gebert was born December 19, 1844, near the
city of Landsberg, Prussia. Her father was born
February 2, 1804, in Rehfeld, Prussia. He died
October 5, 1865, and his wife, who was born July
5, 1803, survived him until April 15, 1893, pass-
ing away at Champaign, Illinois. She, with her
daughter, Ottilie, came to Illinois in 1868, and
made their home among her children. The
paternal grandfather of Mrs. Gebert was Chris-
tian Frank, and her maternal grandfather was
Ludwig Schade.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Frank were the parents of
the following children: Franz, who was killed by
a railroad train, at Champaign; Ferdinand, now
residing in Germany; Julius, deceased, Wilhel-
mina, Pauline, deceased, Christian, Fredericka,
Augusta and Ottilie. The children of Mr. and



628



O. C. TAFT.



Mrs. Gebert are nine in number. Ottilie Pauline
Elizabeth, born March 2, 1867, married Henry
Schroeder, September 25, 1890, and resides at
No. 617 Fifty-third Street. He is assistant man-
ager of the Chicago office of the Warder, Bush-
nell & Glessner Company. Mr. and Mrs. Schroe-
der are the parents of four children, Frederick
Henry, born July 20, 1891; Henry, March 8,
1893; Bertha Augusta, November 18, 1894; and
Grace Elizabeth, February 15, 1897.

Carl Frederick Christian, another of the chil-
dren of Mr. and Mrs. Gebert, was born May 9,
1869, and died February 2, 1872. Frederick
Carl Ferdinand, born June 14, 1871, died Feb-
ruary 2, 1890. Paul Carl Julius, born December
27, 1873, died December 16, 1875. Walter Paul,
born April 15, 1876, died April 30, 1877. Au-
gusta Bertha Marie, born April 17, 1878, is next
in order of birth of her father's family. Arthur
Walter Paul was born September 28, 1880, and
Julius Albert Frederick, who was born January



9, 1883, died February 13, 1884. Walter Carl,
who was born August 17, 1885, was the young-
est of this family.

Mr. Gebert was of a nature that is bound to
succeed, and having obtained considerable of
this world's goods, he purchased lots at Nos.
4731 and 4733 State Street, in 1868, and at No.
2950 South Park Avenue, in 1864. This prop-
erty is still in possession of the family. Mr.
Gebert built at No. 4733 State Street in 1874,
and his widow built the adjoining house in 1887.
Mrs. Gebert also built a flat building at No. 4733
State Street in 1893, which contains two stores
and six flats, being four stories high. Mrs.
Gebert is a true type of the gentlewoman, and
was a faithful and loving helpmate to her worthy
husband, mourning his loss greatly at the time
of his death and ever cherishing tender memories
of him. He was a consistent member of the
Evangelical German Church, and a stanch Re-
publican in political principle.



ORRISON C TAFT.



0RRISON CHARLES TAFT, one of Chi-
cago's most worthy citizens, was born Sep-
tember 7, 1844, at Milford, Massachusetts.
His parents were Harvey Flag and Prudence
Daniels (Adams) Taft. He began to learn the
trade of a shoemaker at the age of eight years
and at the age of sixteen years left school. He
enlisted in Company B, Twenty-fifth Massachu-
setts Volunteer Infantry, September 18, 1861.
June 3, 1864, he was wounded at Cold Harbor,
Virginia, by a shell, and December 22, 1864, was
discharged for inability, having participated in
all experiences and engagements that his com-
pany had been through.

He returned to Milford and for five years con-
ducted a shoe shop at that place, before coming



to Chicago. He arrived in the last-mentioned
city February 15, 1873, and located at the corner
of Sixtieth and State Streets. After a short
time spent in the shoe factory of C. M. Hender-
son & Company, he was clerk for Ephling &
Barney Brothers three years, and subsequently
drove a team for Julius Carr, proprietor of wood
and coal yards. He then established a general
repair shop at his present residence on State
Street, which has occupied his full attention since
that time.

Mr. Taft was first married December 29, 1863,
to Miss Vesta Ann Barton, daughter of John and
Vesta Bonnie Barton. Mrs. Taft was born
December 15, 1843, in Wrenthon, Massachusetts,
and died January 23, 1881. She had four chil-



WILLIAM HECKLER.



629



dren. Frederick Arnold, the oldest, lives in Chi-
cago, and is a switchman on the Fort Wayne
Railroad. He has never married. May Bell,
the next in order of birth, lives in Evanston.
Charles Robert lives at the corner of Fifty-fifth
and Wright Streets, and Jennie Mary also resides
in Evanston.

For his second wife Mr. Taft married, Novem-



ber 28, 1883, Miss Mary Ellen Ryan, a daughter
of William and Margaret (Dougherty) Ryan.
Mrs. Taft was born December 25, 1851. Mr.
Taft has never sought public office, but is a
stanch upholder of the principles of the Repub-
lican party. He is a man of strong ideas and
characteristics, and his influence is ever for good
and for the benefit of his fellow-men.



WILLIAM HECKLER.



HECKLER. Among the most
energetic and successful business men of
Chicago at the present time many were
born of parents from the country of the Rhine.
They invariably possess a pertinacity and power
that is admirable and hard to imitate. William
Heckler was born January 22, 1852, and at the
time of his birth his parents, William and Kath-
arine (Loyen) Heckler, resided at the corner of
State and Fourteenth Streets in Chicago, where
the Santa Fe freight depot now stands.

William Heckler, Senior, was the only child of
his parents, and was born October 10, 1821, at
Wittenburg, Germany. He died in March, 1891,
and his remains were interred in Mount Olivet
Cemetery. He was a contractor in his native
land, and reached Chicago in 1847. Fora short
time he was employed by others, but later
began contracting for his own interests, achieving
financial success by the change. A large num-
ber of the many houses which he held contracts
for are located on the South Side. He was a
very fine mechanic, and among the buildings he
erected was the Brand Brewery.

In 1856 he was induced by the cholera scare to
remove to Blue Island, where he afterward re-
tained his home, at the corner of York Street and
Western Avenue. In 1848 he was married to
Miss Loyen, a native of Trier, Germany. Mrs.



Heckler was born August 25, 1824, and died
February 23, 1884, her remains being interred
at Mount Olivet Cemetery. William is the eld-
est of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Heckler.
Charles, the next in order of birth, resides on
the old homestead in Blue Island. Wilhelmina,
Josephine, Herman, Otiplie, who died at the age
of twenty-two years; Alfred, who lives at No.
108 Forty-fifth Place, and Frances followed, and
next in order were: Wenzel, an engineer in Blue
Island; Henry, a cigar manufacturer, at Blue
Island; Gregory, a grocer, in Palos Springs,
Cook County.

Having spent the first twelve years of his life
in seeking a rudimentary education in the schools
of the day, William Heckler, the subject of this
sketch, was prepared by his father to enter the
great and complicated school of business and ex-
perience. He learned the trade of a carpenter
with his father, and remained under the super-
vision of the paternal eye until he reached the
age of twenty years. For two 3 - ears he was em-
ployed by a contractor, Mr. Ramsey, subsequent
to which period he spent the same length of time
at Blue Island, contracting on his own respon-
sibility. In Rock Island he became foreman of
the employes of E. Ralston, an extensive con-
tractor, with whom he remained seventeen years.

This extremely long period spent in furthering



630



ALONZO BRYAN.



the interests of one man, prove the power of en-
durance and force of character of Mr. Heckler,
also denoting with what respect and confidence
he was regarded by his employer. He returned
to Blue Island, after this extended time in another
locality, and was one of the chief contractors of
the town for two years. Susbsequent to that
time he located in Chicago and is employed here
as a journeyman at the present time.

Mr. Heckler was married April 19, 1881, to
Miss Margaret Fickenscher, a daughter of
Erhardt and Mary (Swicker) Fickenscher. Mrs.
Heckler was born May 28, 1858, at Rock Island.



Their children were as follows: Herman Erhardt,
born January 30, 1882; Emil, born February 23,



Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 95 of 111)