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Biographical and genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois (Volume 2) online

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HE visitor in Peru, Illinois, always has pointed out to him one of the

time-honored old landmarks, a substantial and imposing brick resi-
dence, two stories in height, and surrounded by w'ell kept grounds. This is
the old Brewster home, which has stood here for almost three-score years,
having been erected in 1841 by the gentleman whose name heads this article,
one of the honored early settlers of this place.

Coming from stanch Puritan stock, Mr. Brewster was born in Salis-
bury, Litchfield county, Connecticut, February 29, 1812, being the eldest son
of Daniel and Asenath (Canfield) Brewster, who were likewise natives of
the same state. When he was sixteen years of age the mother of Theron D.
Brewster died, and in December, 1835, the father also passed to his reward.

In his youth our subject received thorough training as a farmer, his
father being a successful agriculturist. His tastes did not lie in that direc-
tion, however, and when he had completed his education in the academy at
Westfield, Connecticut, he concluded to try his fortune in the w^est, sooner
or later. In 1835 he came to Peru, where he accepted a clerical position, but
at the end of six months he was summoned home to his father's deathbed
and remained at the old homestead until the fall of 1836, adjusting the estate.
The following year he laid out Ninawa addition to Peru, and commenced
dealing in real estate, and in 1843 ^""^ embarked in the mercantile business
here in partnership with Herman Baldwin, with whom he was associated
three years. He then began dealing in grain, and, building a large ware-
house on the bank of the Illinois river, carried on an extensive and remuner-
ative business as a member of the firm of Brewster & Beebe. At the end of
five years he retired, and for several years thereafter was in the dry-goods
business, in company with E. Higgins.

Many other local industries and enterprises received the support of

Mr. Brewster. In 1856 he was the president of the stock company which

jj ow-ned and sank the Peru coal shaft, which was worked with good results

for about seventeen years. In 1852 the firm of T. D. Brewster & Company




was formed, and, buying out Messrs. Tuller, Pitts & Dodge, who had been
manufacturing plows on a limited scale, and had conducted a small machine
shop, the Peru City Plow Factory was established. He became the manager
of the concern and remained at its helm until 1882, when, on account of his
advanced age, he withdrew from its management. At that time (1882) the
Qoncern was reorganized into a stock company and is now known as the
Peru Plow & Wheel Company. His last years were especially devoted to
the real-estate business, in which he had been interested throughout his
career. He managed with great ability the sale of property which he bought
of the heirs of his uncle, Lyman Brewster, a pioneer of this county, who
owned much of the land upon which Peru now stands.

Remarkably successful in all of his undertakings, no man was more inti-
mately associated with the development and upbuilding of Peru. He was
the first mayor of the city, elected in 1851. and re-elected in 1852 and again
in 1854. As early as 1838 he held the office of town trustee and for several
years served as a member of the board of education. He was a prime mover
in securing to Peru the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, and served
as one of its first directors. He was an organizer of the First National Bank
of Peru and served as its president during its existence of some twenty years.
Beginning the battle of life empty-handed, he amassed a fortune by his
excellent business methods, pluck and enterprise. Politically he was a strong
Republican after the organization of that party. Though not a member of
any religious body, he was most in sympathy with the Congregational de-
nomination, and was liberal in its support.

Mr. Brewster was twice married, the wife of his youth being ]\Iiss
Phoebe ]\Iann, a native of Pennsylvania. Their union was solemnized in
1844. and five years later she died, leaving a son and a daughter. For his
second wife Mr. Brewster chose Miss Margaret Jones, of Pittsburg, Penn-
sylvania, and four of their children — two sons and two daughters — survive.
Mourned by the friends and associates of a life-time, Mr. Brewster passed
away at his home in Peru, March 2, 1897.

Benjamin D. Brewster, son of Theron D. Brewster, who was so influen-
tial in the founding of Peru, was born in this place November 24, 1864, a
son by his father's second marriage. He was reared and educated here and
later attended Bryant & Stratton's Business College, in Chicago, Illinois.
After having mastered the course of commercial training afforded him in that
institution he accepted a position as a traveling salesman for the Western
Clock Manufacturing Company, of LaSalle, remaining with that firm for
three years. Then, going to New York city, he spent two years there with
the Time Stamp Company, and in 1893 returned to Peru. For the past
five vears he has conducted the real-estate and loan business formerlv man-


aged by his father, and besides is interested in the Peru Plow & Wheel
Company, being a director in the same. Since this concern became a stock
company it has enjoyed remarkable prosperity and growth in the volume
of business transacted, and long since was found to be entitled to rank
among the leading industrial enterprises in this section of the country. A
branch house was established some time ago in Council Bluffs, Iowa, it being
known as the Peru Plow & Implement Company, and of this Mr. Brewster
holds the place of secretary. He has inherited much of his father's business
talent, and is a young man of sterling integrity of character, respected by all
Avho know him.


The only representative of his family in America, this respected citizen
■of EaSalle was born in Ireland fifty-eight years ago. His parents, John and
Ellen (Moynahan) Hetherington, passed their entire lives in the Emerald
Isle, dying when our subject was young.

Being an ambitious youth, Benjamin M. Hetherington decided to come
to America, where he was confident that he would find better advantages,
and in 1854 landed in Savannah, Georgia. He then spent about four years
in visiting different parts of this country, and thus is a competent judge of
the merits of the various localities. In 1858 he was married, in Jackson
county, Wisconsin, to Mary, daughter of Michael and Kate (McDonald)
Lawlor. They were natives of Ireland, who first settled in New Jersey upon
their arrival in the. United States, and subsequently removed to Galena,
Illinois, where Mrs. Hetherington was born.

The year after his marriage INIr. Hetherington and wife became resi-
dents of LaSalle, and thus for two-score years they have been identified
with the welfare of this place. During this long period our subject has
been connected with the coal-mining industry, and for many years has held
the responsible position of mine manager of the Union coal shaft in LaSalle.
To his ingenuity and constructive ability may be ascribed the two bridges
built across the Illinois river at LaSalle and Utica. Recognized as a
hard worker and a thoroughly competent man in his line, he commands
the respect of all who are associated with him in any manner.

For eighteen years Mr, Hetherington has been a member of the LaSalle
board of aldermen, and in this ofiice has done much effectual work toward
the upbuilding and improvement of the place. In his early manhood he
cast in his lot with the Democratic party, but, being one who reads, studies
and thinks for himself and has the courage of his convictions, he took issue
with his late poHtical comrades in the last presidential campaign, fearlessly


declaring himself for sound money. He went to the state convention in
Chicago as a delegate to the Democratic convention that nominated the
Hon. John M. Palmer for the ofifice of chief executive. Mr. Hetherington
acted in the capacity of township supervisor for five years, and in other
local offices has proved his genuine regard for the public advancement.

The marriage of our subject and wife was blessed with twelve children,
eight of whom are living. In the order of their birth they are named as
follows: Margaret, John. Thomas, Mary, Kittie, Nora, Benjamin W. and
Lawlor. The family belong to the Catholic church, and are actively con-
nected with its work and benevolences.


Frederick G. Cooper, engineer of the city water-works at LaSalle,
Illinois, w-as born at Lockport, this state, July 12, 1862, a son of Thomas
and Christine (Bloom) Cooper and a grandson of Thomas Benton Cooper,
who sprung from Quaker stock and whose place of nativity was in Penn-
sylvania, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. His occupation was that
of husbandry, and although a Quaker and a believer in peace yet he took
up arms and fought in the war of 181 2. After his marriage he moved to
the state of New York, where he died in early manhood, leaving a widow,
who lived to be a very old lady, dying in the summer of 1892, and an only

This son was Thomas Cooper, who was born in Nev; York, and moved
to the state of Illinois some forty years ago, settling at LaSalle and making
that his headquarters while he plied his vocation of boating on the Illinois
river and the canal. He was united in marriage to Miss Christine Bloom,
with whom he has lived in conjugal happiness many years and who is still
the presiding genius of his home in Newton, Illinois. They have three
children awaiting them in the better land and three who are spared to them
here, viz.: Martha, wife of Charles Heagy, of LaSalle; Frederick G. and
Lydia. Mrs. Cooper was a daughter of Peter Bloom, a shoemaker in
Sweden, who was a soldier in the wars that were waged in that country
and finally left there for America with his family. On the voyage over
they suffered shipwreck and one of his daughters was lost. With the
remaining children, two sons and one daughter (now Mrs. Cooper), he made
his way to the inland country and settled in Henry county, Illinois, where
he lived to be more than eighty-three years of age.

Frederick G. Cooper received a public-school education, but early in
life developed a fondness for machinery which culminated in a mastery of
the trade to which he is devoted. When seventeen or eighteen years of age.


he began his apprenticeship as an engineer, and it was not long before he
could take charge of an engine. For nine or more years he has been em-
ployed in the water-works and electric-light plants of the city and takes a
pardonable pride in his work. He was married August 23, 1888, to Miss
Nellie Williams, a daughter of Captain E. L. and Lydia A. (Hyers) Williams.
Three children, Thomas, Edwin and Lydia, have blessed their home. Mr.
Cooper is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics
he does not incline to either party, being entirely independent of party
influence and in all local elections voting for the candidate whom he thinks
will best serve the interests of the people.

Captain Edwin Lewis Williams, the father of Mrs. F. G. Cooper, was
born in Darien, Connecticut, at which place his parents died after attaining
an advanced age. The father, W'illiam Williams, was a native of Limerick,
Ireland, while the mother, Phoebe, came from Holland. When a lad of
about sixteen years, Edwin L. Williams came west and learned the trade of
painter, at Toulon, Stark county, Illinois. He enlisted in Company F,
Eighth Illinois Volunteers, at Pekin, and served four years, doing duty at
Fort Donelson, Fort Henry and the siege of Vicksburg, and taking part
in many skirmishes. He returned to his home in Pekin, on account of
poor health, but his patriotic ardor was in no way dampened, and as soon
as he recovered somewhat he raised another company. Company K, One
Hundred and Forty-sixth Illinois, of which he was chosen captain. They
were sent to Springfield, Illinois, where they did state service, and he was
one of the body guards of the body of our martyr president, Lincoln, as it
lay in state. After receiving his discharge he went to low-a, having previ-
ously served as postmaster of Pekin, Illinois, and located at Mt. Ayr,
where he filled the ofhces of deputy sheriff and city marshal from the year
1872 to 1883. He was united in wedlock to Miss Lydia Hyers, a native
of West Point, Lee county, Iowa, and a daughter of William B. and Eleanor
(Waggoner) Hyers, a carpenter and cabinet-maker of that place. She was
of Scotch descent, and one of seven children. After leaving Mt. Ayr, Mr.
Williams took his family to Tazewell county, Illinois, locating in Spring
Lake township, where he was scale master and assessor for several years,
and W'here he died, in his fifty-ninth year, in 1893, loved and respected
by all.


Joseph Ertel, proprietor of the Eagle Mills and dealer in flour and all
kinds of feed, Mendota, Illinois, is a young man who has worked his way
to the front and who occupies a representative position among the business


men of his town. Mr. Ertel was born in Austria, March 5, 1865, and was
reared in his native land, learning there the miller's trade. In 1891 he took
to himself a wife and on the same da}- of his marriage bade good-by to home
and friends and native land and with his bride started for America. Upon
his arrival in this country he came directly west to Iowa. After four weeks
spent in Iowa City he located in Tomberg, Keokuk county, Iowa, and was
there for two- years engaged in railroading, as a section hand. In 1893 he
came to Mendota and secured employment in the Eagle Mills, then operated
by Mr. Meisenbach, and remained with him one year. The next two years
he was engaged in farming in Minnesota. Returning at the end of that
time to Mendota, he took charge of the mills in which he had formerly
been employed, and has since run them successfully.

j\Ir. Ertel was married in the old country, as already stated, in 1891^
the lady of his choice being Mary Pesibel, and they are the parents of four
children. Fraternally Mr. Ertel is identified with the A. O. U. W.


Clyde M. Snow, one of the younger business men of Earlville. Illinois,
is a son of Simeon Edward Snow, who was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont^
October 15, 1849. Mr. Snow's paternal grandparents were Reuben Russell
Snow and Sarah (Mason) Snow. In tracing the genealogy of the family, we
observe that Reuben R. Snow was a son of Simeon Snow, son of Reuben
Snow, son of Eleazar Snow, son of William Snow, son of William Snow,.
Sr., who was the parent tree of the family in America, coming from Lon-
don, England, his native city, to New England, in 1635. He was then in
his youth and was brought to this country as an apprentice. Reaching
his majority, he married and settled in Massachusetts. Many have been
his descendants, and they have been scattered to many of the states of the
Union. Among them have numbered prominent professional and business
men. Longevity is remarkable in the Snow family. Not a male descendant
in direct line, reaching maturity, save one, has died under the age of eighty
years. One died at the age of seventy-seven years. The paternal grand-
father of our subject came from Vermont to Illinois in 1857 and located
in Earlville, and here died in 1898, aged eighty-seven years. His occupa-
tion was not confined to one vocation of life. Various pursuits he followed.
In early life he was a tanner and in later Hfe a druggist, and to-day is best
remembered in Earlville as a druggist. He was a member of the Vermont
legislature in 1851. Only three of his children lived to a mature age, they


being Emery and Zerina, who are now deceased, and S. E. Snow, the
father of the immediate subject of this sketch.

S. E. Snow was about seven years of age when his father came to
Earlville, IlHnois, in which place he has ahvays made his home. For more
than thirty years he has been continuously engaged in the manufacture of
carriages, in blacksmithing and dealing in farm implements. His place of
business was burned out in 1875, but he rebuilt and to-day has a fine brick
structure for a business house, and is a prosperous business man. He com-
menced his business career with a limited capital, has worked out his own
success, and won his way to a position among the substantial and leading
citizens of Earlville. In politics he is a Democrat, and fraternally a Master
Mason. In 1867 S. E. Snow married Arabelle Warren, a native of Paw
Paw, Illinois, and the subject of this biography, Clyde M. Snow, is their
only child.

Clyde M. Snow was born in Earlville, Illinois, March 9, 1868. He
attended the public schools of Earlville, spent six months in a military
academy at Oxford, IMaryland, and took a commercial course in Bryant &
Stratton's Business College at Chicago. From boyhood he worked more or
less with his father, and was devoting his time to the interest of his father's
business when he was commissioned postmaster of Earlville, May i, 1894.
For four years he acted in that capacity, rendering satisfactory service to
the public. June 15, 1898, he became a member of the drug firm of Pool
& Snow, of Earlville, and at this writing is engaged in the drug business.
In politics Mr. Snow has been active as a Democrat. He is a Master Mason
and also belongs to the Knights of the Globe.


Harry W. Todd, the prosperous and well known grocer of LaSalle, was
born on the Vermilion river, at Todd's Mills, near Vermilion, July 9, 1856.
He is a son of Ira and Mary W. (Cushman) Todd. The family are of
Scotch extraction, and the great-grandfather fought in the war of the
Revolution. The grandfather, also named Ira Todd, came west in 1832
and bought the mill at Todd's Mills. Previous to this he conducted mills at
Jersey City, New Jersey; Cooperstown, New York; Northampton, Massa-
chusetts; and Hartford, Connecticut. He was at the head of the milling
company in St. Louis, a company which he helped to organize and which
had formerly had its headquarters at Jersey City and Detroit. He died at
Winona in his eighty-sixth year.

Ira Todd, the father, was one of ten children, eight sons and two


daughters, of whom but one is now living. That one is George Todd, of
St. Louis, who is now in his eighty-fourth year and has resided in that
city since 1835. He was an extensive manufacturer of mill machinery.
Ira Todd remained at Todd's Mills until 1857, when he came to LaSalle and
conducted a wholesale grocery house, at the same time operating a mill
in Peru which was known as that of W. & I. Todd & Company. He was
the victim of the "wildcat" currency and failed in business during the war
as a result of that policy. He then opened a retail grocery in this city in
company with J. S. Roberts, Calvin Wilson and Dr. J. C. Brown. Later he
had charge of the books in the glass factory and the Oglesby Coal Com-
pany's offices. After his son Harry opened his grocery store he assisted in
that, retiring from active life a few years prior to his death. He was a
•man of robust constitution and great endurance. He was a great reader in
•all lines of importance to the public and a close Bible student. A man of
■decided views, he formed his opinions after mature deliberation, and was
not easily moved to change them. He was a Republican in former times
and a great friend of Alexander Campbell, of LaSalle. He was also a
friend and admirer of Abraham Lincoln. He later became a strong Pro-
hibitionist. The mill first operated by him was the one his father purchased
in 1832. Farmers used to bring their grist a distance of fifty miles and wait
until it had been converted into flour or meal.

He was married to Mary W. Cushman, a sister of the late Colonel
Cushman, of Ottawa, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Todd were honored members
of the Congregational church, in which he held the office of deacon for
about twenty-five years. He was a native of Hartford, Connecticut, while
his wife was from the state of Massachusetts. Three children were born
to them, of whom two are living: George I. and Harry W., both of LaSalle.
The father died January 25, 1899, after passing his seventy-sixth year.
His wife died November 7, 1894, when in her seventieth year. The father of
Mrs. Todd was Hercules Cushman, a native of the state of Massachusetts
and of English descent. His grandfather came to America about the time
the Mayflower brought the early Pilgrims. Hercules was a lawyer in his
native state, where he died in middle life. He was twice married, the ladies
being sisters named Washburn. He had three children, two daughters and
one son.

Harry W. Todd has made his home in LaSalle from the time he was
brought here by his parents in 1857. Here he received his education. He
was with E. B. Treat seven years, quitting his employment once to open
a hardware store of his own. This was conducted but a short time when
he returned to his former employer. He also engaged for a time in the
wholesale and retail butter and egg business. In 1883 he opened his


grocery store at 545 Marquette street, where he has since conducted it.
He has a growing and prosperous business and endeavors to satisfy the
wants of his many patrons. He is a RepubHcan in poHtics and is a member
of the Congregational church society. He is also a member of the Knights
and Ladies' Security. He has traveled extensively in the states and is a man
of Dleasine: address and an intelligent converser. It has l^een forty-three
years since he first made his home in LaSalle, and thirty-five years of the
time have been spent in the old home at No. 1007 Marquette street. In
November, 1899, Mr. Todd married Miss Neva L. Dimmitt, of Kansas
Citv. Kansas.


The German-American citizens of the United States have always been
numbered among her most loyal sons, and to their industry and energy
and sound business enterprise much of the prosperity which this great
nation enjoys may be justly attributed. One of the old and honored resi-
dents of LaSalle county was William Harth, who lived his last years in
retirement from active labors and cares, and for the last eleven years of
his life made his home in Peru. He enjoyed the respect of the friends
and neighbors who knew him for }'ears, some for almost half a century.

The parents of the above named gentleman were Theodore and Ger-
trude (Pfeld) Harth, both natives of Germany, their occupation being that
of tillers of the soil. The father died when about sixty-three years of age, in
183 1, and the mother, whose death took place in 1844, was then in her sixty-
fourth year. They were both identified with the Catholic church. Both of
the grandfathers of our subject were agriculturists and passed their whole
lives in Germany. Grandfather Pfeld died suddenly, when in the full vigor
of life, while engaged in plowing a field. His children were three in number.
Christian Harth, a brother of our subject, is the only survivor of the parental
family, as one by one their six sons and four daughters passed into the
silent land.

William Harth was born in the town of Kull, on the banks of the river
Rhine, in Germany, March 12. 1821. His boyhood was quietly spent in the
usual vocations of a farm and in attendance at the common schools. He
continued to live at home until he reached man's estate, and in 1846 he
decided to try his fortune in the United States. Almost immediately after
his arrival in this country he settled in LaSalle county, Illinois, and, having
purchased a quarter section of land in Eagle township, he proceeded to
cultivate and improve his property. As the years rolled by he prospered and

Online LibraryLewis Publishing CompanyBiographical and genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 44)