William W Davis.

History of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) online

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Online LibraryWilliam W DavisHistory of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) → online text (page 59 of 72)
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Edwin Brookfield ceases to be cherished in the hearts of those who knew him.


Mrs. Brookfield, surviving her husband, still makes her home in Ster-
ling. She is a lady of literary taste and culture, who entered the public
schools of Sterling and began her education there, completing it in the uni-
versity at Lake Forest, Illinois. She shared with her husband in his deep
interest in the welfare and progress of the city and is much interested in all
that pertains to the welfare of Sterling. She has recently given the beautiful
home in which she was reared to the city of Sterling for a hospital, which
is not conducted in the interest of any church or society, but is open to
people of all faiths and creeds. It is a beautiful property, situated on West
Third street, surrounded by a broad lawn and adorned with fine old trees.
It overlooks the Rock river and is most advantageously situated and will
ever be a monument to its generous and public-spirited giver. Mrs. Brook-
field is recognized as a leader in the social circles of Sterling and her influ-
ence is an element in the intellectual and esthetic culture as well as moral
development of the city.


Among the energetic, far-seeing and successful business men of White-
side county is numbered Robert L. Burchell, whose business interests have
largely been of a nature that have promoted the general development of his
town while advancing individual success. He is today president of the First
National Bank of Erie, and proprietor of the largest mercantile establishment
of the town. He has been closely associated with its commercial and finan-
cial interests since 1868, and bears an unassailable reputation by reason of
the straightforward, honorable business principles that he has ever followed.

Mr. Burchell was born in Columbus City, Iowa, May 31, 1846. His
father, Robert C. Burchell, was a native of Virginia and a member of the
legal profession. About 1850 he removed westward, settling in Columbus
City, Iowa, and in 1855 became a resident of Oregon, Ogle county, Illinois,
where he gained a position among the prominent and influential residents
of that locality. His practice was large and of a distinctively representa-
tive character, connecting him with the most important litigation tried in
the courts of his district. He . was state district attorney for eight years,
was one of the electors on the Greeley ticket and later' was a strong Elaine
man. He also served as mayor of Oregon and in public office his loyalty
was above question, while his ability was widely recognized. He married
Miss Mary J. Morris, a native of New Albany, Indiana, and they became the
parents of six children : Kate, the wife of Adolph Jones, a resident farmer
of Iowa; Henry, a merchant of Walnut. Bureau county, Illinois; Nancy;
Robert- L. ; Frank, a merchant of Oregon. Illinois; and Jennie, the wife of
Charles Wales, of Savanna, this state.

Robert L. Burchell acquired his education in the schools of Mount Morris,
Ogle county. Illinois, and made his initial step in the business world as clerk
in a store in Oregon, where he remained for three years. During that time


he largely acquainted himself with commercial methods and, going to Frank-
lin Grove, Lee county, Illinois, was also employed as a clerk for a time. Later
he occupied a similar position at Dixon but was actuated by laudable ambition
to engage in business on his own account and in 1868 came to Erie, where
he opened a dry goods store, investing a capital of about thirty-six hundred
dollars. As the years have passed his business has constantly increased until
he now owns three large stores and carries a stock valued at more than ten
times the amount originally invested. In fact he has one of the largest
stores in the county, carrying an extensive line of general merchandise.

A man of resourceful business ability, Mr. Burchell has extended his
efforts into various other lines. Soon after his arrival in Erie he opened a
private bank, which he conducted until the 1st of October, 1903, when he
discontinued the private banking business and organized the First National
Bank of Erie, of which he became president, while his son, Robert C., became
cashier. The bank is capitalized for forty thousand dollars and now has
surplus and undivided profits of twenty thousand dollars. He owns valuable
real estate, including the building in which he now carries on business and
which was erected by him in 1804. It is a large brick block, two stories in
height with basement, having a frontage of one hundred and twenty feet
and a depth of one hundred feet. This entire building is occupied by Mr.
Burchell in his general merchandising interests. He is also the owner of
a valuable farm property in Erie and Fenton townships and has a number of
buildings in the village. He also established a creamery in Erie, conducting
an extensive and constantly growing business in that line, and in 1870 he was
appointed postmaster of Erie and continued to fill the position for many
years. This by no means covers the extent of his public service in office, for
he filled the position of supervisor for a number of years and was chairman
of the board for two terms. He has also been treasurer of the village and
school treasurer as well, and whether in office or out of it he gives loyal
support to every movement or measure calculated to benefit the community.

Mr. Burchell was married on the 18th of November, 1866, in Chicago, to
Miss Margaret Victoria Jones, a daughter of Augustus and Mary Jones and
a native of the State of New York, born November 18, 1847. Their children
are : Robert C., who is cashier of the bank ; Mrs. Mary Shoecraft, a resident of
Clinton, Iowa; George, who has charge of his father's store; and Ruth and
Margaret, in school. The eldest son, Robert C., born June 16, 1870, in Erie,
has resided here throughout his entire life with the exception of the period
between 1887 and 1895, which he spent in Chicago in the wholesale grocery
house of W. M. Hoyt & Company. In the latter year he returned to Erie
and has since been associated with his father in business. He was first con-
nected with the private bank and the store and upon the organization of the
First National Bank became its cashier and has since practically been its
manager. He was educated in the public schools of Erie and also spent two
years as a student at Lake Forest, Illinois. He is today one of the representa-
tive, enterprising business men of the town, a worthy successor of his father
who, though still active in the management of his business affairs, largely
leaves the work of the bank and the store to his sons. Robert C. Burchell


was married in 1896 to Miss Vinnie G. Gilleland, a native of Evansville,
Indiana, but a resident of Chicago at the time of her marriage. Her father
was the Rev. Leland A. Gilleland, a minister of the Congregational church but
now deceased. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Burchell have been born three
children: Robert Lawrence, Richard Gilleland and Leland C. The father
is a stalwart Republican in his political views, is connected socially with the
Knights of Pythias and is regarded as a representative, enterprising citizen of
Erie, standing stanch in support of all interests for the public good, while
in his business affairs he manifests keen discernment and unfaltering dili-

Robert L. Burchell is a member of the Masonic fraternity, joining the
Erie lodge at its organization. He belongs to Prophetstown Chapter and
Sterling Commandery. He is always loyal to the teachings of the craft and
his life record is one which has gained for him the high respect and confidence
of his fellowmen. Throughout his entire life he has endeavored to make all of
his acts and commercial moves the result of definite consideration and sound
judgment. There have never been any great ventures or risks. On the con-
trary he has practiced honest, slow-growing business methods and has sup-
plemented them by energy and good system.


James Smith, a successful agriculturist and also one of the most promi-
nent raisers of fine stock in Whiteside county, was born in Albany, Illinois,
September 20, 1863, a son of William and Sarah A. (Graves) Smith, natives
of England. About 1855 they removed from New York to Whiteside county,
Illinois, locating in Albany, where the father was first employed for a year
by the firm of Quick & Mcllvane as a wagonmaker. Subsequently he engaged
in business on his own account and for thirty-five years carried on a most
profitable trade. His work was all done by hand and he received from seventy-
five to one hundred and twenty-five dollars for each wagon and some of these
vehicles are still in daily use, James Smith having three at the present time
which are yet in good condition. In the conduct of his business interests he
met with a gratifying and well merited measure of success and, having now
attained the age of seventy-seven years, is living retired in the enjoyment of
well earned rest. His wife, who is also yet living, is seventy-two years of age.
This worthy couple became the parents of seven children, five of whom still
survive: Mary, the wife of Thomas Corbett, of Fenton; James, of this review;
Luella, the wife of S. W. Huff, of Lost Nation, Iowa; Sabina, who became the
wife of Fred Miller, of Albany; and William, who likewise resides io Lost
Nation, Iowa.

James Smith acquired his education in the schools of Albany, and when
nineteen years of age rented land in Garden Plain township, successfully car-
rying on his agricultural interests on this tract for nineteen years. In 1894 he
purchased one hundred and twenty acres at fifty-seven dollars and a quarter


per acre, on which he has since resided. The land was well improved at the
time he bought it and his unremitting industry and capable management in
its further development and cultivation are indicated by the fact that it is
now worth one hundred dollars per acre. In connection with the conduct of
his farming interests he is likewise extensively and successfully engaged in the
stock business, making a specialty of fine hogs and thoroughbred draft horses.
He raised one horse for which he received two thousand dollars and often has
draft horses weighing from nineteen hundred to twenty-one hundred pounds.
Plis stock has taken the blue and red ribbon? at the Morrison Fair, while his
sheep, which he has raised for a number of years, have taken the first and
second and even the sweepstake prizes. He is widely recognized as one of
the prosperous and enterprising citizens of the county, whose success has
come to him as the direct result of his own untiring labor and sound business

On the 3d of May, 1888, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Emma
Winona Storer, a daughter of W. H. and Nancy (Gallaher) Storer, natives
of Pennsylvania. They were married in Ohio, Mrs. Storer passing away in
that state. In 1884 Mr. Storer came to Whiteside county and purchased the
farm upon which our subject now resides. His family numbered six chil-
dren, namely : Mary E., the wife of Parson B. Egbert, of Tacoma, Washing-
ton; Mrs. Smith; Harry S., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; William, deceased,
whose wife is now Mrs. Amos Fletcher, of Albany; Martha A., the wife of
Lee Abbott; and Thomas J., who resides in Tacoma, Washington. Unto
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been born two children, Boyd W. and Miles Standish.

In his political views Mr. Smith is independent, casting his ballot for the
men whom he deems best qualified for office, regardless of party ties. A native
son of this county, he is well and favorably known as a representative agri-
culturist and stock-raiser and as a citizen whose aid can always be counted upon
to further any movement instituted for the general welfare and for the de-
velopment and upbuilding of this section of the state.


Nature seems to have intended that man shall enjoy a period of rest in the
evening of life. In youth one is full of energy and bright hopes and in more
mature manhood his labors are performed by a sound judgment that results
from experience and observation. If his work is therefore persistently car-
ried on he cannot fail to achieve a measure of success that will enable him
to enjoy the necessities at least and some of the comforts of life in the evening
of his days without recourse to further labor. Such has been the history of Mr.
Wormell, who in former years was actively engaged in farming but is now liv-
ing retired.

He was born in Lincolnshire, England, September 15, 1833. His par-
ents were John and Ann (Roland) Wormell, both of whom were natives of
that country. The father followed various occupations and to some extent


engaged in contracting. He died in middle life, his wife surviving him for
a number of years. They were the parents of thirteen children, of whom
four daughters are yet living.

Thomas Wormell, the only surviving s'on, was reared in the county of his
nativity as a farm boy, early becoming familiar with all the duties and labors
incident to the cultivation and development of the fields. His youth was large-
ly a period of strenuous toil, for when very young he was put to work at herd-
ing cattle.

As a companion and helpmate for the journey of life he chose Miss Ann
Turgoose, whom he wedded on the 23d of May, 1854. She died leaving one
son, George, who has also passed away. For his second wife Mr. Wormell
chose Miss Diana M. Young, and they had one son, Frank T., now thirteen
years of age. The wife and mother died in 1901, and in January, 1907, Mr.
Wormell married Mrs. Hester Barnes, the widow of Charles Barnes, a soldier
of the Civil war, and a daughter of Samuel and Priscilla (Rapp) Thoman.
Mrs. Wormell was born and reared in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and was
married there to Charles Barnes, by whom she had twelve children: Mary
Ellen, who died in childhood; Franklin Pierce; Stella May; Rosanna; Samuel;
Elizabeth; Joseph; Sarah; Stafford; Charles; Isabel; and Katie. Of these
Franklin P. and Stella May died in childhood. Rosanna became the wife of
Milton Culver, a resident of Chicago, and they have three children, Sidney and
Josephine. Samuel Barnes, living in Kansas, married Elizabeth Corcoran,
who is now deceased and they had four children, William, May, Roy and
Pearl. Elizabeth married William Russell, by whom she had four children,
Tabitha, Annie, George and Clarence, and after the death of her first husband
she became the wife of Mr. Jones, with whom she is now living in Canada.
Joseph Barnes, a molder of Rock Falls, wedded Cora Myers, of Tampico, and
they have seven children, Maude, Joseph, Ruby, Viola, Nettie, Lillian and
Zera. Sarah, the wife of Eli Kewley, had one daughter, Esther, and after the
death of her first husband she-married Frank Burke, and had five children,
Albert, Frank, Katie, Byron and Annie. Stafford married Sedate Blair and
they have one daughter, Lenora. Charles Barnes is married and his children
are Nellie, Irene, Frank and Walter. Isabel is the wife of George Hulett, of
Morrison. Katie became the wife of Henry William Adams, by whom she has
a daughter, Edna Loraine Adams, and her second husband was Egbert Wilson,
by whom she has one daughter, Dorothy Wilson.

Mr. Wormell remained a resident of his native country until twenty-
four years of age, when in 1857 he came to America, accompanied by his
brother Robert, who died the same fall on the eighteenth anniversary of his
birth. Following his arrival in America Thomas Wormell began farming in
Hume township, Whiteside county. Illinois, working by the day the first year.
In 1858, desirous that his labors should more directly benefit himself, he rented
a farm and in the ensuing years cultivated several rented farms until his un-
tiring diligence, economy and perseverance brought him capital sufficient to
enable him to purchase a farm. In 1866 he bought one hundred and seven-
teen acres of land in Hume township, which he still owns, and there he lived
until about 1877, when he removed to Sterling and engaged in dealing in


horses for twelve years, or until 1889, when he came to Rock Falls. Here he
built a fine residence, which he still occupies, and is now living retired, for his
activity in former years 'brought him well merited rest, while the desirable
competence which he gained enables him to enjoy well earned ease.

Mr. Wormell has always been interested in the welfare and progress of his
community and his co-operation could ever be counted upon to further pro-
gressive public interests. He was road commissioner in Hume township for
one year at an early day and put in the first gravel road there. Both he and
his wife are members of the Methodist church and their lives are in harmony
with their professions, while their good qualities have gained for them the
devotion of many warm friends.


Frank Wellington Wheeler, special agent for Union Pacific Railroad lands,
was born in Keene, New Hampshire, September 15, 1850. The family was
an old one of the Granite state. His great-grandparents lived there and it was
the birth place of his grandfather, Aaron Wheeler, who was a farmer by occu-
pation and was captain of a training company in the days of the old state
militia. He married Dolly Gleason and they reared a large family, including
Almon Wheeler, who was likewise born in New Hampshire. He became a
school teacher of that state and resided in New England until his removal west-
ward to Belvidere, Illinois, at a very early day. He afterward became a resi-
dent of Cherry Valley, where he engaged in the lumber business in 1856.
Several years later he took up his abode in Mendota, where he also conducted
business as a lumber merchant, and thence came to Rock Falls, where he
again established a lumberyard, becoming one of the representative business
men of the city. He wedded Miss Eliza J. Wellington, also a native of New
Hampshire and a daughter of Erastus Wellington, who traced his lineage
back to the Duke of Wellington, the celebrated hero of the battle of Waterloo.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Almon Wheeler were Congregation alists in religious
faith and were people of prominence in the various communities in which
they lived. Mr. Wheeler left the impress of his individuality upon municipal
affairs in Rock Falls, where he served for several terms as mayor, giving the
city a public-spirited, businesslike and efficient administration. He was one
of the promoters and director for several terms of the Rock River branch of the
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. His family numbered two sons and
two daughters: Susan M., the widow of W. W. Brown, of Rock Falls, Illinois;
Frank Wellington, of Sterling, Illinois; Jennie A., the deceased wife of F. H.
Geyer of Rock Falls; and Dana A., who died in early childhood.

Frank Wellington Wheeler was only about four years old when brought
by his parents to Illinois. He obtained his early education at Cherry Valley
and afterwards went to Chicago, where he learned the business of inspecting
lumber, becoming an expert. Later he bought and sold lumber on the whole-
sale market for a number of years, after which he took charge of a retail


lumberyard at Mendota. In the fall of 1867 he came to Rock Falls and
established a lumberyard for his father, who later took up his abode there,
conducting the business for a time, after which F. W. Wheeler and his brother-
in-law, W. W. Brown, purchased the business, which they conducted for sev-
eral years under the firm style of Wheeler & Brown. The yard is now owned
by the Johnston Lumber Company. For the past twelve years Mr. Wheeler
has been with the land department of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
Thoroughness characterizes him in everything he undertakes and his enter-
prise is one of his strong and salient characteristics.

On the 2d of February, 1881, was celebrated the marriage of F. W.
Wheeler and Miss Louisa M. Coe, a daughter of Marcus L. and Sarah Kirk
Coe, and they have two children, Arthur Wellington and LeRoy Coe. The
family are members of the Congregational church, and Mr. Wheeler belongs
to Rock River Lodge, No.- 612, A. F. & A. M. Politically he is an earnest
republican and has been a member of the township high school board since
its organization. He served on the building committee for the school build-
ing also the Masonic Temple, was vice president of the soldiers monument
association and many other committees of importance, including the Henne-
pin canal. For forty years a resident of Whiteside county, his circle of friends
is very extensive, and he has always been known here as a reliable, enterpris-
ing business man.


That Henry Reedy occupies a notable position, both in business and
agricultural circles, in Whiteside county is a uniformly accepted fact, and
that his labors have been of a character that have contributed to general
progress and prosperity as well as to individual success is also known. He
is one of the largest landowners in this section of the state, his home prop-
erty comprising seven hundred and eighty acres of land, situated in Albany
township, and he also owns three hundred and twenty-seven acres situated
in Newton township, in addition to two tracts of land, one of thirty-seven
acres and a second of twenty-five acres, located on Cedar creek, this being
known as Prospect park, one of the most attractive places in this part of
Whiteside county.

Mr. Reedy was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania, April 27, 1846, a
son of George and Sallie (Troutman) Reedy, representatives of old German
families of the Keystone state. The father was a tailor by trade and followed
that occupation throughout the greater part of his life. He also owned a
farm in Pennsylvania and on that place spent the later years of his life.
This property is still in possession of the Reedy family. Both the parents
are now deceased, the father having passed away in 1883, while the mother's
death occurred in 1888. Their family numbered six children, of whom
Henry, of this review, is the eldest, the others being: Mary, the wife of
Adam Klee, who resides near the old homestead in Pennsylvania; Amelia;




Philip ; Emma, the wife of Ezra Leis, by whom she has one child, their home
being on the old Reedy farm in the east ; and Frank, who is married and has
seven children, his home also being in that state.

Henry Reedy was reared under the parental roof, his education being
acquired in the common schools of Berks county, Pennsylvania. At the age
of fourteen years he secured employment at farm labor by the month, receiv-
ing for his services three dollars per month. He was thus employed for
several years during the summer months, but during the winter seasons
returned to his home and continued his education in the common schools.
Being a young man of ambitious and energetic spirit and having heard
favorable reports concerning the opportunities to be enjoyed in the west, he
decided to try his fortune in other fields, and accordingly in 1864 made his
way to Wayne county, Ohio, being employed by a farmer named Peter
Emrick, near Wooster, from whom he received a salary of twenty dollars
per month for his labor. The following year, however, he made his way to
Saginaw, Michigan, but not being pleased with that country he remained but
three weeks, thence making his way to Whiteside county, the time of his
arrival here being March 1, 1867. He first secured employment with
Stephen Slocumb, one of the oldest settlers of this county, with whom he
remained for a time, and later was employed by John Lutz by the day during
the harvest season. At the end of the season he hired to Mr. Lutz for a
year, at three hundred dollars. In the meantime he contracted with Mr.
Lutz for corn at thirty cents per bushel and on the expiration of his term
of service with that gentleman, Mr. Reedy invested his capital in cattle and
in this way he made his start in the business world, his net profits being
between six and seven hundred dollars.

In 1870 he was married, after which he took up his abode upon a rented
farm, but the following year he purchased one hundred and twenty acres of
land in Newton township. He made many improvements on that property
and there made his home for eight years. He then disposed of that farm

Online LibraryWilliam W DavisHistory of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) → online text (page 59 of 72)