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 61 of 72)
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seat. He aided largely in molding the public policy and shaping the destiny
of the county at an early day. His opinions carried weight among his fellow
townsmen, for it was well known that he had the best interests of the com-
munity at heart and that his efforts in its behalf were practical and bene-
ficial. Through his agricultural interests he contributed in substantial
measure to the material development of the county and at all times he cham-
pioned every cause that tended to prove of public good. When he located
here, such was the wild condition that he had to go to Springfield to enter
his claim at the land office there. Following his removal to Sterling he
engaged in the hardware business and also owned an interest in the R. B.
Whitmer store. His carefully directed interests, unflagging industry and
keen discernment combined to make him one of the wealthy citizens of the
community, while his devotion to the public good gained him prominence
as a citizen. He was a faithful member of the Presbyterian church and prior
to the war was a staunch advocate of the abolition movement, assisting mate-
rially in the work of the underground railroad, whereby many a poor slave
from the south was assisted on his way to freedom in Canada. The death
of Mr. Manahan occurred while he was on a visit to his farm in Hopkins
township on the 16th of June, 1886, when he was eighty years of age, and
thus passed away one of the most honored and valued pioneer settlers.

John G. Manahan was a lad of nine years when the parents made the
trip down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Whiteside county. The family
lived in true pioneer style and amid the environments of the frontier his
youth was passed. It was an age in which every individual worked and
when men were judged by their personal characteristics, ability and accom-
plishments rather than by the record of their ancestors. Mr. Manahan re-
mained upon the farm with the family until 1854, when they removed to
Sterling. He supplemented his early education by study in Knox College at
Galesburg and prepared for the bar in Sterling, beginning his reading in the
office and under the direction of the law firm of Kirk & Ward, the latter an
older brother of Judge Ward. Before his admission to the bar, however,
events of national importance interfered with the continuance of his studies.
His patriotic spirit aroused by the attempt of the south to break asunder the
Union, he offered his services to the government, joining Company B of the
"Thirteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in 18f>l. Fearless in defense of the


old flag and the cause it represented, he valiantly supported the Union cause
until the siege of Vicksburg, in which he was wounded. His injuries neces-
sitated his being sent to the hospital at St. Louis and later he was detailed to
guard rebel prisoners at Rock Island, taking the first prisoners to Governor
Island. His military service covered more than three years and was most

When honorably discharged Mr. Manahan returned to Whiteside county
and spent the succeeding three years upon his father's farm, with the hope
that the outdoor life would again build up his health, which had been
broken down through the rigors and hardships of military experience. It
was during that period that he married and thus established a home of his
own. On Christmas day of 1868 was celebrated the wedding of John Gait
Manahan and Miss Chattie L. Ward, a daughter of John B. and Mary A.
(Mumma) Ward. The former was a son of Philip Ward, a native of Ches-
ter county, Pennsylvania, who followed farming throughout the greater part
of his life. He wedded Margaret Brown and in later years removed to Ohio,
where he died in his eighty-ninth year, while his wife passed away in her
eighty-fourth year. They were the parents of thirteen children, ten of whom
reached adult age. The Ward family is of English descent. The Mummas,
however, are of German lineage and John Mumma, the maternal grand-
father of Mrs. Manahan, was a native of Maryland, where he carried on
agricultural pursuits. He wedded Mary Fox, who was also born in Mary-
land and was likewise of German descent. When about forty years of age
he was killed by a falling tree and his wife, long surviving him, died in her
eighty-ninth year, being blind for three or four years prior to her demise.

John B. Ward, father of Mrs. Manahan, was a native of Chester county,
Pennsylvania, while his wife was born in Hagerstown, Maryland. In early
childhood they accompanied their respective parents to Ohio, settling in
Belmont county, where they resided until 1873, when they came to Sterling.
Here Mr. Ward purchased a number of lots and built a comfortable home
on Avenue B, where he died in 1899 at the age of eighty-nine years and
seven months. His wife survived him until April, 1903, and lacked but
twenty-five days of being ninety years of age. They had three sons and
two daughters: Eber B., who was captain of Company A, Thirty-fourth
Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and died during the war; Mrs. Manahan;
Rowena V., the deceased wife of- J. F. Barrett; Winfield Scott Ward and
Judge Henry C. Ward, both of Sterling.

Following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Manahan remained for a year
upon the old homestead farm and then removed to Sterling, where he pur-
chased the ground on which the beautiful home of his widow now stands.
There was one daughter born to them Mary Isabella, now the wife of Fred
W. Honens, a civil engineer in the employ of the government, now residing
at Sterling. They have two children, John G. and Robert W.

In 1868 Mr. Manahan was admitted to the bar and engaged in practice
in Sterling, being a partner of Colonel William Kilgour for a number of
years. A large and distinctively representative clientage was accorded him
and he became especially prominent in the practice of patent law before the


federal courts. His preparation of cases was thorough and exhaustive and
his position was largely unassailable. Aside from his law practice he had
business interests in Sterling, having been one of the organizers of the Ster-
ling Ga.s & Electric Light Company and financially interested in the Gas
Engine Company.

In community affairs Mr. Manahan was ever known as one loyal and
progressive in support of public measures for the general good. His aid
could always be counted upon to further any movement tending to benefit
the community. He was largely instrumental in establishing the public
library and advocated many interests which were a matter of civic virtue and
civic pride. He served as alderman for many terms and for three terms was
mayor of the city, giving a businesslike, practical and beneficial administra-
tion. He was also elected to represent his district in the state legislature as
the candidate of the republican party and gave to each question which came
up for settlement during his term his earnest consideration. His support
or opposition were always a matter of sincere belief and his political integrity
was ever unsullied. He served for twelve years, beginning in 1879, as a
member of the state board of charities, and his broad humanitarianism, com-
bined with his business dispatch, well qualified him for that office. He had
a wide acquaintance among the prominent political leaders of the state and
enjoyed the warm personal friendship of Governors Fifer and Tanner. None
doubted his Christianity. It was a part of his daily life as well as Sunday
church observance. He belonged to the Presbyterian church and for more
than twenty-five years served as one of its deacons, while for a long period
he was superintendent of the Sunday school. He contributed generously to
the support of the church and did everything in his power to promote its
growth and extend its influence. He died September 11, 1897, at the age
of sixty years, and Whiteside county mourned the loss of one whom it had
come to know and honor, one who in pioneer days was connected with its
early development, who in his profession had adhered to the highest standard
of legal ethics, who in public service had discharged his duties with the
utmost fidelity, who on the fields of battle had demonstrated his loyalty and
who in the circle of his acquaintances held friendship inviolable and dis-
played the utmost devotion to family ties.


George II. Fadden, president of the village board of Erie, is one of the
representative citizens whose efforts in behalf of public progress have been
far-reaching and beneficial. He is moreover a business man of energy and
determination, who has gained a place among the men of affluence in White-
side county by reason of his well directed energy and unwearied diligence.
He is owner of the Rock River Dairy Farm and is the only milk dealer in
the village in which he resides.

Mr. Fadden is a native of the province of Quebec, Canada, having been
born near Clarenceville, December 8, 1847. His parents were Ira F. and


Lucinda (Patterson) Fadden, also natives of that locality. They resided in
Canada until 1889, when they came to Whiteside county, Illinois, and Mr.
Fadden spent his last days in Prophetstown, where he died in October, 1906,
at the venerable age of eighty-five years. His wife, who was born February
26, 1828, in Prophetstown, died February 17, 1908. The Faddens lived in
the United States during the colonial epoch of our country's history but
became pioneer settlers in Canada and cleared heavy timber land, developing
that region in which occurred the birth of George H. Fadden.

The eldest in a family of twelve children, of whom eleven are yet living,
George II. Fadden was reared upon the home farm, about two miles from
the town of Clarenceville, to the age of seventeen years. He then left home
and has since provided for his own support. Going to Vermont, he worked
at the carpenter's trade for a year, after which he returned home to spend the
winter. He next went to Marlboro, Massachusetts, where he worked during
the greater part of the time during the succeeding two years. He then again
went to Canada, where he continued until the fall of 1868, when he once
more crossed the border into the United States and this time became a resi-
dent of Sterling, where he continued for a brief period. He worked on the
dam the year in which the bridge went out. In September, 1868, he came
to Erie and for six years was engaged in railroad construction work in this
state and Iowa, being thus engaged through the summer months, while the
winter seasons were passed at Erie. At length he enterd the butchering and
live-stock business with William Guthrie, a relation that was maintained for
four years. He continued in the butchering business altogether for about
ten years and on the expiration of that period turned his attention to farm-
ing, which he followed for eighteen years, his farm buildings being within
the corporation limits of Erie. This was his father-in-law's old place, which
is now owned by his wife and comprises two hundred and twenty acres of
land. Four years ago he left the farm and built his present fine residence,
which he now occupies. He is engaged in retailing milk, running a wagon
for this purpose, and he owns a valuable farm property of one hundred and
Jfifty acres on sections 27 and 28, Fenton township. His farm in the town
is conducted as a dairy farm and is known as the Rock River Dairy. Mr.
Fadden has continued in the dairy business for the past seven years and
is now the only retail dealer in milk in Erie. He keeps twenty-five cows
and has a liberal patronage, conducting an extensive and profitable business.
Aside from his interests in that line he is a stockholder and director in the
First National Bank of Erie, with which he has thus been connected from its
organization. In his business affairs he displays sound judgment and keen
sagacity and his well managed interests are bringing to him gratifying success.

On the 22d of September, 1875, Mr. Fadden was married to Miss Geneva
M. Gordon, who was born in Rushford, Allegany county, New York, October
18, 1852. and in 1854 was brought to Erie, by her parents, Lorenzo Dow
and (Rawson) Gordon, who drove across the country from New York
to Illinois. Her parents were natives of Allegany county, New York, and
continued residents of the Empire state until 1854, when they came to White-
.side county. Her father conducted a woolen factory in the east but on


reaching Illinois settled upon the farm which is now owned by Mrs. Fadden,
on section 7, Erie township. Mr. Gordon purchased two hundred acres of
land which was partly improved and which lies partly within the corporation
limits of the village. There he resided until his death, which occurred in
October 22, 1894, when he was seventy-seven years of age, his birth having
occurred in 1817. His wife, who was born in 1817, passed away May 7, 1884.
His father, William Gordon, was owner of a large woolen mill in the east.
He was a native of New England and was of Scotch descent. His family
numbered twelve children. He was very active in the work of the Methodist
church and was a local preacher of that denomination. The family of
Lorenzo 1). Gordon numbered two children, the older being Marion, the de-
ceased wife of Robert Wood.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Fadden have been born three children : Lester
Gordon, who wedded Christina Michelson and resides upon his mother's
farm in Erie township; Mabel Clare, the wife of Fred Bleitz, who is living
upon her father's farm in Fenton township; and Hazel Belle. Mr. and Mrs,
Bleitz have two children, Gordon and Darrel Hobart.

While Mr. Fadden has long made his home in this county and is well
known as a representative business man, he has been equally prominent in
public affairs and is now serving for the second term of two years as president
of the village board. He has been a life-long republican and a recognized
leader of his party in this locality. He has served on the village board for
thirteen consecutive years and has done effective service for the town in
its development and progress. He has also been school director here for ten
years and the cause of education finds in him a stalwart champion. Frater-
nally he is a Mason, belonging to the blue lodge at Erie and the chapter at
Prophetstown and he is also connected with the Knights of Pythias lodge of
Erie. His is a sturdy American character and a stalwart patriotism and he
has the strongest attachment for our free institutions, being ever willing to-
make any personal sacrifice for their preservation, while his loyalty to com-
munity interests is manifest in many tangible ways.


Judge Aaron A. Wolferaperger, a well known member of the Sterling bar r
was born in Jordan township, Whiteside county, March 22, 1856. The
Wolfersperger family is of German Swiss ancestry and Avas established at a,
very early clay in the seventeenth century in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania,
where John AVolfersperger, the grandfather of our subject, was born, reared
and followed farming. Later he and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Wolfersperger,
came to Illinois in 1868, after selling their property in the east, and resided
on one of the farms owned by their son John in Jordan township. There
John Wolfersperger. Sr., died at the age of eighty years, while his wife sur-
vived him for a few years and died at the age of eighty-four.


Their son, John Wolfersperger, Jr., was an only child. He was born in
Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, and throughout his entire life followed general
agricultural pursuits. He removed westward to \Vhiteside county about 1850,
settling in Jordan township when this was a frontier district. He purchased
land from the government and from time to time added to his possessions until
they aggregated about nine hundred and sixty acres, which he developed
and improved, bringing his farms under a high state of cultivation. Be-
cause of his judicious investment and capable business management he
prospered, becoming one of the wealthy farmers of the county. He resided
upon his place until 1884, when he removed to Sterling, where he lived re-
tired, his death there occurring in 1897 when he was seventy-seven years.
In early manhood he married Lydia Kapp, a daughter of Jacob Kapp, a na-
tive of Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, and of German descent. The history
of the Knpp family also dates back for many generations in that state, where
Jacob Kapp followed farming as a life work. Both he and his wife died
there. Their daughter, Mrs. Wolfersperger, passed away in 1895 at the age
of seventy-three years, while the death of John Wolfersperger occurred in
Sterling in 1897 at the age of seventy-seven. They were both members of the
Lutheran church and its teachings constituted the guide of their lives. In
their family were six children, of whom four are yet living: Cassie W.,
the wife of Rev. W. C. Seidel, of Sterling; Maggie W., the wife of W. W.
Davis, also a resident of Sterling; Henry F., who lives in Minneapolis, Kan-
sas; and Aaron A., of this review.

Judge Aaron A. Wolfersperger spent his boyhood days quietly and
uneventfully upon his father's farm in Jordan township, assisting in the
work of the fields through the summer months and attending the district
schools in the winter seasons. Ambitious for further educational privileges,
he afterward attended the Carthage College at Carthage, Illinois, and was grad-
uated therefrom in 1876. Having determined upon a professional career,
he matriculated in the Union College of Law in Chicago and after completing
the course by graduation in 1879, was admitted to the bar and opened a law
office in Sterling, where he has remained continuously since. He has made
orderly progression in his profession and while his devotion to his clients'
interests has been proverbial, he has never forgotten that he owes a still
higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. He filled the office of city attorney
from 1883 until 1890 and in the latter year was elected county judge by
over sixteen hundred majority. He remained upon the bench for four
years and his service as a judge was in harmony with his record as a man
and a lawyer, distinguished by the utmost fidelity and by marked ability
in handling the work of the court. His decisions were strictly fair and
impartial, personal beliefs or prejudices never entering in as a disturbing
force. On his retirement from the bench he resumed the regular practice
of law in Sterling, where he has an extensive clientage of a most, important
character. He is now attorney for and a director of the Sterling National
Bank, with which he has been thus connected since its organization in 1882.
He is likewise president of the Rock Falls Manufacturing Company of Sterl-
ing, which manufactures coffins and hearses and employs a large force of
workmen in the conduct of it* extensive business.


On the 4th of November, 1880, occurred the marriage of Judge Wolfers-
perger and Miss Anna H. Hendricks, a daughter of Jacob and Sophia
(Snyder) Hendricks, who were natives of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania.
The former was a son of John Hendricks, who was born in the Keystone
state, where he followed farming and was of German descent. The maternal
grandfather was also a Pennsylvania farmer and of German lineage. He
.and his wife died in the east but the paternal grandparents of Mrs. Wolfers-
perger came to the west in the '50s and spent their last days in Whiteside
county. In the year 1856 Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Hendricks arrived in Jordan
township, where the father purchased a farm, upon which he lived until
sometime in the '60s. He then sold that property and removed to Sterling,
where he died jn November, 1880, at the age of eighty years. His wife
survived him and passed away at the age of seventy-nine. They were the
parents of only one child who grew to maturity Mrs. Wolfersperger, who
by her marriage has become the mother of a daughter and son. The former,
Lelia, is a graduate of Vassar College of the class of 1906. The son, John,
was graduated from Cornell University in the same year and is now attending
Ihe School of Mining in Columbia University in New York city.

Judge and Mrs. Wolfersperger are members of the Presbyterian church,
jn which he is serving as a trustee. He belongs to Rock River Lodge, No.
612, A. F. & A. M.; Sterling Chapter, No. 57, R. A. M.; and Sterling Com-
mandery, No. 57, K. T. He also affiliates with Sterling Lodge, No. 174,
I. 0. 0. F., and with the Encampment. Politically he was a democrat until
1896 and has since given his allegiance to the republican party. With his
family he resides at No. 602 First avenue, where he built a pleasant home
in 1888. While undoubtedly he is not without that honorable ambition which
is so powerful and useful as an incentive to activity in public affairs, he re-
gards the pursuits of private life as being in themselves abundantly worthy
of his best efforts. He has developed the intellectual powers with which
nature endowed him and, well versed in the learning of his profession and
with a deep knowledge of human nature and the springs of human conduct,
with sagacity and tact, he is in the courts an advocate of power and influence,
to whom judges and juries listen with attention and deep interest.


Harry Hunter Wood, president of the Eureka Company, carriage manu-
facturers at Rock Falls, is in this connection closely associated with the indus-
trial development and consequent prosperity of his city and county. He was
born in Sterling, Illinois, March 15, 1872, his parents being John and Susan
(Holdridge) Wood, natives of the state of New York. His paternal grand-
father was a farmer and dairyman, while the father followed various pursuits,
devoting some time to the purchase and sale of real estate and of horses.
Removing westward he became an early settler of Sterling and after residing
ihere for a number of years began the manufacture of wagons, being president


of the Union Wagon Company, which placed upon the market the Union
wagon that was sold in all parts of the country. Mr. Wood continued in that
business up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1881, when he was
sixty-one years of age, while his wife survived him and passed away in May,
1903, at the age of seventy-two years. She was a member of the Episcopal

Harry Hunter Wood was reared in Sterling and acquired his education
through the medium of the public schools and the Sterling Business College.
He passed through consecutive grades until he became a high school student
and afterward received commercial training qualifying him for life's practical
and responsible duties. After putting aside his text books he secured a position
as bookkeeper and grain buyer in connection with G. T. Elliott's elevator and
for a short time was in the Sterling postofh'ce. In 1890 he became bookkeeper
for the Eureka Company, carriage manufacturers, and subsequently went
upon the road as its traveling representative. His capability led to his pro-
motion to the position of sales manager and later he purchased an interest in
the business, of which he was made secretary. In August. 190B. he purchased
the interest of Thomas A. Gait in the enterprise and was chosen president and
treasurer of the company. They manufacture vehicles for domestic and for-
eign trade and employ about seventy-Hvc people. The factory is located in
Rock Falls and is equipped with all of the latest improved machinery to facil-
itate work in their line. They hold to high ideals in the character of their
manufactured product, in their personnel and in their service to the public,
and that they have gained public confidence and patronage is indicated by the
fact that their output is now about five thousand finished vehicles annually.

On the 20th of October, 1903, Mr. Wood wa.s married to Miss Etta Mc-
Cune, a daughter of James A. and Ella (Pickett) McCnne. The family
residence is at No. 805 West Fourth street and both Mr. and Mrs. Wood have
a wide circle of friends in Sterling and other parts of the county.


Colonel Peter Ege, who is now living retired, although formerly active
at the bar as a well known and able lawyer, was born at Pine Grove
Furnace, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, November 10, 1835. His
parents were Major Joseph A. and Jane Almyra (Woodburn) Ege. The
father was also a native of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, as was the

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 61 of 72)