1899 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Knox County, IL
LEVI FRANKLIN DANFORTH
Levi Franklin Danforth, son of Oliver Cromwell and Eliza (Lincoln) Danforth, was born in Norton, Massachusetts, June 5, 1825. His father was a farmer, which occupation he pursued until the year of his death, 1828. He left four sons, two of whom passed the limit of the common age of man; one, Lemuel, still survives, who has been foreman of the Old Colony Car Shops for forty years, a position which he still holds.
Levi’s youth was spent on his father’s farm. His educational advantages were not the best, but he availed himself of all the instruction offered in the common schools of his native town, until he was seventeen years of age. He then left the paternal home for Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to learn the painter’s trade, at which he served as an apprentice for two years. After suffering from severe sickness induced by poisonous paints, he learned carpentry, which he followed until 1877. He afterwards engaged to a considerable extent in buying and selling real estate. In December, 1888, he opened a grocery store on Monmouth Boulevard, and continued in that business until August, 1889, when he was compelled to sell out on account of an affliction of his eyes.
Mr. Danforth with his wife made several trips across the continent, before he made his final settlement for life. In September, 1857, he went to California and pursued his trade in the vicinity of Mariposa Grove. He returned to Pawtucket in February, 1860, and in 1867, came to Galesburg, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Mr. Danforth from early youth was thrown upon his own resources. There were difficulties to overcome, which called into action the better qualities of his nature. He possessed executive ability, a determined will, efficiency and force. He was naturally social in his nature and loved his family, friends, and home.
He was sensitive, open-hearted, and self-reliant and thoroughly despised shams of every kind. He was generous and liberal, and at the same time, economical and saving. He did his own thinking, was tenacious of his opinions, but he accorded the same privilege to others that he asked for himself. His ways and means were his own, which gave to others and the impression of a positive character. He was fond of discussion and argument, and was inclined to the investigation of intricate questions. He was a lover of poetry and music and devoted his leisure hours to the enjoyment of verse and song. In a word, he was affectionate and kind, and lived the life of a temperate and upright citizen.
Mr. Danforth never connected himself with many of the various societies. His individuality was too strong and too independent to submit to society routine and society discipline. He once joined the Masonic Order, but was not an active member. He said that he loved his family and home too well to spend his evenings away from them. He was never connected with any church, but favored the morality and precepts therein taught.
In political faith, he was a republican, but not a strong partisan. He was once accosted by a friend who said to him, “Well, you will vote for Lincoln; he is a cousin of yours; your mother was a Lincoln”. His reply was, “The relationship is not near enough to do any harm.”
Mr. Danforth was twice married. H was united to his first wife in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, October 4, 1846. Her maiden name was Phebe Ann Alexander. To them were born five children, Eugene Franklin, Phebe Richmond, Levi Franklin, Ella Cook, and Walter Lincoln. These children all died in youth.
His second marriage was March 18, 1875, to Mary A. Pottinger, who survives him.
Simeon B. Davis was born in Ashland County, Ohio, December 7, 1836. His parents were Amos and Nancy (Crawford) Davis, natives of Ohio. His mother was a daughter of Colonel Samuel Crawford, an officer in the War of 1812.
Mr. Davis received a common school education in his native State, and took advantage of every educational opportunity afforded; and being a great reader has always kept abreast of the times. He located in McDonough County, Illinois, at the age of eighteen, where he soon engaged in teaching school, and where for eight years he was one of the most successful teachers of that county. He then engaged in farming and stock-raising for a number of years, shipping stock to the Chicago market. He still owns a farm in Hire Township, McDonough County. He afterwards removed to Macomb, Illinois, where he engaged in the monument business. In 1887, he came to Galesburg, where he has since been the leading marble and granite merchant of this section of the State.
Mr. Davis has been a prominent member of the republican party for many years. In 1880, he was elected to the Legislature, representing the counties of Warren and McDonough. At the regular session of 1881, and the special session of 1882, he was a member of several important committees, and rendered valuable and efficient service. Mr. Davis is a pleasing and impressive public speaker, and has rendered valuable service to his party during Presidential campaigns, both before and since coming to Knox County. Mr. Davis has always taken a lively interest in the advancement and improvement of the city of Galesburg. He is now serving his second term as Alderman from the Third Ward, which is but one of the many evidences of the respect and confidence of the people.
He is a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, having held official positions therein for many years, at present being one of the Trustees. He is a member of Veritas Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; a member of College City Lodge, Ancient Order of United Workmen, having served in all the chairs of these orders.
September 27, 1860, Mr. Davis was married to Artimesa Stambaugh, daughter of Rev. Adam Stambaugh. They are the parents of nine children: Emma; Eva; Margaret; Elsy A.; Steward A.; Alice J.; Louie May; James E.; and Stella, deceased.
Loyal Case Field was born in Cornwall, Addison County, Vermont, February 29, 1824. He was the son of Luman and Abigail (DeLong) Field. In early life, the father was a school teacher, but afterwards devoted himself to farming. He left Vermont in 1835 and lived in Yates, Orleans County, New York, for two years. In May, 1837, he came with his family to Knoxville, this county, remaining there until October 8, when he removed to a farm he purchased at Center Point. Here he resided until his death, September, 1846. In religion, he was a Baptist; in politics, a republican. He was ever regarded as a worthy and upright citizen.
Loyal’s early educational advantages were limited. He made the best use possible of all the opportunities the common school of his native town afforded; but it was in the great school of experience that he was fitted for the active and responsible duties of life. While in school, he manifested a decidedly artistic taste. He had a fondness for drawing pictures of animals and natural scenery.
Soon after the arrival of the family at Knoxville, Loyal was engaged for four years as a clerk in the dry goods store of Joseph Gay, of Henderson. He was also clerk for Mr. Whistler, of Davenport, Iowa.
After his father’s death, he took care of the farming interest; settled the estate, and farmed for his mother’s family and himself from September 1846 to January 1852. He then sold the home farm and bought Mr. Wiley’s stove, tin, and hardware store in Galesburg. F. M. Smith being his partner, and E. C. Field a silent partner and bookkeeper. This firm of Field and Smith continued the hardware business for four years. He then became a leading member in the Frost Manufacturing Company, where he remained as President until his death. As a canvasser for jobs or contracts, or as manager at the office desk, he always manifested a superior talent for business, and was always known for honesty and fair dealing.
Under his advice and management, the firm prospered and gained a wide reputation.
Mr Field was never a seeker after office. Nevertheless, by reason of his ability and integrity, his fellow citizens demanded his services. In 1860-61 he held the office of Alderman, and in 1872 he was elected Mayor of the city of Galesburg.
In religious belief, Mr. Field was orthodox, although not a member of any church. He was generous almost to a fault, contributing liberally to all churches where he attended.
In political faith, he was an outspoken advocate of the principles of the republican party. No preferment ever biased his judgment. He espoused a cause, because he thought it was right.
He was married September 12, 1848 to Clara Armeda Davison, daughter of Artemas Davison (who was accidentally killed by his son-in-law while hunting in Henderson Grove, November 17, 1842) . To them were born five children: Frank Smith, born February 24, 1850, died July 8, 1850; Edward Loyal, born January 4, 1855, artist in New York City; Kate Elnora, born April 28, 1859, married to Edward Russell Grant of Cromwell, Iowa; Carrie Luella, born June 12, 1862, died April 2, 1866; Charles, born January 26, 1866, died September 26, 1866. Edward Loyal was married November 2, 1890, to Flora Stark, in London, England.
John Huston Finley was born at Grand Ridge, LaSalle County, Illinois, October 19, 1863. He is the son of James Gibson and Lydia Maynard (McCombs) Finley, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. His father, when a young man, came West and purchased a tract of land, then an unbroken prairie, for a farm. He then returned to Pennsylvania and brought his family to his new home in LaSalle County. He was a man of intelligence and influence and was prominent in the community in which he lived. In church affairs, he took a great interest, and for the common weal, he labored faithfully. The mother of John H. was a remarkable woman. In her domestic relations and in her social functions, she never failed to do her duty.
The history of the ancestry of the Finley family is brief. They are of Scotch-Irish descent. By persecutions, they were driven out of Scotland at an early day and settled in Ireland. They emigrated to this country about the year 1750. A member of one of the branches of the family became President of Princeton College. Another was the first minister to cross the Allegheny Mountains, settling in Western Pennsylvania. From this latter branch descended Dr. John H. Finley.
Dr. Finley acquired the rudiments of his education in the district school of his native town. He received also private instruction from the teacher and from the village minister. He attended the High School at Ottawa for fourteen months and graduated in 1881. He then engaged in teaching for the Winter of 1881-2 and worked on the farm the following Summer. In the Fall of 1882 he matriculated in Knox College, remaining there six months. He then worked on the farm and taught school for the following Winter. In the Spring of 1884, he returned to Knox College and graduated with high honors in 1887. In the Autumn of this year, he entered Johns Hopkins University and took a post-graduate course, remaining until February, 1889.
Since leaving college, Dr. Finley has had a most remarkable career. Places of honor and preferment have been open to him without his seeking. After leaving college, he was a compositor, for a short time, in the printing office of Colville Brothers, Galesburg, Illinois. In 1892 he was unanimously elected President of Knox College, his Alma Mater, and her increased patronage under his administration is a reliable witness of his success. In a large measure he was the life and spirit of the college during his Presidency. His work was not in the class-room, but in the field, lecturing, raising money, and securing students. He had the confidence of all, and whatever the undertaking, his hands were upheld by pupil, teacher, and the general public. Knox College owes him a debt of gratitude for enlarging her reputation among sister colleges. His own reputation spread likewise, and during his term of service here, he was offered several important positions in other colleges. He resigned the presidency of the college in 1899, and is now engaged in editorial work with McClure and the Harpers, New York City.
As a scholar, Dr. Finley stands in the front rank. He has been a thorough student of the best masters in literature, and is well versed in the writings of to-day. As a man, he is kind, gentle, and affable, and exhibits marks of sincerity in every word and act. He is a stranger to the finical graces of the schools, the studied ornament of speech, and the hollow verbiage of the charlatan. His marked characteristics are force and decision of character, accompanied with prudence and discretion. His manner is commanding, yet urbane; his actions are politic, yet frank; and his opinions are reserved, yet free. He is a warm supporter of education, religion, and good morals. His sympathies are inspiring; his charities, free from ostentation; and his friendship lasting. His social qualities, honest heart, and benevolent disposition give him a power that few men of his age possess. His life has been upright; his dealings just, and he has ever been regarded as a most worthy citizen.
In his religious connection Dr. Finley is a Presbyterian. In political faith, he is a republican. He was married June 23, 1892 to Martha Fow Boyden, daughter of Hon. A. W. Boyden, a banker at Sheffield, Illinois. Mr. Boyden has been a member of the Legislature and was one of the one hundred and three that elected John A. Logan to the United States Senate.
Dr. and Mrs. Finley are the parents of two children: Ellen Boyden, born March 10, 1894; and Margaret Boyden, born April 1897.
Francis A. Freer, A. M., son of Abram and Mary (McKimens) Freer, was born in Butler, Pennsylvania, April 6, 1843.
His parents moved to Pittsburg in 1849, and thence to Ellisville, Illinois, in 1857, where they lived until their decease. Their school advantages were very limited, but they made good use of the opportunities given. The father possessed an iron will and was not easily turned aside. In many of the common branches, he became a good scholar, especially in history and mathematics. Both were devout Christians.
His paternal ancestors were “French Huguenots”; his maternal, “Scotch-Irish Covenanters”. Both came to this country before the Revolution. What part they took in that great struggle for human freedom is not known.
Mr. Freer’s efforts to obtain an education were similar to the efforts of many others. In winter, he attended the public schools, while in summer; he devoted his time to learning the carpenter’s trade. This was his life until he was eighteen years old. In the Spring of 1867, he entered Hedding College at Abingdon, Illinois, and graduated in 1871 with the honor of valedictorian of his class. A large portion of his school expenses was defrayed by himself. The ripening harvest and the timbered forests offered plenty of work for his hands. The cradling of grain or the hewing of timber was a work with which he was familiar.
Mr. Freer is fond of natural scenery. His childhood was spent in school, and when school duties were over, in searching the fields and woods for flowers. No precipice was too high or dangerous to prevent his scaling it for a rare specimen. He was fond of all kinds of sports. He says of himself that his “tastes were always expensive; means always limited”.
After leaving college, he was principal of the Wataga schools for a time, and then for three years taught in the Henderson schools. During that time he read law with Hon. C.H. Nelson, but was never admitted to the Bar. One of the most important changes of his life was the giving up of the profession of teaching, which had been successfully followed until 1879. The confinement of the school-room was undermining his health. He then engaged for a time in the agricultural implement business, and later in the school book business, as the general agent of Sheldon and Company for the State of Illinois.
In 1875, he moved from Wataga to Henderson, and in 1879 to Galesburg, where has been his home ever since.
In 1861 he went to Peoria to enlist in the Forty-seventh Illinois Infantry, but failed to pass on account of his health. In 1862 he enlisted in the Seventieth Illinois Infantry, three months troops, serving about five months on guard duty. Again on account of his health, he was rejected from the three years service, but in the Spring of 1864, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry, and was in a hard fight with Forest near Memphis, August 22, 1864. His regiment lost in killed and wounded 170 men.
The offices that Mr. Freer has held are not numerous, but worthy of mention. Both at Wataga and Henderson, he was elected Village Trustee on the temperance ticket, the issue being license or no license—elected Justice of the Peace in Henderson Township on the republican ticket in 1877, resigning the office in 1879—is a member of the James T. Shields Post. No. 45, Department of Illinois, G.A.R.—was elected commander of the same in 1890—was appointed Postmaster of Galesburg by President Harrison; again appointed by President McKinley, which office he now holds. He was elected Sergeant at Arms of the 34th General Assembly of Illinois in 1885. He is also a member of the Council of Administration, Department of Illinois G.A.R., having been elected in May 1899.
Mr. Freer has taken an active part in every public enterprise for the up-building of Galesburg during the past twenty years.
He has been connected with the following Societies: The Good Templars, Sons of Temperance, Temple of Honor, A.O.U.W., Masons and Odd Fellows, and the G.A.R. and U.V.U.
In religious faith, Mr. Freer affiliates with the Presbyterians, although he is not a member of any church.
In political faith, he is an uncompromising republican. In every campaign, by his eloquent speech, hard work and contributions, he has done much for the success of republican principles.He was united in marriage December, 1871 to Jennie E. Christy, who was educated at Hedding College. To them were born five children, Elizabeth Irene, Howard Abram, Charles Francis, Mary Alda, and Morton Christy. Elizabeth is a graduate of Knox College, Alda is a student in Knox Conservatory of Music, Morton is a student at Lombard University, and Howard and Charles are engaged in business. Morton served in Company C, Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War, receiving special mention in his honorable discharge.
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