Who's Who in Morgan County History
Akers, Peter. Peter Akers was born in Campbell County, Virginia on September 1, 1790. He studied as a lawyer and graduated from Transylvania University. However, after a couple of years as a lawyer in Kentucky, he was so emotionally affected by the death of his wife that he became a Methodist Circuit Rider. After 11 years preaching in Kentucky he was so opposed to slavery that he moved near Jacksonville, Illinois in 1832. He donated the land for the Ebenezer Church west of Jacksonville and was instrumental in the founding of what would become MacMurray College. He also served as President of McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois for several years. He died in 1886.
Barber, Carl Jerome. Carl Jerome Barber was born on April 25, 1916 in Woodson, Illinois. Jerry became a professional golfer and played the PGA Tour from 1948 to 1962. He had seven wins on the Tour, played on two Ryder Cup teams, and was the PGA Player of the Year in 1961. He holds the record for being the oldest player to play in a PGA event, playing in the Buick Invitational in 1994 at the age of 77. Jerry was only 5 foot 5 inches tall and was known for being a remarkable putter. For much of his professional life he was the golf pro at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, California. He died in California in 1994 at the age of 78.
Bateman, Newton. Newton Bateman was born on July 27, 1822 in Fairfield, New Jersey. His family moved to Jacksonville in 1833 and he graduated from Illinois College in 1843. He became an educator and became principal of the public Jacksonville School in 1852, then the County Superintendent of Schools for several years. In 1858 he was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and was re-elected to that post in every election through 1875 except for two years 1863-65. His office in Springfield was next to the office of Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln and the two became good friends. Dr. Bateman was President of Knox College in Galesburg from 1875 until 1893. An elementary school in Chicago is named after Newton Bateman, as well as the old Jacksonville High School on State Street.
Beecher, Edward. Edward Beecher was born in East Hampton, New York on August 27, 1803. Just like his father, Lyman Beecher, and his renowned older brother, Henry Ward Beecher, he became a Protestant minister. After graduating from Yale and becoming pastor at a church in Boston, he became the first President of the newly created Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1830. He served as President for 14 years, during which time he also helped Elijah Lovejoy form the Anti-Slavery Society in Illinois. His sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After leaving Illinois College he took positions at churches in Boston, Galesburg and Brooklyn until his death in 1895.
Best, Marjorie. Marjorie Best was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on April 10, 1903. After high school she went to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. After graduation she worked in the wardrobe departments for several movie companies. By 1936 she was in the wardrobe department for Warner Brothers. She had advanced to lead costume designer for the movie Silver River in 1948. She then received the Academy Award for costume design in 1950 for the Errol Flynn movie Adventures of Don Juan. She was nominated for the Award for several other films, including James Dean’s Giant in 1956 and The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965. She retired in 1965 and died in 1997.
Black, Greene Vardiman. Greene Vardiman Black was born near Winchester, Illinois on August 3, 1836. He studied medicine with several doctors, including his older brother, Thomas Black. After serving in the Civil War as a Union scout, he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois to start a dental practice. Dentistry was extremely undeveloped at this point and Dr. Black did a great amount of research and developed numerous specialized tools to help develop modern dentistry into what it is today. Black was later the first dean of the Northwestern University Dentistry School and you can find a statue of him in Lincoln Park in Chicago.
Brennan, Terrance. Jacksonville native Terrance Brennan, nicknamed Boots, was a child prodigy and a fabulous self-taught musician who started performing with a professional band in 1926 at the age of 11 on the drums and continued entertaining crowds in Jacksonville until his death in 1966.
Bryan, William Jennings. William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois on March 19, 1860. He came to Jacksonville at age 14 to attend Whipple Academy and went on to graduate valedictorian from Illinois College in 1881. He practiced law in Jacksonville from 1883 to 1887 and then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. He began a career in politics in 1890, serving as a U.S. Representative, eventually becoming the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for President in 1896, 1900 and 1908, and serving as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. He died in 1925, just days after the finish of the Scopes trial at which he had tried to help the prosecution in its case against a science teacher teaching evolution.
Capps, Edward. Edward Capps was born December 21, 1866 in Jacksonville, Illinois to the family that owned the Capps Manufacturing Company. He had an outstanding academic career, graduating from Illinois College in 1887 and earning a doctorate from Yale in 1891. He taught Classical Studies at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Princeton. The president of Princeton, Woodrow Wilson, chose him to head the American Red Cross mission to Greece during World War I when Wilson was President of the United States. As a result of that experience, Dr. Capps was entrusted by the Greek government to head the archeological excavation of the Agora in Athens, a project that took decades.
Capps, Joseph. Joseph Capps was born near Louisville, Kentucky on January 11, 1811. He learned wool-carding as a young man and moved to Waverly, Illinois in 1838. He joined a small wool-card and cloth-finishing business owned by Judge George Waller. The following year he moved to Jacksonville and started his own company, Jacksonville Woolen Mills, later renamed J. Capps & Sons. The company evolved and expanded greatly by making clothes and blankets, most noticeably the Indian blankets that various Indian tribes bought and resold to tourists. Changing clothing styles and cheap foreign competition caused the Company to close in the 1970s.
Cartwright, Peter. Peter Cartwright was born September 1, 1785 in Amherst County, Virginia. He grew up in Kentucky and became a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. He moved his family from Kentucky to Pleasant Plains, Illinois in 1824 because he could not get the Church to take a strong stance against slavery. Cartwright was very influential in the Methodist Church and instrumental in getting the Illinois Conference Female Academy started in Jacksonville in 1846. He also served several terms in the Illinois Legislature and fought numerous political battles against Abraham Lincoln. The house at 725 East State Street in Jacksonville is known as the Peter Cartwright House, although technically he just bought it for his daughter Maria when his son-in-law could not make payments on the mortgage.
Clay, Porter. Porter Clay died on February 16, 1850 in Camden, Arkansas. He was born in 1779 in Hanover County, Virginia, the younger brother of Henry Clay, the famous Representative, Senator, Secretary of State, founder of the Whig Party, and candidate for President who was so influential in pre-Civil War national politics. Porter started out in politics as a lawyer and the Auditor of State Accounts for Kentucky but he felt that his true calling was to emulate his father as a Baptist minister and he gave up his position after several years to be a minister. He was also known in Kentucky as a very fine cabinetmaker. His first wife died and he married Elizabeth Hardin, the widow of Senator Martin D. Hardin of Kentucky. Clay, his new wife, and her two sons, John J. and Charles Hardin, moved to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1831. John J. became an important political and military figure in Illinois. Porter Clay abandoned his family and became an itinerant preacher, wandering the frontier until finally settling in as a preacher for a church in Camden, Arkansas. Elizabeth Clay remained in Jacksonville until she died in May of 1861.
Crampton, Rufus C. Rufus C. Crampton was born February 24, 1828 in Farmington, Connecticut. A graduate of Yale, he became a Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1854. Crampton led a group of Illinois College seniors off to the Civil War as captain of the 145th Illinois Volunteers. Crampton reached the rank of Lt. Colonel before returning to Illinois College. He built the unique Octogon House just east of the College campus and was President of Illinois College from 1877 to 1881.
Douglas, Stephen Arnold. Stephen Arnold Douglas was born on April 23, 1813 in Brandon, Vermont. He came to Jacksonville in 1833 and found a job teaching in Winchester. In 1835 he became the State’s Attorney in Jacksonville, where he earned the nickname, The Little Giant, and briefly served the area in the Illinois Legislature. He was elected to the U.S. Congress from Illinois’ 5th District in 1843 and then became a U.S. Senator in 1847. He actually courted Mary Todd before Abraham Lincoln did. He found himself in the difficult position of owning slaves on a plantation in Mississippi inherited from his father-in-law while he was a U.S. Senator in Illinois. He died of typhoid fever in Chicago in June 1861.
Duncan, Joseph. Joseph Duncan was born on February 22, 1794 in Paris, Kentucky. Although young, he served with distinction in the War of 1812. After the War he settled in Jackson County, Illinois, where he was elected to the Illinois Legislature in 1824 and to Congress in 1826. He and his new wife, Elizabeth, moved to Jacksonville in 1830. Duncan was a Major General in the Blackhawk War. He was elected Governor of Illinois in 1834 without making a single campaign speech! He built Elm Grove, now known as the Duncan Mansion, in 1833 and it became the only Governor’s mansion in Illinois not located in the state capital. Duncan served only one four year term as Governor but remained active in Whig politics until his death in early 1844.
Dunlap, James B. James B. Dunlap was born October 30, 1802 in Fleming County, Kentucky. He arrived in Jacksonville in 1831 and began a general store that became quite successful. He was the contractor for building the Southern Cross Railroad, the first railroad in Illinois. He also became very successful in farming and real estate. He became known as Colonel Dunlap for his service in the Black Hawk War. He was a member of the first board of trustees for both the Central Hospital for the Insane and the Illinois School for the Blind. His daughter Sarah was a close friend of Mary Todd Lincoln and married John McClernand, who became a Union General in the Civil War. Colonel Dunlap was a quartermaster in the Civil War and reached the rank of brevet major general. Colonel Dunlap opened an important hotel in Jacksonville in 1857, the Dunlap House.
Ellis, John M. The Rev. John Millot Ellis was born July 14, 1793 in Keene, New Hampshire and graduated from Dartmouth College. He was sent to “The West” by the American Home Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church. He soon married Frances Brard of Kaskaskia and settled in Jacksonville. His plan to start a college on the plains drew the attention of the Yale Band and soon Illinois College was founded. He also helped found the Female Seminary in Jacksonville but after a few years he moved on and helped found Wabash College in Indiana and Marshall College in Michigan. Rev. Ellis died in 1855.
Foreman, Helen Cleary. Helen Cleary Foreman was born in Jacksonville on July 8, 1904. Her parents were both teachers at the Illinois School for the Deaf. She graduated from Illinois College in 1925 and then taught high school in Dixon, Illinois from 1925-1927, where one of her students was Ronald Reagan. She married an attorney, Oliver Foreman, in 1927 and moved back to Jacksonville. She served on many boards and voluntary organizations for many years. After her husband died in 1972 she ran as a Republican for city alderman and served on the City Council until 1984. When Mayor Milt Hocking died in 1984 she was appointed Mayor to serve out his term and then ran for another four year term and won. She was the first woman Mayor in Jacksonville and, in 1989, one of the oldest Mayors serving in the U.S. Mrs. Foreman died in 1991.
Gillett, Philip Goode. Dr. Philip Goode Gillett was born in Madison, Indiana on March 24, 1833. After teaching at the Indiana School for the Deaf and Dumb he was appointed Principal of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Jacksonville in 1856. This state institution had only begun operations in 1845 and, between 1856 and his retirement in 1893, Dr. Gillett built the School into a large and highly regarded institution. One of his sons, Charles P. Gillett, served as Superintendent of the School from 1903 to 1918.
Grierson, Benjamin. Benjamin Grierson was born July 8, 1826 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He became a professional musician and then, after moving to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1849, became a shopkeeper. In 1861 he became a major in the Sixth Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, despite the fact that a childhood accident left him hating horses. He became famous for leading Grierson’s Raid through Mississippi in support of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. After the Civil War he was the commanding officer of the Buffalo Soldiers, African American troops, out west. He retired to Jacksonville in 1890 as a Brigadier General.
Hall, Frank Haven. Frank Haven Hall was born February 9, 1841 in Mechanic Falls, Maine. He served in the Civil War as a hospital steward. After the war he moved to Illinois and began a career of teaching and school administration. He became the Superintendent of the Jacksonville School for the Blind in 1890. He served in that post off and on, depending on who was in office in Springfield, until 1902. In 1892, with the assistance of local gunsmith Gustav Sieber, he developed the Hall Braille Writer. This device made the use of Braille so much more efficient and speedier that it revolutionized life for the blind. He did not patent the device because he did not feel he should profit from his position at the school. Helen Keller liked the machine so much that, when she met Hall at his booth at the Chicago World Fair in 1893, she hugged and kissed him. Hall died in 1911 in Aurora, Illinois.
Hall, John W. John W. Hall was born on October 29, 1831 on a farm near Liberty Cemetery west of Jacksonville. He apprenticed as a blacksmith and started his manufacturing business John W. Hall at the corner of South Main and West College in Jacksonville in 1864. In 1859 he was a delegate to the Republican state convention and heard Lincoln’s “lost speech”. During the Civil War he manufactured walking plows and carriages. Later, he became one of the first John Deere dealers in the country. The business was renamed Hall & Sons and, later, Hall Brothers as his children became involved and took over the business. His son, Harry Ladlow Hall, built the first horseless carriage to appear on the streets of Jacksonville on September 15, 1895. Hall Brothers continued as a family business until it closed in 1969.
Hardin, John J. John J. Hardin was born on January 6, 1810 in Frankfort, Kentucky. After training as a lawyer he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois and practiced law, served as Prosecuting Attorney, served in the Illinois Legislature, fought in both the Black Hawk War and the Mormon War, and served in the U.S. Congress. He knew Abraham Lincoln and it is said that he helped avert a duel between Lincoln and James Shield. When the Mexican American War started in 1846 Hardin recruited a regiment and became its Colonel. He died on February 23, 1847 at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico.
Hardin, Martin Davis. Martin Davis Hardin was born June 26, 1837 in Jacksonville, Illinois. His father was John J. Hardin, a leading Illinois Whig politician who was to die in 1847 serving in the Mexican-American War. Martin became a protégé of Abraham Lincoln, who was to take over John J. Hardin’s seat in the Illinois legislature. Martin graduated from West Point, class of 1859, and served as an aide to Robert E. Lee at the hanging of John Brown. As a Union officer, Martin lost his left arm in the Mine Run Campaign at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run in 1862. After recovering, he continued to serve until another injury forced him to leave the service in June of 1864. However, he returned to the Union Army as a Brigadier General in July 1864 and commanded a division in XXII Corps during the Battle of Fort Stevens. After the Civil War, he became a lawyer in Chicago in the same firm with Robert Lincoln. He retired to St. Augustine, Florida where he died in 1923.
Henderson, Ben. Ben Henderson was born April 11, 1811 in Bourbon County, Kentucky as the slave of Will Henderson. He bought his freedom as a young man for $250 and came to Jacksonville in 1835. He settled in the section of town called Little Africa, married Julia Hayden of Kentucky, and earned his living as a carpenter. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad from 1841 to 1858, often averaging two escaped slaves from the South per week. He would transport them by wagon to Farmington or Springfield as they worked their way North. Other Underground Railroad drivers in Jacksonville included Henry Irving and Washington Price. Ben Henderson died October 31, 1890.
Holle, Mabel B. Mabel B. Holle was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on March 21, 1920. She was very athletic and played as many sports as she could growing up. She graduated from MacMurray College in 1942. The following year she tried out and was one of the 60 original women chosen to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The League was started by Philip Wrigley, Branch Rickey and other key figures from Major League Baseball who wanted to keep baseball in the public eye while many of their potential male players were in the armed services. Mabel was assigned to the South Bend Blue Sox in Indiana. She spent three years playing professional ball at third base and the outfield for several different teams.
Mabel left baseball after the war and was a physical education teacher and women’s sport advocate for many years. She was included in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1988. She died in 2011.
Huffaker, Michael. Michael Huffaker was born on June 15, 1800 in Wayne County, Kentucky. He bought land on Mauvaisterre Creek east of Jacksonville in the spring of 1824. He was one of the earlier settlers in Morgan County and part of his first house can still be seen within the walls of the farmhouse still on the land where his farm was located. It is thought that Mr. Huffaker and his farm were secretly involved in the Underground Railroad movement of slaves from the South to the North. Mr. Huffaker, through his second wife Frances, was the grand nephew of President James Monroe.
Jaquess, James F. James F. Jaquess was born on November 18, 1819 in Posey County, Indiana. A Methodist preacher, he became the first President of the Illinois Conference Female Academy in Jacksonville in 1848. During the Civil War he was asked by President Lincoln to secretly approach the Confederacy’s Jefferson Davis about possible terms of peace.
Jones, Hiram Kinnaird. Hiram Kinnaird Jones was born August 5, 1818 in Culpepper County, Virginia. His family soon moved to Missouri and he graduated with both a classical and medical degree from Illinois College. After teaching school and practicing medicine in Missouri he became Assistant Physician for the Illinois Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville in 1851. He became Superintendent of the Hospital in 1855 but then resigned to start a medical practice in Jacksonville in 1856 that lasted until he died in 1903. He also lectured at Jacksonville Business College, founded the Jacksonville Historical Society in 1884 and was its first president, founded the Literary Union in 1865, and gave money to Illinois College to build a library in 1897. He was also a student of philosophy and was a member of the Concord School, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Amos Alcott.
Kenniebrew, Alonzo H. Alonzo H. Kenniebrew was born on May 5, 1875 in Macon County, Alabama. He was a student at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama under George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. He graduated from medical school and taught at Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. He became the private physician for Booker T. Washington. He moved with his family to Jacksonville in 1902 and founded the New Home Sanitarium, a private surgical hospital in 1909. It is believed to be the first private African American owned surgical hospital in the country. While in Jacksonville he was also a captain in the Illinois National Guard, founded the local NAACP, and was a member of the first park board. In 1917 Dr. Kenniebrew moved to Springfield and, later, Evanston, to continue his medical career.
Lockwood, Samuel Drake. Samuel Drake Lockwood was born August 2, 1789 in Poundridge, New York. He studied law with his uncle and then decided to move to the new state of Illinois. He reached Shawneetown in December 1818 and walked across the state to the state capitol, Kaskaskia. He practiced law there, got into politics and in 1821 was elected Secretary of State of Illinois. He helped plan the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1823 and then was appointed a State Supreme Court justice in 1824. In that position he helped rewrite the new state’s laws by 1827 and was an important anti-slavery proponent in that process. He was assigned a judgeship in central Illinois in 1827 and that caused him to move to Jacksonville. He was instrumental in organizing Illinois College in 1828 and was the main early proponent of locating the college in Jacksonville. He was one of Morgan County’s representatives to the Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1847 and played an important role in the Convention, again pushing to keep Illinois as anti-slavery as possible. He retired from the bench in 1848 and his official role in developing the Illinois Central Railroad caused him to move to Batavia, Illinois in 1853, where he died in 1874.
McClernand, John Alexander. John Alexander McClernand was born on May 30, 1812 in Breckenridge County, Kentucky. He moved to Gallatin County, Illinois, fought in the Black Hawk War, started a newspaper, and entered Democratic politics. He married Sarah Dunlap of Jacksonville, a close friend of Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1843 and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1844. He and Sarah lived in Jacksonville from 1851 to 1856 and then he moved to Springfield to practice law. McClernand was one of Lincoln’s “political generals” during the Civil War. He and John Logan were Democrats from Southern Illinois who could recruit soldiers and keep Southern Illinois quiet politically but, McClernand particularly, was not thought to be much of a soldier by Ulysses S. Grant.
McConnel, Murray. Murray McConnel was born on September 5, 1798 in Orange County, New York. As a young man he moved out to Missouri and was a farmer. However, when the Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a slave state he picked up and moved to West Morgan County (now Scott County) in Illinois. When the city of Jacksonville was laid out and began to develop he moved to Jacksonville and switched from farming to the law. He became a leader in the local Democratic Party and was a mentor to young Steven Douglas when he came to the area. He served in the Blackhawk War and in 1855 President Pierce made him the Fifth Auditor of the U.S. Treasury. In 1865 he was elected state senator but he was murdered the morning of February 9, 1869 in his law office, a murder that remains a mystery.
McFarland, Andrew. Andrew McFarland was born July 14, 1817 in Concord, New Hampshire. He became a doctor and became an experienced administrator at several institutions treating the mentally ill. He became the Superintendent of the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville in 1853, only the third superintendent since it began operations in 1851. Dr. McFarland was cast as the villain in Elizabeth Packard’s 1873 book, Modern Persecution, in which her husband wrongly committed her to the State Insane Asylum. In 1872 McFarland started Oak Lawn Retreat, a private facility for the treatment of the mentally ill, on 60 acres at what is now Morton Road and Country Club Road. After his retirement his son and granddaughter took over management of Oak Lawn. Unfortunately, Dr. McFarland’s mind began to fail him and he had to become a patient at Oak Lawn. He hung himself in his room in 1891. Oak Lawn went through many different uses, including becoming the Anti-Tuberculosis facility in 1917, until it was finally torn down in 1981.
McPike, Milton. Milton McPike was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on October 9, 1939. He was quite an athlete and played on the historic high school football team with Ken Norton. He was also a standout athlete at Truman State University in Missouri. He was picked by the San Francisco 49ers football in the 12th round in 1962 and played tight end for them for one season. He then went on to a distinguished career as an educator, serving as principal of Madison East High School in Wisconsin for 23 years and on the Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin – Madison from 2004 until his death in 2008.
Moore, Ensley. Ensley Moore was born in Springfield, Illinois on April 16, 1846. His family moved to Jacksonville in 1857, he graduated from Illinois College in 1868, and he lived the rest of his life in Jacksonville. He was a bookbinder, a newspaper editor and was notable for his interest in researching and promoting local history. He was a Secretary of the Old Settlers’ Association of Morgan and Cass County, as well as being a city alderman for two terms, and held many other civic positions. He resided at 856 W. State Street, which remained in his family for over a century, from 1857 to 1974.
Morton, Joseph. According to the 1872 Andreas, Lyter & Co. Atlas Map of Morgan County, Colonel Joseph Morton was one of the very earliest settlers of Morgan County. He was born August 1, 1801. He mostly grew up in Kentucky. In the fall of 1820 he and John Bradshaw built a cabin just east of the present site of Jacksonville. He married Mary Odell in 1823 and started a farm about a mile and a half east of Jacksonville. He helped build many cabins in the area. He served in the state legislature for one term starting in 1836 and one term starting in 1846. He served in the state senate for one term starting in 1856. He served in the state constitution convention in 1861. He took the census of Morgan County in 1830. The Atlas claims that his daughter Minerva Morton was the first settler child born in Morgan County, and he and Mary went on to have 13 children. Morton Road, Jacksonville’s busiest commercial thoroughfare, was so named because it passed next to Colonel Morton’s farm east of town.
Nichols, Samuel W. October 7, 1924 was Sammy Nichols Day in Jacksonville. Jacksonville honored Samuel W. Nichols, a newspaperman and philanthropist who gave the city the money to establish Nichols Park in 1903. Sammy was born in Quincy in 1844 and died in 1927. He helped the children of Jacksonville in many other endeavors, including a fund for Christmas gifts, a train trip to the Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, and an annual burgoo for children.
Norbury, Frank Parsons. Frank Parsons Norbury was born in Beardstown, Illinois on August 5, 1863. He studied at Illinois College and then pursued his medical studies elsewhere. He returned to Jacksonville in August 1888 as Assistant Physician for the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane. After five years he went into private practice in Jacksonville. In 1901 Dr. Norbury was one of the founders of the Maplewood Sanitorium, later renamed the Norbury Sanitorium, in Jacksonville for the treatment of nervous and mental diseases. Dr. Norbury’s great grandfather, Heath Norbury, was in charge of the hospital service for the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the American Revolution. Dr. Norbury’s son and grandson, Frank Garm and Frank Barnes Norbury, were also medical doctors in Jacksonville.
Norton, Ken. Ken Norton was born in Jacksonville on August 9, 1943. At Jacksonville High School he was a star player on the state championship football team in 1960. On the track team he would compete in eight different events and routinely win seven of them, which caused Illinois to implement the “Ken Norton Rule” limiting the number of events an individual could compete in. Norton started boxing in the Marine Corps and had an outstanding professional boxing career. He broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in 1973, one of only two boxers to beat him. He was World Heavyweight Champion for a period of time. After his boxing career he starred in a few Hollywood movies, including Mandingo.
Owen, Ruth Bryan. Ruth Bryan Owen was born on October 2, 1885 in Jacksonville, Illinois. She was the daughter of William Jennings Bryan. Owen was a nurse in World War I and then became the first female representative to Congress from the South when she won election in Florida in 1929. She then became the first woman to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during her term in Congress. After serving one term in Congress she became our first female ambassador when Franklin Roosevelt appointed her U.S. Ambassador to Denmark in 1933. She later served as U.S. delegate to the conference that established the United Nations. She died in 1954.
Prince, David. David Prince was born June 21, 1816 in Brooklyne, Connecticut. He completed medical school in Cincinnati and came to Jacksonville in 1843. He was a professor of anatomy at Illinois College for a couple of years and then went into private practice. He spent 14 months as an army surgeon during the Civil War. He founded his Jacksonville Surgical Infirmary in 1867 on the southwest corner of the Square and became known as a pioneer in plastic and orthopedic surgery. He continued as a surgeon until his death in 1889. The Jacksonville 7th to 8th Grade building connected to the old High School was named after Dr. Prince.
Pyatt, Benjamin. Benjamin Pyatt was born April 24, 1785 in Pennsylvania. He came to Jacksonville in April 1843 and started Jacksonville’s first cigar factory. This became quite an industry in Jacksonville. By 1905 there were 13 factories putting out 200,000 cigars a week. In addition to Benjamin Pyatt’s factory, continued by his family and which put out the Lady Clare brand, other big factories were the L.S. Kent-McCarthy Company on the southeast corner of West North Street and North West Street, as well as Knollenberg Cigars and the Cassell Bros.
Rabbitt, Peter. Peter Rabbitt was born on December 3, 1854, not long after his parents arrived in Jacksonville from Ireland. He became a Jacksonville policeman in 1880 and then he was appointed the city’s first chief of police by Mayor James Willard in 1887. The police force at that time was five men, including Chief Rabbitt. Rabbitt had several differences of opinion with the next mayor and was fired in 1889. He later spent some time in the Central Hospital for the Insane and then died at the young age of 41 in 1895.
Rockwell, Dennis. The first Postmaster of Jacksonville, Dennis Rockwell, was appointed by President John Quincy Adams on August 15, 1825. He was also the Morgan County and Circuit Clerk and so the first post office was located in the first County Courthouse, located on the northeast corner of the Public Square. Postage for a letter at that time was 25 cents. Benjamin Franklin was the very first Postmaster of the United States.
Rodenberg, Louis William. Louis William Rodenberg was born in Randolph County, Illinois on May 11, 1891. He was blinded by a childhood accident and started at the Jacksonville School for the Blind in 1903. He became the manager of printing operations at the school after graduation and served in that position for half a century. He developed a method of “Bar over Bar” musical notation for the blind that became the accepted international standard in the 1920s. In the 1930s he supervised the transcription of the Protestant and Catholic hymnals into Braille for the Library of Congress. In 1943 Helen Keller presented Louis with the Migel Award from the American Foundation for the Blind. Rodenberg retired from the print shop in 1963 and died in 1966.
Routt, Charles L. and William R. Charles Routt was born in 1824 in Kentucky. While in school he converted to Catholicism. At the age of 18 he moved to Jacksonville and eventually became a large landowner and businessman. His younger brother William followed him to Jacksonville. Charles died in 1895 and left a lot of money to Our Saviour’s Catholic Church. His brother William then donated a large amount of money to help establish Routt College, which later became the Catholic elementary and high school. William also donated money to help expand the Routt Hospital that had been established in the former home of Governor Richard Yates, Sr.
Rowe, Richard Yates. Richard Yates Rowe was born on December 12, 1888 in Jacksonville, Illinois. His great uncle was Richard Yates, the Civil War Governor. In May of 1937, Richard Yates Rowe started a life insurance company called the Valley State Protective Association in Jacksonville. Rowe continued the business despite his involvement in politics, becoming Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. The company grew steadily with several stumbling blocks along the way but incorporated as the Central National Life Insurance Company in 1959. Central National began offering more and more insurance products and began a series of acquisitions of other insurance companies throughout the Midwest. Then, in 1982, Deere & Company, the huge international farm implement manufacturer, decided to go into the insurance business and started by buying Central National Life. The Jacksonville based office of John Deere Life was closed in July 1995 after being purchased by Life Reassurance Corporation.
Russell, Sol Smith. Sol Smith Russell was born on June 15, 1848 in Brunswick, Missouri but his family moved while he was very young to St. Louis and then settled in Jacksonville, Illinois. He ran away from home at 13 to become a drummer boy in the Union Army during the Civil War. He got sick and had to return home. He started his acting career with a role in the Defiance Theatre in Cairo, Illinois at the age of 14. He went on from there to have a distinguished career on the East Coast as a comedic and character actor. He returned to Jacksonville a couple of times to perform at the Opera House. He died at the age of 53.
Sibert, Lawrence DeWitt. Lawrence DeWitt Sibert was born in Jacksonville on September 27, 1891. He trained as a bookbinder and, in 1920, founded New Method Book Bindery to provide bookbinding services to libraries of all types. He later was instrumental in bringing the Hertzberg New Method Book Bindery to South Jacksonville and, between the two binderies, Jacksonville was declared the Library Binding Capital of the World by Governor William Stratton in 1954. New Method Book Bindery was later renamed for its slogan, Bound to Stay Bound Books.
Skinner, Frank Chester. Frank Chester Skinner was born December 31, 1897 in Meredosia, Illinois. He joined the Meredosia Concert Band in 1914, playing the cornet. He moved on to Chicago and then New York City, looking to break in to the big time. He became a very popular composer and arranger of popular music. It is thought one-third of all the music to come out of Broadway between 1925 and 1935 was arranged by Skinner. He then moved on to Hollywood and was very successful composing music for film scores. He won five Academy Award nominations between 1938 and 1943 for his work in films. Mr. Skinner died in 1968 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Meredosia.
Smith, Robert Campbell. Robert Campbell Smith was born in Nairn, Scotland on February 2, 1843. His family arrived in Jacksonville in the 1850s. The family business was stonecutting and young Robert went to Chicago to apprentice as a marble-cutter and observed the famous sculptor Leonard Volk at work. He returned to Jacksonville and went to Illinois College for a couple of years and then started his own stonecutting business in 1865 at East and East State Streets. He continued his work doing gravestones and doing sculpture until he retired in 1910. You can see his bust of his soon-to-be wife, Mary Nelms, in the Strawn Art Gallery; his bust of Scottish poet Robert Burns at the Jacksonville Public Library; his paintings of Professor Samuel Adams, Richard Yates and William Jennings Bryan in the Sigma Pi room in Beecher Hall; and many of his works all over Diamond Grove Cemetery, including the Isaac Fort Roe monument, the Martha Amelia Strawn statue, and the Jacob Strawn Memorial.
Spilman, Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards Spilman was born April 15, 1812 in Greenville, Kentucky. Much has been made of the fact that future Governor Richard Yates was the first graduate of Illinois College in 1835. He was the first student given a diploma by Professor Julian Sturtevant, it is true, but the only other student in the class of 1835, Jonathan Spilman, was actually the top student and valedictorian. Spilman went on to practice law in Kentucky for 18 years, wrote numerous published hymns, and was later a Presbyterian minister for several decades. His second wife, Eliza Sara Taylor, was the niece of President Zachary Taylor. Rev. Spilman died in 1896.
Stone, Barton. Barton Stone was born on December 24, 1772 in Port Tobacco, Maryland. He became a Presbyterian minister until, because of philosophical differences with the Church, he left the Presbyterians and became an influential preacher in what came to be called the Christian Church as part of the Second Great Awakening in American religion. He lived much of his adult life in Kentucky but, because he disapproved of slavery, he bought a farm south of Jacksonville, Illinois and moved there in 1834. He died at his daughter’s house in Hannibal, Missouri in 1844.
Strawn, Jacob. Jacob Strawn was born on May 30, 1800 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He moved to Morgan County in 1831. Although born poor, he amassed a large fortune by raising and selling cattle from many acres of Morgan County land. At his highest point he owned 18,000 acres in Sangamon and Morgan Counties. He did particularly well selling cattle to the Army during the Civil War. After his first wife died he married Phoebe Gates of Green County and, between the two wives he had 13 children. He gave the impressive Strawn’s Opera House on the Square to Jacksonville in 1861. He died with an estate of around $1,000,000 in 1865.
Sturtevant, Julian Monson. Julian Monson Sturtevant was born on July 26, 1803 in Warren, Connecticut. He was raised on the frontier in Summit County, Ohio and graduated from Yale College and Yale Divinity School. As one of the Yale Band he traveled to Jacksonville, Illinois to become the first teacher at Illinois College in 1830. He became President of the College in 1844 and remained President until 1876. Throughout his lifetime in Jacksonville he played an important role in many of the important institutions in town, including the Congregational Church, the Anti-Slavery Society, The Club Literary Society, the Portuguese immigration, and many others. Sturtevant died in Jacksonville in 1886.
Sullivan, Liam. Liam Sullivan was born on May 18, 1923 in Jacksonville, Illinois to the family that owned the Eli Bridge Company. The family “Big Wheel” business was not for him and he became an actor. He was in theatre at Illinois College and then at Harvard University. He started on Broadway in 1951 and went on to have a long career of supporting roles on TV in shows such as Lost in Space, Dragnet, Perry Mason, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and many others. He died in California in 1998 but he is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
Sullivan, William E. William E. Sullivan was born on July 3, 1861 in Carrollton, Illinois. He became a bridge builder in Roodhouse until the fateful day in 1893 when he went to the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It was there he saw the giant Ferris Wheel and became determined to try to manufacture portable wheels. His first Big Eli Wheel was completed on May 12, 1900 at the Jacksonville Bridge Company. His new company, the Eli Bridge Company, so named because his other stockholders didn’t believe the Wheel business would sustain the company and they would have to build bridges, went on to build thousands of rides and sell them to carnivals, amusement parks, and fairgrounds around the world.
Taylor, Luther Haden. Luther Haden Taylor was born on February 21, 1875 in Oskaloosa, Kansas. Born deaf, he graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf and became a Major League Baseball pitcher for the New York Giants and the Cleveland Bronchos from 1900 to 1908. Because he was deaf he was known throughout baseball as Dummy Taylor. He had a reputation as a comedian and once got thrown out of a game for cussing out the umpire in sign language. He became a coach and teacher after retiring from baseball, working at the Kansas School for the Deaf, the Iowa School for the Deaf, and, arriving sometime in the late 1930’s, at the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville. He died in Jacksonville in August, 1958.
Tendick, Gottfried. Gottfried Tendick was born in Germany on November 4, 1830. He came to Morgan County in 1850. Originally a shoemaker, in 1878 he learned brickmaking and started a brickyard on the site of the current Lincoln Square Shopping Center at the corner of Morton and Tendick Streets. Gottfried’s cousin, William, born in Germany in 1837, came to Jacksonville in 1878 to also become a brickmaker and his sons continued the business until 1922. With the Tendick brickyards producing bricks for 44 years, it is quite likely the vast majority of brick buildings and brick streets in Jacksonville contain many Tendick bricks in them. William’s great grandson, Ron, was mayor of Jacksonville from 1989 to 2009.
Tunison, Henry Cuthbert. Henry Cuthbert Tunison was born on February 5, 1855 in Tazewell County, Illinois. When he was one year old his family moved to a farm in Greene County which is located within the city limits of today’s Roodhouse. He became a publisher of atlases, maps and charts and, from his headquarters in Jacksonville, sent atlases and maps all over the world.
Turner, Jonathon Baldwin. Jonathon Baldwin Turner was born on December 7, 1805 in Templeton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Yale University in 1833 he joined the faculty at Illinois College to teach literature. He resigned from there in 1848, largely due to his controversial religious views. He was a passionate abolitionist, was influential in popularizing the use of the osage orange as a hedge for farms all across the MidWest, and was a key figure in the start of the University of Illinois and the federal Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862. Turner died in Jacksonville at the age of 93 and is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
Udry, Janice May. Janice May Udry was born June 14, 1928 in Jacksonville, Illinois. She grew up there and then went to Northwestern University. After graduation she worked in a nursery and married Richard Udry. Her very first published book for children, A Tree is Nice, won the prestigious American Library Association Caldecott Award for picture books in 1957. In 1959 another book by Udry, The Moon Jumpers, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, won a Caldecott Honor. As far as I can determine she is alive and living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Walworth, Ellen Hardin. Ellen Hardin was born October 20, 1832 in Jacksonville, Illinois, daughter of politician, lawyer and soldier John J. Hardin. She was educated at Jacksonville Academy. After John J. died in the Mexican War in 1846, his wife remarried and Ellen moved with her to Saratoga Springs, New York in 1851. She married her step-brother Mansfield Walworth and they had six children. Ellen Hardin Walworth was one of the four founders of the Daughters of the American Revolution on October 11, 1890. She received a law degree from New York University in 1896. Ellen passed away in 1915 and is buried near Saratoga Springs.
Watts, Robert. On May 16, 1958 Bobby Watts, an African American senior at Jacksonville High School, won the state broad jump championship in Champaign. In beating Booker Edgerson of Rock Island, Bobby won Jacksonville’s first athletic state title in any event, in either an individual or team event. Watts’ jump was 22 feet and 3/8 inches in the broad jump. The event is now called the long jump and the current Illinois high school record is 26 feet 11 inches, set in 1976. Tragically, Sargeant Watts was killed in action at Da Nang, South Vietnam in February 1968.
Whitaker, Creston. Creston Whitaker was born August 12, 1947 in Quincy, Illinois. His family moved to Jacksonville when he was seven years old and he became an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Jacksonville High School. He played football and basketball at Southern Illinois University, where one of his teammates was soon to be NBA superstar Walt Frazier. He then transferred and graduated from North Texas State in 1969. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and then served in the military before returning and playing for the New Orleans Saints in the NFL as a wide receiver in 1972.
Willard, Samuel. Samuel Willard was born December 30, 1821 in Lunenburg, Vermont. In 1831 his family moved to Carrollton, Illinois where a cholera epidemic killed his two brothers in 1833. Samuel graduated from Illinois College in 1843, where he was one of the co-founders of the Sigma Pi Literary Society. Samuel and his father Julius were arrested for their activities on the Underground Railroad and took their case to the Illinois Supreme Court, where they lost and had to pay a fine. Samuel Willard earned a degree in 1848 from the Illinois College Medical School and was later a surgeon in the Civil War. After the War he settled in Springfield, where he helped found the Public Library. He then moved to Chicago in 1870 and survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Dr. Willard died in 1913.
Wolcott, Elihu. Elihu Wolcott was born February 12, 1784 in South Windsor, Connecticut. In 1830 he moved with his second wife and two children to Jacksonville, Illinois. He was one of the founding members of the Congregational Church in 1833 and the early meetings of the Church were held in his house on the southwest corner of the Square. He was on the first board of trustees for the Jacksonville Female Academy when it formally opened in 1833. He was a very influential member of the abolitionist movement in Jacksonville, to the point where he ran on the Free Soil ticket for the 1846 congressional election against Abraham Lincoln and Peter Cartwright because he didn’t feel they were strong enough in their antislavery rhetoric. He died in 1858 and is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
Woods, Pat. On Friday May 23, 1980 Pat Woods won the shot put event at the Girls AA Illinois High School Track & Field State Meet. Her toss was 40 feet, 11 inches and this would make her Jacksonville’s first individual female state champion. She would be joined later by another state shot put champion from Jacksonville, Ashley Minner, in 2002. The current AA girls record in shot put for Illinois is 49 feet, 10 and a half inches, set by Daniella Bunch of Mahomet in 2009.
Wyatt, William J. William J. Wyatt was born on October 28, 1825 on a farm five miles southeast of Jacksonville. His father was one of the founders of the town of Franklin. William had quite the military career. In 1845 he was part of the force called out to “suppress” the Mormons in Hancock County. In 1846, as Captain of Company G, 1st Illinois Infantry under the command of Colonel John J. Hardin, he fought in the Mexican War. After many years of farming and trading, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 101st Illinois Infantry by Governor Yates in 1862. He was disabled by the war and discharged in 1863 and returned to Franklin to be forever known as Colonel Wyatt.
Yates, Richard Jr. Richard Yates, Junior was born in Jacksonville on December 12, 1860. His father was Governor of Illinois during the Civil War. Yates Junior graduated from Illinois College in 1880, practiced law in Jacksonville, served as Jacksonville City Attorney and Morgan County Judge before serving as Governor of Illinois himself from 1900 to 1904. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1919 to 1933.
Yates, Richard Sr. Richard Yates, Sr. was born on January 18, 1815 in Warsaw, Kentucky. His family moved to Jacksonville Illinois in 1831 and he graduated from Illinois College in 1835. After studying law he set up a practice in Jacksonville, served two terms in the Illinois Legislature and two terms in the U.S. Congress. He was elected Governor of Illinois in 1860 as a Whig and worked closely with Abraham Lincoln to support him throughout the Civil War. After the War he served a term in the U.S. Senate as a Republican. He died in 1873. His son, Richard Yates, Jr., was also an Illinois Governor.