Governor Richard J. OGLESBY*
This distinguished soldier and statesman was born on the twenty-fifth of July, St. James' day, 1824, in Oldham County, Kentucky. His parents, Isabella Watson and Jacob Oglesby, both of Scottish descent, came to Kentucky from Virginia.
After following other pursuits, Jacob Oglesby became a farmer in Kentucky where he was a man of some influence, representing his county two terms in the legislature of the state. The profit of his farm enabled him to live comfortably with his large family of eight children until 1833, when the cholera, which swept through the country at that time, bereft the young family of both father and mother, a brother Woodford and a sister Isabella. Afterward in 1836 the youngest daughter Sarah died at the age of six years, in Illinois. Robert, the youngest son, six years old at the time of his parents' death, died at the age of twenty-one, after a year's service in the Mexican war. The death of the parents in early maturity left the young family, two sons and four daughters. totally unprovided for.
Kind relatives, however, came to their relief, and assumed their care. Richard, the fifth child, and the elder of the surviving brothers, was but eight years old at the time of his father's death, and was taken in charge by an uncle, Willis Oglesby, who in 1836 moved to Decatur, Illinois, and afterward lived in Kentucky and Indiana. Richard remained with his uncle until the age of fourteen, when he started out in the world alone. His first journey was on foot, with only a small bundle, from Terre-Haute, Indiana, back to his favorite home, Decatur, Illinois, where he sought and found the protection of two devoted sisters, Mrs. Henry Prather and Mrs. J.J. Peddecord. In Decatur, therefore, in November, 1838, Richard J. Oglesby, at the age of fourteen, fairly entered upon the struggle of life; for a while he had friends and relations who always took a deep interest in his welfare, and pointed out to him, by suggestions and advices, the best course to pursue, he felt, and it was true, that he must rely chiefly on his own will and resources for all the future yet to be revealed and developed. The financial crash of 1837 was then being felt throughout the country; every one was poor. "The time were hard," sure enough. And that common suffering, which puts all on an equality, while beset with innumerable deprivations, yet impressed upon the generation of that period the hard lesson of delf-denial, simplicity of manner, and a pure and unselfish patriotism. From the age of fourteen to seventeen years, his life was very similar to that of other boys, working on the farm, and about town at such employment as could be found, by the day, week, or month.
The usual amusements of those days, he says, were hunting, fishing and "Burgooing," and on Saturday afternoon in all countyseat towns, horse-racinng, ball-playing and occasionally a fist-fight in the street to settle up old differences, clear up the atmosphere and get ready for church next day. Richard had his full share in the sports and pastimes of the day, but managed to keep clear of the sterner tussels in the street.
At seventeen he went to Kentucky, still the home of his eldest sister, Mrs. James F. Wilson, where he learned the trade of a housecarpenter under James Rankim. Returning after a year to Decatur he worked for Major E.O. Smith at the same trade, for six dollars a month and board. Times steadily grew harder, and work at any trade more difficult to obtain; besides farming and merchandizing there was little life in any trade or industry in the West. In 1843 farming was next undertaken, in company with Lemuel Allen, a teacher of some repute, whose school Richard had attended for three months the previous winter. They farmed on rented ground one mile east of Decatur, and raised oats, corn and twelve acres of hemp. The last was duly cut and cured, and the following winter and spring was spun into well-rope and bed-cords on a rope walk, invented by Mr. Oglesby for the purpose. On this same rope machine was spun the two large cables used in launching the first flat-boat sent out on the Sangamon river from Decatur. It was laden with corn and other produce of Macon county. The whole population turned out to see the boat take its departure on its long journey down the Sangamon to the Illinois river and thence down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Many of the older and wiser heads of the great company assembled on that occasion regarded the auspicious event as the fulfilment of a prophecy made by "Abe Lincoln" in a speech near a little corner grocery at Decatur in 1830: "That the Sangamon would some day be declared a navigable stream open to the commerce of the world." The sympathizing crowd followed the course of the "flat-boat" for many miles, cheering vociferously as it swept the various and abrupt curves of the sluggish Sangamon, somewhat perilous to navigation on account of the drift-wood, which had caught and collected into large and compact masses, clogging the stream, in many places, from bank to bank.
In 1840 Mr. Oglesby first heard, in the way of public speaking, the very able debate between Lincoln and Douglas in the old courtroom in Decatur. Though he was but sixteen he had developed an admiration and attachment for Mr. Lincoln which continued to the present time. The example Mr. Lincoln's life afforded, having begun the study of law with a limited education at the age of twenty-seven, became an inspiration to many young men in the West. Mr. Ogelsby like others felt its influence, and finally resolved as soon as he could obtain the means to follow in the path illuminated by the genius and talent of this noble man.
Therefore in 1844, at the age of twenty, he began the study of law with Silas W. Robbins, in Springfield. In November, 1845, after the usual examinations he was admitted to the bar. It is due to the truth of biography to state that the education of Mr. Oglesby had been limited. His opportunities had been of the poorest kind. At the period when he began the study of law, he could read and write, had a slight knowledge of arithmetic and a brief acquaintance with geography; but this was all he could claim in the way of an education.
In the spring of 1846, the war between the United States and Mexico opened a new field of action; and we find Mr. Oglesby in that service for one year as First Lieut. of Company C, 4th Illinois volunteers, commanded by the late Col. E.D. Baker of Illinois. Lieut. Oglesby marched with the regiment on foot over seven hundred miles through the interior of Mexico, and was in the battles of Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo; in the latter, he commanded the cmpany, Captain Pugh having been placed by Colonel Baker, in command of the left wing of the regiment, and out of forty-one, rank and file, lost ten, killed and wounded. It was in this battle General Shields fell wounded, at the head of the Fourth Illinois regiment, near Colonel Baker. Lieutenant Oglesby was left in charge of the wounded general for two days on the battle-field, as a mark of respect to the company. On his return, at the close of the war, to his home he at once resumed the practice of law, giving it his whole attention.
But in 1849, catching the gold fever, he made one of a party of eight, which left Decatur for California. The trip was made in ninety-five days, and was one of uninterrupted interest and pleasure. As an evidence of the wisdom of the venture, he states, that on the evening of the third day after his arrival in Sacremento City he repaid the two hundred and fifty dollars borrowed, to make the journey, and had four hundred and seventy dollars in cash left.
His career as a miner was so successful that at the end of two years and six months, though he had lost three thousand dollars deposited in a Sacramento bank, and two thousand five hundred dollars by the burning of Nevada City, he returned to Decatur with four thousand five hundred dollars in gold, and had more cash for a few weeks than any other man in Decatur, then a town of five hundred inhabitants, including many promising young men.
Shortly after the return from California, the law firm of "Oglesby and Waite" was established, which continued until the spring of 1856. At this time Mr. Oglesby decided upon a tour abroad, and in April he left Illinois for a journey to Great Britain and Europe, which was extended to Egypt, Arabia, Palestine and Asia Minor.
He sailed from Philadelphia in the "City of Baltimore," Captain Lutch, landing, after a pleasant voyage of ten days, at St. George's Pier, Liverpool. After three days in Liverpool he crossed to Dublin, and visited various places of interest in Ireland. From Port Rush, he sailed for Glasgow, and traveled over Scotland, arriving in London late in June, where he spent three weeks visiting points of historical interest. Parliament, then sitting, claimed his attention several times, and he was interested to observe the style and manners of English oratory.
In the House of Lords, he heard Lord Lyndhurst, the Duke of Argyle, Marquis of Lansdale, Lord John Campbell, Bishop of Oxford and many other distinguished peers. Lord John Campbell he notes as the most fluent speaker. In the house of commons among the many members whose speeches he heard, were Lord Palmerston, then in his prime, Lord John Russell and the famous D'Israeli. Leaving London, Mr. Oglesby spent two weeks in Paris and environs, then proceeded to Berlin, visiting en route, Brussels, Waterloo, Cologne, Mayence, Bonn, Frankfort, Leipsic and Dresden. In Berlin he celebrated his thirty-second birthday, and among other reflections regrets "that he is still a bachelor." After a short time spent in that city and Potsdam, he determined to sail from Stettin to St. Petersburg.
August the 2nd, he embarked, meeting among his fellow-passengers the famous Colonel Colt, of revolver celebrity, who with his bride was on his way to St. Petersburg. They arrived after three days rough Passage on the Baltic, and on the sixth of August Mr. Oglesby celebrated another birthday, time being then reckoned in Russia O.S.
Two weeks were spent in St. Petersburg and two in Moscow, where on the 7th of September, he saw the present Czar and his Empress crowned in the Church of the Assumption. From Moscow he traveled by diligence eight hundred miles to Warsaw, a tedious journey, but having some unusual interests. In Poland he saw the most beautiful women of Europe. Leaving Warsaw by railway from Dresden and Berlin, he rejoices to find himself once more among the comfortable Germans. He felt depressed in spirit and body after witnessing so much human misery in Russia and Poland. His stay in Berlin was long and agreeable. On the sixteenth of October he was one of a party of ten Americans invited to attend King William, the Crown Prince, now Emperor, and their court, on the annual wild boar hunt in the "King's Forest," ten miles north of Berlin. The thirtieth of December, he left that lovely German city to visit Dresden again, Vienna and Trieste. From the last place he sailed to Alexandria, where he beheld with astonishment the marvelous wonders of this ancient city of Egypt. He describes among other famous monuments the obelisks, called "Cleopatra's needle," then standing on their original sites, one of which was recently brought to New York.
Late in January, Mr. Oglesby arrived in Cairo. After a short stay, he in company with a friend, chartered a boat and crew, and laying in a supply of provisions, resolved to make a trip up the Nile to Thebes. They left Cairo with the American flag flying, expecting to be gone thirty days, but found so many mysteries along the Nile to see and study, that their journey was prolonged, and more than forty days passed before their return to Cairo.
The ancient temples and tombs of Upper Egypt, still, as for centuries, the marvel of the world, the great pyramids on the west bank of the Nile near Cairo, one of the "seven wonders of the world," were all, in succession, visited, studied and examined with the greatest possible interest and profit to the travelers from the western prairies of the nnew continent, where only the great natural objects arrest the eye of the traveler. Two week after their return to Cairo, Mr. Oglesby joined a caravan, to cross the desert, consisting of ten travelers, two dragomen, eleven Bedouins and thirty-three camels. On the twentieth of March they left Cairo for their perilous march to the Holy Land. The journey across the desert was full of eventful and startling adventures, camel-riding, tenting, tracing the scenes of scriptural history on the vast sandy plains, desert mountains and along the shores of the Dead Sea, the halt at the city of Suez, and the ascent of Mt. Horeb and Mt. Sinai, where during the night Mr. Ogelsby read and committed to memory the ten commandments, and with a companion repeated them on the top of Mt. Sinai, as the sun was rising over the mountains of Arabia and the wilderness where the children of Israel wandered for forty years. His journal describes the scene, as the light burst upon the barren plains and rock-riven peaks of the terrible desert, as one of surpassing splendor. There was also a visit to the city of Petra, and Aaron's tomb on Mt. Hor. The dangers encountered on this journey were the simoom, which overtook them one day and night, during which their suffering was terrible, and the ugly threats and violent demonstrations of the wild Bedouins. At Hebron the weary travelers took horses for Jerusalem, where they arrived May the first, having accomplished a tedious and perilous journey in forty days from Cairo. During his stay in Jerusalem Mr. Oglesby visited all villages and places of scriptural interest near the city and studied with care and reverence the history of the holy places. After his final departure from Jerusalem, he traveled over the plain of Esdraelon, by Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, which, he says, was one of the few places that looked as he thought it would; Magdala, Capernaum, by the waters of Merone and snow-capped Hermon. Late in May they reached the three streams that form the source of the Jordan, which they found clear and of icy coldness. The next day they visited Caesarea Philippi; from there, their destination was Damascus, where they spent two weeks sight-seeing, and once more enjoyed the comforts of civilization, good coffee, and baths. From Damascus they set out for Beyroot, halting on the way between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, to see the wonderful temple of Baalbeck and the town of Jebel. Arriving in Beyroot, three days later Mr. Oglesby sailed for Constantinople, landing after a voyage of eight days, having stopped at several ports; among them Smyrna and Rhodes. After five days spent in Constantinople, he sailed for Athens; two weeks were spent in this classic city, when he took ship on his last voyage on the Mediterranean for Naples; from there he visited Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, and other famous Italian cities; crossing the Alps by the St. Gothard's Pass, He returned through Switzerland and the Rhinish States to Berlin, where, after a brief stay, he passed through Northern Germany to Holland, visiting the important cities. Returning to Paris he stayed four weeks, visiting every place of interest in that gay capital, when he went to London, from whence he left for Portsmouth, where he sailed for America, landing in New York December, 1857. A foreign trip at this time, so extended as Mr. Oglesby's was unusual; and led, through the interest of his friends to a series of lectures, given from his carefully kept journal, during his stay abroad. These lectures are said to have possessed great interest by those who were fortunate enough to hear them, and he is often, even yet, earnestly entreated to lecture again on the same subject.
At the time of the great contest between Lincoln and Douglas, in 1858, Mr. Oglesby became the Republican candidate for Congress in the Congressional district as then arranged. But, unhappily for his rising ambition, the district had been created to return a Democratic majority, and the Hon. James C. Robinson went to Congress while Mr. Oglesby still continued to practice law. In 1860 Mr. Oglesby was requested by the Republican party to become a candidate for the State Senate, and, though the district had before been largely Democratic, was elected in November at the same time that Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United States. He served one term in the senate, but in 1861 was elected Colonel of the eighth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and resigned his seat to go to the field as a soldier in the great civil war. It is not deemed necessary to reproduce the stirring events of that fearful struggle. Mr. Oglesby served for one year as Colonel and led the right of Gen. Grant's army in his advance on Fort Donelson, and was on the field of battle for three days in attacking that rebel stronghold, which finally yielded, with its fourteen thousand prisoners, after a severe battle on the fourteenth of February, 1862. This was the first substantial union victory up to that time. In 1861 Colonel Oglesby had been appointed by President Lincoln Brigadier General for gallantry at the battle of Fort Donelson, taking rank as such from April the first, 1862. In the autumn of 1862, the great battle of Corinth was fought, on the third and fourth days of October. Gen. Oglesby commanded a brigade in that fight, and on the afternoon of the first day fell upon the field of battle, as was then thought, mortally wounded, the ball having passed under the left arm, through the lungs and lodged near his spine. He passed six months of intense suffering and danger before he was able to leave his home, and still carries in his body the enemy's ball which brought him so near the gates of death. On his recovery in April, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of Major-General of Volunteers, by appointment of President Lincoln, to rank as such from the twenty-ninth of November, 1862.
Still suffering from his wound, although on duty in the field, he tendered his resignation in July, 1863; but it was not accepted. He was, however, granted a leave of absence and returned home, where he was detailed as president of a general court-martial which sat in Washington from December, 1863, until May, 1864. Upon Gen. Oglesby's return to Illinois in this year, he was unanimously nominated as the Republican candidate for Governor, and although the state had gone democratic at the last election, was elected by thirty-one thousand majority.
On his nomination for Govenor on May 25th, 1864, the President accepted his resignation as Major-General, and he left the field of active hostilities, for which his severe wound had long unfitted him, to enter the arena of political life, where at that time the strife was as bitter as in the fields of war.
Gov. Oglesby is spoken of by the journals of that time as "a liberal-hearted administrator of the high and sacred trust imposed upon him as the official head of a great commonwealth; "showing himself eminently faithful, competent and able; combining in an admirable degree the qualities of a every man among men." The Chicago Tribune of January 18th, 1865, says of his inaugural: "The address is a manly, straight-forward document, devoid of pretension, replete with common sense, and admirably written. It clearly proclaims that the same nerve, the same intelligence and the patriotism which marked Gen. Oglesby's conduct at Donelson and Corinth will distinguish his administration as Governor."
Being at Washington when that awful national calamity, the assassination of President Lincoln occurred, it was Gov. Oglesby's painful privilege to be present at the bedside of his beloved friend, within an hour after the fatal shot was given; he watched over him until the end, and saw him yield up his noble life in the cause of the country he loved and served so well. Afterward he remained close beside the precious remains, following in the mournful journey back to Illinois, until they were placed in the silent tomb amid the lamentations of a great nation.
Gov. Oglesby was made president of the National Lincoln Monument Association organized May 11th, 1865, which labored so assiduously until it obtained the means to erect to the martyred president an enduring memorial worthy to mark his last resting place, and hold the ashes of this noble man sacred. This stately monument was so far completed that it was formally dedicated, and the beautiful statue of Lincoln unveiled, October 15th, 1874. The Springfield Journal says: "There seems a peculiar propriety that Lincoln's ardent friend and admirer, the eloquent and sympathetic Oglesby, should deliver the oration, and that the President and the cabinet should lend dignity by their presence to an occasion which will soon become historic."
Gov. Oglesby was regarded by the returning regiments of soldiers with the warmest affection; his generous "soldier ear" responded to every demand for assistance or sympathy coming from a man in federal blue. He was ever solicitous for the welfare of all military organizations, and every individual soldier embraced therein.
At the end of his first term he retired to private life; but again, in 1872, his party required his services, and he was nominated and again elected governor in November of that year by forty-one thousand majority. On the tenth day after his inaugural he was chosen by the legislature United States Senator for the term of six years, from March fourth, 1873.
Senator Oglesby was as cordially admired and respected in the senate as in the other public positions he had occupied so honorable. He was an earnest and industrious member, and his unblemished integrity and honesty of purpose won for him the highest regard and respect from his brother senators.
"With proper modesty and fearlessness, he bore himself always as became a republican senator, proud of the noble state he represented;" and his public career was honorable closed by the expiration of his senatorial term on the fourth of March, 1879.
He is in private life the same sound and unswerving republican he has ever been--the same patriot,--and has the same high sense of public honor which ought to fill the breast of every man who accepts the public confidence. The fidelity, courage and honesty of purpose with which Richard J. Oglesby has served his country whenever her cause has been intrusted to his hands, certainly proclaims him worthy to bear the motto of his Scottish: "Pro Patria."
He has been twice married; first in 1859, to Anna E., daughter of Joseph White, of Decatur; and afterwards, in 1873, to Emma, daughter of John D. Gillett, of Elkhart. He has children by both marriages.
History of Macon Co, IL, 1880 - p. 126
A LAST LETTER
Written by Ex-Gov. Oglesby Less Than 30 Days Before Death
Less than 30 days before the death of ex-Governor Oglesby he wrote a letter to his old friend William H. Piatt, living at Monticello, Piatt county, probably one of the last letters he ever wrote. They had been personal friends for 60 years. Mr. B.F. Harris, Sr., of Champaign, now 85 years old, was a friend of both Oglesby and Piatt, and was especially intimate with the former since some time prior to the Oglesby-Robinson congressional race in 1858. A copy of the letter has been sent to Mr. Harris and reads as follows:
"Elkhart, Ill., March 21, 1899 - William H. Piatt. My Old Dear Friend: I hear from you occasionally through your daughters or friends and know you are still alive. This is very pleasant--there are so few of us old fellows left. It is always pleasant to know there are enough of us left ot make the world respectable, and to make it desirable to live in. We, of course, have had our day and time, and in the regular course of nature we have to give way to the big procession following on behind us. I can not understand why, when the Lord has a good set of old fellows, he don't let them alone, and let them live as long as they may care to. You and I and old Jasper Peddecord are still left. It would be hard to find three better specimens. I am now 75, you and Peddecord must be 83 or 84 years old. We used to be pretty well off; I suppose now we are all poor; I know I am. The world does not care much for old people, especially if they be also poor. Well, I suppose we can stand it. One thing is certain--we will not stand it very long. While I feel I am now very little account, still I am in no hurry to die. There is not in death very much to be afraid of. It winds a fellow up; that is about all there is to it. If a man were like a watch, would run again after he is wound up, it would be all right and he would keep good time as long as he could keep clicking and ticking.
You, of course, have noticed times are not like they were 50 to 70 years ago, when you were a young, useful, hard-working man. I have not been well for three years; am not well now. I stay at home on the farm nearly all the time. I do not care to go anywhere. I am not sick so much as I am weak.
You doubtless take an interest in things generally and like to know how things are going on. And I suppose you feel at times that things are not going right. Well, that may be so, but we are too old to change them very much, so I just let them run. We kept things in pretty good order for 50 years; we have done our part; now let the world take care of itself. I reckon it will bury us decently before long, put a little stone over us, and then say: 'Good-by, boys; we will think of you for a little while and feel sorry you are gone, but from this time on you must take care of yourself; we have other fish to fry.'
When you see your daughter Emma at LaGrange, tell her I read her letter and thank her for it, and if I were not so old and lazy I would write to her. I do not know who there is left in Monticello that I can send respects to; if I were there I doubtless would meet a few I would know and be glad to see. If you are able to write me a few lines, do so, and let me learn you have received my letter. We are not likely to see each other again. If not, it is a great pleasure to know we part once, and possibly forever, as good friends. I have always considered it a pleasure to have known you, and it is with sadness I now bid you an affectionate farewell. Your good friend, R.J. OGLESBY"
Daily Republican (Decatur), 3 May 1899
*This photo is in the public domain.
George Carroll OUTTEN
George C. Outten, a well known resident of Mount Zion, is one of Macon county's native sons and a worthy representative of one of her most prominent and honored families, whose identification with her history dates from an early period in the development of the conty. The first to locate here was his grandfather, Purnell S. Outten, a native of Kentucky, and of Welsh descent, who came to Macon county at a very early day and took up government land. He was actively identified with the upbuilding and improvement of this region and so successful was he in his farming operation that he was the owner of over two thousand acres of land at the time of his death, which he divided among his children.
George T. Outten, the father of our subject, was born in Cass county, Virginia, June 4, 1850, and came to Macon county at the age of four years, when this section of the state was wild and unimproved. Throughout his active business life he followed farming with good success, accumulating a fair competence. He died on the 22d of May, 1885, at the age of thirty-five years. A genial, kind hearted man, he made many friends and was highly respected by all who knew him. By his ballot he supported the men and measures of the Democratic party and took quite an active part in local politics, efficiently serving as supervisor of his township and in other offices. He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was a well read man and in early life engaged in teaching school for a time.
In Mount Zion, November 9, 1872, George T. Outten, was united in marriage to Miss May Bell, a native of Macon county, Illinois, born near Mount Zion April 21, 1852, and a daughter of Alexander W. and Mary (Montgomery) Bell, also resident farmers of Mount Zion township, who came from Tennessee to this county at an early day. Her father died on October 6, 1901, at they very advanced age of ninety years, and her mother passed away January 29, 1892, at the age of seventy-five years, three months and four days.
Mr. Outten, whose name introduces this sketch, was born on the old homestead farm in Mount Zion township, January 11, 1874, and is an only son, but he has a sister, Dora T., now the wife of J.A. Kessler, of Auburn, Illinois. Our subject is indebted to the public schools of the county for the early educational advantages he enjoyed, and later he attended Brown's Business College, of Decatur, and Gem City Business College, of Quincy, Illinois. On the completion of his education he returned to the home farm in Mount Zion township, which he conducted until the 5th of March, 1903, when he removed to the village of Mount Zion, where he erected a handsome residence with all modern conveniences of a city home. With him resides his mother. He is part owner of four hundred and ninety acres of rich and arable land in Mount Zion township, which he now rents, while he devotes his entire attention to buying and selling stock. His largest yield of corn was fifteen thousand bushels from two hundred and forty acres of land.
Mr. Outten is a very active, energetic and progressive young man, who stands high in the community where he resides. He is devoted to his mother and fondly looks after her welfare and interests. He filled the office of collector two terms and as assessor of his township and votes with the Democratic party. Socially he is a prominent member and past noble grand of Mount Zion Lodge, No. 300, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and also belongs to the Court of Honor. Religiously he is a member of Methodist Episcopal church.
Past and Present of the City of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois 1903, pg.573-574
William C. OUTTEN
William C. Outten, who is engaged in the practice of law as a member of the firm of Outten & Page, of Decatur, is a prominent member of the Macon County Bar, and the liberal patronage which he receives attests his skill and ability. His entire life has been passed in this State, his birth having occurred in Cass County July 23, 1843. His father, Purnel Stout Outten, was a native of Fayette County, Ky., and throughout the greater part of his life has followed farming and stock-raising. He married Rachel R. Berry, who was born in Virginia, and they became the parents of four children; Mary, wife of R.D. Wilson, of Decatur; Rachel, deceased; and William and Sarah, deceased. The mother died in 1846, and in 1848, Mr. Outten married Mary J., daughter of George and Lydia Ross, of Cass County, Ill. They had one child, George T., who was married and died leaving two children, George C. and Cora B. The father of our subject came to Illinois in 1836, locating in Cass County, where he made his home until the spring of 1853, when he came to Macon County. He had entered four hundred acres of land here in 1836, and in 1853 he built a house and began development of his farm. Through his energy and good judgment he has been successful, and is one of the wealthiest men of Mt. Zion Township. His second wife having died April 27, 1893, he is now, in his eighty-fourth year, residing with his daughter, Mrs. R.D. Wilson, in Decatur, Ill. He has been a life-long member of the Methodist Church, and for many years was an office-holder in that organization.
Thomas Outten, the grandfather of our subject, was a native of Virginia. He was a farmer and stock- trader, and died in middle life in Kentucky. William Berry, the maternal grandfather, was also a Virginian by birth, and became a pioneer of Cass County, Ill., where he died when past the age of four-score years.
William C. Outten lived in the county of his nativity until his tenth year, when with his family he came to this county. He was reared to manhood upon a farm, and in the common district schools acquired his primary education, which was supplemented by study in the Mt. Zion Academy. He afterward attended the Wesleyan University of Bloomington, Ill. Returning to Macon County on the completion of his course, he embarked in farming during the summer season, while in the winter he taught school for five months. He then devoted his energies exclusively to agricultural pursuits until the spring of 1873, when he removed to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he remained for two years engaged int he study of law. On his return to Decatur he entered the law office of Nelson & Roby, and afterward became a partner in the firm. On Mr. Nelson's election to the position of Circuit Judge, he continued with Mr. Roby, under the firm name of Roby & Outten, for a year, when E.P. Vail, the present Circuit Judge, was admitted to partnership. Business was then carried on under the style of Roby, Outten & Vail until the spring of 1881, when Mr. Vail was elected to the Bench. Mr. Outten was then alone in practice until 1889, when the present firm of Outten & Page was established. Our subject has occupied one office room since 1875. It is located at No. 207 South Park Street, and he enjoys a liberal patronage.
The home of Mr. Outten is situated at No. 570 West Prairie Street, and is presided over by an accomplished lady, to whom he gave his name September 28, 1865. In her maidenhood she was Miss Sarah Farrell, daughter of William E. and Anna D. (Ross) Farrell, of Macon County. Three children were born unto them, but all are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Outten hold an enviable position in social circles, and are members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he serves as Trustee. His temperance principles have led him to espouse the cause of the Prohibition party. In addition to his home he owns a farm of one hundred and twenty acres near Henry City, Ill., and another tract of twenty acres in the same locality. Mr. Outten is a man of firm convictions, inflexible in support of what he believes to be right, and his honorable, upright career has gained him universal regard.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon County, IL, 1893, pg. 199-200
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