Lee County Biography

Henry B. Cobb
Viola Twp.





Henry B. Cobb has been prominent in the upbuilding of Lee County as one of its most successfnl farmers and stock-raisers. He has been a resident of Yiola Township since pioneer days, and has accumulated a valuable property, including large landed interests here and elsewhere, and one of the best equipped farms in this part of Illinois. He comes from sterling New England ancestry, and is a native of that part of the country, born in the town of Tolland, Tolland County, Conn., November 27, 1834. Hisfather, Dan­iel Cobb, was a native of the same State. He was a natural mechanic, who could turn his hand to anything and do it well, but he never learned a trade. He worked at various kinds of labor, and remained a resident of Connecticut until his un­timely death, while yet in life's prime, in Tolland County, in 1848.

The mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Wealthy Crandle, and who was also born in Connecticut, was left in very limited circumstances by his death, with nine children depending on her for support. She bravely shouldered her burden and provided for them as best she could, training them to habits of industry and teaching them to become independent. She went from Connecticut to Massachusetts, and lived there until 1853, when she came to Illinois. She resided for a time in Bureau County, but spent her last years in Lee County, in Viola Township. The names of her children are Elizabeth, Roxanna, Laura, Henry B.., Samuel, Daniel, Newton, Wealthy Jane and George O. The family was well represented in the war, Daniel, Newton and George all entering the Amy early in the conflict, and serving with honor until the rebellion was brought to a close. The first named was in Cheney's Battery, while Newton and George were members of the Eighty-ninth Illinois Regiment.

The snbject of this biography was very young when he commenced to earn his own living, and he early displayed those strong traits of character that have marked his entire career and have led him to wealth. Soon after his father's death, he went to work in a cotton factory at Duckville, in the town of Palmer, Hampden County, Mass. He remained there until 1852, and then, ambitious to better his fortunes, he decided to immigrate to the "West," as this part of the country was then called, and try to secure a home for himself on the soil of the Prairie State. He traveled by the way of Long Island Sound to New York, thence by rail to Dunkirk, where he embarked on a steamer to Chicago; from that city he proceeded to Peru on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, and the remainder of his journey to his destination, Lamoille, Bureau County, was performed with a team. He worked there a few months, and then gener­ously sent back the money thus earned to assist other members of the family to come to Illinois.

In the fall of 1852, he visited Lee Connty and entered one hundred and sixty acres of Government land on section 13, of what is now Viola Township.

After he had bought land Mr. Cobb did not have the means to build on it or otherwise improve it, so he rented land for farming purposes until 1856. During that time he erected a small frame house on his place, and has been a resident here continuously since. The improvements on his farm at the present time rank with the best in the county. He has bought land at different times, and. has upwards of twelve hundred acres of very fine land in Viola, Brooklyn and Willow Creek Townships. He has gathered together a handsome property solely by his own wisely directed energies, as he can truly claim the honor of being a selfmade man, who has literally been "the architect of his own fortunes," for he began life when a mere boy with not a cent to his name, and had to earn his own capital before he could become independent. Fortunately, he had that within him better than mere riches which insured his success from the start, as he was of an active temperament, quick to perceive and active to perform; was steady of purpose; had a marvelious capacity to labor long and well and he had early acquired good business habits, so that he was equipped for the struggle that lay before him. Lee County has found in him a valuable citizen, who has been a power in developing her agricultural resources and adding to her wealth in that direction. He has always taken a real interest in her welfare, and has responded liberally to calls for aid in promoting internal improvements. He stands high in her financial circles, and is known in politics as a tried and true Republican, since the days when he cast his first presidental vote for Gen. Fremont.

Mr. Cobb was married in 1859 to Ellen C.Beemer, a native of Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Adam and Ann Beemer, and has found in her a cheelful helpmate and a devoted wife. They have five children: Minnie J., Lillie A., George H., Birdie I and Laura. L. Lillie is the wife of William Webber and the mother of three children: Blanche, George R. and Hazel N. George H, married Sadie Shontz and they have one child Ethel Marie

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