Henry Theophilus Noble



Lee County Biography


Col. Henry Theophilus Noble






Col. Henry Theophilus Noble was a citizen of whom Dixon was justly proud, as he was prominent in her business circles, was one of the most distinguished officers that representd the military of Lee County during the war, was a pure and patriotic leader in politics, and was noted for his generous public spirit and devotion tot he best interests of city and county, his name being associated with many enterprises that have been potent in their advancement, and his money was freely given to help forward whatever was for the good of the community.

Col. Noble came of sterlign New England stock, and was a lineal descendant of Thomas Noble, a native of England, who settled in Boston previous to 1653, and removed from there to Springfield Mass., and thence to Westfield, in the same State, where he spent his last years. The Colonel was born May 3, 1829, int he town of Otis, Berkshire, Mass., and was reared among the beautiful Berkshire hills to a vigorous manhood. He had the advantages of a sound education, of which he laid the foundation in the district school, and when the State Normal School was organized at Westfield, he entered the first class and pursued the prescribed course of study. Ambitious for a broader field of action than was afforded by his native place, in 1850 he came to Dixon, and the following two years his time ws fully employed in teaching and as a clerk in the land office. In 1852 he embarked in an enterprise, which was characterized by the sagacity and forethought that were conspicious features of his career as a business man throughout his entire life. He went South in that year for the purpose of buying land warrants, held by soldiers who had fought in the Mexican War, and he visited the States of Missouri, Texas, Alabama and Kentucky. In carrying out his scheme, which he made every profitable. On his return to IL he engaged with his uncle, Silas Noble, in banking and real-estate buisiness, continuing with him until 1857.

Our subject was in the very prime of his life when the Rebellion broke out that threatened to destroy the Union. From his very boyhood he had been interested in national affairs, had alays taken pains to keep himself well-informed concerning the government of his country, and as soon as old enough began to take part in local politics, throwing the weight of his influence on the side of the party that he considered in the right.

He watched with intense interest and anxiety the course of events that led up to one of the greatest civil wars ever waged in the history of mankind, and at last when the South began hostilities by firing on the old flag, he unhesitatingly sprang to its defense, and to him belonged the honor of being the first man in Lee County to enlist, enrolling his name as a member of an IL regiment on April 17, five days after the first gun had been levelled at Ft. Sumter. On the 20th of that month he was chosen Lt. of Company A, 13th IL Inf. and was further honored on the 24th of the following May by being mustered in as Captain of his company.

The Colonel was in active service throughout the war and until the fall of 1866. During that time he took part in many important engagements and his value as a leader was duly recognized by his promotion from the rank of captain to be successively Maj. Lt.-Col. nd Col of his regimeent, his promotions being the result of his intrepid daring and coolness in the face of the enemy, and his skill in handling his troops in the heat of battle. The 13th IL was the first regiment to cross the Mississippi River into the hostil regions of the State of MO and the greater part of the time for the following two years it was on duty in MO and AR and did great execution among the rebels. Later it did gallant service in the Vicksburg campaign, taking part in all the important battles fought around that city, and in its siege and capture. Our subject was appointed a member of the Gen. J.J. Reynold's staff and subsequentlys erved on the staff of Gen. E.O.C. Ord. In the spring of 1865, he as appointed to the important post of Chief Quartermaster of the Dept. of AR and held that position until his honorable discharge from the army, Oct. 5, 1866. Many favorable comments were made by his superior officers upon his fitness for so responsible a position, and upon the faithful manner in which he discharged the arduous duties of his office. Gen. Miegs said of him in his official communication to the authorities at Washington: "Col. Noble has performed the duties of Quartermaster to the entire satisfaction of all concerned, and has won the confidence and esteem of all who know him." Gen. J.N. Crittenden, in a communication to the War Dept. dated Dec. 19, 1864, says; "For the excellent order in which all books, papers, cash accounts, etc., have been kept, thanks are due to Col. Noble's able management of the duties devolving upon him, and to his untiring devotion to his work. His standing as a man of pure and incorruptible character is high with all who know him, and I deem him capable of carrying out any and all plans in the Quartermaster's department.

After his long and honorable service in the army, he returned to this county, and the soldier was soon merged in the business man. That fall of 1866, he bought an interest in the Grand Detour Plow works at Dixon, and was permanently connected with the management of business until his untimely death. Thus was brought to a close a life that was not only successful from a financial point of view, as the Colonel accumulated a handsome fortune, but from the light of his great personal worth and the high estimation placed upon his value as a man and a citizen. The whole city mourned his loss, as his unvarying geniality and courtesy, his warm sympathy and never failing generosity, had drawn him many firm friends.

Col. Noble was prominently identified with various social organizations. He was a member of Dixon Post, G.A.R. , of the Loyal Legion of IL, and March 31, 1873 joiend the Army of TN, which was organized at Raleigh, April 25, 1865. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, belonging to Dixon Lodge, No. 39. The colonel was a Republican in politics, and was high in the councils of the party. He was twice Presidential Elector on that ticket and in 1876 was a delegate to the Republican Natl. Convention, where he did himself and his constituents honor as one of the immortal "306," that voted for his old leader, Gen. Grant, on every ballot. He was a member of the commission appointed to locate a soldiers home and used his influence in favor of Dixon. Quincy was however, selected as the site. Our subject was twice married. Hisfirst marriage was in 1853, with Miss Jane A. Herrick, native of Chautauqua County NY and a daughter of Samuel and Sally (Nash) Herrick. She was killed in the bridge disaster at Dixon May 4, 1873. The maiden name of the Colonel's second wife was Mary Augusta Hampton. She wsa born in the town of Boston, Erie Co. NY a daughter of Slate and Minerva (Ellis) Hampton, natives of NJ and Boston NY. Mrs. Noble was a devoted wife and cherishes reverently the memory of her beloved husband in the beautiful home that she shared with him, and still occupies, that is pleasantly located on the corner of Galena and Third Streets.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County

From the Dixon Evening Telegraph 1951 -
A name which meant much to the prosperity of early Dixon was that of Col. Henry T. Noble, who served as the city's Mayor for 1890. Col. Noble was apart owner of the Grand Detour Plow Company, long the principal industry of Dixon. He enlisted in Co. A., 13th IL Inf. rising to the rank of Colonel and serving until after the wars end. He was a member of the town board of trustees for 1856 and 1858, was twice a presidential elector and was a delegate to the Natl. Rep. Convention of 1876. He was born in 1829 at Otis MA. He receive dthe compliment of being elected Dixon's mayor while absent on a tour of the country, and died full of honors on April 15, 1891, a few days after serving his term.

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