Stark County IL Biographies - L

William Leet

William Leet, who formerly owned what is now the Exchange Bank of Bradford and also had other important business interests, was recognized as a leading factor in the development of Star county and one of its most prominent citizens. A native of Connecticut, his birth occurred in Chester on the 20th of October, 1827, and his parents were Samuel W. and Anna Leet, both natives of that state. The ancestry has been traced back to one William Leete, who removed from England to America in 1639, settling in the New Hven colony, of which he subsequently became governor. Following the union of that colony with the colony of Connecticut he was again chosen governor and was filling that high office at the time of his death in 1683. Charles Leet, a brother of our subject was the first inventor of the first succesful cartridge, his factory being in Connecticut.

As the family was in very limited circumstances, William Leet of this review went to live with a Mr. Jones, of Chester, Connecticut, working for his board and lodging. In 1841 he accompanied his employer to Illinois and remained with him upon a farm near Elmwood, Trivoli township, Peoria county, for four or five years, but at the end of that time, not being treated kindly, he left and began working for others. As soon as he had saved enough money he returned to the east, but found himself dissatisfied with New England and in a comparatively short tijme again came to Illinois. For some time he worked for a farmer in Bureau county for a wage of ten dollars per month. He lived very economically and at length was able to purchase his first land, an eighty acre tract in Milo township, that county. Subsequently he sold that property and bought three hundred and twenty acres on section 33, on which he took up his residence. He was very successful in his farming operations and soon extended his activities to other lines and at the time of his marriage in 1854 was worth about twenty thousand dollars and was considered wealthy. He saw still greater opportunities before him, however, and continued in the development of his various interests. He possessed a great deal of mental and physical energy and was a very hard worker. He recognized, however, that inefficient effort was effort wasted and therefore planned all of his work carefully so as to secure the greatest possible results. He was quick to recognize a business opportunity and prompt in carrying out his plans. A number of years before the Civil war he erected an elevator in Henry, Marshall county, and for a considerable period bought and shipped grain. His farm was twenty miles distant, but in order to give personal attention to the elevator business he drove back and forth each day. Following the close of the war he transferred his grain interested to Bradford and in 1873 he took up his residence in the town, where he continued to live until his demise. For a considerable period he not only controlled the grain market at Bradford but also at Castleton, Duncan and Lombardville, all on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. He was endowed with unusual keenness of insight and sagacity; possessed an unusually retentive memory and was able to hold in mind the details of every one of his almost countless business transactions.

In 1872 Mr. Leet became a factor in local banking circles, purchasing what is now the Bradford Exchange Bank, which was then conducted by A. B. Miner. Mr. Leet proved as successful in the management of that insitutuion as he had in the conduct of hi other business affairs and its patronage grew steadily. He gave his first care to safeguarding the interests of depositors but was willing to extend credit when satisfied that the security offered was good. In time his interests were extended to other states, especially to Iowa, and he established a bank at Audubon, which also proved a profitable venture. He secured his start in business from his farming operations and never ceased to believe in the value of real estate as an investment and at one time owned nearly five thousand acres of land in Stark county besides valuable holdijngs elsewhere. He bought and sold land throughout his business career and was recognized as an authority on real estate values. In his dealings with others he was not only upright and above board, but he was even liberal, never being known to foreclose a mortgage if he could avoid doing so and being at all times willing to give time to his debtors as long as he believed that they were trying to pay. There are many in the county who owe much to him and a wealthy man in Osceola townshilp recently remarked that all that he had was due to William Leet, as he came to this county a poor man and could not have purchased his first farm if Mr. Leet had not loaned him money.

At quite an early stage in his career Mr. Leet began to operate on the Chicago Board of Trade and in 1888 removed to Chicago, where he lived for two years. He then took up his residence in Aurora but continued a member of the Board of Trade, going to Chicago each day. He passed away in Aurora on the 5th of September, 1896.

On the 29th of August, 1854, Mr. Leet was united in marriage to Miss Helen Spear, who was a native of England but was brought to the United States in infancy by her parents. Her mother dying a few months after the arrival of the family in the United States, she was adopted by a Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox, who reared her to womanhood and who removed to Stark County in the spring of 1854, taking up their residence upon rented land belonging to Mr. Leet. To this union were born eight children, of whom three died in infancy. Mary J. gave her hand in marriage to Rev. J. C. Stoughton and is now living in Bradford. her husband, who is deceased, was a prominent minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was instrumental in the establishment of the State University at Champaign and also of the Jennings Seminary of Aurora. Frank M. is deceased. Rose, the wife of Robert Thompson, of Bradford, is the president of the Bradford Exchange Bank. Further mention of her husbnad is made elsewhere in this work. Anna L. becvame the wife of Asmus Boyson but is now deceased. George Keller is residing in Aurora, Illinois.

Mr. Leet was a republican but was never active in politics, his business interests requiring his undivided attion. He was in sympathy with the Methodist Episcopal church, although not a member, and his influence was given on the side of right and justice. Although it may not have been generally recognized, he did much to maintain a high standard of business honor in the communities in which he was active and in all of his dealings he was scrupulously honest. Fraternally he belonged to the Masonic order for a number of years but at length demitted. He had practially no educational opportunities, but his native intellingence was so keen, his judgment of human nature so sound, and his force of character so great that in spite of obstacles he became one of the dominant factors in business circles in this part of the state. He left a considerable fortune, which, in accordance with his wish, remained intact until after his widow's death, when it was divided among the several heirs. His position in a matter was never an equivocal one, as he was positive in his opinions and also in his personal ikes and dislikes. He held friendship inviolable and was willing to do much in behalf of a friend, but to an enemy he gave only the severest justice. Those to whom he gave his friendship knew him as a man of warm heart and deep loyalty, and all who came in contact with him held him in the highest respect.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 90-93  – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


J. M. Liggett

J. M. Liggett, living on section 21, Osceola township, is the owner of a very valuable tract of land of three hundred and fifty-six acres, in the midst of which stands a palatial residence with all of the buildings and equipments which are accessories to model farm of the twentieth century. He is a representative of one of the old time families of the county that in early days experienced many of the hardships and privations incident to frontier life.

Mr. Liggett has now passed the seventieth milestone on lie's journey, his birth having occurred in Salem township, Warren county, Ohio, on the 2d of May, 1846, his parents being William and Anne (Medaris) Liggett. The father was born in 1806, and the mother's birth occurred near Sidney, Ohio in 1822. They were married in Warren county, that state, in 1842, and in the fall of 1854 came to the middle west, reaching Elmira township on the 9th of November. There they established their home and Mr. Liggett at once began the development and cultivation of the land. Their first residence was a log cabin, but he replaced that by a more modern dwelling in 1857. Year after year he carefully and systematically tilled the soil, continuing the work of the farm up to the time of his death, which occurred on the 23d of April, 1875. To his original purchase he had added more land until within the borders of his farm were embraced about two hundred acres. He was a self-made made who deserved much credit for what he accomplished. In community affairs he was interested and held some of the minor offices. His widow survived him for some time and passed away in 1904.

J. M. Liggett began his education in one of the old-time log schoolhouses. He was a lad of but eight years when the family came to Illinois, and he remained upon the old homestead until 1871, when he went to Iowa. Later he returned and continued on the home farm until 1875, when he purchased land on section 21, Osceola township. Upon this farm he has since resided and has wrought a marked transformation in its appearance, owing to the excellent improvements which he has put upon it. He has erected a large and attractive residence, has built commodious barns and outbuildings, giving ample shelter for grain and stock, and has divided his place into fields of convenient size by well kept fences. Within the borders of his farm are three hundred and fifty-six acres situated on sections 21 and 28, Osceola township, and the land is devoted to general agricultural pursuits, for he raises all of the crops best adapted to soil and climatic conditions.

In 1878 Mr. Liggett was married to Miss Nettie A. Damon, and they have five children: Earl, a farmer living in Osceola township; Blanche, the wife of Joseph Scott, occupying a farm near her father's; Thomas, who makes his home near Bradford; Hazel, the wife of Albert Copp, living in Bureau county, Illinois; and one who died in infancy.

For one term Mr. Liggett filled the office of supervisor, and he has been road boss, while for a quarter of a century he served as school director. He maintains an independent course in regard to politics and religion, feeling that he has the right to determine these things for himself. Nor is he connected with any lodges. He has ever concentrated his efforts upon his business interests, and his close application has been one of the salient features in his growing prosperity.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 69-71  – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


W. R. Liggett

W. R. Liggett resides on section 20, Osceola township, where he has an excellent farm property of one hundred and seventy acres which yields well deserved tribute to the care and labor which he bestows upon the place. He was born on the 3rd of February, 1853, in Warren county, Ohio, a son of William and Anne (Medaris) Liggett, who were natives of Maine and Ohio, respectively. They came to Illinois in 1854, traveling across the country with team and wagon, after which Mr. Liggett secured what is now known as the old homestead farm and thereon resided until his death, which occurred in 1875. His entire life had been devoted to general agricultural pursuits. His widow long survived him, and when death called her in 1904 her remains were laid to rest in the Osceola Grove cemetery.

When a little lad of about six years W. R. Liggett became a pupil in the district school near his father's home. Through the summer months he worked in the fields and early received practical training in the best methods of tilling the soil and developing the crops. After his father's death he purchased the old homestead and has converted it into a very valuable farm property, making all of the improvements thereon save erecting the house and one barn. He owns one hundred and seventy acres of rich and valuable land which annually responds to his care and cultivation in golden harvests. It is pleasantly situated not far from Bradford and is an excellent property that in its well improved appearance indicates the practical and progressive methods of the owner.

In 1889 Mr. Liggett was united in marriage to Miss Emma Jane Stephens and they have become the parents of three children: Charles, who is engaged in farming with his father; Iva, now the wife of Harold Pettigrew; and Alma M., at home.

In politics Mr. Liggett has always been a democrat since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. He and his wife attend the local church and they are interested in all those forces which work for the benefit and improvement of the community. Mr. Liggett has always lived in this county since his arrival here sixty-one years ago, when he was a babe of but two years. He has witnessed many changes in the intervening period as the work of progress and improvement has been carried steadily forward. He has borne his part in the task of promoting the agricultural development of the county and he has been quick to adopt all new measures and methods which make the labors of the agriculturist of greater avail in the attainment of success.

[Stark County, Illinois and it's People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 37-38  – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Ernest H. Lloyd

Well known among the business men of Toulon and Stark county is Ernest H. Lloyd, the manager and cashier of the State Bank, which position he has occupied for twelve years. He is regarded as one of the best informed men of the county on banking matters and broad experience and progressiveness have brought him to the front in this connection. He was born in Toulon, May 13, 1867, and comes of Welsh ancestry. His paternal grandfather, Stephen Lloyd, Sr., was a native of South Wales and became an early settler of Pennsylvania. It was at Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, that his son and namesake, Stephen Lloyd, Jr., was born and reared. Having arrived at years of maturity, he was married in that state to Miss Phoebe Lloyd, a daughter of S. Lloyd, also a native of Wales. The parents of our subject came west to Illinois in 1863, settling in Toulon, where the father engaged in the grain and lumber business, becoming recognized as one of the enterprising, alert and progressive merchants of the city. Here he reared his family, remaining in Toulon until 1882, when he disposed of his business here and removed to Pawnee county, Nebraska. He had previously purchased and was the owner of a large body of unimproved land there. He spent his last years in that state, passing away in Burchard, Nebraska, in 1895, while his widow survived until 1912. Their family numbered five sons and a daughter: Catherine, the wife of J.C. Dort, of Pawnee City, Nebraska; W.T., who is a jeweler of Washington, Kansas; D.J., a business man of Los Angeles, California; Ernest H., of this review; John, a commercial traveler living in Kansas City; and Fred, a farmer and stock raiser of Colorado.

Ernest H. Lloyd spent his early youth in Toulon and afterward accompanied his parents on their removal to Nebraska, where he continued his education in the high school. When a young man of eighteen years he entered a bank at Burchard, Nebraska, and worked his way upward in that institution until he became stockholder and cashier. He was connected with the bank for seventeen years, at the end of which time he sold his interest and returned to Toulon. This city had ever had a warm place in his heart and it seemed like coming home to him. He purchased an interest in the State Bank and became cashier and manager of the institution. He is now concentrating his attention upon constructive effort and bending his energies to administrative direction and executive control. The bank has an extensive business for a town of this size, and is regarded as one of the thoroughly safe financial institutions of this part of the state. The policy which is maintained under the direction of Mr. Lloyd is one which will bear the closest investigation and scrutiny and brings to the institution merited success and gratifying growth.

In Burchard, Nebraska, on the 30th of December, 1893, Mr. Lloyd was married to Miss Ada W. Walker, who was born in Toulon and reared in this city, being a daughter of John Walker, who was one of the well-known residents of Stark county up to the time of his death. In the family are three sons: Harry W., who is a graduate of the Toulon high school; Ernest W., a high school pupil; and Walker S., a lad of five years.

Politically Mr. Lloyd is a republican, and fraternally he is connected with the Odd Fellows lodge of Toulon, while his wife is identified with the Rebekah degree. Mrs. Lloyd is a member of the Congregational church of Toulon, and he is a generous contributor to its support and equally liberal in his assistance to benevolent projects. The family occupy a pleasant residence which is justly celebrated for its warm-hearted hospitality, and Mr. Lloyd has made for himself a most creditable position in business circles. His life has been passed in the routine of business and there have been no spectacular phases in his career, but faithful performance of duty and loyalty to every trust have brought him to a creditable place in business circles.

[Stark County, Illinois and it's People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 38-40  – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


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