Winnebago County, Illinois
LA FORGE, Charles S.
CHARLES S. LA FORGE, lumberman of Snohomish and mayor of that city, is one of the energetic business men of the county and, though he has been a resident here but a comparatively short time, has made himself a place of prominence, commanding the highest respect of the entire community because of his many admirable qualities. Mr. La Forge was born in Rockford, Illinois, early in the year 1864, the son of Cornelius and Grace (Taylor) La Forge. The elder La Forge was a native of Staten Island, New York, who went to Illinois when a young man and followed the trade of plasterer there for a time. Mrs. La Forge was a native of Vermont. Charles S. La Forge received his education in the common schools of Rockford, Illinois. He then completed a course in the business college of his native town, and at the age of twenty entered the employ of a retail lumber company in his home town as one of the yard men. Four years later he was promoted to the position of bookkeeper for the establishment, which position he held for four years. In 1892 the firm was incorporated and Mr. La Forge secured a quarter interest in the business, which then became known as the Woodruff & Maguire Company, Mr. La Forge becoming secretary. In 1894 the company engaged in the wholesale lumber business in Wisconsin and opened a manufacturing plant at Rhinelander. Three years later the company built a manufacturing plant at Three Lakes, Wisconsin, at the same time incorporating in the Badger state under the name of the Woodruff & Maguire Lumber Company. In 1899 the company acquired a two thirds interest in the plant of Parker Bros, at Big Lake, Skagit county, Washington, and a year later Mr. La Forge came to Washington to assist in the management of the Skagit county plant, which has been entirely in the hands of J. D. Day. Three years later the Woodruff & Maguire Company's interests were purchased by Wickson & Bronson, formerly of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Mr. La Forge moved to Everett, but in 1903 when the Woodruff & Maguire Company purchased the Sterling Mill Company and all of its interests in Snohomish county, Mr. La Forge was called to the management. He removed his family to Snohomish and has ever since made this city his home. The Snohomish interests of the old company are known under the name of the Three Lakes Lumber Company. Mr. La Forge sold his interest in both companies in 1905 and became the manager of the Cascade Lumber & Shingle Company of Snohomish, the saw mill of which has a daily capacity of 100,000 feet and the shingle mill of 150,000 shingles per day. In 1883 at Rockford, Illinois, Mr. La Forge married Miss Maud E. Barnes, who died five years later, leaving no issue. Mr. La Forge was married the second time at Janesville, Wisconsin, to Mrs. Mary E. Simmons. Mr. and Mrs. La Forge have three children, Florence, Harry and Ruth. In politics Mr. La Forge is a Republican. He was elected mayor of Snohomish in December of 1904. In church circles he is affiliated with the Methodist church. In fraternal circles he is a Mason and a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. Mr. La Forge's career has been very successful, one of progress during the different stages of the lumber business to a position of prominence in the trade in two states of the union. His career is the best commentary on the character of the man. [--An Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, Inter-State Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1906. Submitted by M.K.Krogman]
JOHN LAKE, President of the Rockford Fire Insurance Company, is well known as one of the early settlers of Rockford; and as one of its foremost business men, who has for many years thoroughly identified himself with its best interests, his far-reaching enterprise, aptitude for affairs, and broad public spirit being potent in extending its commerce and in advancing its welfare in various directions, his name is inseparably linked with its rise and progress from a small, insignificant settlement to a beautiful and prosperous city. During the busy and eventful years of the half century and more that he has lived here, he has acquired wealth that places him among the most substantial citizens of Winnebago County, and he has built up one of the most stately and elegant homes within its borders. John Lake was born March 27, 1821, on Blackford Farm, Selworthy Parish, England, said farm then being in the possession of his paternal grandfather, who was a farmer, dairyman, miller, maltster and a dealer in all kinds of seeds. In the latter part of his life he lost a large portion of his property, partly through reverses in business, and possibly a part of it by bad management. His family consisted of four sons and one daughter, all of whom died soon after they arrived at age, with the exception of James, the eldest, and Thomas, the youngest, both of whom emigrated to America, the first with his family settling at St. Johns, New Brunswick, and the latter in the United States. William Lake, the father of our subject, was also born on the old Blackford Farm, his birth occurring in the year 1798. He died there in the opening years of his manhood, at the age of twenty-two years, and thus early closed a promising career. He married when only twenty years old, the maiden name of his wife being Gould. She was a farmer's daughter, born at Cutcombe, in the parish of Cutcombe. Her mother died leaving eleven children, and as her father soon married again, she sought a home as a servant girl at Blackford Farm. She was subsequently married to the father of our subject, and they continued to make the farm their home until his untimely death. He of whom we write was but six months old when his father died, and as his mother married again a year later, he was reared by his grandmother in the home of his birth, she and he being the only ones of the name of Lake living in that part of England, up to the time he came to this country. He was given excellent educational advantages in a private school kept by Mr. Robert Taylor, which he attended until he was fourteen. At that age he commenced to earn his own living by working on a farm, being thus employed the intervening two years before he came hither. He was eleven years of age when his uncle Thomas became a citizen of this Republic, and the boyish imagination of our subject followed him in his voyage across unknown seas to the far-away, strange country whither he had gone, and he wished that he too might go there in search of fortune's favors, for the spirit of adventure, inherent in every true Englishman's breast, was his by right of birth. He treasured up his determination to try life in this land of promise until he was of suitable age to put it into execution, and in the month of May, 1836, he disclosed his plans to his mother and foster-parent (his grandmother), telling them that he would like to do as his uncle Thomas had done, seek a home in the United States. They strenuously opposed his purpose, but he told them, that although he did not wish to disobey them, he had firmly resolved to go a year from that time. In May, 1837, he again broached the subject of his emigration, and was met with the same opposition. He informed his mother and foster-mother that he wished very much to obtain their consent, but he should go in any case. When they saw that further persuasion was useless, they reluctantly gave in, and sadly made preparations for his setting forth into the great world, giving him such necessary aid for his journey as was in their power. The first week in May, 1837, our subject started out on his travels from the pleasant English home that had given him shelter from his birth, and alone, but with a brave heart and a steady purpose, he faced the unknown future and the perils of an ocean voyage never to be forgotten while memory holds sway. From M_head he went on a schooner to Bristol, where he secured passage for Philadelphia on the "Severn," a sailing-vessel loaded with iron, and carrying about forty other passengers beside himself. In mid-ocean a dreadful storm was encountered, which lasted for five days, and it seemed impossible that the gallant ship could outweather such a tempest. Often great seas would break on deck, and the bowsprit, foremast and bulwarks were broken and washed overboard. When the fearful storm was at its height, young Lake requested the officer to permit him to remain on deck, and he allowed him to do so on condition that he would secure himself to the main-mast, which he did with a rope that lay near, and from six o'clock in the morning until late in the evening he remained in that position without a particle of food, watching with mingled feelings of awe the sublime spectacle of the conflict of the elements with Old Ocean. As darkness enveloped what seemed to be a doomed ship, the storm abated, and at sunrise there was not wind sufficient to move the sails, and a dead calm of four days ensued. Mr. Lake landed in Philadelphia in the latter part of June, seven weeks from the day he left old England. He was at the time sixteen years and three months of age, and was a bright, active lad, with plenty of mother-wit and other essentials to make the life that lay before him a success, if he chose to do so. His destination was Illinois, where he intended to join his Uncle Thomas. From the Quaker City he crossed Pennsylvania, and went over the Alleghanies by rail and canal, passing through Johnstown, which was so nearly erased from the face of the earth by the awful flood of recent years, and through many another place, whose very name he has forgotten, and on to Pittsburg, where he embarked on a river steamer for the West. Arriving at Rockport, a small rivertown on the Ohio below Louisville, he was taken sick with a fever, and had to remain there until November. In the meantime, he received a letter from his uncle, who was then living in Rockford, and as soon as he was able he resumed his interrupted journey down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Fulton, Ill. Thence he traveled on foot through marsh and swamp, and over what seemed to him endless prairies, to Sterling, and from there proceeded on the west side of the river to Rockford, where he arrived about the 1st of December, 1837, "completely worn out, physically, mentally and financially," as he himself expresses it. In the spring he had recuperated sufficiently to work on a farm, at which he was employed three years. At the end of that time, he apprenticed himself to Mr. Thomas Thatcher, a joiner, carpenter and architect. A year with that gentleman, with wages of $5 a month and board, and he had acquired all his instructor could impart, and was prepared to set up for himself in the same line, thus showing how soon he had caught the dash and energy of the Western spirit. He not only worked out by the day as a carpenter, but engaged as a contractor, doing business by himself until the winter of 1852-53, when he formed a partnership with Mr. P. Howes, to engage in the lumber trade. The yard was where the East Rockford passenger station of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway now stands, which was at that time called the Chicago & Galena Railway, and which had been completed to the east side of Rock River, on the 20th of August, 1852. On the 20th of August, 1853, the railway bridge was completed across that river, and our subject and his partner removed their lumber to a yard on the west side, near the present station of the Northwestern Railway, continuing together until the summer of 1856, when they sold their business to a Mr. Freeman. In November of that year, the prosperous young Westerner, whose course we have thus far followed with interest, revisited his old home at Blackford Farm, nearly twenty years having passed by with their many chances and changes since he had last crossed its threshold, a penniless lad on his way to the New World. Returning again to this country in February, 1857, in the early spring, he once more went into the lumber business, having his stand on the corner of Third and State Streets, on the same ground now occupied by the Rockford Coal & Lumber Company. Mr. Howes, his old partner, had an interest with him for a year, and then their connection was dissolved, in the fall of 1859, by the sale of the stock to Cook & Bro., lumber dealers on the west side of the river. In the spring of 1853, Mr. Lake made arrangements to take charge of the late Mr. Henry Fisher's yard, on the west side of the river, and, in the summer of the same year, formed a partnership with that gentleman, which was continued until March, 1867. In May of that year, after closing out his interest with Mr. Fisher, he again visited England, and extended his tour while abroad to Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, .Switzerland and portions of Germany, returning home in the fall. In the spring of 1868, he formed a five-years' partnership with the Hon. Seely Perry, who was doing a lumber business on the ground formerly occupied by our subject, and where Mr. Perry is still carrying on the same business. In the spring of 1874, they terminated their partnership, and in June Mr. Lake again indulged his fondness for travel, and revisited England, Scotland and France, and three times since he has made the same journey, in the summers of 1877, 1889 and 1891, his eldest daughter accompanying him across the ocean on his last trip. He has not altogether confined his travels to European countries, but has spent a winter on the Pacific Coast, going to California in May, 1885, with his wife and niece, and staying there until the following April.
Our subject is a man of fine physique and good presence, is possessed of business acumen and executive ability in a rare degree, and has made his influence felt in various directions. He has filled various positions of trust, and his official record is without blemish, as he has always acted for the best interests of those concerned, without regard to self, and has discharged his duties faithfully, fearlessly and with a clear conscience. He has been connected with the Rockford Fire Insurance Company since its inception. This company procured its charter in 1866, and Mr. Lake was elected its first Vice-president, and acted in that capacity until January, 1886, when he became the choice of the Board of Directors for President of the company,vice Dr. R. P. Lane, who had resigned at the close of 1885. This is one of the leading insurance companies of the West, and as its presiding officer, our subject's safe and wise policy in the management of its affairs strengthens the reputation it has acquired for stability. For ten years, ending in 1883, Mr. Lake served the Second Ward of the city as Alderman, and the same ward as Supervisor a part of that time. From 1877 to 1878, he was Chairman of the Board of Education. He is prominent in social circles as one of the leading members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge and Representative to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the United States for six consecutive years. Mr. Lake was married, October 11, 1849, to Miss Almeda M. Danley, whose parents, Cornelius and Sarah Danley, were farmers and pioneers of the town of Harlem, Winnebago County. Mrs. Lake has co-operated with her husband in the making of a true home in their handsome residence at No. 1211 East State Street, and its hospitalities are well known to their many friends. Of the seven children born to our subject and his wife, three died in infancy. The following is the record of the four that survive: Sarah E., born September 26, 1850, married William H. Crocker, of Evanston, Ill., August 21, 1884; Jennie E., born February 2, 1854, married Charles M. Clark, of Rockford, October 21, 1874; Alice M., born March 23, 1861, married William M. Prentice, of Rockford, December 18, 1878; Frank L., born April 5, 1865, married Jessie E. Shirley, of Rockford, May 5, 1886. Mr. Lake is a man of wide experience, a keen observer of men and affairs, with a mind broadened by travel and contact with the world, and he is an interesting conversationalist, possessing a varied fund of information. Though retaining a strong affection for his native land, he is loyal to the country of his adoption, and a thorough American in his habits and views of life. He has not only watched with pleasure the development of this city, his chosen home, with which his personal interests are so closely bound, but he has witnessed with pride and delight the wonderful growth of these United States in the course of half a century. In a chat with the biographer concerning his past life, he spoke eloquently of the great changes that had taken place, of the discoveries and inventions that have revolutionized the world since he became a citizen of this republic. Speaking of the grand progress made in human affairs, he said: "In June, 1892, it will be fifty-five years since I landed in Philadelphia. What changes in all the varied affairs of human life since that time. When we sailed down the River Severn from Bristol, on our voyage to the United States, I remember seeing on the docks in process of construction, the 'Great Western,' the first steamship of any importance that crossed the Atlantic to New York. Compare that slow and unwieldy craft with the flouting palaces that are now nearly every day in the year crossing and recrossing from one country to the other! "Instead of seven weeks, the journey of over three thousand miles is now accomplished in less than six days, and the passengers are provided with all the luxuries afforded by the best hotels in New York or Chicago. Postage to Europe was then twenty-five cents, and now a letter is carried across the ocean for five cents. Telegraph, telephone, electric railways and machinery of various kinds, propelled by steam or electricity, have come into general use only within a comparatively short time. "In 1837, the United States had a population of about sixteen millions; soon its inhabitants will be numbered by seventy millions. Then Chicago could boast of but four thousand one hundred and seventy souls; now the latest census gives it nearly one million three hundred thousand inhabitants. When I came here, the country west of the Mississippi River was inhabited mainly by Indians and wild beasts to the shores of the Pacific; now six railroads cross the then supposed impassable Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and what was once called the 'Great American Desert,' has been made to blossom like the rose, and is the home of a contented and prosperous people. Then the genius of an Edison had not been thought or dreamed of. What will be the experience of the human race during the next fifty-five years? Many who now live will see, but for us of the olden-time, it is not for us to know." [Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892]
LANDER, Edward J.
EDWARD J. LANDER, one of the well-known business men of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and a member of the firm of E.J. Lander & Co., is engaged in the loan, real estate and abstract business, and has the most complete set of abstract books in the state. He is one of the originators of the Grand Forks Building & Loan Association, and for the last ten years has been its secretary. It was organized in 1886 and is one of the leading financial institutions of the city. He is a man of good business qualifications, and has a wide knowledge of men and the world, and has prospered since taking up his residence here. Our subject was born in Rockford, Winnebago county, Illinois, September 12, 1860. His parents Christopher and Jane (Brown) Lander, were natives of England, and came to the United States in 1852 and settled in Rockford, Winnebago county, Illinois, and there the father engaged in milling, where his death occurred in February, 1869. Mr. Lander is one of three sons now living, and was reared in Illinois and received a high-school education. He then engaged in the grain trade and as a bookkeeper for the Rockford Tack Company, and in 1882 came to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and founded the business in which he is now engaged, the loan business, one of the most extensive of the kind in Grand Forks, which was established in 1882 in farm loans. The firm of E.J. Lander & Company was incorporated in 1897, of which Mr. Lander is president. They have charge of a large number of real estate holdings of non-residents, and are local representatives of E.H. Rollins & Sons, of Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Lander was one of the builders of the Grand Forks opera house, and was also one of the original stockholders of the old Second National Bank, and was later a director in that institution and served as vice-president of the same three years. His abstract books are the oldest and most complete to be found in the county, and he has a good business and deals extensively in real estate. Our subject was married February 28, 1884, to Miss Jessie K. Krouse, a native of Michigan. One son has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Lander, upon whom they have bestowed the name of Miles K. Mr. Lander is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and politically he is a Republican, and has been identified with that party since attaining his majority. He takes an active interest in affairs of a public nature and has held various local offices, including county commissioner, which position he held nine years. He is intelligent and energetic and is deservedly popular with the people. [Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Publ. 1900. Transcribed by Kim Mohler]
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