Putnam County

LOCKE, George M.

George M. LOCKE, salesman for the White Bronze Monumental Works, of Bridgeport Connecticut, is a well known and leading citizen of Henry, Illinois. He was born in Knox county, this state, April 20, 1841, and traces his ancestry back to Capt. John LOCKE, who came to the new world from Yorkshire, England, in 1638, and located first at Dover, New Hampshire, whence he removed to Fort Point, the same state in 1652. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of William BERRY, the first settler of Hampton, New Hampshire, locating at what is now Sandy Beach, but was then called Rye Beach. There the Locke family meet annually on the 24th of August to celebrate the anniversary of John LOCKE. They come from nearly every state of the union, and often as high as three hundred will be present.

The paternal grandfather of our subject, John LOCKE, the fifth in descent from Capt. John LOCKE, known as “Honest John, the miller,” was born in 1769, and married Mercy DAME, by whom he had the following children: Sarah, Daniel, William, Elizabeth, Abner, John, Abigail, Abner D., Silas, Sampson B., and Mercy D. The father of this family was the owner of a grist mill, and as toll keeper derived his title of “Honest John,” by never exacting more than the right amount of toll. He and his family wee all born at Barrington, New Hampshire.

Capt. John LOCKE was an energetic man, noted for his bravery in defending the town of Barrington from the Indians, but at the hands of the red men he met his death. While at work in the harvest field, August 24, 1696, he was attacked by eight Indians, but succeeded in killing seven of them with the sickle he was using, which is now numbered among the relics of the Historical society of New Hampshire. The boy, who was with him in the field, escaped by hiding in a shock of grain, and by him the story was told. The place where he was killed was formerly known as Jocelyn’s Neck, but was subsequently changed to Locke’s Neck. Our subject has in his possession a scalping hatchet used by the Indians, and given him by his maternal grandfather, Ephraim HOYT.

His parents, Silas and Hannah L. (HOYT) LOCKE, were natives of Barrington, New Hampshire, and Remsen, Oneida county, New York, respectively, and in their family were four children: George M.; Silas H.; Washington B., deceased, and Mercy V. The mother, who was born February 5, 1897, is still living in Henry in the enjoyment of good health, and is one of the honored pioneers of the state, having come here with her parents in 1835. She is a relative of General SHERMAN, through the HOYT family, her mother and the general’s mother being first cousins.

Silas LOCKE, the father of our subject was born November 17, 1807, and early in life served as foreman in a carpenter shop in Boston. On coming to Illinois he first located in Tazewell county, but after his marriage went to housekeeping in a little cabin near Victoria, Knox county, which is still standing. In 1844, he came to Henry, where his death occurred on the 2nd of February, 1849. Here he erected what is now the Paskell hotel with the distinct understanding that no intoxicants would be furnished. He issued his manifesto that there would be plenty to eat and drink except liquor. It was the first hotel which refused to supply intoxicants, but it met with success. His house was open for services of any religious denomination, Protestant or Catholic. For a number of years he was an active member and leader of the choir in the Methodist Episcopal church, but finally withdrew, through he always attended services. He was very strict in his observance of the Sabbath and all religious duties. Being a fine musician, his services were in demand at an early day in giving lessons in that art. He was an enthusiastic supporter of General Harrison during the campaign of 1840, and built a log cabin on wheels which he took around to the different rallies in Knox county. He was a prominent and influential citizen, and has the respect and confidence of all with whom he came in contact.

Silas H. LOCKE, Jr., the brother of our subject, enlisted in October, 1864, in Company D, Forty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until the close of the war. Subsequently he removed to Minnesota, where his death occurred October 30, 1872, at the age of thirty years. Mercy Victoria, the only sister, is the wife of E. H. HUTCHINS, a merchant of Henry.

In the schools of Henry, George M. LOCKE acquired his education, and in 1860 and 1861 engaged in teaching. On the 16th of August, of the latter year, he became a private of Company D, Forty-seventh Illinois Infantry, but in 1862 and 1863, served as clerk at General Mower’s headquarters, and was subsequently appointed sergeant major of the regiment, in which capacity he served until mustered out October 11, 1864. He took part in the battles of new Madrid, Point Pleasant, Island No. 10, Farmington, May 9, 1862, and Jackson, May 14; siege of Corinth, May 28 and 29; Iuka, September 19; Corinth, October 3 and 4; the siege of Vicksburg, May 22, 1863; Mechanicsburg, 1863. Here he did a great deal of writing for General Sherman. He was taken seriously ill with malarial fever, and as he refused to go to the hospital was taken care of  by three physicians at headquarters. He secured a leave of absence for a month, and came home, when he was so weak he was unable to walk. He was on special detail at Springfield in 1864 securing and transferring substitutes and recruits for the service.

On being mustered out, Mr. LOCKE returned home, and was again offered the school which he had previously taught, but declined to accept it, and embarked in the hardware business at Henry. Owing to ill health, at the end of a year he disposed of the business, and removed to a farm in Putnam county, now known as the Undercliff Summer Resort. Later in connection with a partner he carried on the lumber and hardware business, and was the first to bring the Marsh harvesters, automatic binders, sulky and gang plows into the county. On the division of his father’s estate, the old Planter House fell to Silas H., who kept it for a time, when our subject purchased, running it about six months and then leased it to the present popular proprietor, who subsequently purchased and still runs it. Mr. LOCKE is now doing an excellent business as agent for metal monuments made of zinc, which are manufactured at Bridgeport, Connecticut and are noted for their durability. It is claimed for them that they never grow old or attract moss or lichens, and will be as good at the end of two thousand years as a stone monument would be at the end of forty, while their expense is not more than the best stone.

On the 10th of October, 1867, Mr. LOCKE was united in marriage with Miss Samantha E. KITTREDGE, the only child that grew up of Leonard and Miriam (HURD) KITTREDGE, who were born near Bedford, New Hampshire. On coming west her parents located in the southwestern part of Marshall county, where Mrs. LOCKE was born. Her father, whose birth occurred June 22, 1812, is still living where he first settled, but the mother died July 1, 1895, at the age of eighty-two years.

Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. LOCKE, namely: Clara V., married June 11, 1890, wife of James A. SPEERS, a farmer of Stark county, Illinois; Leonard, who died at the age of a year and a half; George, also deceased; Latha Kittredge, Miriam H., and Bessie, who died at the age of five years. The parents and children are members of the Congregational church, and the family is one of prominence in Henry. Formerly, Mr. LOCKE was a republican in politics, but now gives his earnest support to the prohibition party, and socially is connected with the Grand Army of the Republic. He is a worthy representative of one of the honored pioneer families of Marshall county, with whose interests he ahs been identified for half a century, and those who have known him longest are numbered among his stanchest friends.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 535.

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