Winnebago Co., IL Biography - Jesse & Theodore Buckbee

BUCKBEE, Jesse & Theodore E.

Biography of Jesse BUCKBEE [Father of Theodore E.]
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 943-944

Jesse BUCKBEE, deceased, was one of the early settlers of Winnebago County of 1845.   He was born in Orange County, NY, in 1796, and was a son of Russell BUCKBEE, a Revolutionary soldier, who was born in NY and resided in Monroe Township, near Sugar Loaf, Orange County, NY, unto his death when about 60 years of age.  The family is of English descent, being founded by an English baker, who on coming to this country located in NY City.  The mother of our subject was in her maidenhood Elizabeth MAPES.   She was also born in NY, and died at the age of 90 years.  Both Mr. and Mrs. BUCKBEE were members of the Methodist Church.

Jesse BUCKBEE was married in the county of his nativity [Orange County, NY] to Miss Mary SECOR, who was reared and educated in Orange County.  She was born of French parentage.  Two of her brothers, James and Abraham, were soldiers in the War of 1812.   Her father was a prominent landholder at Highland Mills, Orange County, NY, who owned much property and a number of slaves.

In 1846 Jesse BUCKBEE, with his family, came to IL, locating in this county.  He made purchase of 300 acres of land, and with the exception of 40 acres, the entire amount is now within the city limits, and much of it has been laid out in lots and built up.   He was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, for his death occurred in Oct 1846.  His wife survived him some years and died at the home of her son in Rockford in 1875, at the age of 84 years.

Unto this worthy couple were born ten children, but six are now deceased.  The living are (1)  Eleanor W., who is now the wife of John AMES, a farmer of Dane County, WI, by whom she has had ten sons; (2)  Francis A., a Justice of the Peace residing at Lake Geneva [Walworth County, WI], married Jennie PALMER; (3)  Charles W., who is unmarried, resides with his younger brother in Rockford, they being interested together in business.  (4)  Theodore E. [his biography follows] completes the family.   He resides at No. 1107 Kishwaukee Street, and is a farmer.  He and his brother were the original proprietors of the first and second BUCKBEE's Addition to Rockford.   So rapidly did their property increase in value that they both have become wealthy men and are prominent citizens of the community.  Miss Catherine E. ALLINGTON became the wife of Theodore BUCKBEE.  She was born and reared in Chemung County, NY, and educated at Lima, NY, after which she engaged in teaching for some years.  His father, the Rev. Jacob ALLINGTON, was a prominent lumberman and landholder and also a Methodist minister.  He died in Chemung County, NY, and his wife, whose maiden name was Catherine E. WESTBROOK, [p 944] was also called to her final rest while living in that county.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Theodore BUCKBEE have been born two sons, (1)  Hiram W., who is proprietor of the Forest City Greenhouses, located on Kishwaukee Street, and also owns a large seed store on South Main Street, wedded May BROWN, and they reside with her mother, Mrs. Judge William BROWN.  (2)  John T., who is living at home, is the overseer of his brother's seed store and is a young man of excellent business and executive ability.  Mrs. Theodore E. BUCKBEE is a member of the Methodist Church.  The BUCKBEE family has long been connected with the history of the county, and are numbered among its valued and leading citizens.

Biography of Theodore E. BUCKBEE [Son of Jesse]
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church.   Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pp 260-261

Among the early settlers in beautiful Winnebago County, famed far and wide as one of the garden spots of IL, was Jesse BUCKBEE.  To a far-seeing man whose tendencies were agricultural.  The new country to which he was about to remove his family presented immense possibilties.  This NY farmer had no sooner thoroughly inspected the country around Rockford, then but a small village, than he purchased a full section of land to the immediate south and set up a farm upon it and a home for his family.  That land is now largely within the corporate limits of Rockford, much of it is taken up by splendid homes and the city has spread to the south, the east and the west until the old homestead is fairly surrounded and is not longer out in the country.  On the site which was once a pasture field of the home farm stands one of the largest buildings in Rockford, in which a grandson of  of Jesse BUCKBEE conducts a business whose operations extend to every section of the U. S., Canada, and lands across the sea.

John, the first of the BUCKBEE family known in America, settled on Manhattan Island in the 17th century, having come from England.  The second generation from John brought the descent to Russell BUCKBEE, who gained fame as a lieutenant in the Revolution.  He participated in the battle of Trenton, where he was take prisoner by the Hessians.   An exchange of prisoners released him from the guardship where he had been confined, and after the close of the war he settled in Orange County, NY, where his son, James, was born.  The latter grew to manhood in Monroe County, NY, at BUCKBEE's Corners, near Chili Center, 14 miles southwest from Rochester, and there, 22 Jun 1833, Theodore E. was born, the seventh of nine children.  In 1844 the family removed to the west, traveling by wagon to Buffalo [Erie County, NY], thence by way of the Great Lakes to Milwaukee, thence overland again to Janesville [Rock County], WI.  The children who made the journey were Charles W., Francis A., Theodore E., and Eleanor.   Charles W., who became quite prominent in Rockford business affairs, died in 1887, a bachelor, and is buried here.  Francis A. is a highly respected resident of Lake Geneva, WI, and for years has been one of the leading attorneys of Walworth County.   Eleanor (Mrs. John AMES), aged 84, and the oldest of the family, resides at Nora, near Stoughton, WI.  Theodore E. died in Rockford 06 Jun 1904, and is buried here.   The mother of these children, Mary SECOR, daughter of French parents, was a most estimable woman, and her character and guiding ability are reflected in the upright and every honorable lives of her sons and her daughter.  She died in Rockford in 1875, at the age of 84.

When Jesse BUCKBEE, through a letter of introduction to the late Horace MILLER, had an excellent opportunity to view the land around Rockford, he forthwith decided to settle, and accordingly purchased the section of land heretofore mentioned, removing his famiy to the new home from Janesville by ox team, and reaching Rockford 22 Feb 1845.  Here Theodore made his habitation continuously until his death, and his life was closely and almost entirely interwoven with the growth and material progress of the city.  No man ever lived who had more [p 261] friends in Winnebago County nor whom more throroughly deserved them.  His advice in business and public affairs was sought eagerly and often, and those who followed it had no regrets.  A pioneer republican, whose first son, as a happy omen, was born on the very day that saw the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the U. S., he was active in the councils of his party for over 40 years, and for more than 30 years was chairman of its town committee.  As a member of the board of supervisors (for many years its chairman), he served the public with fidelity and unquestioned integrity.  He was chairman when the splendid memorial hall was erected in Rockford to commemorate the valor of the soldiers and sailors of Winnebago County, and at its dedication, June 1893, introduced to the audience Theodore Roosevelt, the orator of the day.  As an officer and director of the Winnebago County Fair Association, he paid special attention to the speed department and brought it up to a high standard, serving the society until it finally passed out of existence.  He also served as director of the Mechanics Furniture Company.

His home life was ideal.  On 11 Feb 1860 he was married to Katherine Elizabeth ALLINGTON, who was born at Van Etten, NY, and was a daughter of Jacob and Katherine (WESTBROOK) ALLINGTON.  Her father was from a sturdy Scotch family.  Her mother was a daughter of David WESTBROOK and Mary DIMON.  Jacob ALLINGTON was a son of Elizabeth SWARTWOOD, whose ancestor, Peter SWARTWOOD, was one of the four original SWARTHWOODs who emigrated from Holland to America long before the Revolutionary war, and Peter's grandson Jacob became a general in that successful struggle for freedom.  A member of this same SWARTWOOD family married Katherine Van AUKEN, one of the heroines of the Revolution.  Mrs. BUCKBEE still makes her home in Rockford.  Her only children are two sons:  Hiram W., born 06 Nov 1860, and John T., born 01 Aug 1871, both residents and prominent business men of Rockford.  The immense seed business conducted by them under the name of H. W. BUCKBEE, with its collateral branches, Rockford Seed Farms and Forest City greenhouses, is one of the most important merchandising institutions, not only of Rockford, but of IL, and for that matter, of the U. S.   Hiram W. was married 15 Sep 1885 to Mary, daughter of Judge William BROWN.   [For additional information on this BROWN family, see the combined Winnebago County, IL, biographies of Edward W., Morton A., & William BROWN.]  John T. was married 02 Nov 1897 to Florence, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Fisk H. DAY, of Lansing, MI.   Two children, Francis and Mary, have been born to them, the former in 1899, the latter in 1901.

Of the inception and growth of the H. W. BUCKBEE seed business it may be well to say that the former was the work of growing seeds on the farm by the father, the latter the determination to make a life work of it in larger form b the son Hiram.  With the latter John T. has been associated for many years.  Under skillful guidance the institution, which had such a modest beginning, has grown to real greatness in its particular line, and has carried the historic name of BUCKBEE to almost every quarter of the globe.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.