LaSalle County


The gentleman named above, who is the subject of this biographical record, was born at Chestnut Hill, Chester county, Pennsylvania, January 10, 1827. His paternal great-grandfather was of Scotch-Irish descent and came from Donegal, Ireland, to America early in the eighteenth century. He settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where his son John Fleming was born in 1772. The latter was a carpenter by trade and followed his chosen vocation during the greater part of his life. He married Miss Elizabeth Hill, who was born in Donegal, Ireland, and came with her parents to Lancaster county when very young. Their only child, John Fleming, Jr., was born in 1803, in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. The mother died soon after the birth of her son, who was carried in his father's arms to Conestoga valley, in Lancaster county, where he was reared by his maternal grandparents. The "little red schoolhouse," where he pursued his education, was still standing, near Morgantown, Pennsylvania, when Nathan Fleming visited the locality in 1895. John Fleming never married again after his wife's death in 1803, but spent the most of his time in later years in the home of his son. He died in Davenport, Iowa, in 1844, in the seventy-third year of his age. In religious belief he adhered to the faith of the family the Presbyterian.

In 1825 John Fleming, Jr., was united in marriage to Miss Mary Brower, a daughter of Abraham and Mary (Goodman) Brower. Her father was of Dutch parentage. He was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1783, and died in 1869, a member of the Methodist church, in which he was classleader and exhorter. His wife, who was of German descent, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1784, and departed this life in 1877, in her ninetythird year. They were the parents of five sons and six daughters, of whom three sons and one daughter are still living. Both the Browers and the Goodmans were weavers and workers in textile fabrics. Although Pennsylvania Dutch was his mother tongue, Abraham Brower acquired an English education and taught school, his family being proficient in both languages. John and Mary (Brower) Fleming had nine children, six sons and three daughters: Nathan; Isaac N.; Joshua C, who died in infancy and is buried at Harmony church, Berks county, Pennsylvania; James, who died in 1869, at the age of thirty-six years; Mary Anna, who died in 1847, in her thirteenth year; Elizabeth; Margaret Jane; Burr Bryant, who died in 1876, in his thirty-fourth year; and John Davis, who died in infancy.

In the spring of 1837, John Fleming, Jr., and his family made their first move westward, stopping in Butler county, Pennsylvania; in 1841 they removed to Mount Vernon, Ohio; in 1843 to Marion county, that state, and in the autumn of 1845 came to LaSalle county, Illinois, locating on the bank of the Illinois river just above the present site of Seneca. In October, about one month after their arrival, John Fleming, Jr., suddenly departed this life, in his forty-third year, his death being occasioned by a congestive chill. "It has always seemed providential, after these many removals, that he should just live to leave his family in this God-favored land of the great state of Illinois."

When the family removed from Ohio Nathan Fleming did not accompany them, having an engagement to run a potash factory, at six dollars per month. Not hearing of his family, he returned late in the fall to Ohio, from Pennsylvania, where he had gone at the close of his term of engagement, and there he first learned of the death of his father. He at once started for Illinois, arriving about the 1st of March, 1846, having traveled on foot alone five hundred miles in the dead of winter. "Shall thy mother ever forget thee?" If ever a mother was glad to meet her son it was then. He, being the eldest, assumed his place at the head of the family and thus relieved his mother of much responsibility and care. She was most devoted to her children, her most pronounced characteristic being her unselfish love for them. She departed this life at the home of her daughter Elizabeth, in North Evanston, Illinois, December 14, 1879, and lies buried in the cemetery by the little church in Manlius.

In 1847 Nathan Fleming was employed on the farm of Solomon Bell, whose stepdaughter he subsequently married. In 1848 he rented a farm and was enabled to make a first payment on land bought at the first canalland sale of that year. He continued farming until 1853, when he went to California, going from New York by ship and across the isthmus of Panama. He engaged both in agricultural pursuits and mining in California until 1857, but not meeting with the success he anticipated he returned home by the route which he had previously taken.

On the 19th of April, 1858, in Ottawa, Illinois, was celebrated the marriage of Nathan Fleming and Mary Harrington, who was born in Central Square, near Syracuse, New York, January 22, 1837. Her grandfather, John Harrington, was a native of England, and in that land married Miss Mary Barbara Bell. They became the parents of seven children, of whom Thomas, the father of Mrs. Fleming, was the eldest. He was born in England August 7, 1808, and came to America with his parents about 1834. On the loth of March, 1836, he wedded Margaret Summers, at Central Square, New York. She was born December 16, 181 1, and in 1837 they came to Marseilles, where Mr. Harrington was drowned in the Illinois river, March 16, 1838. In 1844 Mrs. Harrington was united in marriage to Solomon Bell, of Rutland township, and on the 6th of January, 1876, she was called to her final rest. To Nathan Fleming and his wife eight children were born: Herbert H., born May 26, 1859, was a soldier in the Cuban war as a member of the Second Regiment Illinois Infantry; Sherman, who was born March 26, 1861, and married Bertha Arnold, by whom he has two children Margaret Lucile and Florence A.; Edwin D., who was born November 28, 1862, and died March 29, 1864; George C, who was born February 12, 1865, and married Jessie C. Samuels, by whom he has three children Nathan L., Mary E. and Jeanette B.; Gertrude; James, who was born March 13, 1870, and died April 17, 1892; Frederic S., born July 31, 1872; and Margaret June, born June 5, 1874.

In 1858 Mr. Fleming engaged in the milling business in Ottawa, carrying on operations there until 1863, when he removed to his farm in Rutland township, operating it until 1867. Through the six succeeding years he purchased grain in Marseilles for the firm of Scott & Harrington, after which he took a vacation, going to California, where he visited some of the places that he had seen in the '50s. The First National Bank of Marseilles was incorporated in 1871 and Mr. Fleming was one of the original stockholders. He was elected vice-president January 17, 1874, and has since served continuously in that position. In 1891 the directors presented him a splendid gold watch chain and charm. In 1874 he removed to the farm where he now resides, leasing it for three years, and at the end of that time extending the lease. Upon the death of Mr. Bell, his wife's stepfather, one-half of the farm reverted to Mrs. Fleming and Mr. Fleming purchased the other half of the remaining- heirs.

In 1848 our subject cast his first presidential vote, supporting Martin Van Buren. Since the organization of the Republican party he has been one of its staunch supporters, never swerving in his allegiance to the party and its principles. It has been his good fortune to represent that somewhat rare and ideal condition in which the office sought the man, rather than the too common reversal of the case. He is at present township trustee of schools, and is officially connected with other concerns, being a director of the Rutland and Manlius Friendly Aid Insurance Company; treasurer of Marseilles Lodge, No. 417, F. «& A. M.; vice-president and director of the First National Bank of Marseilles, and has held the office of assessor of Rutland township for twenty-live years, being elected twenty times without opposition. He voluntarily resigned in 1898. He is a member of Marseilles Lodge, No. 417, F. & A. M.; Shabbona Chapter, No. 37; and Ottawa Commandery. No. 10, K. T. In January, 1897, Mr. Fleming, accompanied by his wife, made another trip to California, and one of the places of interest visited by them was the old mining camp at Nevada City, California. On the very ground where Mr. Fleming had worked a claim forty years before, they found one solitary man at work. After a pleasant sojourn in the Golden state, they returned to LaSalle county and to their many friends living in this section of the state.

The following is an extract from the remarks of Mr. P. A. Butterfield, made on the fortieth anniversary of their wedding:

Mr. and Mrs. Fleming: Your children and friends have met with you in commemoration of your wedding which occurred forty years ago to-day, and have chosen me, in behalf of your children, to present to you their filial gratitude for favors, precept and example, and also this fine furniture. May it be useful, ornamental and always a reminder of those who view you with tender regard and loving kindness in your declining years.

Allow me also to present to you these beautiful chairs, in behalf of your many friends here convened, as a memento of their kind regard and esteem. They do not offer them as an article of any considerable money value, nor do they conceive they would be any more thankfully received by you were they more elaborate. They tender them to you hoping you may use them much, that they may be useful and comfortable, and bring to you that rest and repose so necessary to the welfare of those who have started down the western slope of life's hillside. Finally they present them wishing that they may cause you to recall occasionally the vision of the donors, the day and the date which makes this meeting and greeting eminently proper.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 160-163.

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