An honored old resident of Ottawa is Owen W. Huff, who, after a very active and enterprising business career, settled in this place many years ago and has since been retired. Though now in his eighty-fourth year, he is hale and hearty, and is in the complete possession of all of his faculties, bidding fair to enjoy life for many years to come. The subjoined sketch of his past will be of interest to his multitudes of friends, both in Ottawa and elsewhere.
His parents were James and Catherine (Hess) Huff, both of whom were natives of Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. The father of James was John Huff, who served under General Washington throughout the greater part of the Revolutionary war. He married Martha Burns and reared a large family. John Huff was a powerfully built man, six feet and six inches in height, and his mental characteristics were no less remarkable than was his physical strength. The Huffs originally came from Scotland, and have been in this country for many generations. The father of our subject's mother was Abraham Hess, a native of Germany, and his wife was a Miss Sarah Wright prior to their marriage. For several years after the birth of Owen W. Huff, January 29, 1816, his parents lived upon a farm near the village of Sunbury, Delaware county, Ohio. The father died there in 1830, and was survived by his wife, who attained the advanced age of ninety-one years.
Owen W. Huff's birthplace was in Luzerne, now Wyoming, county, Pennsylvania, but his first recollections are of Ohio, whither his parents had taken him in his infancy. He went to the district school and to one in Columbus, the state capital, then a mere village. His first regular employment was as a farm hand, his wages being four dollars a month and board, and later he was paid double that amount. Going to Portsmouth, Ohio, he spent some time there and made a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness that resulted in his appointment to superintend the construction of fiftyone miles of railroad between Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi. He received seventy-five dollars a month and board while acting in this responsible position, and most of the time for months was on horseback, riding back and forth along the line of the road. When the railroad had been completed he returned to Delaware county, Ohio, and purchased fifty acres of land in the woods. This property he soon disposed of, at the rate of five dollars an acre. Then going to Cincinnati he entered the employ of his brother John, and while there he was offered a position in the state penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. He accepted the place and remained there for twenty years, investing the amount which he saved from his salary in local real estate. Some property which he owned on Main street, near the depot, he sold later at a price three times as great as the purchase price. His next move was to come to Illinois, and, locating upon a farm of two hundred and sixteen acres in the vicinity of Elgin, Kane county, he cultivated the place for about two years. A favorable opportunity then presenting itself, he sold the farm, for which he had paid seven thousand dollars, and realized just three thousand dollars on the transaction. From 1858 to 1874 he was engaged in the wholesale liquor business in Ottawa, and since selling out in the last named year he has been retired, merely looking after his various investments. For half a century Mr. Huff was cheered and assisted in all his undertakings by the presence of his devoted wife, who was a woman of rare traits of mind and character, and was respected and loved by all who knew her, Mrs. Huff bore the maiden name of Julia Winders, her father being William Winders, of Columbus, Ohio. She was born in West Virginia, and removed to the Buckeye state with her parents when she was quite young. Four children blessed the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Huff, namely: Charles E., now of Pollard, Oregon; Minnie H., wife of Henry Aronstine, of Anderson, Indiana; Eliza, who, with her husband, George Sherman, is deceased; and Alice, who died when in her twenty-second year. The loving wife and mother was summoned to her reward on the i6th of January, 1893, mourned by all who had ever known her.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 273-274.