John Nathaniel Lee, the postmaster and leading merchant of the village of
Triumph, LaSalle county, is a native of Detroit, Michigan, born May 24,
1843. His father, Joseph Lee, was an Englishman, born in the city of London
in 1818. In 1836, at the age of eighteen, he left his native land and sought
his fortune in America, stopping first in New York city. By trade he was a
marble cutter. He did some fine work in New York and in the cemetery at
Brooklyn. Also he worked on the capitol at Washington, B. C. Finally he came
west to Michigan and for a number of years made his home in Detroit. He died
in Black River, New York, in 1888. His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah
Amesbury, is also deceased. Their children besides John N., the subject of
this sketch, were as follows: Ann, who married James Fitzgerald: Sarah, who
was twice married, her first husband being Oscar Kennedy and whose present
husband is Henry Welch; Joseph, deceased; George, of Triumph, Illinois;
William, deceased; Frank, of Beatrice, Nebraska; Mary, wife of Joseph
Graves, of Black River, New York; and Agnes, deceased.
John N. Lee became self-supporting at an early age. When he was only seven years old he was an errand boy in a clothing establishment. At twelve years he became an apprentice to the painter's trade. Contact with the paints and oils being injurious to his health, he turned from this to the carpenter's trade, at which he served an apprenticeship of three years. He was working at the carpenter's bench when the civil war was inaugurated. Dropping the saw and hammer in August, 1862, he offered his services to his country, enlisting as a member of Company D, Tenth New York Volunteers, his brigade forming a part of the Army of the Potomac. He was a participant in much of the hard fighting of the war. While in the service he lost an eye and had his health shattered, the result being much physical suffering during all the years which have followed. He was honorably discharged at Washington, D. C., February 21, 1865.
At the close of the war Mr. Lee came to Illinois, and for a few years worked at his trade at Odell. He engaged then in selling goods, located one year in Streator, Illinois, and one year in Clinton, Iowa. Returning to Illinois, he settled in the village of Prairie Center, LaSalle county, where for a dozen years he conducted a successful business, dating from 1872, when he purchased the stock and good will of John Bowman. At the end of twelve years he sold out and went to Colorado for the benefit of his wife's health. She died December 20, 1886. In August, 1887, he opened a store in Triumph, and has since been the principal merchant of the village and done a successful business.
Mr. Lee was married at Odell, Illinois, in 1866, to Miss Olive Moore, a daughter of Alvin Moore and wife, nee Russell, who were natives of the state of Maine. The fruits of their union were two children, namely: Guy, who married Amanda Wallace, and is a partner in the store with his father; and Eva Grace. Both son and daughter had good educational advantages, the former being a graduate of the Ottawa high school and a business college at Holton, Kansas; while the latter was educated in the Illinois State Normal School. Mr. Lee's present wife was Mrs. Frances Norwood Tharp, whom he married at Hornellsville, New York, February 21, 1889.
Politically Mr. Lee is an ardent Republican.
Extracted 19 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 574-575.