The Real Estate Empire of the John Dean Gillett Family of Elkhart, Illinois;
the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 at Lincoln, Illinois; and Gillett History to the Present

A Collaborative, Pictorial Research Report, Featuring Images of Selected, Rare Sources

D. Leigh Henson
with Robert "Bobby" Olson

In memory of Paul J. Beaver, James T. Hickey, William K. Maxwell, and Robert F. Olson

         We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while.
                                                                                                                                                                  -- Willa Cather,
O Pioneers!

     The past is forever being swept away in the interest of neatness and order. It is unforgivable, or at least I don't intend to forgive it. . . . Family history is like a kaleidoscope in that you can keep shifting the essential elements and coming up with new patterns and combinations. . . .  
                                                                                                                                                       -- William Maxwell, Ancestors: A Family History

 

     Springfield, MO, March 19, 2019. Expanded, August 20, 2019. The Maxwell quotations above (epigraph) express the desire to capture the past but with the realization that history is a complex story with multiple perspectives. The blended writing and visuals of this webpage are my kaleidoscopic views of a fascinating, wealthy Midwestern family composed of diverse, memorable personalities acting out a multi-generational, near-epic story, and the primary colors are economic, legalistic, social, and cultural. This webpage has been created as a multi-sourced, collaborative, visually rich publication, with invited feedback from a wide reading audience, including professional and nonprofessional historians and any other interested experts, to suggest corrections, additions, or other revisions. This webpage has also been designed for printing and binding (laser color printer, spiral binding preferred) and is thus a hybrid of an academic book and a coffee-table book (presently, 158 pages, landscape orientation). Webpages like this are uncommon, and I hope this project demonstrates their potential. For publishing and distributing this webpage as a book, I have obtained an ISBN and copyright:
 

     The setting of this story is Logan County, Illinois, from mid-nineteenth century to the present (2019). Logan County has been home to two families that owned vast tracts of rich farmland in that county and elsewhere, beginning in mid-nineteenth century. The patriarchs of those families were William Scully (1840--1900), an Irish nobleman and absentee landlord, and John Dean Gillett (1819--1888), who came from the East as a young adult and who became known as the Cattle King of America, or even the world (after his death John Dean Gillett's son, John Parke Gillett, was sometimes referred to with this title). Robert "Bobby" Olson, my main collaborator in this project, comments on Scully's motivation: "William Scully was a fifth son. Under the ancient inheritance system then prevalent among the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, almost everything (especially land) went to the eldest son, and all other family members had to make careers elsewhere. The William Scully who came to America had to make it for himself or live in an inferior position at home. Lord Scully may have seen the future decline of the aristocracy in the British Isles, too, and foresaw greater troubles in Ireland's future, but he personally had to live by his own wits."

     As a commoner, John Dean Gillett did not have independent wealth to use for land purchases, and a relative helped fund them, as explained later. Unlike William Scully, whose real estate empire consisted almost exclusively of farmland, John Dean Gillett's real estate empire consisted of both farmland and town property, especially in Lincoln, Illinois--the First Lincoln Namesake Town, which Gillett co-founded in 1853. John Dean Gillett's empire was headquartered on a forested, marginal moraine--a prairie grove named Elkhart Hill. Gillett and other early prairie pioneers settled in or near groves because of the need for firewood and building material. Elkhart Hill with a peak of 771 feet above sea level rises unexpectedly on the Illinois prairie to become the highest elevation between St. Louis and Chicago. Scully descendants down to the present have retained much of their agricultural empire, often in trusts. John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett had eight children who grew to adulthood--one son, John Parke Gillett (1861--1901), and seven daughters--and the number of Gillett descendants now owning and/or managing inherited farmland is difficult to determine. This project cites some of the Gillett family farmland history, but a concerted effort to make that determination was beyond this project's scope.

     The Scullys largely escaped scandal and attrition of real estate, but the Gilletts were not so fortunate. This project explores the story of John Dean Gillett's rise and prosperity as well as the scandals of his son's divorce, arrest owing to his mother's accusation that he was insane, the son's tragic death at the age of forty, and the family's very public legal battles over property caused by John Parke Gillett's death--especially the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 at Lincoln, Illinois, that bitterly split the family into two factions. That trial was complicated, prolonged, and costly--arguably the most expensive civil trial in the history of Logan County--affecting many lives and central Illinois history, but the story of that trial has been obscure. I first learned of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 from reading William Maxwell's Ancestors: A Family History (1971). Maxwell had first-hand knowledge of this trial from his family's oral history: his grandfathers were attorneys on opposing sides, as explained later, but Maxwell admitted that the complicated story of the trial was puzzling and that his knowledge of it was limited. My research has added to the information that was available to him. This project also tells about the Gillett family after the trial.

     Webpage publication allows expeditious revision. Feel free to email me with questions, corrections, or other comments: DLHenson@MissouriState.edu. Feel free also to connect with me at https://www.facebook.com/leigh.henson and https://www.linkedin.com/in/d-leigh-henson-9231a516/. This is not a short publication, and to help you navigate it, here are direct links to its sections:

1. Research Methods and Presentation

2. Location of the Gillett Real Estate Empire

3. The Tantivy Legend: Where John Dean Gillett Proposed to Lemira Parke

4. Map of Gillett Landmarks Near Elkhart Cited in This Project

5. John Dean Gillett's Agricultural Methods and Banking Activity

6. A History of John Dean Gillett and Lemira Parke Gillett's Home on Elkhart Hill and Other Family-Related Sites, including Elkhart Cemetery, the St. John the Baptist Chapel, the John Parke Gillett Memorial Bridge, and the Village of Elkhart    

7. John Dean Gillett's Will

8. The John Dean Gillett Family between His Death and the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904, including John Parke Gillett's Personal and Family Problems as well as the Wills of Lemira Parke Gillett and John Parke Gillett, and Consequential Legal Actions

9. William Maxwell's Account of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

10. The Litigants of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

11. The Attorneys from Lincoln, Illinois, in the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

12. The Lead Attorney for Jessie Dean Gillett: Lloyd F. Hamilton of Springfield, Illinois

13. The Presiding Judge of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904: Robert B. Shirley

14. Ironic Site of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904: Gillett Hall in the Gillett Building behind the Gillett Corner Building

15. Newspaper Reports of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

16. A Few Unanswered Questions Relating to the 1904 Trial

17. William Maxwell's Final Observations about the 1904 Trial and His Grandfather Blinn's Fondness for Graceland

18. Gillett Family History after the 1904 Trial to Mid-20th Century, including the Last Gillett Landlords: John Deal Gillett Hill and Lemira Hill McClure Hunt

19. Conclusion

20. Appendix, including link to author's curriculum vitae (PDF)

21. Suggested Supplemental Sources

     The first image below is a screen capture of a 2013 Google Earth view showing Elkhart Hill in the background as seen from the northbound I-55 exit to Elkhart, Illinois. The second 2013 Google Earth screen capture shows a southwestern, bucolic view of Elkhart Hill rising above soybean fields on the Illinois prairie as seen from a county road.

 


 

Research Methods and Presentation

     Members of the John Dean Gillett family were quite wealthy (most were millionaires), so their contemporaries were often fascinated by their business, social, and personal activities, especially scandals. Thus, the news media--mostly newspapers, sometimes magazines--frequently covered the Gilletts' activities. In researching, writing, and publishing about the Gilletts, I think readers have a right to know how I obtained and used information, so I offer the following explanations. I found Google searches useful, of course, but they yielded very limited results. Even my search of Google Scholar with the key phrase "John D. Gillett" yielded just twenty-three sources, with only about seventeen relevant, and none of them were exclusively about him. Three of the sources mentioning his name were my other publications. Google Scholar does not index master's theses or doctoral dissertations or many other commercial, academic databases. (Serious students must not limit their research to Google.)

     For the present project, other research resources provided the most important information. Some primary (contemporaneous) sources in the form of historical maps were found on eBay, with a couple of photos found on Ancestry.com. Many primary sources in the form of newspaper articles, especially those published at Decatur, Illinois, were obtained through Newspapers.com, which I accessed through the Springfield-Greene County, Missouri, Library website (https://thelibrary.org/). (I live in Springfield, Missouri.) Browsing WorldCat.com through the Meyer Library, Missouri State University (https://libraries.missouristate.edu/meyer.htm), enabled me to identify several secondary (noncontemporaneous) sources accessed through the JSTOR database and others obtained through MSU's Inter Library Loan service, including Paul Eugene Gleason's master's thesis: John Dean Gillett: Elkhart Hill's Cattle King of America (1970). Using Inter Library Loan, I obtained microfilm editions of the Lincoln Courier from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (formerly called the Illinois State Historical Library), Springfield, Illinois. Machines at MSU's Meyer Library enabled me not only to read but also to print microfilmed newspaper articles for later use in my home office.

     For fourteen years, I taught technical communication at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Missouri State University (1994--2008), with a particular interest in document design. That work enabled me to learn how to use software to edit images and to blend them with writing in webpages that could also be printed as book pages. In the present project, graphics editing allows the incorporation of some newspaper articles in their entirety through adaptation (graphics editing) of their original format. I grew up when people read newspapers in the only form available--printed pages--and this format still has visual appeal and good readability, but microfilmed newspaper readability is sometime compromised because of dark splotches or faint text that reduce or destroy legibility. In developing this webpage, I could have analyzed and incorporated newspaper information that I printed, but the result would be a poor substitute for the display of the original text, including headlines and text format. I could not, however, merely copy and paste these microfilmed articles accessed online because they were just a portion of an entire newspaper page layout, including advertisements. Newspaper columns typically were in different lengths and sometimes on different pages, and that layout was unworkable for the format/layout of this webpage.

      Thus, I created a different column layout of newspaper articles for this webpage. Here's how: when I accessed the microfilmed articles online, I copied and pasted screen-capture clippings of parts of columns and converted them to JPEG format. Then, using Photoshop, I edited the JPEG files to create new column lengths and to tweak the brightness-darkness of the text to make it as readable as possible. I did not, however, change the sequence of the paragraphs and sentences. I tried to accommodate both online reading and the printing of pages from this webpage with reasonably conventional, printed-page layout. The HTML software I used to create this webpage does not include a feature for insertion of endnotes, so I used in-text source citations. I use quotation marks around blocked quotations, but I know that academic style guides say not to use them. Most of the readers here do not know that and expect to see quotation marks around all direct quotations.

     This project is rich in visuals. Traditional, printed publications typically have more limited use of visuals than this webpage because they are expensive to produce. Let me also emphasize that the promotion of this webpage via traditional and social media--Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter--invites reader input. In this way, professional and serious, nonprofessional historians as well as any other kinds of experts have opportunities to critique this project and offer suggestions to strengthen it before it will be printed, bound, and donated to selected public and research libraries, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum--the depository of the former Illinois State Historical Library holdings.
 

Location of the Gillett Real Estate Empire

     John Dean Gillett (1819--1888) moved to Illinois with his uncle, John Gillett (1796--1848), in 1838 from New Haven, Connecticut, to Sangamon County, Illinois. There the uncle established Bald Knob Farm in Logan County, Illinois, and the John Dean Gillett lived on his uncle's farm for two years before buying land at Lake Fork in Logan County, where he farmed for a number of years before moving to Elkhart. John Dean Gillett eventually acquired thousands of acres of prairie farm land in central Illinois, bred and raised cattle, invested in several central Illinois banks, established the First National Bank of Lincoln, Illinois, and served as the bank's president. After Mr. Gillett and his wife, Lemira Parke Gillett (1821--1901), became established, they built their permanent home and related farm buildings on the southwestern slope of Elkhart Hill, which was crossed by the early nineteenth-century trail known as the Edwards Trace. The Gilletts had one son, and six of seven daughters lived to adulthood, including Emma Susan, who after losing her first husband, Hiram Keays, married Richard J. Oglesby--three-time governor of Illinois and political friend of Abraham Lincoln (Oglesby is credited with branding Lincoln as the Railsplitter presidential candidate). John Dean Gillett focused on business and avoided politics, but he was a speculator: for example, in 1853 he was one of three founders of Lincoln, Illinois. Their attorney was Abraham Lincoln, who gave the founders permission for the new community to be named for him (before he became famous), thus giving it distinction as the First Lincoln Namesake Town.

     The land John Dean Gillett bought and cultivated in Logan County (white box below) was part of the Tall Grass Prairie in Illinois, Grand Prairie Division, as seen in the mid-section of this map by Kenneth R. "Ken" Robertson, PhD, a retired botanist with the Illinois Natural History Survey (http://wwn.inhs.illinois.edu/~kenr/prairietypes.html):

     A partial characterization of the original Grand Prairie from the Illinois Natural History Survey: "This area, the largest natural division of the state, is a vast plain formerly occupied by tall-grass prairie. The grassland landscape was so unusual that early travelers had to turn to the sea for analogies, evoking 'a sea of grass' or 'a vast ocean of meadow-land.' In time, this landscape came to be known as 'prairie.' The fertile soils are young and high in organic content. They were developed from deposited loess, lakebed sediments, and glacial drift. Natural drainage was poor, resulting in many marshes and prairie potholes. The prairies were a veritable wildflower garden containing several hundred species of grasses and forbs. Forests interrupted the landscape on floodplains, on slopes bordering streams, along river bends, and in isolated prairie groves. Like prairie grasslands, prairie groves have a remarkable number of plant species, especially spring-blooming herbs." Prairie groves featured a variety of tree species, especially hickory, oak, and maple (http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/forest/htmls/re_distr.html). Elkhart Hill remarkably endures as a historic oasis of native Illinois prairie because those kinds of trees continue to grow there as well as such wildflowers as Virginia bluebells, bloodroot, spring beauty, larkspur, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, buttercup and sweet William.

     The 1870 central Illinois map below shows the location of Logan County, where John Dean Gillett owned most of his land, and Logan County's location adjacent to Menard County and Sangamon County, where Springfield is both the county seat and the state capital. Most of Gillett's land in Logan County was in Broadwell and Elkhart Townships, as identified below in the white box. The Alton & Chicago Railroad, which ran through the state capital of Springfield and the village of Elkhart, connected St. Louis and Chicago. That railroad was the key to John Dean Gillett's ability to profit greatly by shipping hogs and cattle.

     The two largest landowners in the history of Logan County, Illinois, the Irish Lord William Scully and the New England commoner John Dean Gillett, bought much of their land in the 1850s, but their land was mostly not contiguous. The map below, adapted from Paul J. Beaver, William Scully and the Scully Estates of Logan County, Illinois [Lincoln, Illinois: privately published, 2003], p. 8, shows the relationship of Broadwell and Elkhart Townships (boxed in white), where Gillett bought most of his land, to the townships in northwestern Logan County, the region where William Scully bought most of his land. The darkened areas designate Scully's land, and he did not own much acreage in the townships where Gillett owned most of his.

     The 1870 map below shows a closer view of the area that lay at the heart of the John Dean Gillett empire. It stretched from Lincoln in the north to Cornland in the south. Gillett owned valuable property near Lincoln and in its business district.

     Prairie streams in the Gillett and Scully agricultural empires supplied surface water year round. Thus, raising livestock in those locales did not depend so much on constructing ponds as in other regions. The above map shows the streams in the Gillett agricultural empire that were a key factor in its success. The prairie stream of Lake Fork meandered through the heart of Gillett's farmland in Elkhart Township, and that stream flowed into the larger Salt Creek, which ran through Broadwell Township, just north of Elkhart Township. Yet the excessive moisture that characterized Illinois prairies complicated farming: "Illinois is the second flattest state in the nation. But even where the retreating glaciers did a particularly good job of scouring the land . . . , much of the prairie was pocked with undulations and depressions, which, combined with various soil and bedrock conditions, held water. Wet areas and saturated soils resulted in limited and inconsistent crop yields" (Arthur Melville Pearson, "Roots and Revery," Illinois Heritage [January-February 2019], p. 18). The success of both the Gillett and Scully farming operations required tiling to improve drainage into nearby streams, and a close look at the above map shows some of the smaller creeks that received the drainage and fed the larger streams in the Gillett empire. The following, rare picture postcard depicts one of the creeks in Gillett country:

     Below is a screen capture of an August 2013 Google Earth view of Lake Fork at a bridge on Logan County Road 10 between Elkhart and Mt. Pulaski. Much of this creek has been channelized to speed the flow of water and aid farmland drainage, but even in mid-summer this stream holds water. Before channelization, Lake Fork was a good fishery. When I was growing up in Lincoln in the 1950s, my dad took me with him in the fall when he walked along Lake Fork downstream a few miles (beyond the grove at the right of the image below), close to its confluence with the larger Salt Creek, while he fished for smallmouth bass (I recall he had success with an orange-and-black Flatfish(TM) "crankbait"). At those times, the woods that lined the stream added to the pleasant solitude of the adventure. 


 

The Tantivy Legend: Where John Dean Gillett Proposed to Lemira Parke    

     The courtship of John Dean Gillett and Lemira Parke is associated with a large cabin named Tantivy Lodge, as shown below (Lincoln Evening Courier, Section Eight, August 26, 1953, p. 7). According to local historian Robert "Bobby" Olson, his brother currently farms the land east of the village of Broadwell where Tantivy was located at mid-twentieth century, but he believes that structure may have been moved at least once. According to legend, John Dean Gillett had proposed to his wife, Lemira, when both were guests of the Godfrey Wright family, who then owned this structure. Later Mr. Gillett bought this property as a gift for his wife, but I am not sure they ever lived there. Tantivy's name traces to a romantic origin: "John D. Gillett and Lemira Parke were ardent equestrians, and one day a turned saddle on Lemira's horse caused her to be thrown only to be lifted unhurt by Mr. Gillett. In appreciation of this romantic experience of her parents, Mrs. Katherine Gillett Hill [one of their daughters and the mother of John Dean Gillett Hill], herself an excellent horsewoman, named the romantic log cabin 'Tantivy,' which means (a hunting call to signal 'Full Chase').  

     Also in memory of her father and mother, "Mrs. Hill had the musical notes of a famous hunting song inscribed on one wall of the cabin while the words 'A goodly record for time to show of a syllable spoken so long ago' grace the wall over the fireplace. Many famous guests have enjoyed Tantivy, and it is now destined to become part of a famous group for the enjoyment of all" ("Famous Logan County Names Connected with Tantivy," Lincoln Evening Courier, Centennial Edition, Section Eight, August 26, 1953, p. 7). According to Bobby Olson, John Dean Gillett Hill was a key source of the Tantivy legend: "Attorney J.D.G. Hill had to be a super intelligent and interesting person. The whole business of 'Tantivy' was partly the truth and partly his own creation. Tantivy was his cooler summer home at a time when there was no air conditioning. He had a very bad heart condition (severe angina), and his doctors ordered him to retire from the law and from farm management at the age of 68 (about 1952) and by taking it easier he lived until close to his 78th birthday." One of Mr. Hill's friends was William Keepers Maxwell, Sr., who died in 1958, four years before Mr. Hill's passing.

      During the 1953 Centennial Celebration of the founding of Lincoln, Illinois, there was a plan to move Tantivy to Postville Park in that town, to be featured in a proposed complex of historic structures. The owner of Tantivy, John Dean Gillett Hill, a grandson of the Gillett patriarch, then owned Tantivy and was going to donate it to the proposed "memorial group at Postville" (Raymond Dooley, The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois [Lincoln, Illinois: Feldman Print Shop, 1953], p. 73). Nothing ever became of that plan.

     Mr. Hill was a successful lawyer, an officer in the Logan County Title Company, farm property manager, and civic-minded resident of Lincoln. He and his wife lived on Lincoln Avenue, where Mr. Hill and his mother had built distinctive stucco houses in a Spanish-revival style during the 1920s. Mr. Hill was also one of the two best friends of William Maxwell's father and is favorably described in Maxwell's short autobiographical story titled "My Father's Friends" (1984). Maxwell and Hill also became friends and corresponded.

 

     Bobby Olson explains the fate of Tantivy: "Tantivy Lodge was dismantled in an organized fashion in the early 1950s. It is likely that this work was done by Jim Hickey [the well-known Lincoln curator and scholar], and he may have been assisted by Donald Stanfield (Mr. Stanfield is still living near Lincoln). Mr. Stanfield lived just one hundred yards away from Tantivy in the 1950s and 1960s. The logs were numbered according to a plan and stacked and covered on a farm owned by Mr. John Dean Gillett Hill [a grandson of John Dean Gillett] just east of Broadwell. However, then the plan to remove it to Lincoln petered out, probably because of lack of funds. The tenants on this farm (named Leathers) obtained a new chain saw about 1960, something that was much a novelty in those days. In their early sawing enthusiasm, they sawed most of the Tantivy logs to bits. This was apparently one of a series of events that greatly upset Mr. Hill and led to their loss of tenancy about 1961. My late father, Robert F. Olson, was the next tenant on this farm and later the farm manager for Mr. Hill's widow and her sister-in-law, Lemira Hunt." The Olsons have a painting of Tantivy.
 

     The photo below at left shows an aerial view of the farm where Tantivy met its fate. Robert "Bobby" Olson explains: "The Tantivy site was just a bit to the right of that tenant house, in the woods--the site is not exactly in the photo. That corn crib in the pasture still stands today in 2019 (just barely). The old house is gone. The timber had a great reputation for squirrels (and hunting on a limited basis)." The photo below at right of "Tan Tivy Cemetery" is perhaps a clue to Tantivy's original, approximate location. The source of "Tan Tivy Cemetery," cited below, gives no information about its location. Bobby Olson writes that the Tan Tivy Cemetery is also known as Foster Cemetery, and he observes from its documentation at Find a Grave that there is a memorial stone to Henry Miller, a German immigrant who was a caretaker of Tantivy Lodge: " I believe that John Dean Gillett Hill had this stone erected about fifteen years after the death of the gentleman whose name appears on the stone, so that he could bolster the Tantivy 'legend' or backstory. This stone and most of the stones up there are toppled. The cemetery area is intact because of my dad and brother's respect, and it gets mowed by the county once or twice in most years. It is inaccessible once the corn and beans get tall. For a photo of the memorial that Mr. Hill allegedly erected to Henry Miller, access https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83110656/henry-miller. (Photos and captions below from John Drury, ed., This Is Logan County, Illinois: An Up-to-Date Historical Narrative with County Map and Many Unique Aerial Photographs of Cities, Towns, Villages, and Farmsteads [Chicago, IL: The Loree Company, 1955], pp. 147 and 98). Much more information about John Dean Gillett Hill, a grandson of John Dean Gillett, appears later in this webpage.
 


 

     The following undated photo, courtesy of Bobby Olson, shows Tantivy in its twentieth-century form when it was located on John Dean Gillett Hill's farm as seen above at left.

     The Olsons' roots in Gillett farmland are several generations deep. "Bobby" Olson's late father, Robert F. "Bob" Olson, played a key role in responsible stewardship of Gillett-heritage farmland. Bobby notes that his father "managed Hill family farmland [that of John Dean Gillett Hill and his sister, Lemira Hill Hunt] for over forty-five years. My Grandfather Alfred Olson especially revered Miss Jessie Dean Gillett and farmed for her and the Hills almost fifty years."

     Robert F. Olson's knowledge of agricultural science contributed to his effectiveness as a farm manager. His son, Bobby, for example, explains that his father arranged for the periodic application of limestone to the soil: "This check is for the landlord's one-half share of the crushed limestone placed on the farmland tenanted by Mr. Robert Paige, which was located where Route 10 leaves Lincoln towards Clinton. It is necessary to spread some crushed limestone (not a large amount) on the farmland every five years or so, to maintain the trace minerals in the soil. A farm manager had many large and small things to track to ensure the full productivity and yields of the various farms":

     The Elkhart Sesquicentennial: A Celebration of 150 Years, 1855--2005 included the following family history and biography of Robert F. Olson as well as the photo of him seen here. I republish this information as a tribute to Robert F. "Oly" Olson, who passed his interest in preserving Gillett history to his son, Bobby. Without Bobby's contributions to this project, it would be as thin as a fence rail.

     "Bob Olson is one of those guys you always look forward to seeing on the streets of Elkhart. He always has a smile and a big hello for everyone he meets. Bob's family first came to the Elkhart area in 1890 when his grandfather, Olaf Olson, moved here from Sweden and worked for John D. Gillett herding cattle in the grassland around Elkhart Hill on foot. He later helped hand dig and install drainage tile, which allowed the area to be tilled and farmed. Gillett then rewarded Olaf with the tenancy of a farm north of Elkhart. After Olaf, his son Alfred worked this farm followed by his son, Bob, and then followed by Bob's son, Jim, who still farms the ground today. Alfred married Mildred Amberg, and they had three children, Bob, Mary Ann, and David. Bob was reared on the farm and went to Elkhart High School, graduating in 1948. He was drafted into the Army in 1953 and served in Alaska. He married Norma Van Fossen in 1957. Norma was a 1952 graduate of ECHS. They have five children, Robert, Nancy, Susan, Jim, and Sandra. They are blessed with twelve grandchildren.

     After military service Bob worked as a carpenter and operated a service station before attending the University of Illinois for three years. His next job was managing a USDA office in Belleville, Illinois. In 1960, an opportunity to return to farming developed, and Bob returned home to begin his dream job of farming. About the same time, he also developed a Farm Management Service, managing seventeen farms in central Illinois for absentee landowners. Bob was active in the Elkhart community, and in 1972 he and several other area businessmen and farmers were instrumental in starting the new bank in town, the Elkhart Community Bank. Today Bob still serves on the corporate board of Illini Bank Corporation in Springfield with thirteen central Illinois locations, including Elkhart."

 

 

Robert F. "Oly" Olson

     "In 1986 Bob's interest in politics helped him receive an appointment to the Illinois legislature, and he held that position until he retired in 1994. Bob's legislative district consisted of all of Logan, Menard, Dewitt, and Mason counties and part of Sangamon, Tazewell, Piatt, and McLean counties. Bob's style was his own, his word his bond, and his handshake a promise. One of his biggest handshakes was just before retiring. He arranged to save, resurface, and keep old Route 66 a four-lane highway around the city of Lincoln when the state had announced plans to downsize it to a two-lane road. No big announcement or fanfare. That was not Bob's style, but it will always be remembered that one of his last big efforts while in office was for Logan County. Bob helped many other communities receive new water towers, school buildings, roads, sewers, and other needs. Bob considered himself not a politician but a friend to his constituents, we the people of his district. He received many awards and recognitions from agricultural organizations, pro-life groups, mental health organizations, banking groups, veterans' organizations, and many other sincere groups with wholesome interests in state government" (pp. 84--85).
 

Map of Gillett Landmarks Near Elkhart Cited in This Project 

     The annotated map below, adapted from Google Earth, shows the main Gillett-Oglesby sites, including Elkhart Cemetery and the mansion called Oglehurst--the sometime home of Governor Richard J. Oglesby and his second wife, Emma Gillett Keays Oglesby. Both the cemetery and the mansion are described later. Notice that the land between Elkhart Cemetery and the Old Gillett Farm is heavily wooded. Latham-Thompson Cemetery is the oldest in Logan County.


 

John Dean Gillett's Agricultural Methods and Banking Activity

     John Dean Gillett's interest in breeding, raising, and marketing hogs and cattle as the key to developing "a great estate on which he could dwell in lordly splendor surrounded by vassals--tenants--who cared for his herds of cattle" far exceeded his interest in mere land speculation (Paul Wallace Gates, "Frontier Landlords and Pioneer Tenants," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society [1908--1984], 38.2 [June 1945], p. 392). During the 1840s and 1850s, Mr. Gillett and Smith Tuttle, his stepfather, who lived in Connecticut, were partners in speculative land purchases, mostly in central Illinois. Gillett and Tuttle bought most of their land from the federal government, often using military land warrants: "A military land warrant assigned a parcel of land, usually 160 acres, to a soldier for his military service in lieu of cash payment by the government of the United States." Government officials believed "that giving the soldiers land, of which there was an abundance, was more desirable than paying cash bonuses since it would encourage settlement of the western lands while creating less of a drain on the federal treasury. Warrants allowed a soldier to choose acreage in the public domain, turn in the warrant at the nearest federal land office, and thereby receive title to the land. Many soldiers, preferring cash to land, sold their warrants to brokers who resold them for profit. Gillett and Tuttle were land-speculation partners in purchasing warrants, and they especially chose land north of Springfield near the proposed railroad extension northward from St. Louis toward Bloomington and Chicago. With this idea in mind Gillett sought such lands in warrants of 120 acres or less through land offices at the government price of $1.25 an acre." Gillett and Tuttle resold some of their land. Gillett selected those lands before other speculators did, for example, Springfield attorneys John Todd Stuart and Abraham Lincoln (Paul Eugene Gleason, "John Dean Gillett: Elkhart Hill's Cattle King of America," unpublished master's thesis, Illinois State University, 1970, p. 48).

     In August 1853, Gillett's land speculation led him to partner with Virgil Hickox, his cousin and Springfield attorney, and Robert B. Latham, then the sheriff of Logan County, in hiring Abraham Lincoln as their attorney to establish a community thirty miles north of Springfield, where the expanding Alton & Chicago Railroad would need to build a watering station for its locomotives. Gillett and his two partner speculators asked Mr. Lincoln, also the attorney for that railroad, if they could name the town after him, and he agreed, after joking that he never knew anything named Lincoln that amounted to much (Gleason, pp. 54--58). Gillett and Latham invested in commercial developments in Lincoln's business district, including the construction of substantial buildings named after them, as depicted later in this publication. Gillett must have had other needs for legal services, but I saw only one other, obscure reference to the possibility that Gillett had hired Lincoln: "Lincoln had a law suit for John D. Gillett in the March term 1851, Sangamon Circuit Court when Gillett sued W.F. Henrietta (Elkhart Centennial History, 1855--1955, p. 47). The writer of that history does not give any other information about the case or cite a source for it, but I found the case of Gillett v. Henrietta et ux. at the online Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, and the case shows that Gillett paid close attention to details: "Gillett bought 320 acres of land from William Henrietta and his wife Elizabeth Henrietta for $400. After the transfer of land, Gillett noticed a mistake in the deed from Henrietta. The deed designated the township in the land description as "7" when it should have been "17." Gillett retained Herndon and sued the Henriettas to correct the deed. Henrietta failed to appear, and the court ruled for Gillett and ordered Henrietta to deliver a new, corrected deed to Gillett": http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Search.aspx. I found no other cases involving Gillett in Lincoln's law practice.

     In the 1840s Gillett's initial farming success came from raising and marketing hogs, mostly through Springfield to Beardstown on the Illinois River, then to St. Louis and down the Mississippi River to be purchased mainly by plantations, and he continued to market hogs to the end of his life. In the early 1850s, the northward extension of the Chicago & Alton Railroad from St. Louis opened a shipping route to Chicago and to the East and Europe. The railroad expansion that improved transportation throughout Illinois in the 1850s was accompanied by the construction of telegraph networks that expedited communication about market conditions (Gleason, p. 45). As these improvements supported Gillett's operations, he and others understood that consumers were beginning to want better than "plain, stringy beef meat" (Gleason, p. 38). The Civil War increased the demand for Gillett's hogs in the North to the extent that he purchased them from local farmers and even made loans to those farmers to increase their hog production. Also, the war increased the demand for beef consumed by the Northern armies, and the demand for beef continued to increase in the decade after the war. Gillett bought more land during the war.

     According to Gates, "No dilettante cattle fancier, Gillett wasted no time or money in importing expensive bulls and cows and in building up a herd of purebred Shorthorns, as did some of his neighbors. Yearling cattle bought locally combined with Gillett's own strain of Shorthorn grades and fattened for market on the prairie and blue grass and the corn he raised, constituted his business. He specialized not in purebred but in fat stock" (Gates, p. 392). "By 1876 Gillett held nearly 12,000 acres of land. These holdings included improved timber, pasture, and cultivated fields. He was the sole owner of 3,000 high grade Shorthorn cattle in all stages of growth from the calf at its mother's side to the mature steer of 2,400 pounds. There were 500 cows, 400 two-year-old steers, and 20 well-bred bulls on a pasture of 1,200 acres. His lands under cultivation included 1,000 acres of corn. His tenants grew three times that amount and used 50 teams of horses to do the necessary field work on his farms. Employment of 100 men was necessary for the farm work in the mid-seventies" (Gleason, p. 82). Further, "Gillett was the first to furnish cattle to foreign markets. . . . The export trade demanded beef and live animals of the highest quality and thus became a powerful incentive to better breeding and feeding" (Ibid.). Gillett became the preeminent breeder of "choice market cattle" in North America by the end of the 1870s, and in that decade Gillett successfully shipped to Eastern markets and even to England.

     Gillett's operation was vast and profitable: "John Dean Gillett's far-flung operations in land and cattle made his name almost a byword for prairie landlordism and superior-quality beef" (Gates, p. 391). Gillett's innovative breeding methods were developed mostly in the 1870s:

"The Gillett herd was greatly improved in the 1870s. Membership was taken out in stock improvement associations which were organized to import Shorthorns from England. Farm journals devoted quantities of space to Shorthorns, and it was not long before most of the influential farmers such as Gillett could boast of a herd of high-quality stock through better breeding stock. From time to time Gillett purchased bulls of good quality from Thomas Skinner of Springfield who in turn brought in a good strain of stock from Kentucky. The best pedigrees available characterized these cattle. As new crosses were introduced from time to time, those animals with the strongest qualities were maintained as breeding stock with the rest being fattened for the markets. By 1878 it was possible for a local historian to boast that the introduction of the Shorthorns had almost completely changed the color and form of Illinois cattle to red, white, and roan" (Gleason, p. 85).

Gleason explains Gillett's annual schedule of raising cattle:

"The cows were put on pasture about the first of March. At that time the acres devoted to pasture were covered with a luxuriant growth of bluegrass ranging in height from one to two feet since they were not used in the winter. The cows remained on the pasture for a period of two or three months after which they were distributed to fresh pastures. During the fall the calves were herded together and pastured until they were two years of age. Hay was given to them when necessary during this period. At two years of age a moderate grain feeding program began and continued until the animals were marketed. The strong grain feeding for the market cattle was always done in the summer when the animals had the full benefit of green feed and warm weather. The marketing was done during the fall and early winter" (Ibid., p. 86).

     "By the mid-1870s Gillett's livestock business was on a scale that would do credit to anything short of the cattle companies of the Western Plains. As many as 1,200 steers were marketed annually. The stock was pastured for three years before grain feeding began. Gillett's cattle grazed on his estate and were never housed. To bring his cattle to the best condition for market, as much as 130 to 235 bushels of corn were fed to each steer. More than a thousand hogs salvaged the corn not utilized by the cattle. It was estimated that for every steer thus fed some 500 pounds of pork was produced." Gillett took advantage of his abundant sources of corn to fatten his cattle to greater weights than those of other ranchers, enabling his stock to win more prizes than his competitors, and those prizes were good publicity that increased his business (Gates, p. 393) .

     Two of Gillett's most important advantages were that his land could grow large amounts of corn, hay, and bluegrass, and that he established a tenant system to produce most of the corn fed to his cattle. Beginning to raise crops on Illinois prairie soil, however, was difficult:

"Beneath the tall grasses and profusion of wildflowers lay a virtual forest of deep, densely-matted roots. Slicing through these 'devil's shoestrings' to an initial depth of just an inch-and-a-half required a near-Herculean effort. Farmers who could afford it hired special 'breaker brigades.' These were two-man teams that guided massive breaker plows, pulled by yokes of three to six oxen. One team could bust up to three acres per day at a cost as high as $5 an acre--this at a time when an acre of land could be bought for $1.50. Once the breaker plows had turned the first furrows, there remained the problem of set, sticky Midwestern soils, for which the conventional wood or iron plows of the time were no match" (Pearson, p. 18).

As Gillett was acquiring Logan County farmland in the 1850s, John Deere was inventing a steel plow that would break the dense prairie sod, and "by the late 1850s, Deere's company in Moline, Illinois, was churning out more than 15,000 highly-polished, highly-effective, steel moldboard plows per year" (Pearson, p. 18).

     Gillett exploited a symbiotic tenancy system: he constructed dwellings for his tenants whose corn he bought. In contrast, Landlord William Scully's tenants were responsible for constructing their own buildings and making other improvements: "The fact that [Scully's] tenants had to build their own improvements without guarantees on their investment was seen as a tyrannical practice" (Paul J. Beaver, William Scully and the Scully Estates of Logan County, Illinois, privately published, 2003, p. 29). "A stake in the business made Gillett's tenants dependable, induced them to use their best talents and energy in improving the land, and shifted to them a part of the risk involved in grain growing and livestock feeding" (Gates, p. 392). To a large extent, Gillett's tenants were business partners: "Gillett's supply of cash was plentiful enough to allow loans to be made to his tenant operators in which they might buy and fatten cattle with the corn produced on his farms. When such cattle were ready for market, it was agreed by both parties involved that Gillett would receive first choice at purchasing the finished cattle, providing his offer was the highest of those available at the time. In addition to this agreement, Gillett paid his tenants 15 cents a bushel for corn they produced when they furnished everything but the land. They were paid 10 cents a bushel if Gillett furnished the teams and implements" (Gleason, p. 87). Despite strict management, Gillett apparently was "more indulgent, more forbearing, than was his neighbor [in northern and western Logan County] William Scully" (Gates, 393). Gillett also employed up to 100 workers during the growing season and typically met that need by hiring recent immigrants (Gleason, p. 87).

     Gillett adapted his operations to find new opportunities in changing conditions in the 1880s: "Despite the praise his cattle received, it became apparent to Gillett that 2,000-pound three- and four-year-olds were in less demand than lighter two-year-old steers, the feeding of which had been more carefully managed. He turned to breeding his own stock which he could bring up to 1,700 pounds in two years. In 1886 he had a thousand calves of his own breed and no longer bought feeders" (Gates, p. 395). Gillett took advantage of the need of ranchers in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas "to improve the size and quality of their herds," so western ranchers "made large purchases of bulls from Gillett's Shorthorn mixtures" (Ibid.). "Purebred bulls were sent to every part of the cattle country from Elkhart, but Gillett concentrated on selling his high-quality stock in the Wyoming Territory. By the year 1882 a single ranch in that area had purchased $20,000 worth of bulls from Gillett" (Gleason, p. 93). During the 1880s Gillett won more prizes than in any other period, and because of "the winnings of such named animals as Mamoth and McMullen, Gillett became the subject of news coverage in the local and foreign newspapers. Thus, by the decade of the eighties, his home on Elkhart Hill became famous as the home of the Shorthorn" (Gleason, p. 96). In the summer of 1888, Gillett's health greatly declined, and his son-in-law, sometime business partner, and friend, Governor Richard J. Oglesby, arranged for "a special railroad car from the Illinois Central Railroad to take Gillett [and several members of his family] to Mackinac, Michigan [the Gilletts' summer home], where it was hoped he could avoid the heat and recover from 'Bright's disease of the kidneys,' but after a brief period of relief, Gillett died on August 25th" (Mark A. Plummer, Lincoln's Rail-Splitter: Governor Richard J. Oglesby [Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2001], p. 212). Paul Gleason documents Gillett's empire at that time:

"At the time of his death, Gillett owned 20,000 acres in Logan County. Of this number, 14,458.90 acres were held in Elkhart Township; 443.92 acres in Hurlbut Township; and 295.22 acres in Mt. Pulaski Township. The balance of 4,801.96 acres was held in and around Lincoln, Illinois. Lands were also held in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming. These western lands were purchased when people were pushing westward and setting up farmsteads along western railroad routes in the 1870s. Seventeen stores were maintained in Lincoln. These properties were valued between one and a half to two million dollars. Bank stock totaling a million dollars was held in Pekin, Bloomington, Farmer City, Lincoln, Springfield, and Mt. Pulaski. On hand were more than 2,500 head of cattle, 500 horses and mules as well as 100,000 bushels of corn" (p. 100).

     According to Gleason, Gillett was obsessed with owning land, offering the following anecdote, perhaps apocryphal: "Even on his deathbed Gillett had the subject of land acquisition on his mind. When a friend called to offer his sympathy, the sick man confessed that he had made one great mistake in his long and successful career. When the visitor vigorously protested such an admission, the old gentleman said, 'Bend down.' Then looking around carefully to see that no one else would hear, he whispered hoarsely, 'I should have bought more land'" (p. 102). Gleason repeats Gates's observation that that Gillett's will reflected a careful use of the law to leave his estate to his descendants with the "admonition that they follow his example in the maintenance of the ownership of the land" (Gleason, p. 102). Gleason's master's thesis does not go beyond Gillett's death, and Gates's article, "Frontier Landlords and Pioneer Tenants," describes Gillett's desire to see his family carry on with his agricultural enterprise, but says nothing about how the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 posed a potential threat to that hopefulness or whether Gillett's descendants lived up to their patriarch's wishes.

     According to historian Lawrence B. Stringer, "The First National Bank of Lincoln was organized, in August of 1873, with John D. Gillett as president, H.B. Shuler as cashier and the following directors: John D. Gillett, J.S. Randolph, D.G. Evans, S.A. Foley, William M Galliard, H.B. Schuler, and Uriah Warren. The capital stock was $50,000. The bank began business on Oct. 29, 1873, in a building erected on Broadway by Mr. Gillett for a bank building. On March 1, 1882, Frank Hoblit bought out the interest of Mr. Schuler and became cashier. . . . At the death of John D. Gillett [1888], Frank Frorer succeeded him as president" (Logan County History 1911, pp. 588--89). The address of the First National Bank was 515 Broadway, just west across the alley from Gillett's Hall. Gillett apparently had owned all of the buildings on the south side of Broadway between the railroad depot and the Logan County Courthouse, giving him a strategic business advantage in Lincoln. As indicated in newspaper reports later, Gillett had stock in numerous other Illinois banks.

     Bobby Olson, a retired senior bank examiner with the State of Illinois, explains that these one and two dollar bills were "genuine money, printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for the United States Treasury in Washington, D.C. Depending on how many the local National banker wanted, the bank deposited between $15,000 and $50,000 in Treasury securities with the US Treasury, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing sent printed bills back to the local bank. In the early days, the notes had blanks on the bottom left and right sides for the cashier and president of the bank to hand sign their names. Much later, the local officers would sign a form, send it to Washington, D.C., and facsimiles of their signatures were then printed on the bank notes. The Gillett family must have saved quite a few of these one and two dollar bills. They must have been a considerable source of pride for the Gilletts, although it was very costly to Miss Jessie Gillett when the bank failed about 1920. Then, the bank re-chartered, but called itself 'The First National Bank in Lincoln' to distinguish it from the earlier 'First National Bank of Lincoln.' This form of currency could circulate throughout the nation, as it was all backed by the Treasury and the securities that the locals had deposited in Washington. This form of currency was discontinued after 1935." John Dean Gillett's signature, "J.D. Gillett," appears in the lower-right corner of this bill.

     There are not many public photos of the Gilletts (some are in the hands of those who own parts of the former Gillett empire). The following two photos are undated. The photo at the left shows a proud John Dean Gillett with a steer (was it Mamoth or McMullen?) wearing a ribbon prize (Elkhart Sesquicentennial: A Celebration of 150 Years, 1855--2005, p. 14).
 

 

 

     The photo above at right and the photo below, both undated, are courtesy of Bobby Olson. The photo below shows John Dean Gillett and Lemira Parke Gillett perhaps at Mackinac Island, Michigan, during his final stays there.

 

     Information about John Dean Gillett beyond his farming/ranching operation and bank investments is quite limited. An early history of Logan County includes a biographical sketch of him that mentions "In politics he is a Republican, but gives no attention to public affairs" (History of Logan County, Illinois, Chicago, IL: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1886, p. 474). I came across three, obscure references to Gillett and politics. First, from 1880: "It is stated that John D. Gillett, Logan County's largest farmer, intends contesting the election of Allen Lucas, the Democratic candidate for the legislature, who beat his opponent J.T. Foster, by fourteen and one-half majority (the Bloomington Pantagraph, Nov. 15, 1880, p. 2). The second reference suggests that Gillett possessed a sardonic sense of humor: "John D. Gillett, of Elkhart, was asked to support an applicant for the Lincoln post office in opposition to A.D. Cadwallader, the incumbent. His reply was: 'I can't take a position in opposition to "Cad." until his arm stub grows out a good arm, and won't then unless for cause'" (Decatur Daily Republican, Jan. 6, 1882, p. 4). The third reference concerns the question of pardoning the anarchists who bombed the Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886, when his son-in-law, Richard J. Oglesby, was the governor of Illinois: "The feeling of Governor Oglesby's intimate friends at his old home here [Lincoln, Illinois] is that he will not interfere in the anarchist cases. John D. Gillett, Mr. Oglesby's father-in-law, told The Inter Ocean [Chicago newspaper] correspondent today that there was not the slightest fears of any commutation. He spoke with positiveness [sic], and had just returned from Springfield. The Hon. E.D. Blinn, for years the Governor's political advisor, went to Springfield today at Mr. Oglesby's request. Blinn favors strongly an execution of the sentence" (The Inter Ocean, Nov. 9, 1887, p. 6).

     The legend of Mr. Gillett has been kept alive in the 21st century through the oral history of Bob McCue of Elkhart. In a 2007 article in the Illinois Times, Mr. McCue explained: “Gillett hired farmers to mind the grain and bought it back to feed his cattle. When they had surplus grain, they sold it on the open market, and profits were shared with those who worked the land. One year, winter came early with lots of rain, which thoroughly soaked the corn before it could be harvested. His tenant farmers could expect no income from tons of grain about to rot. Gillette told his farmers to bring the grain in anyway. That same year, Hiram Walker, producers of fine whiskey, began in Peoria. They didn’t care if the corn was wet”: https://illinoistimes.com/print-article-4078-print.html.
 

A History of John Dean Gillett and Lemira Parke Gillett's Home on Elkhart Hill and Other Family-Related Sites

     Without mentioning the Gillett courtship at Tantivy, as described above, the Elkhart Centennial History, 1855-1955, identifies John Dean Gillett's residences: "In 1840, after spending two years at Balk Knob, he came to Logan County and improved a farm in Elkhart Township, residing there 28 years. This farm is now [1955] operated by Albert Johnson, and it is just north of Cornland. In 1868 Gillett moved to Elkhart Hill" (p. 7). The high profitability of Gillett's business allowed him to build a mansion on the southwestern slope of Elkhart Hill that was partly surrounded by woods but allowed a sweeping view of the prairie to the southwest, as depicted in the following nineteenth-century drawing. This drawing appeared in the 1873 Logan County, Illinois, Atlas.
 

 

     Locating his permanent home on high ground on the Illinois prairie may have helped to give the John Dean Gillett an advantage that Lord William Scully did not have when he built his home in northwestern Logan County in the early 1850s: "The damp, humid, unhealthy conditions around the newly built Scully White House so undermined the health of Mrs. Scully that late in 1854 she left Illinois, never to return. Apparently she had contracted malaria, which in certain forms was prevalent in the swampy regions of central Illinois. William went with her to Ireland and to France, where she sought to regain her health. Plans were made to put Scully's affairs in Illinois in such an order that the landowner's presence would not be required. Agents could pay the taxes and maintain the value of the properties" (Homer E. Socolofsky, Landlord William Scully [Lawrence, KS: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1979],  p. 31). In fact, for the rest of his life, Landlord Scully employed agents and lawyers to manage his agricultural empire, with headquarters in Lincoln, Illinois. The John Dean Gilletts spent their lives at Elkhart, but only one of their seven daughters did, as explained later. Gillett family members, however, often escaped the heat and humidity of summers on the Illinois prairie by spending time at Mackinac Island, Michigan.

     Bobby Olson provided the undated photo below showing John Dean Gillett having his portrait painted (unknown location). The artist may have been Mr. Gillett's cousin Smith Tuttle. The others in the photo are unidentified, but apparently family members. My opinion is that the people at the left may be Gillett's son, John Parke Gillett, and his wife, Inez. The elderly lady with cap sitting on the porch may be Gillett's wife, Lemira Parke Gillett. Photo source: the Illinois State Historical Library, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

     The image below of John Dean Gillett sitting with binoculars in hand shows the finished painting, which hung in the Gilletts' mansion. The painting reveals that Mr. Gillett enjoyed viewing the prairie landscape of his domain. The second image below shows a contemporary landscape view from the private road to the Gillett mansion. I adapted the following two images from a news report by John Reynolds, "Eight Generations of History on the Auction Block at Old Gillett Farm in Elkhart" [Sept., 8, 2015]: https://www.sj-r.com/article/20150908/NEWS/150909565.


 

     In 1904, as a result of the Gillett Great Real Estate Trial, Susan Emma Gillett Oglesby's son, Hiram Gillett Keays, and his wife, Lucy Herod Keays, owned and occupied the home on Elkhart Hill built by John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett. The Keayses had two daughters, Susan Keays Green (1908--2006) and Elizabeth Keays Drake (1902--1976). After Mrs. Drake's husband's family lost the Chicago Drake Hotel enterprise in the Great Depression, she and her husband moved to Elkhart and occupied the main Gillett farmhouse, where she had grown up. The main farmhouse was called the Drake Mansion. Mrs. Drake made this property her home until her death in 1976. During her time there, this property became known as the Old Gillett Farm, and she became a civic leader in Elkhart. The photo below at left is an aerial view of the Old Gillett Farm in 1955 (John Drury, This Is Logan County, Illinois [Chicago, IL: The Loree Co., 1955], p. 90). The water tower appears at left. The photo of Elizabeth Keays Drake is from Paul J. Beaver, ed., Logan County History 1982 (Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Co., for the Logan County Heritage Foundation), p. 651.
 

 

     Paul Beaver's History of Logan County, Illinois, 1982, includes a loving tribute to Elizabeth Drake by her sister:

     "Elizabeth was educated in Elkhart Elementary School; Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio; Rome, Italy; and Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut. She attended Gregg Business School in Springfield [Illinois] and had a short fling in the business world before marrying William McClellan Drake of Chicago [of the Drake Hotel family]. The Drakes had two children, Susan and William, Jr. After six years in Chicago, the Drakes returned to Elkhart, occupying the old house built by her great grandfather and great grandmother. . . . Elizabeth became involved in farming operations, cattle raising, the school board, and the Household Science Club. Elizabeth was trustee of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, built in 1893 by Lemira Parke Gillett in memory of her husband, John Dean Gillett, and was a trustee of the Elkhart Cemetery Association. For the celebration of the Elkhart Centennial in 1955, Elizabeth wrote the pageant narrative, chose the players, and directed the pageant, naturally with the help of many community members. It was the beginning of the homecomings which have followed annually."

     "In 1959 Elizabeth opened a gift shop known as The Country Bumpkin. She carried commercially made gifts, furniture by order, chintzes, and wallpaper. The location of The Country Bumpkin was directly opposite the Elkhart Grade School on South Gillett Street; a small house on the corner of South Gillett and Stahl Street was made into a lunch place, referred to as The Cottage. Several excellent cooks of Elkhart provided cookies, pies, fudge, peanut brittle, and bread for the shop, and all food at The Cottage was homemade by Emma Catherine O'dell Girdler. It was a most popular and successful venture. Elizabeth moved her shop to the north end of Gillett Street, and it is still in operation. The Drakes' home place was designated a Centennial Farm, having been owned and maintained by the same family for a century. It is named the Old Gillett Farm. Pages could be written about the dependability, steadfastness, strength of character, besides her beauty, wit, and loyalty to all she knew; she was extraordinary. You can well imagine this tribute to Elizabeth Keays was written by someone who admired her beyond words--her sister, Susan Keays Green" (p. 651).
 

     In his 1992 article in the Chicago Tribune, Wes Smith wrote that "more than 50 descendants have legal claim to portions of the Gillett holdings. Among the senior members is Harvard-educated, Chicago architect William Drake [Jr.], grandson of the founder of the Drake and Blackstone Hotels." Smith describes the history of the ownership of the Old Gillett Farm estate by Elizabeth Drake's children, William Drake, Jr., and Susan Drake Dick, and grandchildren:

"The main residence on Elkhart Hill, known as the Drake Mansion, is owned by four Gillett descendants. William Drake [Jr.] was awarded half of the house and its furnishings by his parents. The other half went to his sister, Susan Dick of Lake Forest, who has given quarters of her share to her two daughters: Cathy Carolin of Lake Forest and Elizabeth Keays Bent Pasquesi, known as Lisa, whose family occupies a former guest house just down from Drake. Out of such tangled ownership, blood feuds flourish. And bucolic Elkhart Hill has seen its share of intrafamily warfare. Family members said that in the not-so-distant past, certain of Gillett`s descendants have lived for decades side by side on the hill without exchanging a single cup of sugar, or even a neighborly wave. But in the last few years, the disparate kin have convened for bimonthly summit meetings to promote harmony and determine direction for their increasingly watered-down holdings."

"In 1991 William Drake [Jr.] retired from his partnership in Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, moved out of his Lincoln Park home, and returned to the rambling stucco mansion on Elkhart Hill where he spent his childhood. He intends to paint, work, and protect his portion of the estate for his four children, said Drake, who is divorced. 'I felt it was important that I look after my interests in the farm, and I happen to like the life and the people here,' he said. ''The hill itself is a very unique thing, and we are trying to both preserve and go forward.' Preserving ancestral property is not easy, particularly after its ownership has been seriously diluted over the years. After Gillett died in 1883 [sic], a battle royal broke out among his many offspring. Even today, harmony does not always prevail among the inheritors of Elkhart Hill. For example, as affluent as Drake may be, he cannot remodel the rumpus room or even toss out an old couch in his own childhood home without consulting the family council" (https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-07-02-9202290003-story.html).

     William Drake, however, did not make the Drake Mansion his only home, according to a 2002 Chicago Tribune article titled "The Bare Maximum" by Lisa Skolnik: "Today he splits his time among three residences: the Chicago loft pictured here, a family farm in central Illinois, and a quintessential Modernist cottage in Santa Fe that he designed and built two years ago. His wife, Joanna Carney, also has put her imprimatur on these places. As a photographer whose commercial work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, she has an equally definite design aesthetic. The couple's first residence together was this Wicker Park industrial building, which is an old glove factory they bought in 1993 to accommodate their need for individual studio spaces so they could work from home" (https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2002-09-15-0209150420-story.html). Access this link and scroll for a 2016 photo of Mr. Drake and Ms. Carney at the Art Institute in Chicago: https://www.classicchicagomagazine.com/the-arts-club-of-chicago-at-100/.

     In June of 2017, Gillett descendant Lisa Pasquesi and her husband, Bob, were among the owners of the Old Gillett Farm when the heirs decided to sell the estate, offering 576 acres of farmland separate from the 33-room farmhouse grounds. The real estate company handling the sale of this property included its historic significance in the property description: "The Gillett House is approximately 10,000 sq. ft. and features seven bedrooms, five full baths, a powder room, and its own ornately designed water tower. Hardwoods, handcrafted pine paneling, and finely crafted hardware can be found everywhere and are the sort of details that are rarely found in modern homes. The property encompasses much of Elkhart Hill, the highest point of land between Chicago and St. Louis and where on a clear day you can see Springfield. At the base of the hill is the site of the 1819 Kentucky House where Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and other lawyers of the day stopped on their circuit rounds. It was built on the Edwards Trace, a 100-mile route from Peoria to St. Louis. The only remnant of the trace today is on Elkhart Hill where the wagon tracks can still be seen. The property features tillable land, pastures, protected mature woodlands, a pond, and amazing unobstructed views. This property is offered in ten tracts."

    "Rarely in America, an opportunity to acquire the 785 acre Old Gillett Farm in Elkhart, IL--stately, and historic. Abraham Lincoln was a lifelong friend and the family’s lawyer, Adlai Stevenson wrote some of his presidential campaign speeches on the screened porch, Earnest [sic] Hemingway passed through on his way to Florida. Gillett’s daughter married Civil War hero and Governor Oglesby, and they built Olgehurst, their mansion next door, Gillett’s grand-daughter married William Drake of the Drake Hotel family from Chicago, Carry [sic] Grant played tennis with his wife Betsy Drake, Marshall Field would stop his private train car for mint julips on the lawn, and then Gillett would join Field to travel to the Kentucky Derby. The Old Gillett Farm has been treasured by the Gillett family for over seven generations" (https://www.fineandcompany.com/component/propertylistings/property/historic-old-gillet-farm).

     In mid-summer 2017, the acreage sold for $3.9 million. In mid-summer 2018, the Gillett Mansion with thirty acres sold for $505,000. The following photo of the Gillett mansion is an adaptation one appearing in the online edition of the Springfield Business Journal, July 2017.
 



 

Elkhart Cemetery, the St. John the Baptist Chapel, and the John Parke Gillett Memorial Bridge    

     The photo below is a screen capture of a Google Earth 2013 view of the entrance to Elkhart Cemetery, on Logan County Road 10 just east of the village of Elkhart. The cemetery includes a fenced section of Gillett family graves as well as the Richard J. Oglesby Mausoleum and the grave of Adam H. Bogardus, champion wing shot:


 

     At the heart of Elkhart Cemetery is the St. John the Baptist Chapel, but the grounds of the chapel cannot be used for burial. According to the Elkhart Siltennial, 1855--1980, this structure is the only privately owned, self-supporting church in the state. This chapel was built in 1890 by Mrs. John D. Gillett to honor the memory of her husband and to serve their descendants "for as long as it stands." According to the Elkhart Sesquicentennial: A Celebration of 150 Years, 1855--2005, the chapel grounds in the cemetery are known as Elkhart Grove. There 80 acres of "glebe land" elsewhere set aside for the sole purpose of maintaining the chapel.

     The Culver Stone Company of Springfield built the chapel in the Gothic style with thick walls of Grafton limestone, which is allegedly impervious to weather. The belfry, crosses, and gable ends feature Whitney marble. Construction cost $10,000. The organ is original but has been electrified and moved from its first location in the front of the building to the back inside wall. Carved in the north wall are the names John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett's children and the names of the local men who fought in the Civil War. The cemetery is adjacent to the site of the second Oglehurst, and they are connected by an arched bridge. The chapel has known both funeral and wedding services. In 1899 the funeral of Governor R.J. Oglesby was held in the chapel, with 4,00 people in town for the ceremony [1899]. In 1915 Emma Gillett Oglesby commissioned this arched, cast-concrete bridge connecting Elkhart Cemetery to the Oglehurst site as a memorial to her brother, John Parke Gillett (1861--1901). This structure is thus known as the John Parke Memorial Bridge, also the Gillett Memorial Arch. Landmarks Illinois, a non-profit preservation organization, included this structure among its 2005 list of Most Endangered Historic Places (http://www.landmarks.org/preservation-programs/success-stories/gillett-memorial-arch/). That listing helped save this structure when Logan County highway officials proposed removing it as a road improvement. In 2003 I took the following four photos in Elkhart Cemetery while passing through central Illinois. The cheap, throw-away camera I was using explains why their quality is not better. Henson's photo album of Elkhart Cemetery, August 16, 2019: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Dbp7SCbTGFeaLywT7.
 


 

 

     The above photo at right shows the entrance to the fenced Gillett section of Elkhart Cemetery where most of the Gilletts mentioned in this research are buried. A small part of the entrance to the St. John the Baptist Chapel can be seen through the gate between the columns. Below are photos of the John Parke Memorial Bridge and the memorial inscription on the face of the column at left.
 

     The left gate column of the John Parke Gillett Memorial Bridge contains the dedication inscription, which cannot be seen in the photo above. The close-up at the right shows it. The bridge connected the Elkhart Cemetery to the Richard J. and Emma Oglesby estate, site of their mansion, Oglehurst.
 

 

     The undated photo below at left, looking east, is courtesy of Bobby Olson. This photo shows the cut in the road between Elkhart and Mt. Pulaski where the Gillett Memorial Bridge would be built. Photo source: the Illinois State Historical Library, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Below at right is a screen capture of the 2013 Google Earth view of the Gillett Memorial Bridge on Logan County Road 10 toward Mt. Pulaski. Elkhart Cemetery is to the right of the bridge; the site of the second Oglehurst, to the left.
 


 

 

The Village of Elkhart

     Throughout most of its history, the village of Elkhart has been a quiet, rural community. From its founding in 1855 until the present, the community has had a particular interest in news about the Gillett-Oglesby ranching/farming business, property management and sales; that family's social activities; civic projects; and legal business, including law suits. As explained later, much of the family's legal business of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century resulted from problems related to the alcoholic John Parke Gillett. Only in the twenty-first century has Elkhart experienced bedroom subdivision development. Throughout its history, Elkhart's main business district consists of just one block on Governor Oglesby Street as depicted below. The first image below shows the north side of Governor Oglesby Street in 1908. All the photos below look west, and the railroad tracks and Routes 4/66 were just beyond the backgrounds of the photos. Those alignments ran north/south. These photos show unpretentious buildings typical of a small, Midwestern farm community. In recent decades, the downtown has seen building preservation and renovation as businesses come and go.

 

     The following two images are screen captures of Google Earth imaging done in 2013. They show the store fronts on the south side of Governor Oglesby Street looking west, including a building (boxed in white) that has a stone near the front top reading "1902 BANK 1919." How could this stone designate both a founding and end date unless it marks the site of a former bank building at this site? According to the accounts of the Gillett Great Trial of 1904, John Dean Gillett's only son, John Parke Gillett, was a principal of a local bank (the Elkhart Bank was probably the only one in town). Those accounts reveal that John Parke Gillett had whiskey delivered to his office there. That bank failed. The second 2013 image shows the businesses occupying the building in question, and they continue in 2019. The Wild Hare Cafe is occasionally the venue for special dinner/lectures featuring historians of local and national prominence.

     The first of the above two photos shows that the building with the stone engraved "1902 BANK 1919" was the second one from the corner. The 1908 photo of the south side Governor Oglesby Street shown below, as faint as it is, clearly shows that much older buildings formerly occupied this space (Elkhart Siltennial, 1855--1980), no pagination), and perhaps the larger building housed the bank.

     The photo below shows both the north and south sides of that street in 1940 (Elkhart Sesquicentennial: A Celebration of 150 Years, 1855--2005, p. 48), including the building with the stone engraved "1902 BANK 1919."

 

 

     The greatest contribution the Gilletts made to the civic/cultural life of Elkhart was helping to found its public library. "In 1888, Mrs. Lemira Gillett promised to provide a library for the citizens of Elkhart if they would vote the town dry for three years. This promise was made in an effort to keep alcohol away from her son, John P. Gillett. The town was voted dry, and a Library Association was formed in 1891. . . Mrs. Gillett rented a room in the Gillett Building [bank site?] and provided shelves and furnishings. She gave $1,000, the interest to be used for purchasing books, and her daughter, Mrs. Charlotte Barnes, gave the same with the interest to be used for the upkeep of the library room. On March 5, 1893, the library was opened to the public with H.E. Newton as the librarian and 214 volumes on the shelves. . . . After the death of Lemira Gillett and her son in 1901, Jessie Gillett, another daughter of Lemira Gillett, "promised to build a library building for the town to honor her mother." In 1904 the village elected its first library board and constructed a library (Elkhart Sesquicentennial, p. 42). That building endures and has provided a meeting place for such nonprofit organizations as the Elkhart Historical Society. Below is a screen capture of a 2013 Google Earth image of the Elkhart Library, 121 Bohan Street. Beginning early in its history, Elkhart's economy has been strengthened by its grain storage facilities, as suggested by the large elevator complex seen in this photo.


 

John Dean Gillett's Will


 

     William Maxwell's Ancestors (1971) has no photos, but he describes the above photo of John Dean Gillett: "I have seen a photograph of John D. Gillett, taken when he was well along in years. He has a white beard shaped like the cow-catcher of a steam locomotive, a flower in his buttonhole, and the look of a bouncy man" (p. 160). The well-known tendency for legal proceedings to drag out helps to explain the lapse of time between the death of John D. Gillett on August 24, 1888, and the distribution of his property in 1891. I have no knowledge of the details of legal procedures involved in this time lapse. The following newspaper report summarizes the property divisions.


                                                                                 The Gillett Estate, cont'd.

       
 

The John Dean Gillett Family between His Death and the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 

     During the 1890s John Dean Gillett's widow and some of their children lived in the Elkhart area on property willed to them by Mr. Gillett. One of his daughters, Grace A. Littler, however, died in May 1891, leaving a will in which she bequeathed all of her personal property to her husband, David T. Littler, but she left her real estate to her only brother, John Parke Gillett. According to the above 1891 report on John Dean Gillett's will, his third daughter, Mrs. Katherine Gillett Hill (1855--1935), had inherited three properties in Lincoln besides farmland. On November 4, 1874, she had married James Edgar Hill, and in the 1890s they were living in Lincoln. They divorced in 1902.

     In the 1890s Nina Gillett lived at the of home of her sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Richard J. Oglesby. According to Lawrence B. Stringer, when Richard J. Oglesby retired from the Illinois governorship in 1879, his wife and he built a mansion called Oglehurst on the north slope of Elkhart Hill "upon the exact spot where in 1819, James Latham had settled, the first white settler in what is now Logan County. This was on the northwest slope of the ridge of Elkhart Grove. In 1835, the Latham family had built a house on this site, to take the place of the old double log cabin of pioneer days. In 1890 when the Oglesbys built on this site, only the old chimney and fireplace of the house of 1835 remained. This chimney and fireplace was [sic] used as a nucleus for the Oglesby house, and the residence when completed was known as Oglehurst (History of Logan County, 1911, p. 625). Archaeologist/historian Robert Mazrim offers additional details about the fates of the two Latham cabins, with a slight variation for the date and construction location of the second cabin. Mazrim writes that James Latham's widow, Mary, had lived in their 1819 cabin "for about ten more years" after her husband's death in 1826, when "the 1819 cabin was abandoned and disassembled. Their son Robert inherited part of the farm and constructed a new cabin very nearby around 1838. The site of the first dwelling at the edge of the Sangamo frontier soon became an archaeological one" (The Sangamo Frontier, History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007], p. 156). Other early cabins were constructed in this area.

Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby

Source: World's Fair Souvenir Cook Book

(Chicago, IL: The George F. Cram Publishing Co, 1893), p. 91.

    According to Stringer, "On March 2, 1891, Oglehurst caught fire and burned to the ground. With the house, the contents were also destroyed, nothing being saved from the wreck . . . , the loss aggregating in all about $20,000. Among the property destroyed were various war trophies and various presents made the Governor at different times, the loss of which deeply affected him, and which was a source of regret to him as long as he lived. In 1891, the Oglesbys erected a larger and more imposing structure than the one destroyed by fire, the new structure being erected farther up on the crest of the hill, to the south and east, about one quarter mile from the old house" (History of Logan County, 1911, p. 625). There were unverified rumors that Mrs. Oglesby had set the fire because she wanted a new house and that in the second Oglehurst some of treasured family items occasionally, mysteriously reappeared, much puzzling the governor. For archaeological information about the Latham homestead, see Robert Mazrim, The Sangamo Frontier, publication details under Suggested Supplemental Sources below.

     The new residence, just north of Elkhart Cemetery, was also called Oglehurst--a 32-room mansion--where Richard J. Oglesby lived out his last years, dying after falling and hitting his head on a sharp furniture edge on April 24, 1899" (Oglesby Family Papers, 1845-1938: http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/items/show/482). At Oglehurst, the Oglesbys welcomed "many celebrities of the nation and the world. . . . It has been a long established custom to entertain the tenants of the estate each Christmas, at which time Mrs. Oglesby took personal charge of the dinners." After a life of social prominence in Springfield and Washington, D.C., Mrs. Oglesby spent her last years at Oglehurst, "taking recourse to books for companionship. . . ." Mrs. Oglesby's interest in serious reading was an aspect of the high quality of education that her father took responsibility for providing: "Her father terminated her school days in New Haven, Conn., when she was sixteen years old and placed her under the tutelage of his cousin, a classical scholar who laid out a course of reading for her. Beginning with the Bible, it included Shakespeare, Plutarch, Rollin, Gibbon, Robertson, D'Aubigny, Guizot, Motley, Parkman, and Bancroft. The walls of the library of Oglehurst presented a nearly unbroken array of much worn classics--history, fiction, biography, philosophy, and travel" ("Mrs. Richard J. Oglesby, 1845--1928," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society [1908--1984], 21.4 [January 1929], p. 589). As shown later, Mrs. Oglesby's sisters were also well educated. Clearly, their father, although a rancher/farmer and businessman who was not highly educated, believed in its importance for his children and paid for them to have that advantage.

     The second Oglehurst was a landmark and fabled site of local history. An example of an anecdote from undocumented oral history relates to the only daughter of Governor and Mrs. Oglesby, Felicite. In 1924 she married Count Alessandro Cenci Bolognetti in Rome, and they lived there (like a marriage in a Henry James novel) with occasional visits to Oglehurst. In 2019 Bobby Olson relates, "The great bit of Elkhart scandal connected with the Censi-Bolognettis was that some member of that family had run up an Italian flag over Oglehurst during the Second World War. That was not appreciated locally, but the Elkhartians had to be careful how they approached the family. At length, it was taken down." I had heard a slightly different version of that anecdote in the fall of 1964 when I began teaching on the West Campus of Pekin Community High School. The principal, Robert D. "Bob" Cain, a native of Springfield, learned that I was a native of Lincoln and told me that he had begun his basketball coaching career at Elkhart (and that he had met my dad when he refereed games there). One day at lunch in the faculty dining room, Mr. Cain told the flag story. In his version, the Italian guest at Oglehurst had flown the US flag upside down, and the townspeople were on the brink of storming the mansion to bring the miscreant to justice. (I imagined a mob of rustics with pitchforks marching up the hill.)

     The second Oglehurst is pictured below from (the Lincoln Financial Collection (https://cdm16089.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15155coll1/id/3430). This photo allegedly was taken on the day of Richard J. Oglesby's funeral, April 28, 1899 (Elkhart Siltennial, 1855--1980, no page number). In 1960-61, James T. "Jim" Hickey, the acclaimed Abraham Lincoln scholar and beloved resident of rural Elkhart. Bobby Olson points out that "Mr. Hickey's very nice farmhouse (and party barn) were in Sections 21 and 22 of Elkhart Township" (see map of Elkhart Township in Appendix). Mr. Hickey spent many evenings and weekends at Oglehurst organizing the Oglesby papers in preparation for depositing them in the Illinois State Historical Library, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. For many years in the second half of the twentieth century, Mr. Hickey was the Lincoln curator of the Illinois State Historical Library, described by Mark E. Neely, Jr., as "the greatest Lincoln curator of his generation" (Preface, The Collected Writings of James T. Hickey, 1953--1984 [Springfield, IL: The Illinois State Historical Society, 1990], p. vii).

     Sidebar: Mr. Hickey was educated at Lakeside Grade School, Elkhart High School, Lincoln College, and Western Illinois University. He married Miss Betty Brooker of Mt. Pulaski. In 1960-61 during my freshman year at Lincoln College, I took his two-semester course on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Often with an unlighted cigar in hand, he was a most affable teacher who spoke in a witty, charming, and authoritative manner about every aspect of Lincoln's life and times. Paul J. Beaver followed in Mr. Hickey's footsteps as a Lincoln curator, scholar, and teacher. In 2008 in preparation for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois, Mr. Beaver supported the research I did to write the playscript for the reenactment of the 1858 Republican rally there the day after the last Lincoln-Douglas debate. The playscript included a stump speech that Mr. Lincoln could have given at that time and place. Photos of the 2008 rally/speech reenactment: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Xqbah2vcNZSEoTrq8. In 2010 Mr. Beaver kindly provided testimonial support for my book The Town Abraham Lincoln Warned: The Living Namesake Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois (2011): "It wasn't planned, but Leigh Henson's book fits very nicely with my recently published book [Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834--1860]. Leigh's work basically picks up where my book ends." (For more information about The Town Abraham Lincoln Warned, see link under Suggested Supplemental Sources below.) This Gillett-Oglesby project is one of several that these Abraham Lincoln authorities helped inspire me to undertake in retirement. More at FindingLincolnIllinois.com. This undated photo of James T. Hickey appeared in a memorial tribute to him in The Lincoln Newsletter, a publication of the Lincoln Heritage Museum of Lincoln College (14.3, fall 1996), courtesy of Professor Ron J. Keller. Paul J. Beaver's photo source is Paul J. Beaver, ed., Abraham Lincoln in Logan County Illinois 1834--1860 (Lincoln, Illinois, 2010), p. 195.

     The second Oglehurst stood for about a century, as explained by Robert "Bobby" Olson: "Oglehurst was deliberately gutted for architectural artifacts about 1994 (perhaps several years earlier), and then it was set on fire by the local fire department as a practice drill. I was there the morning of the fire (it was a Saturday, I think). The former owner of the local grain elevator somehow came into the possession of acreage that included Oglehurst [on the north side of the hill/road that connects Elkhart and Mt. Pulaski]. It was always his intention to subdivide this property into building lots for expensive houses. A businesswoman from Springfield bought Oglehurst (building only), and she had stripped-out anything of value, like fireplaces, staircases, etc. These features were probably very nice. Then the businesswoman allowed the local firemen to use the place for a live-fire practice drill. Many persons went up to watch this, and I was in the crowd. The exterior of Oglehurst was a grey stucco material, seemingly not touched for a long time, and my recollection was that the house was in very poor exterior condition. I never saw the inside. The house was built just a few years before Governor Oglesby's death, so it was about 90 years old. Lieutenant Governor Oglesby [son of Richard J. and Emma] lived there after his mother's death (1928) until his death ten years later."

     Mr. Olson notes his family's ties to the Oglesbys: "I was reading Roy O. Schilling's two interviews (on the web) [see link below under Suggested Supplemental Sources] this morning, and he made it very clear that my great-grandmother and her sister were long-time servants of Mrs. Oglesby and that my great-grandmother was Mrs. Oglesby's very last (white) servant. Her sister had earlier been a great favorite servant of Governor Oglesby in his old age. My Great-Grandmother, Mary Schilling Van Fossan (1872--1958) was a servant of both Mrs. Oglesby and Miss Jessie. Her sister, Sarepta Jane Leftwich, was a servant of Governor and Mrs. Oglesby and was supposedly a favorite of the Governor because she liked to listen to his war and politics stories. Mrs. Leftwich and her husband are buried very close to the Oglesby mausoleum. My great-grandmother came directly to Elkhart from Jackson, Ohio, soon after her 1894 marriage to Linza Harvey Van Fossan. My great-grandmother had five Schilling siblings already in Logan County, and my great-grandfather (a teamster by trade) had a younger brother who farmed for the Gillett heirs."

 

     Grace Adele Gillett Littler (1848--1891) lived only three years after her father's death. In 1912, Union General John A. Logan's wife published a book titled The Part Taken by Women in American History (Wilmington, DE: The Perry-Nalle Publishing Co.) that included biographical sketches of the Gillett sisters. Mrs. Logan's account of Mrs. Littler:

"The second daughter, Grace Adeline Gillett, Jacksonville, Illinois, was married in 1885 to Hon. Stephen A. Littler of Springfield, Illinois, one of the most indefatigable political workers of the day. The handsome and well appointed home was the scene of many magnificent banquets given by Mr. Littler to his political friends. Mrs. Littler's presence, personal charm and grace of manner, as well as her beauty, won her many friends. Her love and personal care and munificent gifts to the suffering infants and children of her tenants, and the working classes about her, won for her the love, respect and admiration of all those fortunate enough to be within her sphere of influence. Mrs. Littler lived only a few years after her father's death to enjoy her share of his fortune, but up to that time was interested in keeping her consignment of the cattle, so well known as the 'Shorthorn Herd of John Dean Gillett' up to its well-known reputation, farming and leasing her lands, raising oats, corn, wheat and clover. At her death she left her estate not only intact, but greatly increased in value" (pp. 894--95).

Mrs. Littler "spent $12,500 on her farm in tiling [laying field tiles for drainage] and in building corn cribs, fences, and granaries" (Decatur Daily Republican, Dec. 9, 1891, p. 4), and she bequeathed her farmland to her brother, John Parke Gillett, in "accordance with the will of her father, who required that none of the property be sold or disposed of in any [other] way, and that when any heir died his or her share be left to some other heirs" (Decatur Herald, Nov. 13, 1904, p. 17).

     In 1897 the Chicago Tribune published an article titled "Women as Farmers," emphasizing three Gillett sisters' farming success, and the article was reprinted in the Monmouth Inquirer (Freehold, NJ, June 10, 1897, p. 8, quoted here in part:

"Farming as an occupation for women may not sound attractive to ladies of culture and refinement, but it has been demonstrated by three young women in Illinois that it is both a lucrative and enjoyable business for the gentler sex, and also that they need not lose their taste for the finer things of life in this humble employment. They believe that woman can properly manage any business if she is trained for it and will closely observe all the details and attend to it herself. Experience has taught them that agents were not a success, as they very soon began to trade on the supposed incapability of women as business managers and tried to deceive them by charging for work which was never done. Their farms, which aggregate 4,200 acres, were inherited from their father, John D. Gillett. . . . The young women are practical agriculturalists, having picked up much of their knowledge going over the farms with their father, and yet they are finely educated, speak French, and have a taste for art, literature, and music."

     "They devoted their entire time to the farms for the first few years after they assumed the management, and now the land yields twice as much as it did at the time of their father's death. Corn is their principal product, and the average yield is 60 bushels an acre. They have drained a lake of 400 acres by digging a ditch a mile and a half long. The farms are divided into small sections, which are tilled by tenants with whom they divide the crops. These women ride 30 and 40 miles a day on their tours of inspection, which are not at stated times, so the tenants have no way of knowing when they are coming. Miss Nina Gillett says there is no work she would prefer to farming and thinks a woman who has a knowledge of the subject and some experience is just as good a farmer as a man. Miss Amy is quite as much in love with the business, and, while they believe in all the science, they rarely indulge in experiments, but trust to the agricultural experiment stations to enlighten them as to what may or may not be done with land." Note: The beginning of this article refers to three Gillett sisters but names only two. The third was probably Jessie Dean Gillett. In 1897 Nina was 43; Amy, 40; and Jessie, 38.

     In 1897 Jessie and Amaryllis (Amy) were living with their mother, Lemira Parke Gillett, who owned 5,000 acres near Elkhart, Mt. Pulaski, and Lincoln, and most of that land "was rented for grain." Jessie and Amy each owned about 2,000 to 3,000 acres. John Parke Gillett and his wife, Inez Mermier Gillett (1862--1942), lived on their own farm, named Graceland. William Maxwell called it Gracelands. Others spelled it Grace Lands. I use Graceland because that was the spelling most commonly used by John Parke Gillett's contemporaries. Graceland, consisting of 6,000 acres, was about five miles from his mother's home. John Parke Gillett helped Nina Gillett manage her land. "All of the land is devoted to grass, corn, and cattle. The owners hire their corn raised and pay 10 cents per bushel for the work of planting, tending, husking, and delivering. Last year [1896] the tenants made more than the owners and probably will this year. Much of the land yielded 80 bushels to the acre. The heirs are all good landlords and are well liked." Another sister, Mrs. Charlotte Barnes, lived in Decatur. She owned 1,600 acres near Elkhart, and it extended north toward Broadwell. Her land included 800 acres of blue-grass pasture that had never been plowed. She rented that land to her brother and other acreage to tenants (Decatur Weekly Republican, Aug. 5, 1897, p. 7). Although the following photo is undated, it was most likely taken toward the end of the nineteenth or early twentieth century because Mrs. Oglesby and her son, Hiram, were then in the farming business together.
 

John Parke Gillett's Personal and Family Problems    

     Despite the success of the Gillett farms, the alcohol abuse of John Parke Gillett (1861--1901) caused scandal and family legal problems that threatened to diminish the Gillett empire. I found no information about John Parke Gillett's childhood or youth, including his education. In October 1899, John Parke Gillett's wife, Inez Mermier Gillett, brought suit against him for excessive drinking, with an injunction preventing Mr. Gillett from "disposing of his property." Little is known about the Gilletts' marriage. She was from Brooklyn, New York, and they were married in Chicago. A report in the Decatur Herald, October 9, 1899, arguably reveals more about this troubled marriage than any other source:

"Mrs. Gillett in her petition alleges that she was married to Mr. Gillett in February 1878 [another source says 1887], and has lived with him until October 4, 1899. They have no children. In 1894 Mr. Gillett began using liquor to excess, and since then has, most of the time been under its influence. His health has been broken down, and he is now a physical and mental wreck. He imagines that people are trying to injure him and oftentimes accuses his wife of acts which she never committed. Several times in public places he has applied vile names to her, greatly to her mortification. Once it is alleged he requested that she fasten a handcuff which he had had to his wrist and attach the other end to the bedstead, lest he should attempt to kill himself and her. Last Wednesday, the 4th, occurred the trouble which caused their separation. It is said that her husband attempted to choke her, and in the confusion she struck him on the nose, causing it to bleed. He looked for his shotgun to shoot her and she fled from home and has not been back since. Mrs. Gillett believes that her husband's treatment of her is not caused by natural depravity of heart but results from his weak mental condition caused by the excessive use of whiskey. He was a kind and affectionate husband before he became crazed from drink. Mr. Gillett is 32 years of age [actually he was 38] and resides on a farm of 2,500 acres near Elkhart. Besides this he owns 1,800 acres in the southern part of the county and has personal property valued at $100,000. His income is $25,000 per annum. Mrs. Gillett desires a sum sufficient to properly maintain herself and to live apart from her husband. Blinn and Harris are her attorneys" (p. 10).

     On January 19, 1900, John Parke Gillett's wife obtained a divorce. "In the settlement Mr. Gillett conveyed to Mrs. Gillett for the period of her natural life 1,500 acres of land from which she will derive the income. The settlement was signed at Dwight, Ill., at which time Mr. Gillett signed his name in a bold and firm hand" (Decatur Herald, Jan. 26, 1900, p. 2). John P. Gillett was in Dwight at a facility for treating alcoholism. After the divorce when Gillett's ex-wife moved to New York and soon remarried, she increased her Logan County farmland holdings in 1903 by purchasing twenty-six acres in section 27 in Elkhart Township during a public sale decreed by the Logan County Circuit Court. She paid $82.00 per acre (Decatur Daily Review, March 15, 1903, p.1). Section 27 is southeast of the village of Elkhart, and this purchase may have been adjacent to or near the acreage she received in the divorce. One of the properties John Dean Gillett had owned in downtown Lincoln was the Lincoln House (hotel), at the southeast corner of Broadway and Chicago Streets, and during this court-ordered sale, Erastus W. Bates, farm manager of the Gillett estate, bought the Lincoln House for $35,250. He outbid Lincoln resident Frank Atlass, who later founded the WBBM radio station in Lincoln before moving it to Chicago.

     Sidebar: The Lincoln House was the most-historic property that the Gilletts owned in Lincoln. The most thorough history of the Lincoln House is a twenty-four-paragraph article by James T. Hickey (1922--1996) in the Centennial Edition of the Lincoln Evening Courier (Wednesday, August 26, 1953), p. 8. Mr. Hickey's research for this article included news stories published in the Lincoln Herald. The original Lincoln House was built in 1854 by the town founders (John Dean Gillett, Virgil Hickox, and Robert B. Latham), being destroyed by fire on April 10, 1870. Hickey writes: "It was in this hotel that Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, Judge David Davis, Ward H. Lamon, Leonard Sweat, Richard Yates, and many other famous men of that day stayed while in Lincoln." Abraham Lincoln first met sculptor Leonard Volk in front of the Lincoln House during the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, and at that meeting Lincoln agreed to meet Volk in Chicago at a later, as-yet-undetermined time in order to make the now-famous life mask. The picture below, from the Logan County Plat Book of 1910, published by the George A. Ogle & Co. (134 Van Buren St., Chicago, Illinois), shows the second Lincoln House, which Gillett built in 1875. The photo is contemporaneous with the 1904 Gillett trial, and most likely some of the out-of-town trial participants stayed at the Lincoln House. The interurban car in the photo suggests some of them may have used that railroad to travel to Lincoln. Some time early in the twentieth century, the top three floors of the Lincoln House were removed. Some of the first-floor structure of the 1875 construction perhaps remains in today's building at that site.

         Back in Brooklyn, the divorced Inez M. Gillett soon became engaged to William Arbuckle Jamison, and they married in December 1902. Mr. Jamison (1863--1928) was a business executive: his two brothers and he owned a prosperous company that imported coffee and refined sugar. William Jamison was college educated, served as a director of several financial institutions, and was president of the Jay Street Connecticut Railroad. His membership in several clubs suggests that he and his wife were socially prominent (Brooklyn Life and Activities of Long Island Society, July 7, 1928, p. 3). Inez M. Jamison did not return to Illinois to testify in the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904, but over the years she apparently communicated with some of her former in-laws and remained on good terms with them. For example, in May 1919, Inez Jamison and her husband hosted Felicite Oglesby and her mother, Emma Gillett Oglesby, in New York City when Felicite returned to the United States after working for the American Fund for French soldiers wounded in World War I (Decatur Daily Review, May 22, 1919, p. 8.). Apparently before her divorce from John Parke Gillett, Inez Jamison had established a friendly relationship with Emma Gillett Oglesby. For example, in October 1896, Inez Jamison traveled with Governor and Mrs. Richard J. Oglesby--without Inez's then-husband, John Parke Gillett--to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the wedding of Mrs. Oglesby's son, Hiram Keays. Also Hiram Keays and his bride spent their honeymoon at the "beautiful country place Grace Lands" (Indianapolis Journal, October 15, 1896, p. 8).

     Well into her new life in the East, Inez Jamison retained ownership of her Illinois farmland. According to William Maxwell's account later in this webpage, she employed her divorce attorney, Edward Dunallen Blinn, to manage Graceland, then consisting of 2,000 acres. After Mr. Blinn's death in 1913, Graceland was managed by John Dean Gillett Oglesby, aka John Gillett Oglesby (1878--1938), a son of Governor Richard J. and Emma Gillett Oglesby. John Dean Gillett Oglesby (AKA John D.G. Oglesby and John D. Oglesby) was a Harvard-educated Army major who served in the Spanish American War and later in the US House of Representatives (1906--1910). He was promoted to colonel. He served twice as Lieutenant Governor of Illinois: 1909--1913 and 1917--1921. He also managed his mother's Oglehurst Farms and Graceland. Below is a photo of John Dean Gillett Oglesby at Oglehurst in 1935 when he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Illinois Governor in 1936. He failed to get that nomination. He had worked in the Illinois Executive Mansion as a private secretary to Governor Yates, and he had socialized and courted his first wife there, but he was unable to fulfill a desire to follow his father's footsteps as a resident. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Journal-Register.

     The following autobiographical sketch of John Dean Gillett Oglesby appeared in Harvard College Class of 1900, Secretary's Fifth Report, October, 1921, (Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press), p. 358: "Born at Decatur, Ill., March 19, 1878; Prepared at St. Mark's School, Southboro, Mass.; In college: 1896--1898; Occupation: farmer; Address, Elkhart, Ill. Left college in 1898. Spanish-American War, Capt. Troop K, 1st Ill. Vol. Cavalry--Acting Major, 3rd Squadron. 1899--worked in Republic Iron and Steel Works; 1900--private secretary to Governor of Ill.; 1904--elected to House of Representatives of Ill.; 1906--re-elected; 1908--elected Lieutenant-Governor of Ill.; 1912--renominated but defeated in election; 1916--elected Lieutenant-Governor of Ill.; term expires 1921. Served since 1895 in Ill. National Guard, Private, 1st Lieut., Lieut.-Col., Col. 1917--1919. Manager of Oglehurst Farms of four thousand acres of Mrs. Richard Oglesby of Illinois, also of Grace Land Farms of two thousand acres of Mrs. William A. Jamison of New York City. Member: University and Chicago clubs, Chicago; Sangamo and Illini Country clubs, Springfield, Ill. War Record: Ordered before U.S. Army Examining Board, Central Dept., at Chicago in fall of 1918. Passed examination as Major, Adjutant-General's Dep't., and as Major, Inspector-General's Dept. Commissioned in Adjutant-General's Dept. Later transferred as Major in Inspector-General's Dept. U.S. National Guard--not ordered to active duty. Served as member State Council of Defense of Illinois, 1917--1919."

     Besides being blown in the shifting winds of politics, John G. Oglesby had personal and family challenges. In 1902, concerned that his younger, twenty-year-old brother was going to marry irresponsibly in haste, John G. Oglesby "telegraphed New York police to arrest his brother, Jasper Oglesby, whose engagement to Miss Rogers after two days' acquaintance on the St. Paul [steamer ship] was announced on its arrival in New York harbor." As the guardian of his younger brother, John G. Oglesby said he was taking precautions (The Decatur Herald, April 3, 1902, p. 1). John G. Oglesby's first marriage ended in divorce during a period when divorce was a scandal. The marriage began with controversy because he kept it a secret for a while. His mother was a socialite on the world stage, and she disapproved of the woman her son was first engaged to: "It is reported that Colonel Oglesby's mother, who is now in Italy, was violently opposed to the union and that she threatened to disinherit her son if he married Miss Ames. His mother had looked for a more brilliant match from a social point of view for the son of a United States senator, a major general, and a governor of a great state" (The Hutchinson News, Jan. 21, 1904, p. 1). The year following his first marriage, his wife divorced him with an accusation of desertion and received a generous alimony (Freeport Journal-Standard, Aug. 31, 1905, p. 3).

     In 1912 various newspapers were overly eager to report that John G. Oglesby had secretly married Maude Lee Byrum of Chicago, probably excited by the prospect that a second, hasty marriage would end as scandalously--and as newsworthy--as the first. "Lieutenant Oglesby obtained a furlough several months ago and went to the old Oglesby summer home at Elkhart, near Lincoln, ILL. Here he kept bachelor hall and lounged about the country hunting and fishing, with never a thought to the gentle art of making love. Five weeks ago Miss Byrum went to Elkhart to spend a few weeks on the estate of an uncle, J. Meister. The western boundary line of this estate forms the eastern edge of the Oglesby farm. The young couple literally had their first meeting with a fence between them. For a week the young lieutenant and the Chicago miss met casually. Then, quite suddenly, they began devoting the larger share of their time to the society of each other. Twenty days after their first introduction, both disappeared. A day later the uncle of the young woman received a telegram from Milwaukee" that Mr. Oglesby sent to announce his marriage to Miss. Byrum. Mr. Oglesby's mother did not learn of this news until she returned to Oglehurst some time later (The Inter Ocean, Aug. 27, 1912, p. 1). This newspaper obviously enjoyed publishing a salacious report about a member of a prominent family, but it should have checked its facts. This newspaper published a correction the following day, without an apology: "The wedding was that of the brother of Lieutenant Governor Oglesby, Jasper Oglesby . . . (The Inter Ocean, Aug. 28, 1912, p. 1). In 1929 John G. Oglesby married Sara Augusta Smith. PDF of news reports about John G. Oglesby: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/JDGOglesbynewspaperarticles.pdf. John Dean Gillett Oglesby at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Oglesby. He died childless in 1938 at the age of sixty. His memorial at Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39511130/john-dean_gillett-oglesby. This memorial incorrectly cites Maude Lee Byrum as one of his wives.

     John G. Oglesby's younger brother, Jasper Ernest "Jap" Oglesby, was a difficult person. At eleven he ran away from home, and his adult behavior was sometimes reproachable. His "black sheep" status may explain why he was not interred in the Oglesby Mausoleum at Elkhart Cemetery with his distinguished parents and brother but in an ordinary grave in the nearby but somewhat obscure Latham-Thompson Cemetery. PDF of news reports about Jasper Oglesby: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/JasperOglesbynewsreports-3_opt.pdf. Memorial at Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18695306/jasper-ernest-oglesby.

The Wills of Lemira Parke Gillett and John Parke Gillett, and Consequential Legal Actions

     The farmland that John Parke Gillett lost in his divorce caused enough concern throughout the Gillett family that in May of 1900 his mother attempted to have her son "declared insane. . . . It is alleged that the [divorce] settlement was not satisfactory to the family, members of which objected to such an estate passing out of their control. It is also alleged that Mr. Gillett has made his sister, Mrs. Katherine Hill, the sole beneficiary of his will, involving an estate of $500,000. This is said to be another reason why the family seeks to have him declared insane. Mr. Gillett has retained lawyers with instructions to spare no expense in resisting the action" (Decatur Daily Review, May 21, 1900, p. 3). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Mr. Gillett was "arrested on the charge of insanity and would be examined in the Logan County Court. It is charged that his mind has been so affected by the excessive use of alcoholic liquors that he is unable to conduct the business of his extensive estate and is dangerous." This news report concluded by mentioning that Mr. Gillett was "the brother-in-law of the late Gov. Oglesby of Illinois," who died just the year before (May 20, 1900, p. 2). Lemira Gillett dropped this charge against her son just before his sanity trial began.

     John Parke Gillett died on September 8, 1901, and his mother just two weeks later, on September 21, 1901. According to a news report in the Decatur Herald, she died of "typhoid-pneumonia" as a result of a cold she developed while traveling from her summer home on Mackinac Island to her home at Elkhart because of her son's death. That report claims after her son's death, Mrs. Gillett told her family that "there was nothing more in this world for her to live for," and the report eulogizes her for a long life and for doing her "duty as a wife, a mother, a friend, and a neighbor. Her work was confined by bounds of home, and there-from comes more credit, more affection, and more lasting appreciation" (Sept. 22, 1901).
 




     The deaths of John Parke Gillett and his mother set off years and years of legal proceedings, some of whose main developments were covered by newspapers, yet so much of these plot-twisted struggles will probably never be known--the subjects are esoteric, and pertinent legal document are buried in archives of the Logan County Courthouse and perhaps in other courthouses. An early indication of conflict and legal dispute among the Gillett heirs over their inheritance appeared in the fall of 1901. First, Jessie Dean Gillett, "as executrix of the last will and testament of Lemira Gillett and as administratrix debonis non (the person appointed by a probate court to finish probate proceedings when the executor or previous administrator cannot finish the job) of the will of John P. Gillett, filed a suit vs. Nina L Gillett, Emma S. Oglesby, Charlotte Barnes, Joan Gillett Barnes, William Barnes, Jr., Charlotte L. Barnes, trustee, Inez M. Gillett, Amaryllis ("Amy") T. Gillett, Mary C. Hill, and David T. Littler to settle the ownership of bank stock held by the estates" (The Decatur Daily Review, Nov. 14, 1901). Jessie Dean Gillett must have taken this legal action against other family members because they, too, wanted control over the Gillett estate, worth millions. The disposition of bank stock was complicated because John Dean Gillett had owned stock in several central Illinois banks, and some of them had failed. Additionally, some of the heirs designated in John Dean Gillett's will had died: his son, wife, and a daughter, Grace A. Littler.

     Other early indications of internal family conflict concerned Inez M. Gillett, widow of John P. Gillett. She had filed a suit in the Logan County Court to retrieve "certain articles of property belonging to the estate. Her petition stated that three of her ex-sister-in-laws--Mrs. Katherine Hill, Amaryllis (Amy) Gillett, and Jessie Dean Gillett--knew of the missing property, or had it in their possession" (Decatur Daily Review, Nov. 25, 1901, p. 1). This petition resulted in a tense hearing that suggests acrimony in the Gillett family:  

     Early in 1902 Judge McCormick of the Logan County court made his ruling, as reported in the Decatur Herald, Feb. 8, 1902: The judge found that "Jessie D. Gillett has in her possession the property of John P. Gillett--one letter copying press, set platform scales, mahogany round table, old-fashioned bureau desk, and hair mattress. Mary C. [Katherine] Hill has a gold watch and chain, ice box, pipe rack, certain checks, receipts, letters and contracts, two affidavits bearing on the sanity of John P. Gillett, and a steamer trunk. The court therefore orders that said property be delivered to Inez Gillett within thirty days. It is further ordered that the clerk furnish Inez M. Gillett a true copy of a lease from John P. Gillett and Mary C. Hill to Edward Schilling and Frank M. Madison to the Lincoln house [hotel] barber shop. The costs are ordered paid by Inez M. Gillett and Jessie D. Gillett, administratrixes in question, and Mary C. Hill (Katherine), the costs to be apportioned. The articles in the controversy eliminated represent fifty-seven articles, worth from $90 down to 5 cents. Twenty-three articles involved in the controversy could not be found" (p. 2). Not all of the items in dispute were trivial, for the "affidavits bearing on the sanity of John P. Gillett" could have potential significance in the 1904 trial. Another 1902 court finding further suggests division in the Gillett family: "In the case of Amaryllis T. Gillett vs. Emma s. Oglesby, suit for partition, by agreement of all parties in open court, $6,000 was taxed as costs for solicitors' fees, $5,000 of which is paid to R.C. Maxwell and Hoblit & Smith and $1,000 to Beach, Hodnett & Trapp and Blinn & Harris. This is the largest fee ever allowed in a case in the Logan county circuit court" (Decatur Herald, Feb. 26, 1902, p. 8).

     The legal proceedings relating to the disposition of bank stock made their way from the Logan County Court to the Illinois Appellate Court to the Illinois Supreme Court, which rendered a nineteen-page decision on April 20, 1904. This finding meant that the disposition of a considerable amount of bank stock would be governed by Lemira Parke Gillett's will, not that of her son, with the bottom line meaning that Jessie Dean Gillett lost, and her sister, Emma Susan Oglesby, won. Before the Supreme Court's ruling on Gillett bank stock, Jessie Dean Gillett in early January 1903 filed a suit against Emma Susan Oglesby; her son, Hiram Keays; and Inez M. Jamison (John P. Gillett's widow had remarried--a New York millionaire--in December 1902) "for the purpose of breaking the will of the late John P. Gillett" (Decatur Review, Jan. 21, 1903, p. 8). That suit led to the sensational, complicated 1904 trial.
 

William Maxwell's Account of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

     William Maxwell's analysis of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 appears in Ancestors: A Family History (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University Press, 1971), which his biographer, Barbara Burkhardt, describes as a pivotal work in Maxwell's artistic development:

"As a nonfiction family history Ancestors is not often mentioned among the novels and stories that built Maxwell's reputation as a distinguished fiction writer Yet, although it may seem a tangent in his canon, a documentary interlude, it actually becomes an artistic turning point leading directly to the complex and powerful fiction of his late career. . . . Ancestors served as a narrative laboratory of sorts for experimentation with point of view, new self-consciousness, and a break from chronological storytelling. Here, he began to blur boundaries between fact and fiction; even as he wrote fully researched accounts of his ancestors, he acknowledged the limits of historical knowledge and documentation" (William Maxwell: A Literary Life [Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2005] p. 209).  "Ancestors suggests Maxwell's emerging focus on the artificial boundaries between nonfiction and imaginative narrative, between what happened and what might have been. He has arrived at the threshold where fiction borders 'reality,' history, and memory--the fertile territory he explored to the end of his career" (p. 218).

Maxwell's treatment of the 1904 Gillett trial illustrates his realization of "the limits of historical knowledge and documentation," and he confesses this awareness midway in his analysis of the trial, as seen below.

     William Maxwell's paternal grandfather, Robert Creighton Maxwell, was a lawyer for the Jessie Dean Gillett faction, and Maxwell's maternal grandfather, Edward Dunallen Blinn, was a lawyer for the Emma Susan Oglesby faction. In Ancestors Maxwell describes that dispute, and one of his sources was surely John Dean Gillett Hill, a grandson of John Dean Gillett. Mr. Hill was one of Maxwell's father's best friends living in Lincoln and who in turn became one of Maxwell's friends "during the last years of his [Hill's] life" (Ancestors, p. 158). Maxwell gives a brief, revealing cameo of John Dean Gillett Hill in his 1984 reminiscence titled "My Father's Friends" (All the Days and the Nights, NY: Vintage Books). Maxwell recalls a conversation he had with Mr. Hill on the day after Maxwell buried his father: "Everything that he had to say interested me because of its originality and wisdom. While living all his life in a very small Middle Western town and keeping an eye on his farms, he had managed to be aware of the world outside in a way that no one else there was" (p. 172). Mr. Hill, a Harvard-educated lawyer, inherited family farms and managed them as well as other farms owned by his sister, Lemira McClure Hunt, as explained later. Maxwell corresponded with Mr. Hill (All the Days and Nights, p. 271), but I did not find evidence of that correspondence when I browsed the catalog of Maxwell's papers held at the University of Illinois: https://archives.library.illinois.edu/rbml/?p=collections/controlcard&id=1.

     Maxwell writes: "John D. Gillett's death gave rise to a Balzacian novel. Part I has to do with his will. In devising [sic] his land to his children he gave his only son, John Parke Gillett, a double portion and so set the plot of the novel in motion. He also left his widow a lifetime interest in 3,800 acres of land and personal property worth $100,000. In Part II she died, and her children could not come to an agreement as to how her share of the estate could be divided, so it was owned by the heirs in common. In Part III one of the sisters died and willed her share to her brother. With what was eventually going to come to him from his mother, he ended up owning seven-sixteenths of the original estate. In Part IV he made a will in which he left the bulk of his property to Miss Jessie Gillett, my Grandfather Maxwell's client. In Part V he added a codicil in which the same property was left to Mrs. Oglesby and a nephew. In Part VI he died and the sisters, waiting to be informed of the time and place of the reading of the will, were informed, instead, that the will could not be found . . ." (p. 160).

     "The will, or a will, of John Parke Gillett must have turned up, because in Part VII certain of the sisters tried to have in set aside on the ground that their brother was insane. In Part VIII the plot becomes dizzying. Two of the sisters would combine forces against the others, and then they would have a falling out, and there would be new combinations. What was being fought over was, at a rough estimate of its present-day value [1971], five or six million dollars. I still don't know anything like the full details of this immensely complicated story; the broad outlines I got partly from a newspaper clipping in my grandmother's scrapbook and partly from a Lincoln lawyer, a man of my father's generation. He was a schoolboy when all of this happened and was present at the trial" (Ibid., p. 161). Maxwell's correspondence with John Dean Gillett Hill may have touched on the subject of the trial, but I found no reference to such correspondence in Maxwell's papers archived in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

     Maxwell's account continues: "'Practically every lawyer in the county was involved in the case,' he wrote me, when I asked him about it. 'Your Grandfather Blinn was one of the battery of lawyers representing Mrs. Oglesby, and apparently by questionable means he had got hold of some highly useful letters. He would get one of the girls on the witness stand and would ask her a question about certain happenings. After she had answered, he would say with great delight, "I will see if I can refresh your recollection," and then he would produce a letter she had written which contradicted her testimony in some one or more details. It was a great show, and it lasted all summer'" (Ibid.).

     William Maxwell did not write much more about the trial, but he did indicate who won, but I will save the decision and Maxwell's final observations about the trial for later. My research on the Gillett Great Real Estate Trial of 1904 included reports published in the Lincoln Daily Courier, accessed on microfilm, and other newspapers accessed online. I am not sure whether Lincoln Daily Courier microfilm was available at mid-twentieth century when Maxwell was learning about the trial, but even if it did, Maxwell would have had to travel to the Illinois State Historical Library at Springfield, Illinois, to read that microfilm on machines. Maxwell was not mainly a researcher or historian, so he did not make the effort to find and use the microfilm if he knew about it. I, too, would not have made the trip to Springfield, Illinois, because of other research interests, but I ordered the microfilm reels through Inter Library Loan, and read and printed the newspaper reports with machines at Meyer Library, Missouri State University, where I was on the faculty. Of course, I also used the internet.

     To be clear: when I read about the 1904 Gillett trial in Ancestors, I did not immediately go in search of more information about it. Like Maxwell, I did not know when it happened. Some time in the early 2000s, I stumbled across the news reports of the trial as I read microfilm of the Lincoln Courier from general curiosity about the history of Lincoln. When I discovered the newspaper's accounts of the trial, I printed them but was not sure what I might do with them. At first I thought I might just publish them online as a PDF for interested readers, but I put off that work because of other projects. Then, in late 2018 I decided to research the Gilletts further, creating this webpage to include the full texts of those news reports.

     My research uncovered details about the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 that confirm and augment Maxwell's account. Indeed, at issue was the validity of a codicil of John P. Gillett's will. He inherited the bulk of the estate of his father, John Dean Gillett. The codicil bequeathed the property [mostly real estate valued at $500,000] to Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby, her sister Nina L. Gillett, and Hiram G. Keays, son of Mrs. Oglesby by her first marriage, rather than to Miss Jessie D. Gillett, who was another a sister of Mrs. Oglesby. The original will had bequeathed the property to Jessie D. Gillett. Aligned with Jessie D. Gillett were her other sisters: Mrs. Katherine Gillett Hill of Lincoln, Mrs. Charlotte M. Barnes of Decatur, and Ms. Amaryllis T. ("Amy") Gillett of Chicago. The contestants of the codicil based their case upon the charge that John P. Gillett was of unsound mind at the time he signed the codicil (The Decatur Daily Review, July 28, 1904, p. 1). The reason for the charge that John Parke Gillett was allegedly of unsound mind was his well-known alcoholism. The trial lasted six weeks, involving approximately 200 witnesses and eight "high salaried" attorneys and costing $70,000. The trial brought about various plot-twisted revelations and developments, and produced voluminous newspaper reports. Many citizens mistakenly believed the trial would result in a hung jury.


 

The Litigants of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904
 

     The following rare photos of the principal litigants in the trial--Emma Susan Keays Oglesby and Jessie Dean Gillett--are adapted from Ancestry.com.
 

     Biographical information about Emma Susan Oglesby's life before her marriage to Richard J. Oglesby is very limited. From her obituary: "Born Feb. 11, 1845, at Cornland, Illinois, a daughter of John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett. She was married to Hiram David Keays of Bloomington, Illinois, in November, 1864, and he died in 1868. She married Illinois Governor Oglesby in November 1873, at her father's house in Elkhart, Illinois. Seven children were born to them. Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby had preserved to the last much of the beauty and dignity which gave her the reputation of being the best-looking woman that ever occupied the executive mansion at Springfield. Her last days had been spent at Oglehurst, the family estate at Elkhart, with her son, John G. Oglesby, former lieutenant governor." Her obituary also describes life at Oglehurst: https://www.geni.com/people/Emma-Oglesby/6000000073766658923. Information about Jessie Dean Gillett's early life is also lacking. Accounts of her life after the 1904 real estate trial appear later in this webpage. Emma Susan Gillett Keays and Jessie Dean Gillett rest in Elkhart Cemetery. Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby rests with her husband, Governor Richard J. Oglesby, in the Oglesby Mausoleum: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39516437/emma-susan-oglesby. Jessie Dean Gillett rests in the Gillett family section: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43436909/jessie-dean-gillett.
 

The Attorneys from Lincoln, Illinois, in the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

     The following five photos of attorneys are adapted from Raymond Dooley, ed., The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois (Feldman's Print Shop, Lincoln, Illinois, August 27, 1953).
 

     In Ancestors, which again has no photos, William Maxwell describes the above photo of his Grandfather Blinn (1844--1913): "When I study his picture--the fine forehead, the line of the jaw, the mouth half-concealed under a drooping mustache, and the eyes, particularly the eyes, which I know so well because I have known them all my life, they are just like [Aunt] Annette's [a daughter of Mr. Blinn and sister of William Maxwell's mother, Blossom] and they have looked past me so often with just that expression, as of someone staring at life itself" (p. 209). Maxwell writes that one of his correspondents in Lincoln described Mr. Blinn's legal ability: "Your Grandfather Blinn was highly intelligent, a lawyer's lawyer, and during the years when he sat on the bench, an impartial judge. When he was trying a case before the jury and it suited his purposes, he could act the fire-eater" (p. 212). Maxwell notes the friendship shared by Mr. Blinn, Governor Oglesby, and the iconoclastic Robert G. Ingersoll: "The friend who was closest to my Grandfather Blinn's heart was Richard Oglesby. The two men were both of a speculative mind, and among the things they loved to speculate on was the nature of life and death" (p. 226). "It was a rule of my Grandfather Blinn's house that when he and Governor Oglesby were discussing religion, the children could stay up until they fell asleep" (p. 253). At Mr. Blinn's funeral (1913), his law partner and friend, Timothy T. Beach, gave the eulogy, testifying to Mr. Blinn's unconventional understanding of God as "a conscious infinity, an intelligence that he was the Creator of it all" (p. 251).

     William Maxwell explains how Mr. Blinn's work for the Gilletts gave him the privilege of managing one of their prized farms and how that management affected the Maxwell family: "In the will that caused such prolonged litigation [the 1904 trial], John P. Gillett left his widow a large farm with the story-book name of Gracelands, and when she remarried and moved east, she asked my Grandfather Blinn to manage it for her. He managed it as carefully and with as much satisfaction as if it had been his own. I was nearly grown before I discovered it wasn't. On Saturday mornings my grandfather would invite my father to go there with him, on the electric line [interurban] that connected Peoria, Lincoln, and Springfield. And on Sunday the rest of the family would join them for a picnic. The house was old and had been much added onto, and stood in a grove of trees, surrounded by cornfields. The barns were full of blooded stock, to be soberly considered, and there were beautiful walking horses. On horseback, as they walked through the fields, as they wound their fishing reels and with a precise flick of the wrist sent the fly sailing out over the quiet part of some bend in the creek, the two men revealed themselves to each other. My father intended to own a farm himself some day, and everything my grandfather said about the management of Gracelands was of interest to him. But he was also alert to the ideas that were offered his consideration by my grandfather's wide ranging mind, and would not be so mentally alert again until he was an old man reliving his life in the clear cold light of how things had turned out" (Ancestors, pp. 178--79). Mr. Blinn's fondness for Graceland ironically killed him: "To keep down the rats at Gracelands my grandfather imported a ferret, and the ferret bit him on the ear while he was sleeping. This happened on the twentieth of October, 1912. On the fourth of November he appeared in public for the last time, at the funeral of a friend. The family doctor and various other medical men acted out a charade of treatment. There was no cure for blood poisoning in those days, and the center of infection was in the head" (Ancestors, p. 247).

     Lawrence B. Stringer (1866--1942), a lawyer and long-time Logan County judge, published a two-volume History of Logan County, 1911, and his profession gave him a particular interest in practitioners at bench and bar, commenting on the lives of the more prominent ones, including Edward D. Blinn: "It is not the intention in this chapter to indulge in eulogies of the members of the bar still living, but the standing of Mr. Blinn, among the lawyers of Illinois, is such as to demand special historical notice. Mr. Blinn has a naturally logical mind, which causes him to resolve every proposition into its constituent elements. He is a strong man before a court, where propositions of law are to be argued. Mr. Blinn's ability to draw fine distinctions of law, his clear conceptions of underlying principles and his power to make his position apparent, would place him at the front rank at any bar where the English tongue is spoken. He was Chairman of the Republican County Committee for many years, was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1880 and 1884, was presiding judge of the Illinois State Court of Claims from 1889 to 1892, and a presidential elector for Illinois in 1884. He was indorsed [sic] by the bar of the county for Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1907. a position which he is well qualified to fill" (Vol. I, pp. 333--34). Note: Stringer's History of Logan County says nothing about the 1904 Gillett estate trial. Edward Dunallen Blinn, his wife, and children, including William Maxwell's mother, Blossom Blinn Maxwell, rest in Old Union Cemetery near Lincoln: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/144486013/edward-dunallen-blinn. Judge Lawrence B. Stinger also rests in Old Union Cemetery: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/25630423/lawrence-beaumont-stringer.

     Stringer's account of Robert C. Maxwell is shorter than his treatment of Mr. Blinn and indicates that Mr. Maxwell was involved in public service, not just the law: "Robert C. Maxwell was a native of Ohio and came to Logan County in 1866, teaching school until 1872. He was admitted to the bar in 1877 and began the practice of law in Lincoln. He was elected City Attorney of Lincoln in 1878. At different times he held numerous township offices, was a member of the Board of Education at Lincoln and a member of the city council for several years. He was a member of the State Board of Education, from this district, from 1892 to 1896. He died in 1904, and his death was greatly deplored by the entire community. He was a man of kindly impulses and made friends of all with whom he came in contact" (Vol. 1, pp. 338--39).

     William Maxwell similarly offers less information about his Grandfather Robert C. Maxwell than his Grandfather Blinn. Mr. Maxwell died prematurely in 1904 at the age of 54, and he had been less successful as a lawyer than Mr. Blinn: Robert C. Maxwell "had borrowed money from various people . . . , suggesting that his financial circumstances during the last years of his life were verging on the desperate" (p. 167). William Maxwell noted, however, that his Grandfather Maxwell's family believed his legal career had more potential: "Every human life is a story, and my grandfather's story, as his wife and children understood it, was that he was taken ill just as he was about to make a killing. They didn't use this vulgar expression, but nevertheless it was what they meant. He hadn't been as successful as he deserved to be. And to the end of their lives, whenever they spoke of him, their voices were tinged with an unfading regret" (p. 166). The main reason for that hopefulness, William Maxwell suggests, was the expected increase in work after the 1904 Gillett real estate trial from his wealthy client from Elkhart: Jessie Dean Gillett. Attorney Maxwell's role in the 1904 Gillett estate trial will be cited later. Robert C. Maxwell, his wife, and children, including his son, Charles C. Maxwell (not indicated by Find a Grave), rest in Old Union Cemetery not far from the Blinn family gravesites:   https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/132435425/robert-creighton-maxwell.   
 

     Timothy T. Beach was a highly successful lawyer and civic leader who lived in Lincoln. Mr. Beach was born in 1843 and voluntarily served three years for the Union Army in the Civil War, then after the war settling in Lincoln and graduating from Lincoln University (now Lincoln College) in 1870. He was elected Logan County States Attorney in 1872 and served four years in that office in addition to serving as Master in Chancery from 1873 to 1879. Stringer writes of him, "As in the case of Mr. Blinn, Mr. Beach's ability as a lawyer and his success at the bar warrant a violation of the rule of history not to indulge in eulogy of those still living. Mr. Beach is pre-eminently a trial lawyer, and his reputation as such is extensive and wide. As a cross-examiner, he has few superiors. His earnestness in argument, his belief in the justice of the cause of his clients, whose cause he makes his own, his untiring zeal and persuasiveness, as well as his alertness in taking advantage of every point in favor of his position, has given him a standing as one of the leading trial lawyers of the state" (Vol. I, p. 336). (Note: During the 1920s, Mr. and Mrs. Beach owned the historic Postville Courthouse in Lincoln, and Mrs. Beach sold that property to Henry Ford shortly after her husband's death, apparently with the misunderstanding that the courthouse would remain in Lincoln and having seller's remorse upon learning that Ford would disassemble the courthouse and move it to Greenfield, Michigan. For the plot-twisted story of the construction of the Postville Courthouse replica, access http://findinglincolnillinois.com/memoirofpostville.html.) The headline for Mr. Beach's obituary in the New York Times, Sept. 29, 1929, identified him as "A Founder of Illinois State Bar Association." Timothy T. Beach rests in Old Union Cemetery near Lincoln. The Find a Grave memorial does not site his widow, Grace: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83320375/timothy-tildson-beach.

      James T. Hoblit, a native of Logan County, like Mr. Beach, had served in the Union Army and afterward as a States Attorney of that county. Mr. Hoblit also held positions as county clerk and county judge, and at various times had formed partnerships with several other lawyers in Lincoln, including Edward D. Blinn. Mr. Hoblit was involved in several local businesses. Stringer describes Mr. Hoblit as "a credit to himself and to the constituency which he has so well represented. He is a lawyer of ability, as well as a scholar of considerable literary attainments" (p. 332). According to William Maxwell, his father bought the Ninth Street home of the James T. Hoblit family (1910) when Mr. Hoblit had to declare bankruptcy (for unknown reasons). That is the home William Maxwell famously refers to in several works. James T. Hoblit rests in Old Union Cemetery near Lincoln: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/144488326/james-t_-hoblit.

      Below is a photo of Joseph E. Hodnett (1848--1923), the attorney who wrote the controversial codicil that changed the beneficiary of John Parke Gillett's will from Jessie Dean Gillett to Emma Gillett Oglesby (photo from Dooley, The Namesake Town, p. 31). Mr. Hodnett was born in County Limerick, Ireland, on March 5, 1848, and was one of three brothers who immigrated to the United States. Joseph came to the US at the age of 16, "having already acquired a fair education in the schools of his native land. At length he arrived in New York, where he continued for a year, after which he went to the Pacific coast, where he taught school for about six years. There he engaged in clerking in a store but later returned to the middle west, settling in Wisconsin, where he read law. He was admitted to the bar in 1873 and in January, 1874, came to Illinois and read law with Colonel Lynch of Lincoln. He was admitted to practice before the Illinois courts in January, 1875, and entered at once upon the active prosecution of his profession, in which he won distinguished honors and gratifying success. His preparation of cases was always thorough and painstaking, his deductions logical, and his citation of fact and principle ever correct. He argued his cases with strength, lost sight of no detail bearing upon the cause and gave to each point its due relative consideration, never losing sight of the main point at issue. A liberal clientage was accorded to him, and he continued one of the active and prominent members of the Lincoln bar until June, 1909, when he retired from active practice. In the meantime he had become financially interested in a number of business enterprises and is now a director of the Lincoln National Bank [a bank that John Dean Gillett founded, invested heavily in, and served as president]. . . . In 1876 Mr. Hodnett was united in marriage to Miss Mary Shea, a daughter of William and Mary (Dullard) Shea." The Hodnetts, who had nine children, were members of St. Patrick's Church in Lincoln (Stringer, History of Logan County, Illinois, 1911, vol. II, pp. 256--257). Joseph E. Hodnett, his wife. and several of their children rest in Holy Cross Cemetery near Lincoln:  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/133111048/joseph-e-hodnett.

The Lead Attorney for Jessie Dean Gillett: Lloyd F. Hamilton of Springfield, Illinois

     Lloyd F. "L.F." Hamilton (1844--1917), his professional biography from Joseph Wallace, ed., Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County, Illinois (Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1904): "For more than a third of a century Hon. Lloyd F. Hamilton has been recognized as a distinguished member of the bar of the capital city of Illinois. In no profession is there a career more open to talent than that of law, and in no field of endeavor is there demanded a more careful preparation, a more thorough appreciation of the absolute ethics of life or of the underlying principles which form the basis of all human rights and privileges. Unflagging application and intuitive wisdom and a determination to fully utilize the means at hand are the concomitants which insure personal success and prestige in this great profession which stands as the stern consecrator of justice; and it is one into which none should enter without a recognition of the obstacles to be overcome and the battles to be won, for success does not perch on the falchion [sword] of every one who enters the competitive fray, but comes only as the direct result of capacity and unmistakable ability. Possessing all the requisite qualities of the able lawyer, Mr. Hamilton to-day stands among the most eminent members of the Springfield bar.

     A native of Kentucky, Mr. Hamilton was born near Brandenburg, in Meade county, on the 25th of April, 1844, a son of Felix J. and Jane E. (Wathen) Hamilton. The early representatives of the family were natives of Maryland and Virginia, whence they emigrated to Kentucky. On the father's side the native state was Pennsylvania. Felix J. Hamilton was reared to the occupation of farming and followed it in order to provide for his family, but died while yet in early manhood--in October, 1844--leaving to his widow the care on the only son, then but a few months old. Mrs. Hamilton soon afterward came to Illinois, locating in Tazewell county, where her father and sisters and brother had settled in 1833. She retained property interests in Kentucky and frequently went to that state to superintend her real estate interests, but Illinois remained her home until she was called to her final rest. She passed away in Springfield, March 6, 1886.

     The preliminary education of Lloyd F. Hamilton, acquired in the common schools, was supplemented by study at Eureka College [affiliated with the Christian Church, aka the Disciples of Christ] between the years 1863--1864 and then, having made choice of the law as a profession which he wished to make his life work, he became a student in the law department of the State University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and afterward read law under the direction of Judge Schofield of Marshall, Illinois, in 1865. Entering the Union College of Law, at Chicago, he acquired the principles of jurisprudence comprised in the curriculum there and was graduated with honor in the class of 1866.

     Attracted to the capital city as a favorable location and having successfully passed an examination then before the supreme court for admission to the bar, Mr. Hamilton opened a law office in Springfield. He was destined to rise to prominence, not through fortunate circumstances or through the aid of influential friends, but because he possessed energy, determination and laudable ambition. It was soon manifest that he prepared his cases with masterly care and precision, and always entered the courtroom well prepared to meet an attack. He was recognized as a strong advocate with a jury and has therefore been connected with some of the most important cases found upon the docket in this city. He was associated with Judge Matheny and Mr. Knapp as counsel for Robbins, who was tried for killing Bancroft, and they secured his acquittal. The defendant was city marshal and had a warrant for the arrest of Bancroft, who barricaded himself in his house, and refusing to surrender, Robbins shot him. Mr.  Hamilton was also counsel for the defense, with James W. Patton and A. Orendorff, of Thomas Humphreys, who was accused of the murder of Patrick Shaughnessy, and upon the plea of insanity they cleared their client. In the case of Mrs. Arnold, who killed her husband in an altercation with him, she was ably defended by Mr. Hamilton and his partner, Mr. Patton, and her acquittal was secured on the ground that the murder was committed in self-protection.

     Upon coming to Springfield in 1866 Mr. Hamilton entered into partnership with Paren England, and subsequently became a partner of Thomas G. Prickett and Robert L. McGuire. From February, 1882, down to May, 1902, he was a partner of James W. Patton, and that law firm was one of the strongest at the Springfield bar, handling many cases of importance and winning forensic victories which have won widespread attention from the public and the profession.

     After casting his first presidential vote for Seymour, Mr. Hamilton was an ardent Democrat in his political affiliations, until 1896, when he refused to vote for W.J. Bryan. In early manhood he served for two terms as city attorney of Springfield, and on his retirement from that office he was elected states attorney, continuing to serve in that capacity until January, 1877, and winning high commendation for his fearlessness and impartiality in the discharge of his duties. In 1882 he was elected to represent his district in the state senate. Mr. Hamilton possesses a keen intellect, is a logical reasoner and correct in his deductions. He also has a gift of oratory which enables him to present with marked clearness and force the salient points which he wishes to impress upon his auditors. Regarded as a citizen, he belongs to that public-spirited, useful and helpful type of men whose ambition and desires are centered and directed to those channels through which flow the greatest and most permanent good to the greatest number, and it is therefore consistent with the purpose and plan of this work that his record be given among those of the representative men of central Illinois." Lloyd F. Hamilton's memorial at Find a Grave does not include links to any family member, suggesting that perhaps he never married: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/32146263/lloyd-f_-hamilton.

The Presiding Judge of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904: Robert B. Shirley

     This trial was so important to the region--and so many people were caught in the legal and social webs--that a distinguished jurist from outside the Logan County Circuit Court was assigned to ensure competent, unbiased control over the judicial process. This photo of Judge Shirley was taken from a microfilmed newspaper article about him in the St. Louis Republic, Feb. 25, 1901, p. 3. Below his picture is his obituary from the 1915 Proceedings of the Illinois Bar Association, p. 246, and it testifies to his exemplary reputation. Judge Robert B. Shirley rests in the Carlinville City Cemetery, Carlinville, Illinois: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92101399/robert-b-shirley.


 

Ironic Site of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904: Gillett Hall in the Gillett Building behind the Gillett Corner Building

     The Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 began in Lincoln's City Hall--a new Logan County Courthouse was being constructed throughout 1904--but by the third week of the trial the proceedings were moved to Gillett's Hall on the second floor of the Gillett Building on Broadway Street (behind the Gillett Corner Building on the Logan County Courthouse Square). The trial was moved to the Gillett Hall because officials did not believe any room at City Hall was large enough to accommodate the large numbers of participants and spectators involved.

     As the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904 was nearing its conclusion, the writer of the Lincoln Daily Courier's trial report of July 22, 1904, quaintly describes the cruel irony of holding this trial in the Gillett Hall: "Long periods of dullness in the Gillett will contest case have not been numerous or conspicuous. Something of interest happens nearly every day and frequently something objectionable to one or more members of the family, but this was expected when the case was decided to be tried in the courts. For six weeks, it will be written, later, the play house erected by a benefactor of Lincoln for the entertainment of a growing and prosperous city with the imaginary incidents of the past, as well as prophesies of the future, was devoted to hearing  a strange story of the life of an only son--a story stranger than fiction could ever be. In Gillett's Hall, built for a play house is being settled a controversy over the wealth of the builder of the play house, which he in life little imagined would be heard in the hall. Life is a mystery, and man does not know his history will be years following his death. If he leaves as extensive an estate as the late John D. Gillett left."
 

     John Dean Gillett erected two buildings in downtown Lincoln that bore his name, on the Gillett Block, and they appear in the images below. The larger of the two buildings was constructed in 1867--1868 and faced Kickapoo Street--directly across from the western side of the Logan County Courthouse--at the corner of Broadway and Kickapoo Streets on the Logan County Courthouse Square. Judge Lawrence B. Stringer describes the larger Gillett Block building as "three stories in height, built of brick and has a frontage of 80 feet. The first floor originally contained five store rooms, the second floor contained office rooms, and the Masons occupied the third story. The contractor was T.F. Ladue" (Stringer, History of Logan County, 1911, Vol. 1, p. 576.) The picture postcard below also shows the Latham Building, erected by Robert B. Latham, another speculator and founder of the First Lincoln Namesake Town.

     The wide-angle photo below shows both the Gillett Corner Building and the separate, smaller Gillett Building, just to the right of and behind the Gillett Corner Building, that housed Gillett Hall and that faced Broadway Street. Gillett Hall was "57 by 85 feet in dimensions and was the largest hall in the town until the opera house was built. For many years Gillett Hall was not only the theater of the town but the place where dances, lectures, and entertainments of various other kinds were held. . . . In connection with the erection of Gillett's Hall, it may be noted that among the first entertainments given in the hall in 1868 was a lecture by a man whose name is now internationally immortal, Ralph Waldo Emerson. In a four-line notice of his lecture, a local paper referred to the address as 'quite interesting!'" (Ibid., p. 577). The street corner view of the undated photo below shows the size of the Gillett buildings relative to those of other Lincoln businesses (Paul Beaver, History of Logan County, Illinois, 1982, pp. 2--3). The Boyd & Son Dry Goods Store, seen in the photo below, dates to the time of the 1904 Gillett real estate trial. William Maxwell wrote that his lawyer Grandfather Robert C. Maxwell complained about the bill that his wife ran there (Ancestors, p. 161).

     At some unknown date early in the twentieth century, the Gillett Corner Building became known as the Oglesby Building: John Dean Gillett's oldest daughter, Emma Gillett Keays Oglesby, acquired it. Early in 1932 the Oglesby Building was destroyed by fire, as vividly described in the February 23, 1932, Evening Courier headline: "TWO DIE IN $200,000 FIRE--Jacob Van Deventer and Wife Perish as Flames Destroy Oglesby Bld’g--Three Others Escape in Lincoln’s Worst Blaze in a Half Century." For news reports and photos of that fire, access and scroll http://findinglincolnillinois.com/stanstringer.html. The Oglesby Building was replaced by the two-story, yellow-brick Griesheim Building that still stands, as seen in the first 2012 Google Earth screen capture below. The second Google Earth screen capture below is a more-direct view of the Gillett Building on Broadway Street that housed Gillett Hall.

 


 

Newspaper Reports of the Gillett Great Estate Trial of 1904

     Lincoln Daily Courier news reports are the most complete accounts of the trial, but they are not available online through any database, so they had to be ordered through Interlibrary Loan and read on special machines. The dates for the photostatic work that was needed to produce the microfilm is unknown but probably mid- to second half of the twentieth century when the technology left much to be desired, and that limitation accounts for dark splotches as seen in the printout below of the headline and partial text for the June 7, 1904, edition--the first of the Courier reports on the trial. The splotches make some of the text illegible, but fortunately enough of the report text is legible to make the following transcriptions possible. The reporter(s) are unidentified. I have retained the text sequence, editing only to avoid one-sentence paragraphs, retaining the journalist "down style" for punctuation and capitalization. Headings and subheadings appear in bold font.

     The Lincoln Daily Courier news reports sometimes blend editorial moralizing, political bias, and other opinions with factual narration/exposition, and in these ways the reports reflect the journalistic style of the late Victorian age. The reporter(s) who observed and wrote about this trial faced difficult challenges: how to account for dull, routine procedures and lengthy questioning of witnesses, and how to distinguish between apparently insignificant and significant developments. These reports frequently offer generalizations, even vagueness, over detail; and the reports are sometimes repetitious, wordy, and lacking in coherence. I have taken an editorial liberty of using bold font for passages reporting testimony that I consider especially important or interesting.

June 7, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier: "GILLETT WILL CONTEST CASE. Legal Problem to Be Solved Involving Nearly Four Hundred Thousand Dollars in This County. SUIT OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. One of the Most Stupendous Cases Ever Tried in the Courts of Logan County with Brilliant Array of Legal Lights."

     "A law suit involving probably as much as $400,000 was called for trial in the circuit court of Logan County Tuesday, June 7. The case is of such magnitude and importance that Judge Shirley of Carlinville, a learned man in the law and conceded to be one of the fairest and brightest circuit judges in the state, will preside during the hearing and try the case with fairness and impartiality, attributes he possesses to a rare degree.

     This important case involves the estate of the late John P. Gillett and his sister, Mrs. Grace Gillett Littler. John P. Gillett, who died September 8, 1901, left an estate consisting of $50,000 personal property and real estate to the value of $150,000 to $200,000. Previous to August, 1891, Mrs. Grace Littler, his sister, died, leaving him her entire estate of 1,500 acres, more or less, in Logan County, in conformity with the will or wish of her father, John D. Gillett. This estate is variously estimated from $150,000 to $200,000, and the question to be settled by the pending litigation is, who shall own this vast estate, excepting the widow's award, which has been claimed and set apart under the laws of the State of Illinois.

     The heirs in controversy are Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby, sister to John P. Gillett, deceased, and Mr. Hiram G. Keays, nephew of the man who has caused such a controversy, and son of Mrs. Oglesby, who were bequeathed the entire estate by a codicil to the will, dated June 9, 1900. Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays, by counsel, are contending that the codicil mentioned legally and rightfully disposes of the property.

     On the other hand, Miss Jessie Gillett, sister of John P. Gillett, who was made sole heir and executrix of the will of the deceased, dated March 25, 1890, is contending that the codicil is not valid owing to the condition of the mind of the deceased for a period prior to the date of the codicil bequeathing to Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays the estate. In the contention by Miss Jessie Gillett, she is supported by her sisters, Mrs. Katherine G. Hill, this city; Mrs. Charlotte Barnes, Decatur, Ill.; and Miss Amy Gillett, Chicago, Ill. If it is established Mr. Gillett was not in a proper condition of mind to add a codicil to his will, the estate under the will goes to Miss Jessie Gillett, as provided by the will of March 25, 1890. If the legality of the codicil, dated June 9, 1900, is established, following the course of the courts, the estate becomes the property of Mrs. Oglesby and her son, Mr. Hiram G. Keays.

     An effort will be made to establish that John P. Gillett was not mentally capable of transacting business or making a codicil to a will in the year 1900. On May 17, 1900, the deceased was arraigned in the Logan County Court under proceedings to appoint a conservator, but the case was dismissed without prejudice and the June following the codicil to the will was made and over this codicil arises one of the stupendous law suits of the county's history.

     Engaged as counsel in the case are the following gentlemen: For the codicil and representing Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays, Hon. Timothy T. Beach and Blinn and Harris of Lincoln; representing Miss Jessie Gillett et al., Hoblit & Smith, of Lincoln; Hamilton & Catron of Springfield; Hugh Crea, Esq., of Decatur; and Mr. McCarthy of Chicago, expert authority on evidence.

     The sessions of court will be held in the city hall and the case will take ten days and perhaps two weeks of the court's time. More than 200 witnesses have been summoned to testify in the suit and the disclosures may prove sensational if feeling is permitted to extend beyond the bounds of prudence. In law suits involving families feeling [emotion] usually runs high and liberties sometimes taken which strangers would hesitate in taking. The work of securing a jury was begun Tuesday morning and at 3 p.m. the following  were agreed upon for this important service: John Sanders, Christ Strumpf, George Sparks" [at this point splotching makes the text illegible, but the report on the trial's conclusion names them].

June 9, 1904: From the Decatur Daily Review, headline: "CHARGES BRIBE IN GILLETT CASE. Cottle Says He Was Offered $5,000 by Lawyer for Complainant. Lincoln, Ills.

     "A sensation was sprung yesterday in the case brought by Jessie D. Gillett to annul the will [codicil] of John P. Gillett, late cattle king of Elkhart, by Jordan B. Cottle of Chicago, former assistant cashier of the defunct Elkhart bank, who testified that he was offered a bribe of $5,000 to give evidence favoring Miss Jessie Gillett, in the suit.

     Cottle charges that E.F. McCarthy, a Chicago lawyer and an expert on evidence, offered him this sum since the commencement of the suit, in order that the property might not fall to Miss Gillett's sister, Mrs. G. Oglesby and Hiram G. Keays. Cottle says the McCarthy, who is Miss Gillett's attorney, threatened him in the event that his testimony was not favorable to Miss Gillett. . . . [At this point the report summarizes the disparity between John P. Gillett's original 1890 will and the 1900 codicil, with the report continuing as follows.]

      The reason for the codicil, as testified today by Joseph Hodnett, a prominent Lincoln lawyer, is that Mr. Keays had been accommodating and courteous to Gillett [John P.] and that Mrs. Oglesby was more in need of the property than Miss Jessie Gillett. Hodnett's testimony, as also that of Fred S. Mayfield, deputy circuit clerk, and Miss Alice Lar, a professional nurse, who attended Gillett when he was ill at the Auditorium Annex at Chicago, was that the late cattle king was of sound mind when he made his will [codicil] and that he was not intoxicated at the time and was capable of transacting business. Judge James A. McComas of Mason County and Mrs. Mary Cottle of Elkhart, wife of Frank Cottle, who committed suicide a year or two ago, both testified as to Gillett's mental capacity and both denied that he was under the influence of liquor at the time the will [codicil] was drawn." The article notes that John P. Gillett's real estate was valued at $2,000,000 (p. 10).

June 10, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "INSANE ISSUE IN GILLETT CASE. Neighbors and Acquaintances of Long Standing Testify They Believe He Was Competent to Do Business. Experts to be Heard Soon. Promises of Sensational Diversions Before Many More Days Pass in the Trial of Memorable Case So Far Rather Dull."

     "'A house divided against itself cannot stand' is not true in all instances. The House of Gillett has been divided for a few years past over the estate of the only male member, and yet the house stands as firm today as it was the day previous to any differences. The members of the family, in court, represent people of superior appearance. There is not any attempt at shoddy display among them. The ladies present in court, Madam Oglesby, Miss Nina Gillett, Madame Hill, Misses Amy and Jessie Gillett, and Mrs. Barnes are sensible, though very determined-looking women. While individually and collectively they are the possessors of everything to make people happy--wealth, health and culture, yet they are not, because of the cloud cast over the family by the existence of a brother at one time with an enormous fortune and habits causing the present important will contest case, liable before its conclusion to cost a large fortune and certain to produce an estrangement among members of a family who should be the closest and warmest friends. Life is too short to live in such turmoil and strife and far better would it be if all had less money and more peace and contentment. But satisfaction is a strong prevailing element in the human mind and the indication is that when the courts finish a review of the great case all concerned will have obtained satisfaction of an expensive kind.

    As far as the case has thus proceeded, Miss Jessie Gillett, who is contesting the codicil to the will which gave the estate to Madame Oglesby and Mr. Hiram G. Keays, has proven herself a distinguished leader, an able planner and with a remarkable gift of resourceful execution. Accusations made in the opening of the case by counsel Harris have been contradicted and the young lady has been simply vindicated. Miss Gillett, we understand, feels she was wronged in the transactions which deprived her of the estate of her brother with whom she was a favorite. It is claimed by those who are familiar with the history of the case, although deprived of the fortune that she has been willing in consideration of the transfer of the home [her parents' mansion?] to herself and sisters, to withdraw all objections to the balance of the estate remaining in the possession of Madame Oglesby and Mr. Keays. If this be true the offer was a fair and liberal one and if accepted would have been more profitable in dollars and cents and peace and friendship, than the will contest will prove. Madame Oglesby having been favored by her brother without solicitation, her friends claim, and having a large family dependent upon her, thinks she is entitled to possession of the gift and human like, is defending her rights.

     The case is progressing slowly. The decisions of Judge Shirley are prompt, his fairness is conspicuous and his patience noticeable. Very favorable opinions have been formed of his honor, and The Courier takes pleasure in stating the Judge is a member of the great Democratic Party and to be a Democrat is to be fair, honest and just. The principles of democracy inculcate such attributes and The Courier presents Judge Shirley as one of living examples of what a real Democrat is.

     Unfavorable Witness for Gillett [bold in original]. Conductor Fox of the Alton Limited [railroad] was called but did not prove a very good witness for the codicil. He testified that he saw John P. Gillett intoxicated many times and that his wife often deserted him in the train on account of his condition. Certain other questions asked of him [Fox] were ruled out by the court. Laban Hoblit was called and testified to a transaction with Mr. Gillett in June, 1900. He had arranged with Mr. Gillett to buy a bull and went to . . . [11 lines illegible because of splotches]. Patrick Brennen [sp?], who was called and having seen Gillett often, to the last five years of his life testified that he was of the opinion that Gillett was in a good mental condition, but that he had few business transactions with him. After Walter Murphy, who had dealings with Mr. Gillett, concluded his testimony, Edward Nicholson was called and said he had never seen John P. Gillett drunk in his life. He said he was bloated the last two years of his life, but that he always was competent to attend to business affairs. The cross examination revealed the fact that he saw Gillett do a dance-walk in Kentucky's saloon one time in Elkhart. David Herlehe, who only had one business transaction with Mr. Gillett, was soon disposed of. He bought a ton of hay of Eldon, Gillett's agent.

       The next witness and an important one, was Sherman Beck. Mr. Beck often shaved Mr. Gillett while a barber in Elkhart, at times going to the home and other times performing the duty at the shop in Elkhart. Mr. Beck noticed no great change in John P. Gillett mentally. He said that Gillett was an easy man to shave and was not nervous in the barber's chair. He stated that often when he went to the Gillett residence John took a drink. He usually left the bed to be shaved. Mr. Beck said that he noticed that Mr. Gillett's hair turned gray the latter part of his life [John P. Gillett was only 40 when he died.] D.K. Greening of Cornland testified to having transacted business with John P. Gillett and stated that he was not a man of a vacillating disposition but instead was firm. T.J. Henneberry was an important witness. Mr. Henneberry said that to the best of his knowledge John P. Gillett was well able to transact his business in the year 1900. On cross examination witness said that Gillett told him he was sore at his sisters for the estrangement between himself and his wife. Mr. Henneberry asked him at one time to brace up and stop drinking and now thinks Gillett said that he could not stop or something to that effect.

     Much Unfavorable Evidence for Gillett [bold in original]. C.P. Bridges, agent at Elkhart for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, told of Gillett sending a great many telegrams while trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, and said that wording was expressed in a clear and concise manner and [the] witness believed he was capable of transacting ordinary business. On cross examination the witness said the telegrams may have been prepared by [an] agent and his business may have been transacted by [an] agent. Most of the business was done by Ellis Eldon during 1900 and 1901. About July 1900, the agent was asked to have train men cease whistling under threat of injunction.

     Henry Stahl, who had sold goods to Mr. Gillett in 1901, testified of selling the deceased three iron boxes for the keeping of papers. On June 6, 1900, Mr. Gillett talked like a man capable of transacting business. Witness on cross examination said he saw Mr. Gillett, probably six times in 1900 and 1901. At times he would drink heavily when he would be incapable of transacting business intelligently. He gave a cake walk in witnesses' [sic] store in 1901, quoted Shakespeare and sang coon songs. Attracted crowd in front of store and at time was not competent to transact business. Had seen him drink liquor in the bank and knew whiskey was kept in the bank the last few years. (cake walk example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QifiyNm6jG4)

      Captain A.H. Bogardus, who lived in Elkhart from 1857 to 1893, knew John P. Gillett from boyhood. Believing he was man of sound mind until 1900, the last time he saw Mr. Gillett. Thought him capable of doing business. Witness said he knew Mr. McCarthy and had met him at Mrs. Hill's in Lincoln. Was asked by McCarthy to sign papers which he refused to sign. On cross examination witness said he supposed McCarthy had memorandum of conversation. Never told any person what he would testify to. Had never told any one that McCarthy had spoken to him. Gillett drank to excess at Hot Springs, Ark., and became boisterous in 1901. Did not believe he was of sound mind when intoxicated. [Adam Henry Bogardus gained fame as the world champion and US champion wing shot trap shooter, and he invented the first practical glass ball trap. He was buried in Elkhart Cemetery.]

     Close of the First Week. When the circuit court went into session Friday afternoon Mrs. Mary Cottle was called to the stand and identified certain papers, which will be introduced later. The next witness called was Samuel E.W. Ely, who had known John P. Gillett for 15 or 20 years prior to his death. Ely frequently talked with Mr. Gillett, who passed by his home on his way to town. Mr. Ely said he noticed no changes in Gillett and thought him capable of transacting his business. In a conversation with Mr. Ely Gillett said he had a right to give his land to whom he pleased . . . [12 lines illegible because of splotches]. Alva Jaynes of Cornland, who had been acquainted with John P. Gillett for fifteen years and who rented a farm of him in 1896--1897, related in 1890 he had a conversation with Gillett covering a period of fifteen minutes and was of the opinion that he was then sane.

     L.A. Byrrum testified that he was called to the Gillett home in November, 1900, by Mrs. Lemira P. Gillett and that he stayed with John P. Gillett that day from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. He said that Gillett was troubled and that the girls were tormenting him about his property, one wanting to give her this and the other that. They all had enough, said Gillett, he would give them more if they were in need of it, which they were not. At dinner time the witness went to dinner at the invitation of Miss Amy and after eating went to Gillett's room. Gillett then told him that reason he did not go to dinner was because he was not asked. Besides himself at the house that day were Miss Amy Gillett and her mother, Mrs. Lemira Gillett, Rev. and Mrs. Miller, and three servants. He said at that time that Gillett conversed with him and was of sound mind. He could not notice any difference in his condition from what it had always been. Cross examination of the witness brought out the fact that he was called to the house to watch Gillett and that Gillett remained in his room during the entire day, except a few minutes garbed in night dress. The cross examination also revealed the fact that the witness and Gillett both took a drink. Gillett regretted that his wife was not living with him and stated that fact to Byrrum, who was the village watchman. Charles Martin came into the Gillett home at four o'clock and relieved Byrrun, who then went to his home.

     Monotony of Session Broken. The monotony of the afternoon session was broken when Patrick Lee, a son of the Emerald Isle, was called [there were a lot of people of Irish descent living in the Elkhart area]. Mr. Lee rented his farm of [from] Mr. Gillett and paid him the rent in grain. This business required him to talk to Mr. Gillett and he was able to testify that he thought Mr. Gillett had not changed mentally. He approached Gillett at one time, so he said, and Gillett told him he did not want to be bothered. The witness was frank and made his statements with emphasis. Dr. J.R. Pierce, a physician practicing his profession in Cornland [a nearby village] was then called to testify and said that he administered treatment to John P. Gillett at the home of Hiram Keays, near Cornland in September, 1900. He gave it as his opinion that his patient was sound of mind, but said that he came to his illness from the use of alcoholic liquors. The witness said he never saw him before that time. He said Gillett was not irritable and that he advised him to quit drinking. As Judge Shirley is to hold court in Macoupin County Saturday, he adjourned court Friday afternoon at 3  o'clock until 10 o'clock Monday Morning. 

June 20, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "THE THIRD WEEK IN THE WILL CASE. Trial Promises to Be the Longest on Record in Logan County. CODICIL WELL INTRENCHED [sic]. Those Opposing the Codicil to the Will Do Not Seem to be Worried in the Least and Promise Surprising Revelations."

     "Following the intermission from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, the interested parties in the Gillett will case now on hearing before Judge Shirley in the Logan count circuit court resumed the proceedings on Monday, being the third week, with Robert Hughes on the stand in behalf of the codicil, which apparently has already had sufficient evidence to uphold it, unless it is feared the other side will accumulate so much so as to overwhelm the present enormous mass. There were not many in Gillett's hall, the new courtroom, for the present trial. The interest is lagging, due probably to the publication of the evidence in The Courier, which gives the public an idea about the case.

     So far the witnesses for the codicil have been strong and adhere strongly to their stories. It is not true, as asserted by one interested in the case, that on cross examination they are 'torn to pieces.' A fairer class of witnesses were never called in a court room and it is not fair treatment of them to say they are testifying to material facts, not true. The attorneys for the will do not lay claim to such accomplishments as causing witnesses to contradict themselves to any important extent, they relying chiefly on the evidence they are holding back to prove their case.

     Miss Nina Gillett Tells Cause of Brother's Woes. Miss Nina Gillett was recalled by the codicil side and said that she stayed at Graceland for a while when Gillett's wife left him. While there she said that Gillett daily expected his wife to return and every time he heard a carriage in the driveway he expected to see her. She identified a letter from Gillett to his sister, Emma Oglesby, in which he said that the family kept him in hot water and they were all getting crazy. First they wanted one thing and then another. Said he would not sign certain papers. He said in the letter that he wished to keep peace in the family and said that he had assumed a big obligation.

     Cross Examination. Witness identified a letter which she wrote to her sister, Mrs. K.G. Hill between the time she left Graceland and went to Europe. She thought his condition would be benefited by a trip to a sanitarium. The opposing attorneys consumed much time in the examination of the letters.

     A Witness Who Knew a Great Deal. Robert Hughes, a farmer 3 miles east of Elkhart, knew Gillett from March, 1890, until his death. He farmed for Gillett and made contracts with him personally. Saw Gillett in December, 1900, at the home to borrow money. Gillett was sick in bed and remained with him from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon at Gillett's request. Gillett was sober and said he blamed his mother and sister, Jessie, for trouble with his wife. Said Mrs. Oglesby was the only sister he had that treated him with respect. He said he would see that his mother and sisters would not get a dollar his money. He claimed they separated himself and wife to get his property. He said he would remember Mrs. Oglesby and Hiram Keays. Saw him shortly after that in 1900, and stayed with him until 11 o'clock in the evening and conversed with him. Witness said Gillett had a good, sound mind and was competent to transact business. He met McCarthy and Miss Jessie at his home and was asked several questions. McCarthy asked him if Gillett was crazy. Witness said he told him Gillett was sound of mind. McCarthy wanted him to say Gillett was crazy. He told witness he would  make a laughing stock if he didn't fall on one side of the fence or other. Cross examination--Mr. Beach, Hiram Keays and John Oglesby visited him at his home in the month of May, a few days before McCarthy's visit. Gillett took two drinks during the day of what the witness said 'seemed to be pretty good whiskey.' Gillett said that Kate Hill shipped him to Dwight [sanitarium] . . . [four splotched, unintelligible lines] off from liquor. He swore a good deal on the day that the witness remained with him and shed tears when talking of his wife. He walked easily but became nervous after being up a short time. Gillett said the reason he went to Panky's [tavern?] was because he could not get proper treatment at home and blamed his mother and Miss Jessie. Witness last saw Gillett in spring of 1901 in the bank, for the last time, but did not have conversation with him.

June 22, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "THE EXPERTS ON THE STAND. Defenders of the Codicil to the Gillett Will Announce Rest in Proceedings. LONG LIST OF DEPOSITIONS. The Next Several Days Will Be Devoted to the Tiresome Work of Listening to the Depositions of Absent Witnesses.

     "All day Tuesday and the greater portion of Wednesday the time of the circuit court was engaged in listening to the reading of depositions in the Gillett will contest. The depositions added to the weight of the testimony previously offered defending Gillett's capability of transacting business. The codicil side of the Gillett will case now on hearing before Judge Shirley in the Logan county circuit court rested their side at 10:15 Wednesday morning. Court convened at 9 o'clock and from then until 10:15 o'clock the depositions of James. H. Lindley, Edwin Plummer, William L. Coleman, W.H. Guthrie and Turner Pinkston of West Baden, Ind., were read. Following a recess of five minutes granted by the court the complainants or will side of the case began taking evidence by calling Dr. Taylor. As he was not present the first deposition, that of Zenor M. Apple, station agent of French Lick, Ind., was read. The other depositions read were those of Laoina Apple, wife of Agent Apple, and Western Union agent at French Lick, Ind.

     William P. Penning of Chicago was then called. Dr. Penning is a physician and graduated from two medical institutions in Kentucky. He first practiced in Louisville and then in French Lick, Ind. He said the waters at French Lick and West Baden, Ind., were good for liver and stomach trouble and also good for conditions brought about by use of alcoholic liquors. Witness was acquainted with Gillett since June, 1896, socially at French Lick, Ind., where he practiced. Gillett at the time was stopping at the French Lick hotel, conversed with him at the hotel on different topics of conversation. He became well acquainted with him at that time. Saw him in November of same year. On first occasion he said he went there to wash out liver. When he arrived there, first he said he had been drinking too much. He was in good condition physically. In November he was in reasonably good condition and received a powder to bring on sleep. He drank nothing during this stay. Witness next saw him in February, 1898, at West Baden, Ind. On that occasion he was employed by him professionally, and said he was in a drunken condition, he was nervous and his eyes were red and swollen and he had constipation with much gas in the bowels and stomach. He was thoroughly under the influence of liquor at West Baden hotel at that time in bed. Witness made a thorough physical examination, and from it found him to be in a state of alcoholism. He found liver and stomach in fair condition. Treated him five days when he did not require his services, Gillett having started the course of waters, which the doctor described. Water sometimes causes distension of bowels, when first taking it. Saw him 75 per cent of the time he was there in February. He left West Baden in a splendid physical condition.

     Next saw him near middle of March, 1898, at Elkhart on receipt of telegram. He went to Graceland, having arrived at Elkhart between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. Found Gillett in bed in a semiconscious condition, in which he remained several hours. His respiration was slow, his face purple and he was in a state of alcoholism. Witness treated him systematically to restore him. After the patient was relieved he was very weak, his muscular system was relaxed and he was very nervous and perspired profusely. Gillett told him that with two others he had disposed of over a gallon whiskey, and that he had drank [sic] too much and did not think he would get over it. Saw no change in mental condition. Saw him in September, 1898, at West Baden, where he engaged two rooms. Witness remained with him until he recovered from drunken condition in which he found him. Examined him and found his physical condition on account of a protracted spree was bad. Got him away from whiskey and started him on course of waters, from which he went away in good condition. His wife was with him. Next saw him the latter part of November, 1898, and he was in a decidedly drunken condition, and showed symptoms of disturbances of the brain. He would call the doctor and motion for him, and when doctor went to Gillett he would take his hand and press it to his heart and stomach, and would then roll his eyes . . .  [six splotched, illegible lines] Gillett told him he could not quit whiskey.

     In December, 1898, he saw him at Elkhart at Graceland in a drunken condition. He was in bed in his room, while his wife and mother-in-law were in another part of the house. He then discovered a degenerated change in the kidneys. Treated him at that time according to the symptoms. He was intoxicated to the extent that he could not get up or transact business. Gillett accompanied him to West Baden, Ind., on January 3, 1899. He drank from time he left Elkhart to the time of arrival at West Baden, Ind. He also drank at Elkhart before leaving and also at Auditorium Annex on the way to West Baden. Witness cared for him during trip when he was scarcely able to walk. During two weeks he stayed at West Baden, he was drunk and unable to attend to himself physically. His will power and intellect were impaired. Next saw him at West Baden Springs, about four or five days after departure from there. He returned in a drunken condition and stayed several days at doctor's office so as not to be alone. Witness got liquor for him to keep him from getting it himself. Did not take a course of water. His mental condition was growing constantly worse. In April, 1899, saw him at West Baden again and was in a drunken condition. On this visit he treated him professionally and remained with him a night. Gillett's physical and mental conditions were more pronounced. Gillett had severe headaches for which witness applied relief. Gillett did drink the waters on that visit but drank whiskey throughout. Witness said he appealed to his vanity in effort to have him quit whiskey. Gillett left there in May.

     Witness next saw him in June of the same year with his wife. He arrived in a drunken condition and remained until the middle of August. Witness treat him professionally. His physical condition was worse as were [sic] also his mental condition. The muscles of the face at this time appeared drawn and his eyes and face were red. Generally remained in witness's office. Gillett often sent telegrams without receiving answers. The doctor saw Gillett August 14, 1899, when he was going to Mackinac Island, and accompanied him there. He was three weeks in a drunken condition. Drank whiskey on the way, having a quart bottle. Some days there at West Baden he was better than others and left for home September 6, 1899. He grew worse at Mackinac. Saw Gillett next at French Lick Springs 1900, when he said he was there to try his nerve in order to shoot a match with Ballard and found his nerve bad. Saw him again at West Baden in January, 1901, when he was in drunken state and not able to drink as much as formerly. He was in a state of imbecility. He could not originate a conversation and memory was destroyed. He dressed slovenly and previously dressed neatly.

     Gillett indecently exposed his person and assailed the chastity of relatives. His blood was in a poor condition, as was judged by a hardening of the arteries caused by the excessive use of alcoholic liquors. In 1901 when Gillett returned to West Baden, he told of conservator suit and said while his mother brought it, Mrs. Oglesby was the chief cause. Witness had conversation with Mr. Herrod at Mackinac in which Mr. Herrod said conservator ought to be appointed, because he thought he had paresis [The definitions of this term vary from general muscular weakness to being "a problem with mental function due to damage to the brain from untreated syphilis": https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000748.htm.] Gillett had paresis in 1898, 1899, 1900. Witness thought him to be a man of unsound mind in 1899, 1900, 1901, and incapable of transacting ordinary business. Witness treated 1,200 or 1,550 cases of alcoholism in West Baden.

June 23, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "DOCTORS DIFFER IN GILLETT CASE. The Evidence Assuming a Course Form Relative to the Accusations of John Gillett. CONTEST BETWEEN EXPERTS. Difficult to Determine When the Evidence Will Be Closed But Deemed Certain to Continue Another Fortnight at the Least.

     "A great battle is pending between the experts in the Gillett will codicil case. Local doctors of Springfield, Lincoln, and Elkhart who treated John P. Gillett and were familiar with him, have sworn that he was not insane and have expressed the opinion that he was qualified to transact business, clinched by the evidence of those who lived close to him and had business deals that he was a close trader and perfectly competent to transact business. The first outside doctor to become a witness was Dr. Pennington, Chicago, formerly of West Baden, whose direct evidence conveyed the belief to an extent, if the evidence was to be accepted without close questioning, that Gillett was an imbecile. The cross examination of Dr. Pennington, compared with the direct examination, was brief. Judge Beach, who is an expert in this line of work, began the cross questioning, dealing with the condition of the brain following the use of alcoholic liquors and the diseases which may arise without the use of liquor. The controversy was ended by the witness declaring he was not an expert in such diseases. Authorities were quoted, but the witness refused to pass on the quotations. Witness admitted conversing with Mrs. Hill and Jessie Gillett at West Baden, Ind., when depositions were being taken, and acknowledged that he told McCarthy, the detective, that he would come here to testify. Admitted he was to be paid for his services in coming here, but the remuneration had not been decided upon. Dr. Taylor was recalled and questioned relative to certain statements alleged he made in regard to Gillett's insanity, which he denied.

     As the sessions grow in interest the attendance at the Logan county circuit court, where the Gillett will case is on hearing, also increases. The complainants Thursday morning introduced one of their strongest witnesses in the person of Dr. A. U. Williams, of Hot Springs, Ark. Dr. Williams proved himself a fair witness and had associations with Gillett during his stay in Hot Springs. Dr. Pennington, who held the stand for some time Wednesday, was recalled by the codicil side. Dr. A.U. Williams, a practitioner of medicine at Hot Springs, Ark., for nineteen years, graduated from Missouri Medical college of St. Louis. He has treated a large number of cases of people troubled with alcoholism in Hot Springs, knew of John P. Gillett, became acquainted with him March 1, 1901, at Arlington hotel, Hot Springs. Saw him March 1 and found him in drunken condition lying on bed. His pulse was weak and rapid, stomach was much distended, his liver affected and abdominal dropsy manifested. Witness examined Gillett by asking questions and inquired into history of case. Gillett said he was drinking a great deal and did so for a long time. Said he did not know how much he drank a day. It was difficult to obtain much information from Gillett. Witness obtained history of the case from the nurse, who told him Gillett had been drinking very hard for a long time and it had made him sick. Gillett heard this conversation. On the table and dresser in his room was liquor and money. Witness made thorough examination about noon hour. Next saw him following day and daily with exception of one day to April 22. Some times two or three times a day. Would call witness and hold his hand on his heart. Conversed with him, found that Gillett had difficulty in walking across room; Gillett troubled with his bladder; this did not occur often. In conversations Gillett and witness would talk of hunting, his cattle, his 5,000 acres of land. Gillett would not pursue conversations; he seemed confused in mind and his talks were not connected, never finished story told a half dozen times of shooting accident he had. Gillett at times could not articulate well and was often disinclined to talk. On those occasions he would be under influence of alcohol and was always so when witness saw him. Gillett remained a the Arlington hotel two weeks and left because he was tired of it. He said there was nothing to do but drink whiskey.

     Gillett quit Arlington and went to Gwyn house, one of the cheapest boarding houses in Hot Springs. There was much difference between it and the Arlington. Witness told Gillett of complaints made by landlady at Gwyn house but there was no reply. [At this point several lines are unintelligible, but subsequently the text appears to indicate the testimony of Dr. Williams.] He [Gillett] purchased whiskey in drug store and saloon. Promised to quit whiskey but did not. Quit Gwyn house and went to Moody hotel, where he drank more whiskey and champagne. Hotel people objected to him going into office with clothes off. He left Moody house and went to private house, then went to Arlington hotel, where his general condition was worse with hysterics. Said wife left him and family did not care for him and that they wanted him to die. Spoke to witness of Mrs. Oglesby, Mrs. Barnes, and Jessie Gillett. Said that one sister married Dr. Barnes and that one married 'Dick' Oglesby. Mrs. Oglesby he said put on too much style. Proud of Mrs. Barnes because she married prominent physician. Said Miss Jessie D. Gillett was business member of the family. The only business witness saw him contract was writing of check for his services. This was the day Gillett left Hot Springs, Ark. Gillett after being told amount of check signed it. Witness, from condition he found him in, was caused by alcohol, which he thought existed for two years. Thought him to be of unsound mind and not competent to transact business. He had alcoholic paresis. His mind was in condition of weakness brought on by excessive use of alcohol, the desire for which he could not resist. Witness has large practice in Hot Springs and will be compensated for services.

     Cross examination: Witness said he was to receive $100 per day for coming here in case. Has been here 10 or 12 days. His deposition was taken in Hot Springs, Ark., and he came at request of Miss Jessie D. Gillett. Saw Mrs. Hill shortly following death of John P. Gillett. McCarthy was in Hot Springs, Ark., and saw witness in March, when witness signed papers. Witness said he did not remember whether he testified as to pain in head in deposition or not. Witness said compensation making no difference in testimony. In deposition at Hot Springs did not tell of ringing in ears, laying hand on heart, peculiar motion of tongue or statement in regard to Mrs. Oglesby. Witness said memory becomes defective in alcoholic paresis and sufferer unsteady on feet. Witness said a paretic could shoot fairly well and that it required thought to shoot. Gillett responded to question by actions when asked in regard to pain. Could not intelligently express himself concerning lands or business proposition at this time. A letter was introduced on cross examination which the witness said did not indicate a man of sound mind. Witness told why he thought so. A question was read witness which he thought showed memory. Witness was cross examined extensively on indications present for transacting business intelligently. Witness since coming here on case read deposition taken in Hot Springs. This deposition was brought into play to question witness who changed a statement.

     Re-examination: Attorney Beach and Hiram Keays also saw witness at Hot Springs. Was not asked about pain in head, rolling tongue, etc., when deposition was taken. Saw him [Gillett] have $10 bills in button holes. Dr. Williams was a clear witness. He was not one of the sort knowing all there is to be known. He was willing to leave the impression there is much to acquire and that man never ceases to improve and progress. He was measuring his knowledge with the knowledge of a master in law and medicine. The evidence of Dr. Williams was specific as to time and place, and he did not pretend to express his opinion on Gillett's condition before and following his visit to Hot Springs. He holds drunkenness to be a disease and alcohol the poison, and the longer the poison is applied the worse the disease becomes. While Dr. Williams as a physician and surgeon stands high at home, he convinced the jury he was a man of ability far above the average and serving as an expert under pay in this situation, did not lower him in estimation of those who heard him or those who were questioning him, for he was outspoken and frank, yet his evidence was and will be considered as the evidence of all expert evidence is considered. Dr. Pennington and Dr. Williams, two brilliant men, have been heard and due credit given their statements, but it will take a great deal of such evidence with the evidence of nurses and members of the family to approach the array of witnesses presented for the other side with an array of oral and documentary evidence to offset the evidence being now submitted by the parties attempting to establish the insanity of John P. Gillett and break the codicil to the will. Dr. Pennington was recalled by codicil. He is acquainted with James E. Hill and was asked if he told him that Gillett was all right mentally [the last several lines of the report for this date are unintelligible].

June 28, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "EXPERTS FAIL IN EXPECTATIONS. Expected Important Testimony to Prove Insanity of Gillett Not Yet Forthcoming. DR. KEELEY OF DWIGHT HERE. The Condition of Patient at Dwight Sanitarium Described by Dr. Keeley Who Said He Was Not Willing Patient There and Improved While Under Treatment."

     "Expected important testimony in favor of the side contesting the will of John P. Gillett was heard Tuesday forenoon, but it was not up to the expectations of the press representatives and the people present in the room through curiosity. It was given out previous to the trial that by the experts from Dwight the mind of Gillett would be proven wrecked completely and that treatment would not benefit the patient, yet he remained there four weeks and improvement was noticed during the time he was there, and wills and checks shown proving his ability to transact business.

     This was a revelation to the many expecting testimony of a more serious and substantial character. The son of the founder of the Dwight sanitarium was present in the person of Dr. Keeley, Jr., who is a handsome looking person, and was extremely careful in his statements and remarkably guarded under Beach's fierce fire. Dr. Keeley was not presumptuous and did not assume he knew all. Neither did he have the air of a witness from a great institution among the common people of the country. He was the true gentleman in the examination, and his evidence was certainly fair to all concerned. It was amusing at times to see the expression on the doctor's face when endeavoring to interpret Judge Beach's long questions framed expressly for experts and containing an affirmative and a negative. The counsel in the case continue their tilts. The local counsel Judge Hoblit, for instance, is doing the greater part of the work on his side and proves he is the equal of his colleagues who are able men. This trial has demonstrated the Lincoln bar to be equal, if not superior, of the Decatur and Springfield bars.

     The evidence in brief of Tuesday forenoon was as follows: Wm/ McKie of Cornland was the first witness sworn and testified that he knew John Gillett since 1877; that he had always been a drinking man, but that in the latter part of his life he drank a great deal more than in the former years. From his actions and general conduct witness considered him a man of unsound mind during the last two years of his life. Had had frequent conversations with him and had met him on various occasions when he was under the influence of whiskey. J.F. Carroll, of Chicago, testified that he had seen Gillett in Chicago at various times during the latter part of his life; had seen him under the influence of liquor a number of times at the Auditorium hotel. Thought he was of unsound mind and incapable of transacting business. On cross examination witness testified that he did not have any business transactions with Gillett, but that he drew his conclusions from his actions and conversations with him.

     Dr. Keeley of Dwight, nephew of Dr. Leslie R. Keeley, founder of the Keeley institute. Witness been on the staff at the institution 10 years and is at present vice president of the institution; first knew J.P. Gillett when he was brought to the institution in the early part of January, 1900. When he arrived at the institution he was very nervous and in an intoxicated condition. Witness state that several thousand patients had been treated at the institution. Witness talked with Gillett; Mrs. Hill and Dr. Barnes to decide whether he was a subject fit to be treated. From examination witness decided that he was fit subject for treatment. Gillett responded to treatment, gained flesh, was improved generally. Treatment given was similar to treatment given to other patients. Witness thought that at the time Gillett was at Dwight his mind had deteriorated from normal and that he was suffering from mental deterioration from alcoholism, and judging from observations the man was not of sound mind. Gillett stated that he was not a heavy drinker, that he did not need the treatment and that his  being at the institution was a waste of time. On cross examination witness said he knew Gillett was at Dwight under protest. From Gillett's conversations and actions witness believed that he had deteriorated, as he was incoherent in speech. Did not know whether Gillett transacted business while at the institution. Witness identified several bills of the Livingston hotel of Dwight rendered to Gillett, and also some checks given by Gillett and made payable to the hotel, and also to the company.

     Proponents tried to show what the Keeley treatment consisted of, but the court over-ruled the questions, intending thereby to show that if there was anything the matter with Gillett the Keeley treatment caused it. Witness knew nothing about any contracts or deeds made by Mr. Gillett while at Dwight. The morning work was finished by the reading of depositions.

June 29, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "LAST YEARS OF JOHN P. GILLETT. Miss Amy Gillett Narrates Under Oath the Eccentricities and Peculiarities of Brother. STORY OF MISSPENT LIFE. Drank Two Quarts of Liquor a Day and Threatened Mother and Wife with Injury or Death if They Did Not Permit Him to Have His Way." [Note: Amy Gillett was a key witness for the faction attempting to convince the jury of John P. Gillett's insanity and thus have the codicil declared invalid.]

     "A narrative remarkable for its secrets made public in a public court room was recited Tuesday afternoon in the Logan county circuit court room, when a member of the Gillett family, famous for their wealth and culture, told the story of the degeneration of the only son and brother as a result of excessive indulgence in liquor. The story was expected to be forthcoming and in language mild and natural modesty the sister recited the incidents of the last few years of John P. Gillett's life, which were terrorizing ones to the members of the family who had to see and associate with him. Far better would it be if the narrative had not been told, for it was a step in the direction of establishing as insane the last [male] descendant of a famous man, bearing his honored name, the name of Gillett. In this bitter contest the sisters contesting the codicil to the will have to establish the insanity of John P. Gillett to win their suit. The reward in case of victory will be a princely fortune, but the cost will be the taint of insanity in the family blood, acquired, of course, by the over indulgence of the subject, which considered in its most charitable light, will be felt by the family as the worst misfortune in the history of the Gilletts. Mrs. Oglesby and Hiram Keays engaged in establishing the validity of the codicil, have the sympathy naturally of the community, for in case the issues are favorable to them the taint of insanity is not added to the other eccentricities of a member of the family Then there is the principle of personal liberty involved--the right of a man to dispose of his property as he wishes.

     Tuesday afternoon's session of the Logan county circuit court in this Gillett will case hearing came to a sudden close at a few minutes past five o'clock, when Judge Shirley received a telephone message telling of the death of a relative. Judge Shirley on receiving the message, state that it would be necessary for him to return home at once. At that time Miss Amy Gillett was on the stand and the counselors for Miss Jessie Gillett stated that they could not possibly conclude the work of taking her testimony Wednesday even though an evening session was [would be] held. This settled matters, and as Judge Shirley next week has other business which requires his attention he adjourned court until Monday, July 11, at 1:30 o'clock. Before doing so, however, he repeated his former instructions to the jury in which he forbade them to form an opinion in the case, to talk of it or read the newspaper accounts concerning it. The judge stated that when he came here he understood the case would take at the most three weeks The jurors, while they welcome a recess, did not desire such a long one.

     Party in Interest on the Stand. Below is Miss Amy Gillett's direct testimony in substance up to the time of adjournment. It will be continued when court convenes again. At the beginning of the afternoon session Miss Amy Gillett was called to the stand. The attorneys for the proponents objected to the competency of Miss Gillett as a witness on the ground that she was an interested party. The jury was asked to retire until the competency of this witness was determined. Upon hearing the objections Judge Shirley decided Miss Gillett was a competent witness and was allowed to testify. The witness testified that during childhood John seemed more attached to Miss Jessie than to any of the other sisters and that this demonstration of affection continued to within a short time before his death. In 1896 was the first time that witness noticed the liquor habit was growing on John and that during such attacks his face would be drawn, his body would shiver and he would beg those around him not to touch him. In 1899 he made the last efforts to refrain from the drinking habit. Witness had never heard her mother speak harshly to John and his comfort was always paramount with her.

     During the summer of 1899 at Mackinac his conduct with relevance to drinking was worse and Mrs. J.P. Gillett said his personal habit were so bad that she did not know how long she would live with him. John would ask visitors to the house that were not acquaintances of his; some of them were saloon loungers. Upon his return in October 1899, he began vicious abuse of his wife, and said he was going to send her back to New York where she would have to scrub for a living. He called her vicious names and accused her of wrong doing. On October 4, 1899, his wife left him and moved to Lincoln. Witness testified to a number of escapades of John's during the year 1899 and of his nervous attacks during this period. In December, 1899, he lived with his mother and he began to abuse her in the same manner he abused his wife. Gillett's room was in a very untidy condition and he refused to allow it to be cleaned. Gillett had a desire to eat in the kitchen and his mother's objection to this supplied a subject for dispute. He threatened to kill witness if she said anything further to him in regard to staying in the kitchen. While in the kitchen he generally handled the butcher knives.

     Gillett also threatened to shoot his mother and abused her in vile language. He threatened to destroy the home by fire, to close the road to the village and raze the manse. The least amount of liquor consumed a day was two quarts. He often appeared in his night gown and an old bath robe. He wanted a cook stove placed in his room so that he could cook his own meals. When his mother refused him this he produced a pair of handcuffs and asked his mother to put them on him and keep them there.

     In July, 1900, he told his mother that he had never made but one will. Gillett, when informed by Dr. Barnes a few months before his death, that he did not have long to live, said his affairs were in condition. He later called for his will and sent Hiram Keays to the bank for it. Keays failed to get the will and Gillett forgot it. The visit of Byrrum to the Gillett house was recounted and witness said Byrrum was drinking. Witness produced a paper on which Gillett wrote a will. He called the witness into his room one night and said he was dying and that he had made his will and said it was on a table nearby. The witness went to the table and obtained the will. It was dated September, 1900, and he willed the home of Jane Bohan given her by his father to Labe Allison. He asked the county court to allow this. Witness also produced notes left in her room by Gillett. They were sometimes pinned on the door or pin cushion or left on a dresser, during the absence of the witness. Other notes written by Gillett and left in his room were introduced.

July 11, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "GILLETT CASE IS RESUMED. Two Weeks Rest Finds the Contestants and Attorneys in Trim for Ordeal. GILLETT'S MENTAL CONDITION. Presumed the Important Case Will Be Ended Within the Next Fortnight Although It May Last a Month More As the Lawyers Are vigorous." Note: Very little of significance here, and much is incoherent.

     "Following a rest of about two weeks, the court, the lawyers and the litigants in the contest over the thousands of the late John P. Gillett was taken up with renewed vigor. The case has not lost any interest since the long adjournment and the local lawyers, Judge Beach and Judge Hoblit and his active young partner, Everett Smith and S.L. Wallace, are cocked and primed for legal battle from now on until the close of the trial. The important talent in the case is now showing to the advantage it was thought at the beginning of the suit. The Lincoln lawyers have shown more skill and zeal in the progress toward the end than their bretheren [sic] from neighboring cities and will be entitled to the credit whichever way the suit is decided, for they have done the work.

     The main evidence of Monday was given by Miss Amy Gillett, who told of her brother's eccentricities to show that he was insane, therefore, to establish he was not competent to give his property to whom he pleased. Miss Gillett was listened to with interest by the other interested parties in the case, and she was a cautious witness. Court convened at 1:30 o'clock, with Judge Shirley presiding. C.P. Bridge, station agent at Elkhart, was recalled and identified a telegram which passed through his office August 1, 1901. Witness returned a telegram to Gillett on account of question as to its intelligibility. Cross examination: Witness returned a telegram shortly before Gillett's death. The telegram was not allowed to be introduced.

     Miss Amy Gillett Testifies. The direct examination of Miss Amy Gillett, which was in progress at the time of adjournment, was then resumed. Miss Gillett was allowed to correct a statement she made in her direct examination and which was misconstrued. It was to the effect that John P. Gillett drank on an average of two quarts of liquor a day. Mrs. Pankey never did the family cooking. The time Mary Wood testified Miss Gillett was in the house Miss Gillett said she was in Europe. Gillett said Schafer was his private detective and noticed letters for a mark. Gillett kept a trunk, which belonged to his wife, and gave several reasons for retaining it. Witness heard a conversation between Gillett and his sister, Nina, following European trip and said that Gillett told his sister that an effort was made to have him change his will. Witness never tried to have him change his will.

     Levi Hess and John had conversations in regard to a new house. Hess drew two sets of plans, neither of which suited. The lumber for the house was already ordered and Gillett refused to pay for it and only settled at the solicitation of Ellis Eldon. When Gillett would leave his room, he would place a sign over his door forbidding trespassing. During the last years of his life Gillett read much out of a book of revised statutes of Illinois.  Witness said Ellis Eldon stated that Gillett was not free from liquor in 1900 and that he also stated that he was unfit to transact business, most of which was done by him. Never saw any members of the family dance the cake walk. Dr. Ryan secured from John a promise to go to a sanitarium for treatment. Dr. Ryan had just left him when Gillett arose from his bed and fell in a convulsion. He then refused to go to the sanitarium with Dr. Ryan. He told Dr. Ryan that his mother was trying to put him in a mad house in 1900 and that she wanted the property. Gillett told his mother that Frank Cottle was all right and that the bank was safe. This was in reply to a statement made by her that it was her opinion that the bank was unsafe.

     From January 1, 1900, and on, Gillett said Mrs. May kept a questionable house and said that his relatives should not go there. Often through the summer Gillett said Keays was not a capable business man and had lost interest in his property. Gillett said he was kicked out of Hiram Keays's house. From October, 1900, forward, witness said Gillett's mind was unsound; he was irrational and did not transact business . . . [seven lines unintelligible]. The cross examination of Miss Gillett began about three o'clock and was conducted by Attorney Beach. The witness denied certain matters brought up in conversation between herself and Mr. Blinn.

July 13, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "TRYING TIMES IN THE GILLETT CASE. Witness Faints on the Stand and Friends Become Unduly Alarmed. SENSATIONS ARE PENDING. Counsel for the Codicil Question Witnesses with View of Establishing Compact Between Certain Sisters to Divide Estate." 

     "Tuesday afternoon was full of incidents in the Gillett will contest case. The greater portion of the day was warm, but the attorneys, the witnesses and the jurors kept pretty cool. As the temperature began to fall the temper of the crowd began to assume fever heat. About 3 or 4 o'clock as the expert on evidence entered the room, the gentleman known as Mr. McCarthy ran against a row of chairs and stumbled almost to a fall. A person in the court room interested in the case, of course, said 'nothing strange in such an incident because he has been stumbling and falling all through the case.' Not long following when Miss Amy Gillett fainted from the long ordeal and the heat and excitement other ladies in the court room became hysterical and blamed Judge Beach, who was doing exactly what he was paid to do--trying the case for his clients. A short while previous to the collapse of Miss Gillett, Judge Shirley, who has been uniformly fair and courteous during the trial replied spiritedly to the remarks of counsel for the Gillett girl and gave the counsel to understand he had a right to refer to the evidence submitted and that he distinctly remembered it. The day was certainly a historical day in the proceedings and the jurors had more of a show for one day than they expected to see.

     Monday afternoon session of the circuit court in the Gillett will case closed with the cross examination of Miss Amy Gillett. Mr. Beach cross examined the witness, who, in the main, was strong and unyielding. Miss Gillett proved as cool as a veteran on field of battle and as keen and piercing as a needle. She was so cautious that when in doubt she asked the stenographer for the question and then proceeded. The contest between Judge Beach and the witness was unusually interesting, the able counsel constantly on the offensive with printed evidence for reinforcement, he was holding an advantageous position and at times profited by the witness wavering; but she was adroit and quick in recovering. The positiveness of the witness in direct examination was succeeded by doubt in the cross examination, but she adhered firmly in the point her brother was insane from overindulgence in liquor. In the cross examination the witness added new information in stating that different members of the Gillett family are subject to fainting spells. Witness saw Miss Jessie Gillett faint and fainted herself. Other statements made by the witness was to the effect that Gillett drank like an animal, often gulping and supping his wine at the table. Many direct statements as to incidents and actions had to be explained and admissions made that information was based on hearsay.

     Witness Faints on Stand. At this stage of the proceedings the court attendants were precipitated into a state of mild excitement when the witness fainted on the stand. As stated in the cross examination the witness was subject to these attacks and the long and trying hours on the stand was [sic] that her constitution could stand. As she gave no intimation of feeling weak a previous recess was not taken. Miss Gillett was revived and as she is possessed of a strong will power assumed the stand again and continued to answer the questions of the counsel for the codicil and completed the ordeal very satisfactory to her sisters and counsel. The witness continuing to answer the cross questions put to her, said that the order permitting Hiram Keays to get Gillett's will, at Springfield, was written by Hiram Keays and signed by John P. Gillett.

     Miss Gillett was asked questions concerning conversations with various persons for the purpose of contradicting her later by the persons mentioned. Miss Gillett denied the conversations very emphatically. Other questions were propounded to show money was promised or paid a certain individual who was expected to testify favorable. Questions were asked the lady in relation to an agreement between Miss Amy Gillett and sisters, Miss Jessie and Mrs. Hill, as to the agreement to divide the estate in case the will held good. Miss Amy admitted such an agreement to engage in a suit to contest, but denied an agreement as to a division of the estate. Witness admitted she had been to different places when depositions were being taken in this cause but that it was at her own expense. Witness admitted that she had left a check for $100 with Rev. Miller to be given Ellis Eldon in case he would testify in this case to a remark he to Mrs. Lemira Gillett that John had been of unsound mind for two years before his death and that he had been unable to attend to business for that period. Witness further said that check had been returned to her by Rev. Miller. The witness was subjected to a most severe cross examination, which was plainly a trying ordeal. On redirect examination the witness identified letters and telegrams written by John Gillett to his mother while she was at Mackinac in 1901. Witness testified that John Gillett had said that Dr. Taylor told him not to sign any papers. On the day of John's death witness asked Mr. Keays to take charge of his papers which Mr. Keays refused to do. A number of questions were asked the witness in reply to questions and answers on cross examination.

     Silas H. Drake residing near Elkhart was next called and testified that he knew John P. Gillett 27 to 30 years. That he had been intimate with him until 1901. Had met John on the street frequently in the last few years of his life, when he would pass witness at time without speaking. In opinion of witness that in 1900  and 1901 Gillett was not a man of sound mind witness could see quite a change in him from previous years to the year 1901. That in former yeas he was active and brilliant but that in 1896 was when he first noticed a change in John Gillett. On cross examination witness said his last conversation with John Gillett was in February, 1901, when he met him at the bank. Witness related conversation had with John at this time. Witness thought his conversation was clear. Z.T. Drake was next called and testified that he had known Gillett since about 1877. That he had associated with John on frequent occasions. That John in later years was a man that drank excessively. That he had seen John 1899 to 1901 frequently, at the bank; that he had seen people speak to him when he would not answer them. Had no conversation with him personally. Did not consider him to be capable of transacting business. Depositions were then read until the noon recess.

     Afternoon Session Tuesday. Moses Murphy was the first witness called at the afternoon session. He testified to having known John P. Gillett since his boyhood. Had seen him under the influence of liquor frequently; had heard him speak of his troubles and said his sisters had not treated him right. Mentioned no one in particular. Witness thought he acted queer at times. Did not think him of sound mind. On cross examination witness said so far as he knew Gillett was capable of transacting business when sober. T.S. McDaniels, who had been an employee in the Gillett family, was next called. Witness started to take care of John Gillett about April 18 or 19, 1900. At that time Gillett was drinking considerable and required considerable attention. Witness then described different incidents that transpired immediately following his employment, and repeated language used by John Gillett at that time. Witness testified that Dr. Taylor told him Sister Dorothea and the girls should leave if Miss Jessie went away, as it would be dangerous for them to stay.

July 13, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "STRANGE ACTS ARE RELATED. Negro Attendant Tells of the Peculiarities and Eccentricities of Gillett. PERJURY CHARGE PREFERRED. Thomas McDaniels the Negro Witness Who Testified to Important Matters Arrested and Held Under Bond for Future Hearing." (Rating=5. Note:

     "Exciting episodes may be expected from now on in the Gillett will contest case. There is a great deal of feeling and excitement prevailing among the contestants and the various exhibitions may influence the verdict in the case unless the individuals are more careful. Public sentiment is now pretty well around and in the future if other trials are held in case the present suit is not final, one side or the other may find public sentiment costly. In great emergencies like this trial the parties in interest cannot be too careful in their acts and their words. it will be the right courts to be perfectly cool and have nothing to say as to the merits of the case.

     During the proceedings Tuesday ladies were not the only ones to faint and become hysterical. Judge Blinn toppled off a char during the proceedings of court but whether from over wrought nerves or awkwardness, the reporter was not informed. But the one who claims to have witnessed the incident says it equals the so-called stumbling of the expert on evidence, Mr. McCarthy, and, therefore, The Courier will let it go at that and call it 'a horse each.' The court room at times is a veritable sweat box and to keep cool fans are vigorously wielded during the sessions. As the room is close to the street, the work of the sessions are often suspended until a noisy lumber wagon passes. The cross examination of Thomas McDaniels (colored), which was begun by Attorney Beach Tuesday afternoon was continued Wednesday morning.

     Black Man Important Witness. Thomas McDaniels, while on the stand, told of a new way in vogue by Gillett in which to capture poultry. In 1900 and 1901 he stated that John Gillett caught turkeys and chickens by baiting a fishhook with a kernel of corn and allowing the same to dangle out the window until the unwary chicken or turkey attempted to gobble the corn. Witness said he cakewalked for Gillett for an hour to an hour and a half and two hours at the time, being forced by a cane. Witness said Gillett's mind was as unbalanced when he was sober as when drunk. McDaniels indentified a pair of handcuffs which he had put on him when Gillett had bad 'spells.' Gillett often mistreated a pet dog and became extremely nervous on an average of once a month. He threatened to convert the chapel into a corn bin and burn the home to the ground. Witness stated he sent him for Joe Lanterman when Lanterman was dead and insisted that the witness should take Lanterman to the Gillett home. Postmaster Schafer, Gillett said, was his detective and looked for a private mark on his letters. Gillett ate in the kitchen because 'he was afraid some of the women around here would put something in his grub.' In the way of transacting business witness only saw him sign checks, which he never read. The witness declared and repeated the statement that a brief time previous to the signing of the codicil by John P. Gillett, which was executed on or about June 19, 1900, that Joseph Hodnett, the well known lawyer, and Mrs. Emma O. Oglesby were in Gillett's room between May 222 and June 9, 1900, and tried to induce Gillett to sign a document. Briefly summed this witness was of the opinion that John P. Gillette was insane.

     McDaniels Cross Examination. Attorney Beach, in the cross examination, confused the witness on several statements made in the direct examination. The witness was strong in his statements. As to the meaning of the word 'Vacillating' the witness was somewhat uncertain. He was allowed to give his definition. The definition was to the effect that while Gillett was talking on a certain subject would suddenly change to another, and this McDaniels termed vacillating--pretty good definition. McDaniels was rather a serious specimen of his race and positive in his statements. He was carefully cross questioned about the alleged visit of Mr. Hodnett and Mrs. Oglesby to Gillett about the time the codicil was executed, and it was a cause of concern at the time and later developments indicate the purpose of counsel, which came early Wednesday morning.

     Witness Charged with Perjury. On Wednesday morning Mrs. Emma Gillett [Oglesby] asked [illegible] for a warrant for the arrest of Thomas McDaniels charging him with having sworn falsely when he testified that Mr. Hodnett was with her in a room in John Gillett's house between May 22 and June 9, trying to induce Gillett to sign a document. The affidavit for a warrant was filed in Justice Rosenthal's court and placed in the hands of Constable Pfund, who found McDaniels in the court room and had him go to the city hall, where the preliminary was set for July 28 in bonds of $1,000, Judge Hoblit signing the bond for the accused. The offense, if proven, will prove serious for the accused. Mr. Hodnett, who was charged with the visit, by McDaniels, in the company of Mrs. Oglesby, is indignant and says there is not a particle of truth in the sworn testimony of the negro.

     Other Arrests Predicted. Now that the work of arresting witnesses has begun, it is whispered more important arrests will follow and that papers are being prepared for other offenses besides alleged perjury. If the program is adhered the Logan county circuit court will not have heard the last of the Gillett will contest case for years.

     Trained Nurse on Witness Stand. Catherine T. Leonard has lived since 1900 in Elkhart and Lincoln, commonly known as Sister Dorothea. First became acquainted with John Gillett in February, 1900, at his mother's house. Gillett told witness he had troubles and when she asked him what his troubles were stated that it was because his wife had left him, that she had no further use for him, that she thought more of some one else. Witness related conversations she had when she first went to the house. She would see him every day, most of the time in his room. Frequently heard him speak of his sisters, telling of business transactions with some of them, and on one occasions told of Jessie not speaking to him. Witness told of actions while she was at the house and of his conduct toward his mother. Couldn't say that he took any interest in the affairs of the farm matters. When she asked him how many cattle he had, he said he didn't know. Witness asked him to take her out to see the stock on the place, but he refused, saying he didn't care to go around and that Mr. Eldon would take her around if she cared to go. Witness saw Gillett drink but twice while she was there and each time it was beer. He would frequently go to the closet and when he came back he would smell of liquor, and at other times he would ask witness to retire from the room, and on her return she could see he had been drinking. Witness told of conversation with reference to going to West Baden in which he said he thought it would do him good to go. Again he complained of not wanting to go as they were trying to get rid of him, mentioning Mrs. Hill as being the one seeking to drive him from his home.

     Witness thought his condition, after his return from West Baden, was worse than before he went. Witness then related a number of conversations with Gillett after his return from West Baden. Witness stated that she had been requested to present to him a paper to be signed, but he refused, saying he would sign nothing until he had read it. That the paper was no good as he knew who drew it up. Witness thought Gillett a man of unsound mind and from his manner and conduct was unfit to transact ordinary business. Last time witness saw Mr. Gillett was Christmas, 1900. Witness had heard him say that the Chapel [St. John the Baptist Chapel] was his and he could burn it down or put a barbed wire fence around it. Had heard him say, 'I am an old fool, I am going to blow my brains out.'

     Witness saw Jordan Cottle at the Auditorium Annex hotel in Chicago in April, 1904, and heard him say in the presence of herself, Miss Jessie Gillett and McCarthy, that John P. Gillett by the long continued use of liquors was not of sound mind and that in the years 1900 and 1901 he was incapable of doing business and that Ellis Eldon did his business for him during that time. On cross examination witness stated that Mrs. Lemira Gillett had given her orders to be delivered by her throughout the house. Witness stated she was no longer a member of the sisterhood and that she had dropped the name of Sister Dorothea; that she had no agreement with anyone regarding what compensation she was to receive for being a witness in this case. Although the witness was subjected to a severe cross examination, nothing new was brought out, and in fact nothing new in the case was obtained from the evidence of the witness.

     A Tenant Testifies. Anson Willard of Elkhart, Ill., was next called and testified that he was acquainted with John P. Gillett 15 or 20 years and that he moved on one of his farms in 1898; that in January, 1900, he received a notice to leave the farm; that he went to see Mr. Gillett at his home, with reference to the notice. From conversation witness had with Gillett, he was of he opinion he was of unsound mind. On cross examination witness said the notice to vacate lands was a part of Graceland occupied by him and last notice was received following Gillett had made settlement with his wife and turned Graceland over to her. Witness said he had business transactions with Gillett and had received a check from him, that the check was for the amount asked for and was made out by him.

     Mrs. Anson Willard was next called and testified that she had known John Gillett since 1868. She recited incidents on an occasion of Gillett's visit to her husband at their home. Witness thought him a man of unsound mind, and incapable of transacting business. On cross examination witness testified that she saw McCarthy at her home and that she made a statement to him at that time. The only conversation she ever had with Gillett was at here home. She had never seen him transact business. Mrs. Francis Wheatley of Elkhart testified that she was at the home of her parents at the time of Gillett's visit to her father and that she heard the conversation between him and her father. That she saw Gillett give her father a capsule and told him to take it, which her father refused to do.

     Falls Are Frequent. Judge Beach was worsted in a bout with the chairs on the slippery floor and the fall of the barrister occasioned comment, the defenders of the will believing it a forerunner of Mr. Beach's completion of the case.

     Another Important Colored Witness. Labe Allison, a colored resident of Elkhart, "better than 23 years," worked for John D. and Mrs. Gillett; now working for Miss Jessie Gillett, knew John P. Gillett; lived in home of Mrs. Gillett; John P. Gillett drank liquor. When John P. arrived at his mother's home, when he left Graceland, he was in poor health, and was drinking a great deal. His mind was light at Graceland. Witness mentioned visit of Miss Nina to Graceland and that John Gillett told her Nina was going through papers and he "fired her." Witness mentioned a time when he had paid his (the witness's) board when he had not; knew Gillett to drink a quart of whiskey a day and called his wife, Mrs. Gillett, bad names. He abused his mother. Witness refused to repeat the words as they were bad. Witness also said Gillett abused his sisters, and also the witness. When Mrs. Inez Gillett left John Gillett, was like a wild man and made charges against his sisters, his mother, and his wife. Witness related incidents where Gillett raved and swore.

July 13, 1904: From the Decatur Daily Review, headline: "GILLETT WITNESS IS ARRESTED. Accused by Mrs. Emma S. Oglesby of Testifying Falsely--Under Bond."  (Note: This report corroborates details of the preceding report.)

     Lincoln, Ills. July 12--On complaint of Mrs. Emma S. Oglesby, one of the parties to the Gillett will case on trial before Judge Shirley in the Logan county circuit court, Police Magistrate Rosenthal issued a state warrant this morning for the arrest of Thomas B. McDaniel, a colored man formerly in the employ of John P. Gillett, charging him with having given false testimony in the hearing of the case. The warrant was placed in the hands of Constable George Pfund, who effected the arrest in a short time. McDaniels was taken before the Justice, where he was placed under bond in the sum of $1,000 for his appearance on the 28th day of July, at which time the case will be heard. Mrs. Oglesby sets out in her affidavit that McDaniel testified that on the 9th day of June, 1900, Attorney Joseph Hodnett, herself, and John P. Gillett were in a room of a house occupied by John P. Gillett, whereas in fact Mrs. Oglesby alleges that such persons were not together in a room at the home of John P. Gillett on the 9th day of June, 1900, or on any other day in the month of May or June of that year. McDaniel furnished bond in the sum required giving Judge James T. Hoblit as security.

July 14, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "COURT WRANGLES IN GILLETT CASE. Variety of Evidence Submitted to Prove Gillett Incompetent to Make Codicil. ANNOYANCES MULTIPLYING. Strong Points in the Proceedings Scored by the Defenders of the Codicil Who Are Well Posted in the Course to be Pursued by Other Side."

     Proceedings in the Gillett will contest were enlivened materially on Tuesday and Wednesday by the exceptional incidents. The evidence of one of the Gillett girls that she had placed a check for $1,000 for a purpose in the hands of a clergyman, the arrest of the negro, McDaniels, on the charge of perjury and the admissions of another negro, Allison, that he did not know whether or not he owns a fine span of dun horses [gray-gold or tan horse] used by Miss Jessie Gillett, were incidents not to be overlooked and were taken advantage of by Beach and Blinn, who are effectively using the opening.

     Order in the court room has not been what it should be. Attorneys indulge in interruptions and do not submit to the rulings of the court as they ought to do. Attorney Hamilton is very aggressive and persistent when his objections are overruled, and he is not doing his case any good by obstacles of delay in proceedings and disposition to engage in arguments with Mr. Beach, in which he usually receives backsets. Mr. Hamilton is an able lawyer and a gentleman and a match for lawyers in Springfield, but when he encounters the fighter of the Lincoln bar, he suffers by the comparison. The case is tiresome to all concerned, and if Judge Shirley becomes strict and stern in the future he will be justified, for his leniency has not been appreciated as it should be. Judge Shirley is seeking to keep error out of the case to avoid another long and expensive trial, and when he rules his decision should be accepted or exceptions be taken instead of the way lawyers have haven been doing for a day or so. In the examination on Thursday of a witness from Hot Springs, Ark., sharp tilts were frequent between counsel and witness. The witness dismounted from his high horse when forced to the convictions that he was engaging a mind and a will much stronger than his.

     Contestants of Codicil Offering Much Evidence. The contestants of the codicil, the parties who wish to see the property go to Miss Jessie Gillett, instead of Madame Oglesby and Mr. Keays, have left nothing undone so far to prove their side of the contentions. They have proven resourceful in their work and have an array of witnesses to combat the evidence previously submitted by the other side. The case is one of preponderance of evidence and is by no means closed by either side. When court adjourned Wednesday evening, Labe Allison, the negro servant for Mrs. Lemira Gillett, was on the stand and continuing his evidence said he saw Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Hodnett at the Gillett house following the conservator trial. Mr. Hodnett and Mrs. Oglesby claim they never were at the house together or any place at any time. Witness said Gillett had sent him to the bank at Elkhart to get his will but that he did not get it. He had heard Gillett say that he had made but one will. On cross examination witness said he had talked with judge Hoblit on different occasions regarding his testimony in the case.

     Mrs. E.C. Lutz was the next witness called. She testified she knew Mrs. Lemira Gillett for about 15 years and that she was also acquainted with John P. Gillett during his life time. Was a guest at Mrs. Gillett's house in April, 1900, on the occasion of a visit of Bishop Seymour. At that time Gillett was in a restless condition. Saw Gillett in 1897 at Mackinac Island. saw nothing in his appearance at that time to indicate he had been drinking. Witness saw a marked change in his appearance between the two times at which she saw him, that the change was very marked. Witness told of Gillett's conduct during her visit to the home in 1900. On cross examination witness said she had talked with Mr. Hoblit about this case at different times. Miss Nina L. Gillett was the first witness called at the opening of court Thursday morning [the rest of the report on her testimony, about eleven lines, is illegible].

     Happy Hill of St. Louis, a manufacturer of novelties, knew John P. Gillett since 1894 or 1895. When he first knew Gillett, he considered him a very smart man; saw him each year from 1894 to the time of his death, excepting the year 1900. Saw him drink a great deal in later years at Mackinac. His associations were of the lower class, and from his general actions witness thought him of unsound mind. On cross examination witness made a number of statements contradicting his direct testimony. Witness gave Gillett money and cashed checks for him at Hot Springs at different times. Witness said on direct examination that he considered Gillett a raving maniac, and he was severely cross examined on this remark, which his admissions qualified.

     L.C. Schwerdtfeger was called and presented two deeds that came into his possession as receiver of the Bank of Elkhart. Ex-sheriff Anton of Lincoln was called and testified that in September, 1900, he was sheriff of Logan county; that he served a summons on Miss Amy Gillett from a foreign county. That was the only summons he served at that house. This witness was not cross examined.

     Mrs. Katherine Keckler of Elkhart was next called. Witness lived in Elkhart for 30 years; that in her occupation as dressmaker she was frequently at the Gillett home; that she knew J.P. Gillett for 25 years. In 1898 or 1899 she was at the house and saw him. She told of what Gillett said to his mother on this particular occasion, and the remonstrances of his mother to the language used regarding his wife. Witness would not repeat the bad language used. Witness told of a number of incidents and conversations that occurred during her different visits to the Gillett house. In former years she considered Gillett a bright man, but in the years 1900 and 1901 she did not think him capable of transacting ordinary business. On cross examination witness said she and Gillett were good friends; that she did not visit at Gillett's house, but saw him after he came home from Dwight and at that time his condition was good, but that after his return from French Lick, his condition was not so good. Witness stated she took an interest in the case, but it was not because of any feeling against John P. Gillett during his lifetime.

     Mary S. Shaughnessey living at Lakota, N.D., was called and testified that she had come to Lincoln to testify in this case at the request of Miss Jessie. She had sewed for the Gillett family before her marriage and was at the house a great many times. Knew John about 17 years and was with the family at Mackinac several seasons as housekeeper. In 1898 at Mackinac Gillett drank very hard. He kept liquors in the house. Witness did not know the kinds of liquor he had at the house but knew he had liquors. In 1899 John drank more than he had in previous years. Witness had charge of butler's pantry in which the liquors were kept and had opened bottles for him at his request. He was very abusive toward his mother, wife and sisters. From Gillett's actions and the observations of the witness led her to believe Gillett was not of sound mind.

July 15, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "GILLETT DRANK HIMSELF TO DEATH. Many Witnesses Testify to Conditions and Several not Very Familiar with Man. WEAK ON CROSS EXAMINATION. Court Adjourns from Friday Forenoon Until Monday Afternoon When the Sixth week of the Trial Will Begin and Continue for One More Week." (Note: In assessing the weight of the evidence after five weeks, the Lincoln Courier writer, as indicated in the second paragraph below, concludes that the anti-codicil faction has not proven its argument that John P. Gillett was so incompetent in conducting business that he should be considered insane.)

      Friday was a quiet day in the Gillett case. There were not many incidents to arouse interest. The witnesses introduced were persons who did not have too much to do with Gillett in a social or business way; their testimony proving links in the chain of proof which the contestants of the codicil expect to wield to prove insanity. Court adjourned at noon Friday until Monday afternoon, July, 18, and everybody in the case expressed satisfaction over the relief occasioned by the adjournment. There are many witnesses yet to be heard. The defenders of the codicil have witnesses in rebuttal to contradict witnesses for the will and there, is no telling how much more time will be consumed.

     In the long proceedings of five weeks' duration with nearly 150 witnesses examined and stacks of depositions read there is not a scintilla of evidence where Gillett squandered any of his estate or suffered losses in his extensive deals to cause himself or his family embarrassment. Usually insane men commit desperate deeds and suffer losses of property in one way or other, but it seems Mr. Gillett was able and did transact business close to the day of his death. It may be that the parties interested in breaking the codicil to the will may be able to produce evidence showing reckless investments and trades, which, if done, will have to be offset by the other side with instances of deals aggregating as high at $100,00 a year. It is for the jury to say whether Gillett was insane at the time he executed the codicil, and if from the evidence the jury say the man was insane, the codicil falls and the will gives to Miss Jessie Gillett all the property, valued at $400,000.

     Foreman for Party in Interest. Patrick Bohn, foreman for Miss Jessie Gillett, was called. Witness stated he had lived in Elkhart all his life; has been in the employ of Miss Jessie 16 years; knew John P. Gillett in his lifetime; had had interviews with him with reference to sale of grain and livestock for Miss Jessie, when she would be absent from her home. These consultations continued until 1899. In the years 1898 and 1899 Gillett would be in an intoxicated condition and would not consider his advice as being good. The last time he had a consultation with him with reference to sale of stock for Jessie was in the fall of 1899. For a period of two or three years prior to 1899 Gillett was frequently under the influence of liquor. Saw him at different times at the home of his mother, when he appeared to be in an intoxicated condition. On one occasion he tried to converse with him on business matters, but could not keep him on the subject; he would turn the conversation to family affairs. Witness thought him of unsound mind and incapable of transacting ordinary business. On cross examination witness said he had never done any business for John P. Gillett except to sell a lot for him. Witness, however, did not think Gillett of sound mind and that in his opinion he was incapable of transacting ordinary business, although he transacted very little business with him.

     At the Friday morning session Wm. J. Pettitt was first called. Witness has lived in Lincoln since 1858 and has held official positions in the city of Lincoln. Has known John P. Gillett since his boyhood, but did not have a speaking acquaintance with him in former years. Witness was sent for to take care of Gillett in November, 1900. When he went into Gillett's room he was lying on the bed and when witness entered Gillett got up and walked across the room and wound up the music box, and when it started playing he danced. When he had stopped dancing he got a bottle of whiskey and asked witness to take a drink, which witness refused. Gillett then recognized witness for the first time. Witness said Gillett took frequent drinks of whiskey during the day. Mr. Pettitt then described different remarks made by Gillett during the day. He said Mrs. Oglesby was a good sister and complained of other members of the family interfering with his business and social affairs; witness also described the actions of Gillett during the day. Witness was at the house only one day and one night. At that time witness though he had a confused mind and did not consider Gillett of sound mind. On cross examination witness said . . . [several lines are unintelligible] that he only had a passing acquaintance with Gillett and that there was nothing strange in his not recognizing him when witness entered room. He shook hands with him and called witness Decatur. Witness was in the room perhaps 30 minutes before Gillett recognized him. Witness did not know whether Gillett was capable of transacting business when he was not under the influence of liquor. At the request of Judge Hoblit witness went to Mrs. Hill's house, and there he met Mr. McCarthy. That he made a statement to Mr. McCarthy which was reduced to writing.

     Charles Gade of Elkhart was next called and testified that he has lived in Elkhart 25 years; knew John P. Gillett in his lifetime. When he first knew John Gillett he thought him a man of excellent health and strong in mind; had seen him under the influence of liquor a number of times, but had never seen him take a drink. Witness saw a marked change in Gillett in 1900 and 1901 from former years, both in health and mind. On cross examination witness said he and Gillett were not personal friends. That Gillett had given him wood and that he complained witness took more wood than Gillett had given him. Last time witness saw Gillett was in Hutter's meat market, but did not remember the date. Witness did not see Gillett transact any business during the latter years of his life. On re-direct examination witness said he had no hard feelings toward Gillett on account of their controversy regarding the wood.

     E.H. Gallion had lived in Elkhart since 1880; had known John P. Gillett since 1879. Witness thought there was considerable change in Gillett in the last two or three years of his life. Saw him frequently in Elkhart and heard him talk to people and in opinion of witness he was of unsound mind. Had never seen him drink but from his appearance thought he did drink. Had never done any business direct with him, but had done work for him and would always make settlements with Ellis Eldon. On cross examination witness said he had had but one conversation with Gillett during the last three years of life. Witness did not know how much business Gillett transacted during the last two years of his life. Witness admitted he had a claim against the estate of J.D. Gillett and that Gillett, as one of the executors of his father's estate, contested the claim.

     George Seller, resided in Elkhart 10 years, has been janitor of the Elkhart bank for 10 years and knew J.P. Gillett about 9 years. Witness testified that Gillett had called him to get liquors for him which he would take to the bank. Witness did not think Gillett of sound mind. On cross examination witness said he did not know the number of times he had got whiskey for Gillett. Witness in answer to question by Mr. Beach said he thought Gillett of sound mind. This witness was uncertain and changed his testimony completely. He thought Gillett drank 200 bottles of whiskey in the bank and then thought maybe he had drank 3,000 or more.

     Charles Yocum, colored, knew John P. Gillett about 7 years; had worked about the Gillett house just before Gillett died. Waited on him at nights while he was at the house. Gillett would drink a bottle of whiskey each night. On cross examination witness was asked to identify check purporting to be given him for his pay for waiting on Gillett. Witness admitted being paid by check but was unable to identify check shown him. Witness testified that he was at Gillett's 10 nights and was to get $1.50 per night and the check was introduced for the purpose of contradicting the witness on this point, the check being in the amount of $3.50. The remainder of the morning session was consumed in reading depositions, the court adjourning at noon till 1:30 p.m., July 18.

July 18, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "TEDIOUS TRIAL IS IN PROGRESS. Fifth Week of the Gillett Will Is Begun and Is attended by Torrid Weather. EMINENT THEOLOGIAN HEARD. Objectors to the Codicil Continue to Introduce Testimony to Prove John P. Gillett Was Insane and Incompetent to Transact Business."

      "The fifth week of the Gillett will contest case was begun Monday afternoon in Gillett's hall, where formerly many incidents in life were enacted, and where audiences laughed and audiences wept, according to the abilities of the actors. The hall is uncomfortably warm, but the important trial is in progress and outside of a cellar or bottom of an ice house a cooler place could not be found for business. Judge Shirley is particularly anxious to finish the case and is truly sick of it, judging from his care-worn expression. The lawyers are grouped together, the principals are in a bunch and curiosity seekers contribute to increase the temperature of the room and make it more disagreeable than it naturally is. The objector to the codicil is probably approaching the close of her side of the case in which she has sought to prove John Gillett insane and incompetent to transact business. As soon as she finishes the defenders of the will proceed with rebuttal and are holding back thirty to forty witnesses to fortify their case in addition to the strong case presented previously which Judge Hoblit and his colleagues have to an extent offset by strong evidence.

     Eminent Theologian Testifies. The first witness Monday afternoon was the brilliant theologian well known in Europe as well as America, Rt. Rev. George F. Seymour, bishop of Springfield. The Bishop appeared as a witness for Miss Jessie Gillett and testified to the conduct and the conversations of John P. Gillett.  He told of Gillett once telling him he was guardian of his father's will and property in protecting trees on the estates. Another time Gillett thought his wife was not doing right in preventing Catholic girls, her guests, eating heavy meals of forbidden articles on fast days. Gillett told him of drinking enormous quantities of liquor and said he was endeavoring to quit, and also related other incidents which were desultory and incoherent and caused him to believe the man was of unsound mind. Judge Beach in the cross examination, was lenient with the bishop and had him admit that Gillett told him trees had been cut at the home, and he objected to it and that the Gillett girls were trying to induce him to sign papers which he objected to. The Bishop admitted he did not know to what extent Gillett drank and he did not know whether he was under the influence of liquor or not the times he talked to him. He also said he did not know whether he transacted business the following days or the volume of business he transacted the same year. Previous to leaving the room the bishop very graciously approached Mr. Beach and extended his hand, which the great lawyer cordially grasped in the same spirit in which it was extended. This shows true christianity [sic] and is unlike the minister who meets you in public and passes you by without speaking When great men meet on such a level in a court room following interruptions and objections why shall the ordinary individuals continue at dagger's points?" 

July 19, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "TEDIOUS TRIAL NEARS THE END. Many Depositions to Read, Then New Lot of Witnesses for Both Sides. WILL FINISH IN FORTNIGHT. Case of Remarkable Length and More Remarkable Cost by the Time the Figures Are Compiled and Added Into Columns by Different Clerks."

     "There were no noticeable incidents in the Gillett trial on Monday. A prominent personage was present as a witness, but inasmuch as admissions were made of not having seen John Gillett frequently, not knowing the extent of business he transacted and unaware of the hold the drink habit had on the man, the evidence of the Bishop did not count for more than the evidence of a humbler person not knowing any more. It was more difficult for the Bishop to express himself than the ordinary person for he had to explain and was interrupted by Judge Beach, who seemed to irritate the witness, and he did not prove as strong a witness as one would expect such an able man would be capable of proving. When several other witnesses were heard following the Bishop, neither of the witnesses proving what is termed strong witnesses, counsel proceeded with the reading of depositions, which is expected to continue two days or so. When the depositions are read, the contestants of the will have from twenty to thirty witnesses to introduce and continue the proof of showing John Gillett insane. As soon as this side is through, Mrs. Gillett and Mr. Keays will follow with forty witnesses in rebuttal, then the other side with a number on sur-rebuttal [a rebuttal to a rebuttal], and then comes the arguments of two days or so by counsel, then the instructions to the jury and the case closes.

     The evidence offered Monday in addition to the evidence of Bishop Seymour was in substance as follows: E.E. Deane, residing about five miles southeast of Elkhart, was sworn and testified that he had known John P. Gillett since boyhood. Saw him in April, 1899, and had a conversation with him at that time. Witness related the conversation at length. From his talk and general actions witness thought Gillett of unsound mind and incapable of transacting ordinary business. On cross examination witness admitted that he thought there was nothing in what Gillett said, but that was sensible. George Farley was next called. Witness lives near Elkhart and had lived in and around Elkhart for 21 years. Knew John P. Gillett since 1881, but saw him seldom in the last 5 or 6 years of his life; saw him in Dr. Taylor's office in the fall of 1900 and at the time Gillett was stopping at Mrs. Pankey's. Had no conversation with him at that time except to bid him time of day. At that time Gillett was cakewalking around Dr. Taylor's office, whistling and carrying on. Witness thought him of unsound mind and did not think him capable of transacting business at that time. Bridget Lynch of Springfield was called. Witness lived with the Littler family for about 20 years; knew John P. Gillett in his lifetime. Gillett and his wife visited at Littler's quite frequently on which occasions witness always saw them. In 1889 witness first noticed that Gillett was drinking to excess. Had heard Mr. Littler remonstrate with reference to his drinking. Witness told of a visit of John's to Littler's house in 1899 and told of his actions on that visit. Witness did not know whether he drank anything at the house at that time. Did not think him capable of transacting business, although she had never seen him transact any business.

     Harry Newton was the next witness called and testified that he has been connected with the Elkhart Library. Has known John P. Gillett all his life. He testified to a conversation he had with Gillett in 1901. That Gillett complained to him that the boys going up and down the stairway to the library annoyed him (Gillett). Witness testified that there were no boys going up or down the stairs. Witness did not think that at that time Gillett was of sound mind. Mrs. Ann Cordel lived in Elkhart for 40 years; knew John P. Gillett by sight but was not personally acquainted with him. This witness was called to corroborate the testimony of Labe Allison with reference to a statement that Gillett was under the impression he had paid board for Labe Allison at her hotel. The evidence concerned a matter that happened about 20 years . . . [two lines ending this testimony are illegible].

     H. Roberts of Chicago, a salesman for Evans, Snyder Buell Co., livestock commissioners, was called and testified that he knew  John P. Gillett since 1882; met him at that time at a fat stock show. When he first knew him he was a very strong man with good habits. In later years his habits were bad. Witness did not think him a man of sound mind on the last two occasions on which he saw him; did not think him capable of transacting business. On cross examination witness said the last time he saw Gillett in Chicago he was drunk. Had conversation with him at that time regarding some transactions he had had on the Board of Trade. The witness was given a severe cross examination with reference to dates as to when he last saw Gillett, but was not shaken in his answers.

     Mrs. Katherine G. Hill [one of the Gillett sisters] was next called. She gave a long account of conversations with Gillett. She told of the signing of the contract between Gillett and his wife in the separate maintenance suit, and of the incidents attendant thereto. She didn't think that at the time Gillett was at Dwight his mind was sound. She told of his actions at that time and also of remarks he made when she cautioned him about his conduct in the presence of strangers. Dr. Keeley said that the cure would stop him from drinking, but they could not give him a new set of brains, that in order for the cure to be effective will power must be used. Gillett's conversations at this time were always disconnected. Witness told of John insisting on eating in the kitchen and gave as his reason that he wanted to see his food cooked. Mrs. Hill's testimony lasted the entire forenoon and a greater portion of the afternoon. Mrs. Hill called attention to the various times she saw her brother in Elkhart, Lincoln and Chicago and described him as looking bad and having a peculiar expression indicating his mind was wrong and she was convinced his mind was deranged. She told of the way he appeared before his mother and sisters and the vile epithets he heaped upon his mother when she had said or done nothing to call for it. There were sensational narrations referring to counsel on the other side, the physician who attended Gillett and the banker now dead who was the custodian of the will of Gillett. Mrs. Hill charged as offer of the sale of the will to her for $20,000 first and then $10,000, and linked it with conversations she had with her brother, but at the conclusion of the long narrative the court excluded the evidence and the contents of letters written by Frank W. Cottle, deceased, to John P. Gillett in which it was sought to prove that the letters were written to prejudice Gillett against Mrs. Hill and other members of the family. The evidence of Mrs.  Hill was listened to by a larger crowd than any so far present at the trial and it was a surprising revelation to those present. A report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of July 20, 1904, noted that "Mrs. Hill refused to divulge the name of the person who offered to turn her brother's will over to her for $20,000" and that she refused the offer at the reduced amount" (p. 7).

July 20, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "UGLY CHARGES IN WILL CONTEST. Testimony of Witness of Having Been Offered Will for Consideration Not Admitted. SENSATIONAL DAY IN COURT. The Present Week May See the Close of the Case as Everybody Connected with It Have Had All They Care for and Willing to Quit."

      "In the long, exhaustive and expensive law suit over the fortune of John P. Gillett is found a subject affording the poor and middle classes much to ponder over and cause them to thank their ancestors for not leaving large fortunes to wrangle over. The rich will find in the proceedings warning against becoming involved in a similar way to stand a chance of expending thousands, to see members of families unfriendly and witness the collapse of interested ones from the excitement, the heat and the exhaustion.

     Probably the Gillett family, a prominent one in the history of central Illinois, never suffered as it has suffered the past five weeks by the narratives in court by witnesses. The family has in the past had its share of troubles, ensuing from deaths and misfortunes but nothing to compare with the strain on every living member resulting from the pending trial. The trial is an ordeal if ever an ordeal existed in a trial. For five weeks the family has been in court in warm weather, when the days were damp and have had to endure the recital of stories by no means pleasing to a single member, notwithstanding the feelings of one for the other. One would think a family so liberally supplied with money would be contented. It is the opinion of a large majority of people that money brings contentment, but this trial tends to indicate the opposite. How could the family submit to the exposure of family secrets and endure the inconveniences of attending day by day the slow recital of the family woes unless discontented with plenty, with health and everything calculated to produce happiness? Maybe there is satisfaction in winning a suit, but the wear and strain on the winner more than compensates for the gains to be derived even though the gains be the entire fortune. Take for instance the case of Catharine [sic] Gillett Hill on Tuesday who was on the witness stand nearly the entire day. Mrs. Hill underwent a crucial trial in the cross examination, but showed she had the nerve and staying qualities by facing her tormentors and replying to their questions. Mrs. Hill gave many reasons for believing her brother insane. She was with him frequently and in position to know more about him than many who testified.

     Unfortunately, Mrs. Hill was a little too free in her answers at times and testified too strongly, for when checks and letters were produced they offset her testimony that he was as helpless as she believed him to be. The checks showed Gillett was transacting business to a great extent, contradicting the statement of Mrs. Hill that he was incapable of doing business. Several letters contradicted Mrs. Hill and established the foundation for contradiction later by other witnesses. Mrs. Hill was what is termed a willing witness and was too prompt in her answers. She took very good care of herself, however, in the thrusts Mr. Blinn aimed at her. She was alert and quick to deal back blows effective as the ones aimed. The accusations of Mrs. Hill against various parties were sensational but not permitted to be considered as evidence. It was expected when Mrs. Hill testified she would cause ears to expand and eyes to open in astonishment, and she fulfilled expectations. Mrs. Hill, despite the heat of the day, caused counsel on the other side to manifest more than the customary degree of energy in the case and kept the gentlemen busy. Mrs. Hill's charges embraced the jealousy of her brother over his wife; the offer of the will for $25,000 [sic] and $10,000, and the running off of witness, but the accusations were not substantiated by others and not being allowed to go to the jury, therefore should not become subjects of public comment.

     M.S. Maston testified having lived in and near Elkhart for a good many years. Was in the employ of Mr. Gillett 16 or 17 years. Left Mr. Gillett's employ in April, 1900. Was a personal attendant of John P. Gillett, commencing about the time his wife left him, and continued as such attendant for a few weeks when Dr. Barnes brought a colored man to take his place. When witness first went there, Gillett was under the influence of liquor. During the time witness was there he drank on an average of nearly a quart of whiskey a day. After an absence of about ten days or two weeks the witness went again to wait upon Gillett, when he found him in about the same condition as when witness first went there. During this time Gillett would not go to sleep until late at night, at times not until morning. He was in a very nervous condition. Witness occupied same room. Gillett asked witness to go and get Joe Lanterman to help him kill some foxes. At that time Lanterman was dead and had been for some time preceding. Witness told of Gillett looking out of the window and spoke of seeing foxes. Witness said there were no foxes there at the time. Witness told of actions of Gillett during the time he was at the house and also of the conversation he had with him during that time. On cross examination witness said he was farming for Miss Jessie Gillett at present. Witness was asked concerning certain statements purported to have been made by him which witness said he did not remember making. Witness made written statement to McCarthy and swore to same. Did not know who the man was who swore him to the statement, but it was not McCarthy. Witness was with Gillett and Mrs. Hill at West Baden. When he returned from West Baden, Ellis Eldon discharged him at the suggestion of Gillett. On re-direct examination witness stated that he was discharged a few days following refusal to get whiskey for Gillett.

     Fred Bock of Chicago was called. He testified that he had lived at Elkhart all his life except the last four years. That he knew John P. Gillett all his life. In 1900 witness was in the saloon business at Elkhart. In 1899 witness went hunting with Gillett. They took liquor with them on that occasion. Gillett drank some of the liquor and his marksmanship at the close of the shooting was better than at the beginning Witness thought Gillett was a better shot when he had liquor than when without it. The witness was somewhat confounded on cross examination.

     Stephen L. Littler, of Springfield, was next called. Knew John Gillett about 17 years. Had an intimate acquaintance with him. Mr. Gillett  would frequently come to the house of father of witness. Gillett was a drinking man all during the time witness knew him. In 1898 Gillett came to the house of witness's father, and he seemed distressed. He was closeted with his father for some time. Following dinner witness went down town with Gillett and went to police station with him at his request. Gillett said he had gotten into trouble and had lost money. He claimed he had been to a certain place in Springfield and had been robbed of money, Witness saw him again in the evening, when he appeared to be drinking. Saw him again in spring of 1900, when he appeared to be in bad health. Witness related conversation he had with him at that time. Witness thought at that time he didn't seem to be as bright as he was before. Witness did not think him in full possession of his mental faculties and that he had doubts of his being able to transact business. On cross examination witness was asked as to time of place he met Gillett and length of time of their being together. Witness did not have any personal knowledge of the business transactions of Gillett. The reading of the deposition of the Rev. Frank D.F. Miller of Erie, Pa., was then commenced and consumed the balance of the morning session."

July 21, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "WILL CONTEST IS CONTINUOUS. Gradually the Case Draws to a Close and Few Witnesses Remain to be Heard. EVIDENCE TO PROVE INSANITY. Sister of the Deceased Relates Circumstances to Prove Brother Was not Qualified to Transact Business and Declares Him of Unsound Mind."

     "The fifth week of the Gillett case is gradually drawing to a close, and sufficient is known to state the case will not close this week, and it is believed the greater portion of next week may be devoted to the case. The duration, of course, depends upon the number of witnesses to be used by the defenders of the codicil.

     B.R. Hieronymous, cashier of the Illinois National Bank of Springfield, was called as the first witness Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Hieronymous was called some time ago as a witness for the proponents, at which time the complainants desired to ask him some questions, which were objected to by the counsel for the proponents, for which reasons the witness was subpoenaed as a witness for the complainants. He testified to business transaction of Gillett with the bank. He also testified that he had noticed that Gillett had been drinking and that it was evident to him that Gillett's physical condition was growing worse. Witness thought that in the early part of 1900, from the dealings he had with Gillett, he was not a man of sound mind, and capable of transacting business. On cross examination witness said he thought that while Gillett carried an account with his bank, he thought his post-office address was Cornland, but witness was not sure about date.

      Frank G. Clark, a clerk for Henry Stahl of Elkhart, was called and testified that he knew Gillett all his life. He had been employed by Dr. Taylor several years ago to take care of his horses and do general chores. On one occasion he was with Dr. Taylor when they went by the Gillett home. Gillett shot at the rig in which they were driving, the bullet going above the rig. Witness saw Gillett frequently when he thought he was under the influence of liquor. Witness did not think Gillett capable of transacting ordinary business. On cross examination witness stated that he learned that Gillett had bet he could stop Dr. Taylor's team and that the shooting at the buggy was for the purpose of winning the bet. Dean Holcomb was sworn and testified that he had known John P. Gillett about 24 years. Saw him the last two years of his life frequently. From his actions and general appearance witness did not think him of sound mind. Ada Fant was next called and testified that she resided near Elkhart and had resided there about six years. Was slightly acquainted with John P. Gillett. She was employed to do work at the Gillett home in September, 1900. She was at the house three afternoons. Saw Gillett on the first afternoon. Witness related the conversation she had with him on the afternoon. She also told of Gillett running music box and having witness's son cake walk for him to the music. Witness did not see him drink any liquors. The reading of depositions was then taken up.

Thursday Morning's Session. At the beginning of the Thursday morning session the reading of the deposition of Dr. Howard, of West Baden, Ind., was continued. The deposition of J.B. Newton was next read.

     Sister of Gillett Testifies. Mrs. Charlotte L. Barnes, sister of John P. Gillett, was next called. She told of the physical condition and the general appearance of Gillett about the time of the death of their father. At the time Gillett made the original will, and also the first codicil to the will, his mental condition was good. Mrs. Barnes was married in 1891. She testified to Gillett's conduct on the occasion. She would see him on an average of once a month since the time of her marriage. Witness told of remarks made by him regarding the separate maintenance suit filed by his wife against him. Witness saw him take but one drink but could see by his appearance and conduct that he had been drinking. Was at her mother's home on the night Gillett was taken to Dwight, but did not have any conversation with him at that time. Witness was at French Lick Springs, Ind., in the later part of March, 1990. Gillett was there at the same time with Mrs. Hill, Miss Jenkins and his nurse. Witness told of his general demeanor and talk a that time. His talk would be very disconnected, so much so it would be impossible to understand what he would be talking about. Witness said next time she saw Gillett was on the 22nd day of May, 1990, the day of the conservator trial. She related the conversation she had with him on that occasion. The conversation had on the train from Lincoln to Elkhart. Gillett said he would like to talk with his mother, but he would not go to Mrs. Hill's house to see her. Gillett did not seem to be himself on that occasion, but witness said she did not know whether he had been drinking. Witness next saw Gillett a few days after the 22nd of May, at Elkhart. When she spoke to Gillett he did not return her salute, only looked at her with a blank stare. Witness thought the next time she saw Gillett was on June 9, following. Witness told who was at the house at that time, that her mother spoke to him, but received no reply. Witness had a conversation with him on the evening of June 11. Witness heard Gillett tell Labe Allison to go for Ellis Eldon and when Ellis came, John talked to Ellis in a very loud voice, advising the members of the family, herself included, threatening to burn the home. Her mother went to the door and commanded Gillett to stop his talk. Witness did not hear Gillett talk any more after that at this time. Witness was at home at that time until July 5. During that time Gillett continued ill natured, and also his abusive talk.

     Thursday Afternoon Session. Witness saw Gillett in Chicago after his return to Hot Springs, in April, 1901. Saw him only for a short time. He was very ill at the Auditorium Annex at the time. A letter from Gillett to Mrs. Gillett regarding a set of furniture claimed by Gillett, and complaining of witness having taken possession was read. On cross examination witness stated that the furniture referred to, belonged to Mrs. Littler during her life time. Witness did not think Gillett capable of transacting business during the years of 199 and 1901. Witness was cross examined concerning dates given by her in the direct testimony. Mrs. Barnes did not know a great deal about her brother, but what she knew she told without use of superfluous words. Walter. G. Eggleston, of St. Louis, was called. He was at the Auditorium Annex in Chicago from 1893 to 1900. First met Gillett in 1896. At that time he had a good appearance.

July 22, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "AN EXPERT IN GILLETT CASE. Dr. William Barnes of Decatur Gives a Great Deal of Information As Witness. LAST DAYS ARE DESCRIBED. Judge Shirley Informs Lawyers and Jurors Night Sessions of Circuit Court Will Have to Be Held Next Week to Complete the Trial."

     "Long periods of dullness in the Gillett will contest case have not been numerous or conspicuous. Something of interest happens nearly every day and frequently something objectionable to one or more members of the family, but this was expected when the case was decided to be tried in the courts. For six weeks, it will be written, later, the play house erected by a benefactor of Lincoln for the entertainment of a growing and prosperous city with the imaginary incidents of the past, as well as prophesies of the future, was devoted to hearing  a strange story of the life of an only son--a story stranger than fiction could ever be. In Gillett's hall, built for a play house is being settled a controversy over the wealth of the builder of the play house, which he in life little imagined would be heard in the hall. Life is a mystery and man does not know his history will be years following his death. If he leaves as extensive an estate as the late John D. Gillett left.

     Thursday afternoon and Friday forenoon the proceedings were interesting from the fact that a sensible expert was on the stand telling what he knew about the condition of the rich and unfortunate young man who sank to an early grave. He did not pretend to have a monopoly of knowledge, and he did not show off with long words or numerous technical terms. He talked to the lawyers and the jury as though in an ordinary conversation, and if he was not readily understood, his explanations were promptly made in words to be understood. Dr. William Barnes, of Decatur, was on the stand Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Dr. Barnes, although married into the Gillett family, was very fair in his testimony. Dr. Barnes testified to the mental and physical condition of Gillett in former and later periods. The actions of Gillett at various times were described, especially when a sufferer from alcoholism. The descriptions of Gillett by Dr. Barnes were vivid pictures of a strong man wrecked by intemperance, the doctor describing the effects of alcohol on the brain, the liver, the stomach and nervous system, using the professional terms and then explaining in simple words. The tendency of Dr. Barnes' testimony was to prove Gillett incapable of originating thought and therefore incapable of doing business. Dr. Barnes did not attempt to show off as many experts are inclined. He told what he knew in brief and plain English and expressed  clear opinions without hesitancy, and the opinion was a favorable one of him, by those who heard his evidence. Dr. Barnes proved an able expert and a fair and intelligent witness. On cross examination many letters written by Gillett to people on business during the time Dr. Barnes pronounced Gillett incapable of originating thought were clear and business-like and indicated the writer was capable of originating thought, provided there was no dictation from others."

July 23, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "MEMORABLE CASE NEARING CLOSE. The Evidence Is Nearly All in and Jury Will Deliberate Next Week on Verdict. EXPERTS NOT INTERESTING. Considerable Guessing on the Result Is Being Indulged in by Those Who Have Been Present Listening to the Long Drawn Trial."

     "Twenty-seven days of the Gillett will contest case closed Saturday at 10:45 a.m., when court adjourned until Monday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock, when the defenders of the codicil agree to bunch their remaining witnesses and close their side as soon as possible, then the opposing side will proceed to close. Judge Shirley expects the evidence to be in by Tuesday evening and thinks the counsel will finish arguments by Thursday evening, and that the jury will begin deliberations Thursday night or Friday morning, and probably conclude with a verdict by the adjournment of court, Saturday, if at all. This is the fifth week of the trial and with the close of next week, six weeks will have passed, causing the trial to be the longest of record so far as this county is concerned, and constituting a case liable to enter law books to become a subject of reference for years to come. The closing hours of the case for Miss Jessie Gillett, who is contesting the codicil, were devoted to the hearing of experts, who gave their opinion of Gillett's mind, based on limited acquaintance and from a limited number of visits.

     Dr. Barnes' Testimony. Dr. Barnes' testimony described the incidents attending the taking of Gillett to Dwight, and also conversations had with him at that time. Witness said he had spoken to Gillett regarding his will and telling him he had better look after it as there was some talk of its being missing, and if such were the case there would be trouble about his estate some day. He told of Gillett sending for Hiram Keays on one condition to look after the matter. The witness was cross examined by Mr. Blinn and said that in early years Gillett was not of a nervous nature but that he was a man of very violent temper and very profane in his higher language. Witness would usually see Dr. Taylor on his visits to the Gillett home and had been in consultation with Dr. Taylor regarding Gillett's condition. When Gillett spoke to witness regarding another and Mrs. J.P. Gillett he was not under the influence of liquor but was suffering from the effects of drinking. Witness told of a conversation with Gillett in December 1899, in which he accused Miss Jessie of going back on a trade she had on with him. Witness did not know of his own personal knowledge whether he had a deal on with Miss Jessie at that time, but only knew of it from hearsay.

     At the time Gillett was taken to Dwight, witness said he told him they were going to California, in order to get him on the train. At the time Gillett was in Decatur, in the spring of 1900, witness said he told him, after he had complained of the contract he had signed with his wife, that it didn't make much difference what he signed, as it would be broken anyway, and Gillett replied, "'I guess that's right, Billy.' Witness told Gillett that if he didn't brace up they would have a conservator appointed for him. Witness admitted he said to Hiram Keays that the part he was taking in the conservator matter, was for the purpose of keeping peace. Witness said that the first time he came to the conclusion Gillett was of unsound mind was in November of 1899. Said that in his opinion, Gillett was incapable of transacting business, but that he could perform routine business. Gillett was capable of recognizing his family, of telling what lands he had, and that he was capable of selling grain and stock by giving orders to have same done, but witness did not think him capable of judging the true merits of such sales. Thought Gillett incapable of transacting ordinary business in 1901. A letter written by Gillett on July 8, 1901, was read and witness was examined as to whether it was a clear and intelligent letter. Other letters were produced and the witness was examined regarding the origin of thought in them, and forced to admit they showed origin of thought and were clear. Witness was asked if he did not have conversation with Major Hill asking him not to testify on behalf of the defendants, which witness denied very emphatically. Witness said he had a conversation with Hill in which witness told him some very plain things but did not say anything with reference to Hill being here. Dr. Barnes was one of the best of witnesses that has [sic] been called by either side, his testimony being clear, intelligent and concise in every particular.

     The Dead Speaks Through Letters. The letters of John P. Gillett introduced as evidence proved to be the dead appearing in the case in defense of himself. One letter, a few days before the codicil was executed was written to Beach & Hodnett, asking for affidavits of physicians by which he wished to inform himself whether he was qualified to make a change in his will and then proceeded to make change. At this time he enclosed a check for $100 as a retainer. Another time he wrote a letter to Hiram Keays ordering him to transact a great deal of business, such as balancing bank book and removing property from one place to another. A third letter was to Ellis Eldon about shipment of grain and directing who he should ship to. These letters are considered by court experts the strongest proof in support of Gillett's competency to do business and as council [sic] for the codicil claim, direct messages from the unfortunate man late in his life that he originated thought, issued orders and transacted business. The reading of the letters was like Gillett rising from his grave to speak in his own behalf and proved sensational incidents of the great trial.

     U.S. Judge Framer of Will. Judge J. Otis Humphrey of Springfield was next called. Witness stated he was Judge of the United States District Court of Southern Illinois. Witness was acquainted with John P. Gillett about 20 years. Judge Humphrey stated that he wrote the original will of John P. Gillett. Judge Humphrey stated that conferences were had at several times with reference to why he had selected one sister as his legatee at the time the original will was drafted. Objection was made to the reasons given by Gillett at that time and cause quite a discussion, the Court finally ruling to admit the testimony with the understanding that the objection be governed by an instruction to the jury. Gillett said that his father, by his will, had sought to give the bulk of his property in one's keeping. That he had been given the bulk of his father's property, and was expected to do the same in his will, and that he regarded the business ability of Miss Jessie more pronounced and sound than that of any other member of the family, and for that reason he desired to make her his legatee. That he and Jessie had an understanding that the disposition of the property by her, was to be made to those of the grandchildren most capable of inheriting the property. At that time Gillett was a drinking man, but perfectly capable of making his will. Witness saw Gillett from time to time, and that he thought from 1897 on he had naturally deteriorated. Saw him last in the spring of 1901. At that time he was slovenly dressed. Witness did not think he had any business transactions with Gillett after about 1898. Had seen him at the Illinois National bank at different times, and on some occasions he appeared to be very much dissipated.

     Prominent Business Man Testifies. Charles W. Spitly was next called and testified that he knew John P. Gillett for 20 or 25 years. That Gillett had transacted business with the firm of Spellman, Orton & Spitly and also with the firm of Spellman & Spitly. Witness told of buying corn of [from] Gillett in 1897. That the firm did business almost every year with Gillett until 1900, the business being done with Gillett himself at times, and at times with Hiram Keays. The last business the firm had with Gillett was to get a tenant for a certain farm. Witness told of Gillett having some oats in store with the firm from 1897 to 1900. The tendency of Mr. Spitly's evidence was that Gillett was not qualified to do business. The rest of the morning session was consumed in reading depositions.

     Friday Afternoon. Richard Latham was the first witness Friday afternoon. He was sworn and testified that he had known John P. Gillett all his life. Saw Gillett on the day of the conservator trial. Spoke to him on that occasion, but had no lengthy conversation. Witness said he had not seen Gillett for a year or more before that time, and that he looked like a man who had had a severe spell of sickness. That on the occasion when he saw John he was in a very nervous state. Emma Maston was next called. Miss Maston testified that she lives in Elkhart. Witness said that she was acquainted with Mrs. Emma Pankey. That Mrs. Pankey had said to her that she would give her testimony in this case in favor of the side that would give her the most money.

     Saturday's Proceedings. The hypothetical question propounded Dr. King, consisting of six or seven pages of typewritten copy, the expert evolved the intelligence that Gillett, was in his judgment insane, from what he had seen and heard since June 9th, 1900, when he made the codicil of his will. Dr. King who has been here since June 7th testified at night session of the court and was followed by others. Dr. Moyer of Chicago, was the first witness called Saturday morning. He is an instructor in Rush Medical college. Has been assistant superintendent at Kankakee, also. Had charge of Insane Detention hospital of Cook county. Hypothetical question submitted. Witness answered that he thought Gillett insane on June 9, 1900. Dr. Sanger Brown, another expert, testified about the same as the experts who preceded him. Counsel for Miss Jessie Gillett then rested and counsel for Mrs. Oglesby and Mrs. [sic] Keays promising to speedily close their case Monday afternoon, court adjourned until Monday, July 25, at 1:30 p.m. The last week will be devoted to arguments of counsel and brilliant efforts may be expected from Judges Beach and Blinn and Judge Hoblit and Hon. L.F. Hamilton.

     Throughout the long trial, one fact has been clearly noticeable, that Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays have had advantage in counsel, Messrs. Beach and Blinn proving a team working harmoniously and making no mistakes. The work of Beach and Blinn in this case has been complimented highly and when the great trial is a thin of the past it will be referred to as the greatest trial in their legal careers. For Miss Jessie Gillett, the local firm of Hoblit & Smith has bourn the burden of the work by preparing the case, interviewing witnesses, and questioning the principal witnesses as they were called. In their work they have been materially aided by S.L. Wallace and it is no discredit to Messrs. Hamilton and Crea to say Hoblit & Smith and Mr. Wallace would have tried their side as successfully as it has been tried. The case has proven rich picking for the lawyers engaged and the fruit is not all gathered, for no matter what the verdict in the present case is, it is sure of going to a higher court for final settlement. If the jury should be harmonious in their verdict there is not much danger of a higher court reversing. Judge Shirley has allowed wide latitude to avoid another trial in this or other circuit courts and expects by instructions to avoid error. Judge Shirley has given satisfaction, has been kind, liberal, lenient and very courteous.

July 25, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "STRONG PROOF IN REBUTTAL. Defenders of the Codicil Spring Another Surprise by Contradicting Gillett Was Insane. LAST DAYS OF THE GREAT CASE. What Will the Jury do and How Long Will They Deliberate Over the Issues so Patiently Heard by the Members for Six Weeks."

     "The last week of the Gillett will contest case opened Monday with a larger crowd present than usual and more favorable weather than has been the rule. The interest centered in the determination of the defenders of the codicil to prove a great deal of testimony about John P. Gillett false and to establish beyond a doubt that he was as well qualified to transact business as hundreds, aye thousands of men in this country. The witnesses were introduced in the following order:

     Major J.E. Hill was the first witness called in rebuttal. Major Hill was asked regarding his service in the army. In Cuba and the Philippines. The witness testified that Dr. Pennington of West Baden had said to him in September 1903, that John Gillett was alright [sic] up to the last time he saw him. In May, 1903, in conversation with Dr. Pennington, he, Dr. Pennington, said John Gillett was alright. Dr. Pennington, as an expert in the trial swore that Gillett was not right. Miles A. Leach was next sworn and testified that Thomas McDaniels, the negro, had worked for him. That in August, 1903, McDaniels said to him that when John Gillett was sober he had as much sense as anyone. Witness had a conversation with Miss Amy Gillett in April, 1904, in which she asked him if he had been subpoenaed, on the other side of the case. Witness said he had. That Miss Amy told him to be careful how he testified, as it might hurt his business. S.G.W. Ely was called and stated that on the day of the conservator trial Gillett rode in the same seat with him all the way from Lincoln to Elkhart. Walter Murphy was called and testified that in the various conversations he had with Gillett, he had never noticed anything the matter with his speech and that he talked connectedly. Mrs. William Herrod, mother of Mrs. Hiram Keays, was called. Witness said she spent a day at thee Gillett home in June, 1901. On the day she was there, she asked Miss Amy if Gillett was losing his mind. When Miss Amy answered, 'No, it is only meanness. He is as clear headed as anybody in business or money matters.'

     E.B. Nicholson was called and stated that there was nothing in Gillett's speech to indicate there was anything the matter with him. William Herrod was next called. He testified that at Mackinaw [sic] in 1899, as far as he had observed that Gillett had brought no loungers [drunks] to his house. That witness was there at the special invitation of Mrs. L.P. Gillett. That in June, 1901, he visited the Elkhart house, at which time he asked how Gillett was. That Miss Amy replied that he was just as full of the devil as ever and that she did not go about him. Mrs. Mollie Miller of Elkhart was called and testified that she was acquainted with Katherine Leonard. That Miss Leonard said to witness in 1900 that John Gillett was an interesting talker and a man of good sense, and that she could not see how his folks could accuse him of being of unsound mind. Witnesses flatly contradicted other witnesses as she was the person who washed Gillett's clothes. Witness said that she did not see Gillett jump up, as charged, from the table, at Mackinac and that he, the witness did not say that Gillett was as crazy as any man he ever saw. Was with Gillett every day at Mackinac and that there was no day in which Gillett drank as much as a quart of liquor. That there was nothing in his talk to indicate anything was the matter with his speech. L.E. Bynum was next called and testified that Mrs. Gillett paid him for his services in waiting on Gillett. That there was nothing in Gillett's talk that indicated that there was anything the matter with his tongue.

     Conrad Brust was called and sworn and testified that Mrs. Hill asked him in the court room if he couldn't make up a nice story to help their side out. Mr. Brust stated that he was been at the trial as a spectator since the first day and intended seeing the whole show. James Mothey (colored) testified that Thomas McDaniels stated to him that John Gillett's mind was alright and that he was no more crazy than he, McDaniels, was. That he saw Labe Allison on July 4, 1903, and on that day Labe said he did not think Gillett crazy. Gus Beng was next called and testified in his conversations with Gillett that there was nothing the matter with his tongue that would affect his speech, that he could see no difference in his speech than what it formerly was. George Armintrout was called and testified that he saw M.S. Matson at the Chautauqua grounds [southwest of Lincoln] in summer of 1903, when he said Gillett was not insane, and was able to do business when sober. Miss Nina Gillett then testified: There was nothing the matter with Gillett's tongue in 1901. He was intelligent and talked connectedly. Checks identified as handwriting of John Gillett to show he wrote checks as well as signing them, to contradict evidence that checks were dictated by Gillett to others and written by others. The checks were offered and admitted in evidence.

July 26, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "GREAT CASE HAS CLOSED. Verdict of the Jury Expected Early. As It Is Deemed Certain They Will Agree. LAWYERS TO TALK 20 HOURS. Four Hundred Thousand Dollars Worth of Logan County Property Depending Upon the View Twelve Men Take of Important Trial."

     "The Gillett will contest now in its sixth week, closed Tuesday at 11 o'clock, when the war horse of the Logan county bar was turned loose to discuss the issues and talk against the offense of one individual owning too much property in this country, which became his subject when he began addressing the jury. The long case has now covered more than six weeks of time including adjournments. The case has been on for more than five weeks and has beaten all records as in time and cost. The feeling caused among members of the family will never be obliterated and only the grave will remove all vestige of what bitterness a lawsuit will establish in a family over the wealth of a departed member. The family arrayed in factions have sought the court to settle the question. Both sides have been ably represented and the decision, whatever it may be, ought to be accepted as final, but it is doubtful if it will be so accepted.

    In the closing days of the trial certain charges made against Miss Amy Gillett and Mrs. Katherine G. Hill were explained, and it is but justice to state the charges are not offenses and the ladies mentioned have explained satisfactorily to the public to warrant friends in not believing that they were seeking to bribe witnesses, Miss Gillett's connection with the Eldons was shown to be associated with a letter written by Mrs. Eldon about a certain bequest claimed to have been ordered paid by Mrs. Lemira Gillett, deceased, to Mr. Eldon. Mrs. Hill's explanation of a conversation with a witness is explained upon her efforts to obtain information she thought the witness could give and who was approached in the public court room. The friends and acquaintances of Mrs. Hill and Miss Gillett do not believe they would resort to such work, and it is but right to make this statement in their behalf since it has been published during the trial of the case that witnesses testified to certain charges, either orally or by communications.

     In the evidence of Charles W. Spitly, a prominent businessman of Lincoln, Mr. Spitly did not say that John P. Gillett was of unsound mind. He testified Gillett transacted business with his firm while he lived, sometimes himself and of late years through others. Gillett was either sane or insane according to the voluminous proof. If he was sane he had a right to do with his property as he pleased. If he was insane then it is a question of proving it, and if proved, then the property will go according to the original will, to Miss Jessie Gillett.

     L.W. Hess was called and testified that Gillett's conversation was connected and coherent and witness could see nothing different from his former conversations. Witness said that in November or December of 1901 Amy Gillett said to him that Gillett was not insane, but they wanted to get him in an asylum to prevent drinking. Fred Mayfield, deputy county clerk, was called to identify affidavits as to Gillett's sanity filed in the county clerk's office. William Lawrence of Milwaukee was called. Mr. Lawrence lived near Elkhart until recently and knew John P. Gillett about 12 years. This witness was called to testify to the personal relations between Mrs. Oglesby and F.W. Cottle, which witness said were not friendly. Witness could see nothing in Gillett's conversations that were disconnected. Mrs. E.W. Eldon was the next witness and testified that she visited Gillett's room about three times a week and that his room was always cleanly and well kept. Witness saw nothing in Gillett's speech that would indicate there was anything the matter with his tongue. Witness said Thomas McDaniels had said to her shortly following the 22nd day of May, 19000, that Gillett was no more insane than he was, and if he was insane he would likely to be in the same condition. McDaniels made practically same statement in October, 1900. On cross examination the witness was questioned about letters written by witness to Miss Amy and Jessie Gillett in relation do Mrs. Lemira Gillett's bequest of $5,000 being complied with. It seems that Mrs. Lemira Gillett made a verbal request that $5,000 be paid to Ellis Eldon and the connections of Miss Amy Gillett with the incident was [sic] due to letters written her concerning it.

     Miss Katie Lambert was next called and said that Thomas McDaniels had stated to her that John Gillett was no more crazy than he was and that if Gillett was crazy he would like  to be in the same condition. Witness said Gillett's conversations were not disconnected. J.J. Gilchrist that he saw nothing different in Gillett's conversation in later years than when he first knew him. J.H. Primm was next called and testified that he knew John P. Gillett since he was a boy. Saw Gillett on May 22, 1900, and had a conversation with him on that day. Saw him again in June following at Elkhart and had a conversation with him then. Witness saw nothing in these conversations that indicated defects in either speech or tongue and that his talk was connected. T.S. Davy testified that there was nothing the matter with Gillett's tongue that prevented his speech or matter with his tongue or speech and articulation and that his conversations were connected.

     Miss Felicite Oglesby was called and testified that Labe Allison called Mrs. Oglesby to go over to Gillet's house with statement he was dying; that Gillett did not say when the arrived there that he had not sent for Mrs. Oglesby. Witness saw Gillett frequently in 1900 and occasionally in 1901. Witness could see nothing the matter with Mr. Gillett's tongue that prevented his talking plainly and that his conversations were connected. Witness and her mother were in Chicago from June 2 to June 8. Witness stated that the personal relations between Mrs. Oglesby and F.W. Cottle were unfriendly and that they had not spoken from 1888 to the time of Mr. Cottle's death. Joseph Hodnett was called and said that at the time of the conversation that there was nothing the matter with Gillett's tongue and that his conversation was connected. Witness said he did not meet with Mrs. Oglesby and John Gillett at the Gillett home at any time in 1900 and that he had never met Mrs. Oglesby at the Gillett home place unless it was in 1876. Witness was not at the Gillett home place when Mrs. Oglesby said to Gillett he had better look over his papers. That Mrs. Oglesby, Hiram Keays, and F.W. Cottle did not say anything to him with reference to Gillett making a codicil to his will.

     Last Day of the Great Trial. Mrs. Barnett was recalled to state that while in Mackinac on a date referred to, she did not see any loungers at the house with John P. Gillett, that she did not see anything in Gillett's speech that would indicate something wrong with his tongue. A.H. Bogardus was called and testified that when he and Gillett were hunting the shooting was on the wing. Witness was asked what kind of a house the Guinn house at Hot Springs was and said it was a clean house in every respect. Witness said Gillett's speech during the latter part of his connected. Rev. T.D. Kennedy was the next witness called and said that in the conversations he had with Gillett he did not notice anything in his speech and articulation that would indicate he had not the full use of his tongue and that his conversations were connected and coherent. Mrs. Eldon was recalled and testified that Miss Jessie Gillett answered the letter identified by her in her examination previous day. Witness then identified the letter she received in reply to the one she sent Miss Jessie. The letter was then read to the jury. The letter said the witness knew nothing of the money bequest to Mr. Eldon by her mother, but that when the codicil case is decided she would be better able to decide. Edward Barry was called and stated that he saw nothing the matter with Gillett's tongue that prevented him from speaking or articulating perfectly.

     Mrs. H.N. May was called and told of her visit to Mrs. Gillett at Mackinac in 1899. That while she was there she saw no loungers around the house. Witness stated that Miss Amy and John Oglesby left Mackinac the evening of her arrival or the next evening. Witness was in Lincoln May 22, 1900, and visited with Mrs. Oglesby four of five days. Next saw Mrs. Oglesby on June 2, 1900. Was at Mrs. Oglesby's Thanksgiving time, 1901, and saw Thomas McDaniels there at that time and heard him say to Mrs. Oglesby and herself that John Gillett was not insane. C.M. Williams was next called and testified that he did the plumbing in the bathroom at the Gillett home. Witness was asked about the heater and if by turning on a faucet in the bathroom steam could escape. Witness said steam could escape if the water was drawn off the tank in the cellar. John Keckler was sworn and said he knew John Gillett since he was a boy. That he had a conversation with him in 1909 and saw nothing wrong with his speech and that his conversation was connected.

     E.D. Blinn was sworn and testified he was attorney for Mrs. Oglesby at the probate of the will of John P. Gillett, that some time between September 20 and 25, 1901, at Mrs. Gillett's funeral he learned from Hiram Keays that the will of Gillett was lost, and told of the efforts that were made to find it. A few days afterward witness met Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays at the home of Mrs. Oglesby. On his advice, Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays made the deed to the 160 acres to F.W. Cottle, which deed witness took and proposed to offer Cottle the deed if he would produce the will, and if he did not, witness would return the deed. There was no consideration except the return of the will and the resignation of Cottle as executor. Witness called on Mr. Cottle and asked him a great many questions regarding the will, and Cottle repeatedly denied that he had the will. Later he turned and asked Cottle if he found the will and he said no. Mr. Blinn then took the deed out of his pocket and told Mr. Cottle that if he would get the will and turn it over to him, together with his resignation, he would give him (Cottle) the deed. Mr. Cottle then went to his house and shortly returned with a package, and said if he delivered this paper and resigned as executor Mr. Blinn would turn over the deed and he was assured he would. Witness then produced a written resignation as executor, which Cottle signed, when witness took the will and resignation and handed Mr. Cottle the deed. Mr. Blinn brought the will to Lincoln and filed same in the county clerk's office. There was no other consideration for turning over the will than the deed and resignation. Joseph Hodnett was recalled and questioned concerning a letter written by the firm of Beach & Hodnett acknowledging the receipt of a retainer fee and trying to establish his interest in this case. But Mr. Hodnett was not connected with the case. With Mr. Hodnett the proponents rested their case.

     In Sur-Rebuttal. In sur-rebuttal Mrs. Hill was called to contradict the testimony of Conrad Brust, but upon objection of counsel the court refused to allow the testimony on the ground that the questions were asked witness in her examination in chief. Patrick Bohn was next called and testified that Miss Jessie Gillett did not live at the Manse in July, 1903; this was to contradict a statement made by a witness Monday that she lived there on July 4, 1903. Mrs. Barnes was also called to establish the same fact.

July 27, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "TWENTY HOURS FOR ARGUMENT. Lawyers in the Gillett Will Case Engage in Long Arguments Summing Their Sides. BEACH BEATS ALL RECORDS. Jury Will Have the Case on Thursday Afternoon and Perhaps Not Earlier Than Friday Afternoon."

     Note: All of the report for this date is significant and interesting. "Gillett's hall was nearly filled Tuesday night by spectators desirous of hearing great lawyers discuss issues in important cases. Every chair in the court room was taken and many persons had to stand for hours to listen to the ringing words of counsel as he charged various offenses against those endeavoring to break the will of a man he believed to be sane, a man he claimed he had proven sane by letters and telegrams and by a great preponderance of evidence from the people who knew John P. Gillett all his life, transacted business with him and were with the unfortunate young man before he sank to an untimely grave. Once during the evening when Judge Beach was at the height of his bitter condemnation, a lady who was a witness in the case, actuated by the excitement of the trial and the occasion arose and said, 'You have gone far enough and you will have to take back what you said.' Quick as ever Beach turned to the jury to make himself better understood and informed the jury that the witnesses he was speaking of were worthy and honest people. Judge Shirley strongly rebuked the demonstration following the objections of the witness and ordered the sheriff and his deputies to arrest and take before the bar any individual indulging in demonstrations of approval or disapproval during the case. he said he would fine any person indulging in demonstrations.

      Judge Beach's Remarkable Argument. Judge Beach began his argument in behalf of Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays at 11 a.m. Tuesday talking until noon. He resumed in the afternoon and continued the argument until 6 p.m., when court again adjourned until 7:30 when Mr. Beach began to sum the strong points for his side and concluded at 8:35, consuming six hours and fifteen minutes, constituting the longest and most remarkable address heard in any court in Logan and ranking with the famous legal contests of the state. The fame of Mr. Beach was sufficient to attract a crowd to the court room to hear what was predicted to be the greatest effort of the great lawyer's life to a case he had carefully studied for months and which he was as familiar with as he could be. As the people knew, Judge Beach is not an advocate of policy  in the discussion of legal questions. He assumed in his argument wealth if used judiciously is a blessing, but frequently becomes a curse. He called attention to the old countries and their conditions due to the entailment of property and explained the conditions existing in this country, limiting entailments and wise and beneficial. Mr. Beach's denunciation of methods resorted to by the party endeavoring to break the codicil were strong and frequently repeated. Fierce and firm as he may have been in previous encounters his contentions, his sarcasm, his scorn and his denunciation exceeded anything heard or expected to the circuit court of Logan county. Thunderbolt following thunderbolt were hurled into the camp of those arranged against his client. He was pathetic [appealing to emotions] in variations and from his lips fell eloquent words of appeal and endorsement for his clients and his witnesses, when quick as lighting and in thunderous tones fierce invectives were hurled against the opposing side. However viewed, whether from a friendly or unfriendly standpoint the address has not a since superior or few equals in the annals of legal history.

     Mr. Beach reviewed the evidence in the case and the motives of the principals and criticized as he always does, except in this instance he was more pointed than in famous great trials he has been a conspicuous figure in. He had the popular side of the case in that he was counsel for the parties defending the will of the dead and screening the dead from the exposures heard in court and admissible according to the law of evidence. Mr. Beach did not forget or neglect to allude to every incident favorable for his side, and at the conclusion his clients congratulated him upon his effort.

     Wallace's Strong Appeal. Samuel L. Wallace, for the party seeking to break the codicil, began to talk Tuesday evening and concluded on Wednesday morning. He talked nearly three hours and answered the attack of Judge Beach on his clients by claiming they were respectable, honest and virtuous ladies and natives and residents of the county. Mr. Wallace condemned the policy of abusing witnesses and thought the court should place restrictions on the liberty of counsel in the attacks on character. Mr. Wallace defended Miss Jessie Gillett with vigor and emphasis and asserted that in her work in the important case she had done no more than the opposing factions--she engaged in the contest to win. Mr. Wallace proceeded to devote attention to the witnesses and discussed the actions and the evidence. Mr. Wallace was listened to by jury and audience with close attention and the verdict was, that the long case was by and correctly summarized in a brief epitome.

     Judge Crea Is Heard. Judge Crea, of Decatur, spoke for Miss Jessie Gillett Wednesday forenoon. Judge Crea is more of a counselor than an advocate before a jury and he did not take as much time as it was expected he would. In his remarks he covered fully two hours or so, and dissected the strong points of his case and the weak points of the other side as he observed the same from his long experience as a counselor for the courts of central Illinois. Judge Crea answered several of the allegations of Judge Beach, as did all the attorneys for the party contesting the will. Judge Crea was mild in his criticism and used more policy in the discussion of the case than any of the other lawyers. He was effective in his seriousness, appealing in his modesty and winsome in his respectfulness.

     Last Address for Contestants. The large gun for the contestants was wheeled into line at 11 a.m. Wednesday and began firing small shot, accompanied by subdued tones, rested from action at noon, appeared in relief uniform in the afternoon and consumed the house from the convening of court at 1:30 until 6 p.m. Mr. Hamilton is not an orator. He is a keen analyzer of  testimony and he gave his attention to the law and the testimony. He was dull and tedious at times, but his physique and resonant voice gave him a commanding appearance. He pounded on his points with sledge hammer effect. He undertook, and did in a way, answer Judge Beach and tried to answer Judge Blinn in advance of his closing address. Mr. Hamilton was a forceful advocate of his client's interests, but he lacked the steam and the force and effect so noticeable a few years ago when associated with local counsel in important trials in this county, due probably to the decay of the fire, vim and vigor of youth. Mr. Hamilton will have to admit, like all, that we are growing old.

     How Will the Case End? It is for the jury to say what the verdict will be. Individuals may express opinions and The Courier is capable of giving a forecast, but it does not desire to be unfair in the contest. It has been a task to give an accurate epitome of the evidence owing to the street noises and the frequent interruptions of the gentleman from Springfield, who gained his share of public attention consistent with his size and fame. Space could not at times be devoted to explanations. The defenders of the codicil have the advantage in the case, for the reason they are in intrenched [sic] positions, they are in possession of the fortune in controversy, and have to be assailed and routed from their entrenchments. In trials of this character, where the dead have to be attacked and declared insane, the proceedings are usually unpopular where especially the party proceeding is rich. There is an inalienable right in this land of a man giving his property to whom he pleases and if he is not declared insane in life, seldom if ever, is a jury disposed to declare a man insane following his death, where so much oral and documentary proof is produced as was produced in this case. A journal has the right to say that preponderance was offered by the defenders of the codicil who had more witnesses in direct examination, more in rebuttal and more in sur-rebuttal than the other side, because the sympathy of the community was with the dead and his defenders, rather than with the living, who, through force of circumstances had to assume the other and the unpopular side as they have had to do in this case.

     The chances of the codicil defenders winning are two against one. A verdict for the codicil, if signed unanimously and early, is liable to be final, for seldom has a higher court disturbed unanimous verdicts of a jury in a will contest. A disagreement is equivalent to a victory for the codicil, for the defenders are where they were when the case began in possession. A verdict for the party seeking to break the codicil is not likely from a fair and impartial standpoint in this case. A disagreement means another and perhaps longer trial than the closing, more expense and more bitterness. Greater fortunes have been squandered in law suits beginning as this has begun, and more influential families have passed away and been forgotten over the worries and the heartaches arising from fierce family quarrels in the public courts. What course should be pursued? There may come trial following trial in this expensive case. It may be in the courts for years, and long following the entire expenditure of the princely fortune it may yet be on the dockets awaiting an interested one to move to have it stricken. Life is too short for such differences, for such quarrels, for such charges as have cropped out in this case. Upon a brotherly and sisterly plane the parties in interest ought to be able to meet, and if actuated by the principles of christian charity, they will settle all their troubles an continue as their parents would have them--sisters in unity.

     Court This Evening. This evening Judge Blinn will close the case and take care of Mr. Hamilton and answer all the issues he has discovered and talked about. Judge Blinn will have about four hours in which to explode and explain his case from his point of view. Blinn is a keen cutter and can say cutting sentences as any man. His words have stings which those aimed at have had occasion in the past to resent quicker than they would the words of other members of the bar.

July 28, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "GILLETT JURY MAY BE HUNG. Eighteen Hours Fail to Cause an Agreement Following Argument and Discussion. SEALED VERDICT IS ORDERED. Sheriff's Deputy Is Given Strict Orders to Prevent Leaks from the Jury and Is Carefully Complying with the Orders of Court."

     "Logical arguments were used by Judge Blinn Wednesday afternoon in his summing of the Gillett will contest case. Mr. Blinn is a great lawyer and in the court room Wednesday night the largest crowd of the trial was present to hear him argue so adroitly for a verdict vindicating the memory of his former friend and client, John P. Gillett, from the stigma of insanity. Reasoning was prolific by this lawyer and compared to the effort of the 'giant of the Sangamon county bar' it so far excelled it in logical conclusions, that a comparison is hardly fair to Mr. Blinn. Judge Crea became ill when in the midst of his effort and had to abruptly cease. Mr. Hamilton indulged in repetitions and frequently threshed old straw striving to kill time. He was tiresome and tried the patience of the jury. Mr. Blinn was fresh in his line of thought when he concluded, in fact his closing words were more appropriate for the pulpit than the court room and were impressive both on the audience and the jurors. Judge Blinn dealt mainly with the character of the witnesses, their motives and the effect of their testimony. He did not spare criticism and charged offenses of serious aspects and then defied the talent on the contesting side to mention an incident or a witness where wrong-doing could be charged. He charged grave offenses to the other side and repeated the charges over and over until those listening to the charges began to seriously consider. Mr. Blinn's argument was of nearly four hours' duration and he did not neglect any phase of the great case when he directed the attention of the jury to the last memoranda of the late John P. Gillett, when on September 8, 1900, six or seven days previous to death, when scribbling lines, asked for Hiram, the beneficiary of his will, he assumed the grave air of the charitable pleader in behalf of charity and justice.

     The Court Instructs the Jury. Judge Shirley, who has so patiently and ably tried the case and to whom the parties in litigation will ever be indebted for fairness and liberality, proceeded to read the instructions of the court which were plain and brief considering the importance of the case and the duration of the trial. The points made in the instructions were that Mr. Gillett had a right to dispose of his property by will as he did, provided he was qualified and of testamentary condition of mind. The instructions reminded the jury it was necessary to prove that John P. Gillett was insane or had insane delusions against his sister, Jessie Gillett, at the time he executed the codicil, although he may have been insane prior to and following the signing of the codicil. The court extended it as the privilege of the jury to consider the action of witnesses and their interest in the case. The preponderance of the evidence was to be considered where there was evidence contradictory. There was no misunderstanding of the instructions of Judge Shirley. The instructions was [sic] the law condensed to the smallest possible volume, the language was Plain English, the sentences terse and pointed.

     Jurors Nearly Agree. From 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. Thursday the jury was unable to agree. At 9 o'clock the jury entered the court room for additional instructions in the way of additional interpretation by the court and were sent back to the council chamber to stay until a verdict was rendered or there was reason to believe a verdict could not and would not be reached. From appearances one juror was stubborn and did not agree with a majority, ten or eleven, judging from the way a number were exhorting an individual in a corner of the large room, the single juror acting as if he had taken his stand and proposed to maintain it.

     Decision Awaited with Feverish Interest. All forenoon the absorbing topic of conversation was the famous trial and the result of the jury's deliberation. As the hours passed the suspense became painful to the ones directly interested and the general public concluded it was doubtful if a verdict would be reached. It will not be the fault of the court if the jury does not agree, for it seems ordered that the twelve men be kept in custody until they agree on a verdict, seal it, and hand it to the court officer.

     Quiet in Court Room. In the council chambers late this afternoon the jury was quiet. Not a sound was heard coming from the chambers. The members were unusually quiet and talked in low tones, because not an angry or high keyed note was heard.

     Sensational Rumors. The longer the jury deliberated the more numerous became the stories alleging the cause. The sources could not be traced, and it may be said there has not so far been any grounds for the accusations. Rumors have been spreading like wild fire that detectives numerous have been engaged in the case since its opening and that sensational revelations are forthcoming. The jury is a body of fair and honest men and may yet render a verdict according to the law and under their solemn oaths.

     Offending Witness Held. The parties in the city directly interested in the Gillett will case were entertained by another law suit while awaiting the verdict of the jury in the will case. The trial referred to was the preliminary hearing of Thomas McDaniels, arrested on a charge of perjury preferred by Mrs. Emma G. Oglesby. After hearing the evidence and the arguments of the counsel, which were pretty lively and full of energy, the court decided that McDaniels should be bound over to the grand jury in the sum of $800.00 bond. Erastus W. Bates signed the bond and McDaniels was released pending the session of the grand jury at the September term of the circuit court.

     Jury Ordered Back to Temporary Prison. When the noon hour Thursday arrived and passed and the jury had not agreed Judge Shirley concluded to go to Carlinville and attend to business and return Friday if the jury agrees. He is determined there shall be a verdict and gave the deputy in charge instructions to keep the twelve men together until they have decided and in case he is not here to open court to seal the verdict and await his return.

     Eleven Against One. There is no way of ascertaining how the jury stands except by actions. In the council chambers they assemble in groups and talk and laugh. At one time five or six were seen together looking out the windows and acting agreeably towards each other. In another part of the room four of five were around one man who seemed to be set one way, and it was concluded that the body stood eleven against one in favor of f a verdict for the codicil.

     May Yet Agree. There are advocates of both sides. The parties to the suit each have friends. The sentiment though in the city and country is that the codicil will win. The difficulty and the objections to interfering with a will are the first grounds. Aside from the paid talent in the case the codicil had more witnesses from the vicinity in which Gillett lived and died. The witnesses were disinterested, and yet the experts for the codicil were as numerous as the experts for the other side. The preponderance of the evidence and the right of a man to dispose of his property is with the codicil and the public sentiment sustains the declarations that Mrs. Oglesby and Mr. Keays will win the case in the final trial, if not in the present instance. If another trial is called the codicil will have stronger and more witnesses than it recently had, for since the close new and important witnesses have been found who will strengthen the claims of the defenders of the codicil that John P. Gillett was not insane.

July 29, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "GILLETT WILL CONTEST SETTLED. Jury Decides John P. Gillett Was not Insane and Had a Right to Dispose of Property. TWO HEIRS BENEFICIARIES. Fortune of Half a Million Dollars Ordered by the Jury Where It Will Do Great Good and Produce Much Happiness in This Community."

     "Jury Causes Surprise. When Judge Shirley of Carlinville arrived in Lincoln at 12:45 on Friday, to convene court and ascertain whether the jury in the Gillett will contest case had agreed upon a verdict, another surprise was perpetrated by the jury. The trial proved a succession of surprises and sensations, and it was natural for the jury to take a hand in the drama and end the first chapter with an agreeable surprise for one party and a disagreeable surprise for one party and a disagreeable surprise for the other party contestants in the case.

     The Judge Worried. Judge Shirley was informed on arrival that the jury had apparently disagreed, and when he opened court his face wore a stern look and he expected to receive the news that a long trial was without result, that the money of the people was expended because three men could not agree upon a verdict. Turning to the jury the court asked: 'Has the jury arrived at a verdict?' One of the jurors, who held the verdict sealed, without arising, replied: 'We have." The court repeated the question and upon receiving an affirmative answer again seemed to be surprised and dispatched the sheriff for counsel in the case. Upon the arrival of Judge Hoblit, the faithful counsel for his clients, the court opened the verdict and read aloud: 'Verdict of the Jury. We, the jury, find that the codicil in controversy is the last codicil to the last will and testament of John P. Gillett, deceased. Jere Birks, Chris Strampp, John Sanders, John Templeman [sic], George Sparks, John Huber, J.E. Roach, William Ellis, Aug. J. Baker, R. Barry, Lincoln Evans, Newton Huffman.

     Everybody Surprised. The verdict was a surprise, for it was supposed the jury could not and had not agreed. The court indicated surprise notwithstanding his power of self control. The Jury Ordered Polled. Judge Hoblit's lips closed firmly, and he asked that the jury be polled, which was done by Clerk Bollin in the following question to each member called by name and asked to arise and answer in the affirmative: 'Was this, and is this, your verdict?' Verdict Entered and Jury Thanked. All members answering in the affirmative, all for the court to do was to enter the verdict in the court record and express a wish to shake the hands of each juror personally and thank each for being so patient and faithful throughout the long and trying ordeal. The Oglesbys Show Appreciation. Mrs. Oglesby never looked so handsome in all her life as she approached the jury and extended her hand, and with traces of deep emotion suppressed by a powerful exhibition of will power, suppressed the prerogative of woman giving way to tears of joy. Col. Oglesby, the worthy son an illustrious sire, was busy conveying his thanks and taking the address of each juror to remember in the days to come he may have favors to bestow on his mother's friends.

     Life Has Varied Moods. Such is life. Today we weep, tomorrow we rejoice. Mrs. Oglesby and Hiram Keays were rejoicing truly and have good cause, for from $400,000 worth of property by a verdict of a jury was bequeathed them. They are without a single doubt in circumstances now to make them rich for all time to come, and they will have the consciousness of having been loyal to the one who bequeathed them the fortune and in trying days uttered not one word of reproach against their benefactor and did all in their power to defend his name and perpetuate his memory as a memory of fame in the financial world. How the Verdict Is Viewed. The verdict of the jury being unanimous it will stand the test in the higher courts. The codicil to the will is legal proof, and a legal, defying document, the work of a master in law, Joseph Hodnett, the greatest documentary lawyer of the day and age in which he lived in Logan County and the equal of any counselor and writer wherever he may live.

     No Danger of Reversals. Appeals may be made to higher courts but the appeals will never be reversed in this case for Judge Shirley in his instructions was careful and cautious and having been one of the ablest lawyers of his county and having served many years on the bench, is thoroughly posted in the law and was not willing to have a case of  such magnitude remanded or reversed on account of his rulings. The Verdict Was Proper. As stated heretofore at the conclusion of the trial, when the expression of opinion did not interfere with the verdict by influencing the jury, the preponderance of testimony was on the side of the codicil. The witnesses were more candid and created a more favorable impression than the witnesses for the other side, many of whom were paid experts, as shown by the proof. The neighbors and a acquaintances of a man are the men capable of knowing whether or not John P. Gillett was capable of transacting business. They said he was and the issue was the testimony of the plain people of Elkhart and vicinity and the local physicians and surgeons, against the experts from Indiana, Chicago, Hot Springs and other sections of the country, reinforced by a few interested persons.

     What Counted in the Case. The stack of telegrams, the numerous letters, the legal documents and the extensive business deals of John P. Gillett made an impression on the minds of the jury and the people who heard the trial. John Gillett was dead. His mouth was closed, but when Judge Beach presented his letters and telegrams, proved his business transactions and paraded neighbors and acquaintances of years standing before the jury, the case was settled without a resort to the charges made by counsel against the other side.

     The Jury Was Not Tampered With. Never was a case tried in this county in which so many charges of corruption were made. It is not for a newspaper to say they are true. It developed in the trial 160 acres of land had to be paid for the will and codicil. Testimony was offered proving witnesses had been promised certain rewards and experts were paid large sums of money to testify in the case. However, be if said, the jury by its verdict has convinced the people of the county jury bribing was not accomplished, as frequently predicted by men on the streets when it was thought there would not be an agreement. By the verdict the jury is vindicated and whatever the state of public opinion may be about other charges, neither party will be accused of jury bribing, which so many feared when there was so much talk of other alleged questionable transactions.

     Public Sentiment. The correspondent for a newspaper, not published here, and sent to report the case, says of public sentiment and reviews the case very fairly: 'Probably no will case in Illinois has been more bitterly contested than this now famous attempt upon the part of Miss Jessie D. Gillett, who was named as heir in the original will of John P. Gillett, to set aside the codicil to the will which displaced Miss Gillett as heir and substituted Mrs. Emma Oglesby and son, Hiram Keays. Approximately two hundred witnesses have appeared on the stand, eight high salaried attorneys have constantly been engaged, and every inch of the ground has been contested. The lowest estimate placed upon the cost of the trial is $70,000.'

     Much Bitterness Engendered. Unlike a murder case, the bitterness of which is relieved when the penalty is paid, a decision in the Gillett case can bring the prejudiced members of the family no nearer together in this inveterate strife. The long case which has made public secrets of the family, has embarrassed the principals, cost thousands of dollars and finally developed a family feud. Kindred have combined to avenge imagined affronts of kindred, and the only end which will obliterate all vestige of the bitterness brought to members of a family disputing the disposition of the wealth of a departed member, in conditions like these, is the grave. A peculiar state of affairs exists at Elkhart and Lincoln, the homes of the principals in the case. So intent and determined has been each side to triumph over the other, that it is not only those interested who harbor enmity, but the feeling has spread until now the whole community is involved. Friends, even acquaintances, have taken sides. The progress of the case has been the one salient topic for weeks.

     Family Long Prominent. Each bit of testimony has been discussed--rejected as false by some, accepted as truth by others--each witness has been condemned by  some, praised by others. Relations between friends of one side and friends of the other are so strained that no one feels free to say  his mind and the talk concerning the merits of either side is in public places guarded. One explanation for the general interest in the case lies in the fact that the Gillett family has held for years a prominent position socially in central Illinois, and another potent interest source is the innate curiosity of mankind to learn the inner working of an aristocratic family. Before the trial, before the sisters told in open court the family side of the Gillett home life, no one knew the interrelation of the family. The Gilletts moved in a circle of their own--to others they were strangers.

     Sketch of John P. Gillett. Aside from the interest which has grown out of the court proceedings, the character of John P. Gillett is sufficient to attract notice. Gillett was one of the strangest of men. Born to wealth, he was born with a desire to satisfy his own tastes. His craving for liquor is admitted by all to have caused his death. His commanding stature, handsome face and frank personality made friends of all acquaintances. He died when 40 years old. John P. Gillett was the only son of John D. Gillett, the Illinois cattle king who was famous the country over for his unrivaled herds of cattle. He was born at Elkhart and was married there in February, 1889, to Miss Inez Mermler [Mermier], a member of a poor, but respectable family. In October, 1899, Mrs. Gillett left her husband and moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., after securing separate maintenance, her share of the property amounting to $100,000. Shortly after leaving Elkhart, Mrs. Gillett married. In her application for separate maintenance, Mrs. Gillett charged drunkenness, insanity and abuse. Members of the Gillett family attempted to induce her to return to Illinois and testify in the present case, but it is alleged that she was prevented from doing so by her husband. The testimony of the witnesses, whether for the complainants or the defense, showed Gillett to have been a man of determination, of fixed ideas, and generous. If he was insane before death it was liquor which super-induced the insanity and no natural deformity of mind

     Resume of Noted Case. A resume or even a general review of this great suit, although difficult to handle satisfactorily, cannot but be interesting. The suit was brought by Miss Jessie Dean Gillett to set aside the codicil to the will of the late John P. Gillett. After pending for some time, being set for trial several times and postponed, trial was commenced June 7 last. Judge Shirley was assigned to the bench, and many special venires were issued [call for citizens to serve on a jury]. On one side was arrayed Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby, widow of the late Gov. Oglesby, and her son by former marriage, Hiram G. Keays. On the opposing side was Miss Jessie Dean Gillett, representing the interests of her sisters, Mrs. K.G. Hill and Miss Amy Gillett and Mrs. Charlotte Barnes, in addition to carrying on her own fight. The property in dispute consisted largely of real estate, fine farm lands in Logan county, the value of which was $500,000. Miss Jessie Gillett was a practical farmer and lived in comfort on her farm at Crownhurst [aka Crowhurst; Cro'hurst]. Besides her farming interests, Miss Gillett attended to the adjustment of the estate and business affairs of her mother, Mrs. Lemira P. Gillett, being the sole executrix of Mrs. Gillett. Miss Gillett cared nothing for society in the general sense of the term, but was content with the companionship of her few intimate friends.

     Mrs. Oglesby a Different Type. Mrs. Oglesby is of quite different disposition. She cares for society and has always entertained considerably at her home near Elkhart. She has five children, the son concerned in the suit, who is the son by her first marriage; one daughter and three sons, the children of her second marriage. There are six living daughters of the late John D. Gillett. Of these, two are arrayed on one side. The two older sisters, Mrs. Oglesby and Miss Nina L. Gillett, are friends. Opposed to the two older sisters are Mrs. Katherine Gillett-Hill of Lincoln, Mrs. Charlotte M. Barnes of Decatur, wife of Dr. Barnes, Miss Jessie Dean Gillett of Elkhart and Miss Amaryllis T. [Amy] Gillett of Chicago. These four sisters are devoted and attached to each other.

     Story of the Will. The homes of Miss Jessie Gillett [a photo of it appears later in the webpage] and Mrs. Oglesby [a photo of it--Oglehurst--appears earlier in this webpage] are on adjoining farms near Elkhart. The home of the latter is an imposing house, a palatial country home. Miss Jessie Gillett traveled little. She presented the village of Elkhart with a library and endowed the institution with a repair fund. Shortly after the death of his father, John P. Gillett, his own marriage being without issue [children], made a will naming his sister, Miss Jessie Gillett, as his heir, bequeathing to her all the Gillett estate except that which by law should go to his wife as dower. Miss Jessie Gillett has testified that her brother told her why he made her his heir. These reasons were according to Miss Gillett, that her initials were the same as those of her father and that the land would again belong to J.D. Gillett, that he believed her business ability was superior to that of her sisters; that she had kept up the special herd of cattle known by her father's name; that she could increase the value and bulk of the property in her possession and at death could leave it to the family, re-entailing the property and insuring its being held by the family for at least two more generations.

     Treated for Drink Habit. After making his will, the drink habit became greater with Gillett. His sisters Nina and Amy assumed control of their own lands, and Gillett moved from Cornland to Graceland. He resided there until his wife left him, when he went to live with his mother at Oglehurst [accurate? Why was his mother living at Oglehurst rather than at the home she shared with her husband, now known at the Old Gillett Farm?]. It was while he remained at Oglehurst that Gillett became a slave to liquor. He was sent by the family to French Lick Springs and to Dwight in an effort to break the habit, but to no avail. It was at this time that the contestors of the codicil to the will allege that Gillett lost his mind. At the death of Gillett, September 8, 1901, the will and the codicil were missing. Mrs. Oglesby and Hiram Keays made application for the appointment of an administrator. Before the court took action, Banker Cottle gave up the will, which, he admitted, had not been kept at his bank. Miss Jessie and Amy Gillett charge that they were served with a legal notice to quit the premises of the Gillett home before they were able to collect their mother's effects. The serving of the notice, it is said, was the actual beginning of hostilities in the family.

     Where Credit Is Due. This, the most important trial ever tried in Logan county, is practically closed. The probabilities are it will never again be tried even though the heirs do not meet and arbitrate to avoid appeals to higher courts. The case was fairly tried by Judge Shirley, and the unanimous verdict of clients, attorneys and public, is, that a fairer judge could not have been selected. The lawyers in the case concede high judicial ability to the judge, and the jury and crowds present at the trial compliment his liberality and kindness. The litigants, the counsel in the trial and the tax payers of Logan county owe Judge Shirley a debt of gratitude they will never repay unless it be the creation of sentiment to send bounding throughout the district the demand that he be elevated to the supreme bench of the state, a position he is in every way qualified to fill. Upon leaving Lincoln everybody as Judge Shirley's friend."

August 1, 1904: From the Lincoln Daily Courier, headline: "ECHOES OF GREAT TRIAL CONTINUE TO BE HEARD. Appeal to the Supreme Court Will Not Be Taken Owing to the Expense and Weakness of the Case."

     "It is told that the Gilletts will not appeal the will case to the supreme court for various reasons. The expense would among to a large sum, and the probabilities of an unfavorable decision may cause the case to rest where it is. The expense of the court stenographer alone would exceed $2,000, and it is figured that $3,000 will be expended in reaching the court and a verdict sustaining the case as it is, means a bill of costs far beyond the expectations of any person, unless posted. When the jury first balloted the vote stood 7 to 5 in favor of the codicil. Later on the vote was 8 to 4, then 9 to 3 and finally 10 to 2, where they rested a long time. Just prior to dinner the two were won, and the vote stood unanimously in favor of the codicil."

A Few Unanswered Questions Relating to the 1904 Trial

     We can only speculate on the motives of the Gilletts that caused them so much grief. The unfortunate circumstances of the trial began with John Parke Gillett's alcoholism, but what caused it? Was he unhappy that he was not so successful as his father? Was he bored with his responsibilities? Was he frustrated and overwhelmed by them? Was he unhappy that he and his wife had no children? Why did he change his primary beneficiary from Jessie Dean Gillett to Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby? He had first admired Jessie's business ability, but did he come to resent her as a threat when she took action to preserve the Gillett holdings? Did Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby conspire to gain farmland because she was greedy? Did Mrs. Oglesby think that as the oldest surviving offspring she was entitled to that land? Did Mrs. Oglesby believe that she was entitled because she had more children than her siblings? Did Jessie Dean Gillett take legal action against her sister, Mrs. Oglesby, and her son out of a desire for justice or out of greed? Why did Jessie Dean Gillett's attorneys not question the authenticity of John Parke Gillett's signature on the codicil to elicit "reasonable doubt"? (There were rumors that Mrs. Oglesby had forged her brother's signature on the codicil.) What role did the biases of racism and sexism play in the all-white, male jury's decision? Did Mrs. Oglesby's charge of perjury against the black witness strengthen her case in the eyes of the all-white, male jury? What role did sympathy for Mrs. Oglesby as recent widow of an esteemed Illinois governor play on the decision? What lasting bitterness and friction did the 1904 trial cause? As William Maxwell wrote, “You cannot go to the cemetery and ask to be enlightened on matters of this kind, though it would ease my mind considerably if you could” (Ancestors, p. 207). 
 

William Maxwell's Final Observations about the 1904 Trial and His Grandfather Blinn's Fondness for Graceland

     In Maxwell's discussion of this trial, he quoted his correspondent from Lincoln, again probably John Dean Gillett Hill: "The jury found that John P. Gillett was of sound mind when he made his will, but it was not the easiest thing in the world to determine because he was drunk most of the time" (p. 61). Maxwell describes the effect of the trial outcome on his family: "My Grandfather Blinn won the case, who didn't need to win it. My Grandfather Maxwell, as I have said, was on the opposite side. My father used to say that it was the first case my Grandfather Maxwell ever had where the fee was substantial, that the part he took in the trial considerably enhanced his reputation, and that if he had continued to be Miss Jessie Gillett's legal advisor he would no longer have worried about the bill from Boyd's Dry Goods Store." [Note: Attorney Robert C. Maxwell's wife ran a bill at Boyd's that upset him because he considered it far too high.] Maxwell concludes his observations about the trial and his family: "Instead, his [Grandfather Maxwell] health broke down. Other lawyers attended to Miss Gillett's legal affairs, and my grandfather spent the remaining year or two of his life in and out of bed."

     Emma Gillett Oglesby knew Edward D. Blinn before she hired him to represent her in the 1904 trial: Mr. Blinn and her late husband, Governor Richard J. Oglesby, were friends:

The friend who was closest to my Grandfather Blinn's heart was Richard Oglesby. The two men were both of a speculative turn of mind, and among the things they loved to speculate on was the nature of life after death. They made a bargain that whichever one died first would make every effort in his power to inform the other of what he found. Since they were both lawyers, they also had that--they had the law in its theoretical aspects and as it was carried out in the courts--to argue about. Though my grandfather's sympathies were easily touched, his social ideas would not be considered enlightened today. He defended the Chicago and Alton Railroad in a suit brought against it by the destitute family of a man who was run over and killed while picking up coal on the right of way. Governor Oglesby took exception to this and said that if my grandfather had no other way to keep his wife and children warm, he'd do what the dead man did. My grandfather insisted that the man was where he ought not to have been; that it was not a question of the sacredness of property but of the sacredness of the law (pp. 226--227).

     Maxwell wrote that the Blinn children were allowed to witness the religious discussions between their father and Governor Oglesby "until they fell asleep" and that Maxwell's Aunt Annette said she learned more about religion from those discussions than from attending Sunday school (p. 251). Maxwell wrote that "my grandfather was so fond of his friend that he built a room on his house [301 Ninth Street, Lincoln] for him. The carpenters hadn't quite finished when Richard Oglesby died [1899], so it was never occupied by him. Neither did he report back to my grandfather how things were in the Afterlife. It was not his fault; he was taken by surprise. He lay down for a nap in the middle of the day and never woke up" (p. 228). As indicated earlier in this webpage, Governor Oglesby died in his home, Oglehurst, near Elkhart after a fall.

     After John Parke Gillett's wife, Inez, gained possession of his farm, Graceland, in 1901 from their divorce, she moved to the East, remarried, and asked Mr. Blinn to manage that farm. According to Maxwell,

He managed it as carefully and with as much satisfaction as if it had been his own. I was nearly grown before I discovered it wasn't. On Saturday mornings my grandfather would invite my father to go there with him, on the electric line [interurban] that connected Peoria, Lincoln, and Springfield. And on Sunday the rest of the family would join them for a picnic. The house was old and had been much added onto, and stood in a grove of trees, surrounded by cornfields. The barns were full of blooded stock, to be soberly considered, and there were beautiful walking horses. On horseback, as they walked through the fields, as they wound their fishing reels and with a precise flick of the wrist sent the fly sailing out over the quiet part of some been in the creek [probably Lake Fork], the two men revealed themselves to each other. My father intended to own a farm himself some day, and everything my grandfather said about the management of Gracelands was of interest to him (Ancestors, p. 179).

Mr. Blinn had "imported" a ferret to "keep down the rats at Graceland," and in 1912 when the ferret bit him while he slept there, Mr. Blinn developed blood poisoning and died a horrible death. Many business and professional people who live in towns and cities aspire to own farmland, mostly for supplemental income and as investment property. William Maxwell's father, William Keepers Maxwell, Sr., an insurance company executive, eventually did come to own his own sizable farm, near Mt. Pulaski (Drury, ed., This Is Logan County, Illinois, p. 208). Mt. Pulaski is ten miles east of Elkhart.

 

Gillett Family History after the 1904 Trial to Mid-20th Century

    The following report about the Gilletts was published in the fall after the 1904 trial (Decatur Herald, Nov. 13, 1904, p. 17). The report makes clear that despite losing the trial, Jessie Dean Gillett had a sizable estate, and as revealed later in the webpage by 1910, she had added something like 1,000 acres to her operation. Also, the other Gilletts had impressive holdings.
 


 

     The 1910 map below shows that the Gillett-Oglesby-Keays farmlands surrounded the village of Elkhart. The property identifications east of the village (right side of map) reflect the outcome of the Gillett Great Estate trial of 1904. Much of the property of Jessie Dean Gillett was north of the boundaries of this map. Elkhart Cemetery was located just beyond center right of the map.
 

 

     In her 1912 book titled The Part Taken by Women in American History, Mrs. John A. Logan offers a eulogistic description the Gilletts and says nothing about the scandalous 1904 trial that divided the family: "One of the most noted, cultivated and clever families of women in Illinois is that of the late John Dean Gillett and his wife, Lemira Parke Gillett, of Elkhart, Illinois, who were among the oldest of settlers of Logan County. The family consists of seven daughters, who were reared in the lap of luxury up to the day of their father's death. At that time each took charge of the estate left her by her father, and has since managed it personally in an intellectual, business-like and successful manner. As girls, these daughters were carefully educated along classical lines, their only business training having been that given by their father. It is therefore somewhat unusual that they should one and all have taken upon themselves the care of their vast estates, and with the result that today each personally directs her entire estate and business interests in the most successful manner" (p. 894). Mrs. Logan's description of the Gillett sisters has a distinct tone of boastful feminism.
 

     The Gillett sisters' classical education that their parents gave them required not only an appreciation of the value of such an education but also the money to pay for private schools. John Dean Gillett was willing to pay for it, but we do not know to what extent he valued it. On the other hand, there is evidence that Lemira Parke Gillett highly valued it. Paul Gleason, citing the 1973 Atlas of Logan County and the State of Illinois (Chicago, IL: Lakeside Building Corporation, 1873) as his source, writes:

     "Mrs. Gillett was said to be a woman of refined taste and possessed a genial disposition. She managed her household well and in a manner corresponding with the Illinois frontier. She was conversant with authors and had the writings of many of the most eminent of this country as well as of England. She conversed intelligently upon a great variety of literary subjects and her prudent management was seen in every department of domestic life" (p. 26).

     This painting of an elderly Lemira Parke Gillett (artist unknown to me) shows her with a book in hand with finger as bookmark as if she has paused from reading (image adapted from John Reynolds, "Eight Generations of History on the Auction Block at Old Gillett Farm in Elkhart" [Sept., 8, 2015]: https://www.sj-r.com/article/20150908/NEWS/150909565).

     The information below follows the birth order of six Gillett sisters. (Information about Grace Adeline Gillett Littler, who died in 1891, was given earlier.) This section also gives information about Katherine's son, John Dean Gillett Hill, and daughter, Lemira Hunt, because they were the main Gillett landlords of their grandfather's empire at mid-twentieth century.
 

 

 

Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby (1845--1928)

 Mrs. John A. Logan's description is the only information given here about Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby because other information about her was given earlier.

"The eldest daughter, Emma Susan Gillett, educated in New Haven, Connecticut, was married in 1867, when quite young, to Hiram Keays, of Bloomington, Illinois. She was left a widow after three years of married life, with one son, Hiram G. Keays. In 1873 she married Richard J. Oglesby, three times elected Governor of Illinois, and once to the United States Senate. The issue of the second marriage was three sons and one daughter. Her second son, John Gillett Oglesby, was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois at the age of twenty-nine, being the youngest Lieutenant-Governor ever elected in the state. Mrs. Oglesby came into her inheritance after Governor Oglesby had retired from politics, and within a quarter of a mile of the village of Elkhart, Illinois, erected her beautiful home called 'Oglehurst.' For seven years she lived there, organizing and putting into shape her property, and since the death of her husband, Governor Oglesby, she has lived in Rome, Italy, her home being one of the most interesting and she being one of the most popular entertainers of the American colony at Rome."

     Mrs. Logan's account indicates that widow Oglesby did not remarry, yet the following 1902 report indicates that she may have intended to: Headline: "Widow of the Governor of Illinois Leases a Chateau in Italy and Sends Home for Supplies." The entire report: "Lincoln, Ill., Nov. 15--Reports have come from abroad that Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby, of Elkhart, will not return to America soon, owing to her early marriage to an Italian nobleman. Mrs. Oglesby has been visiting an American woman who married a titled Italian, and there met her fiancé. Mrs. Oglesby has sent for many articles needed in a home and leased a chateau in Italy. Mrs. Oglesby is the beautiful widow of Gov. Richard J. Oglesby, and the mother of Col. John D.G. Oglesby, private secretary to Gov. Yates. She is prominent in state society" (The Saint Paul Globe, Nov. 16, 1902, p. 1). Surely there is an interesting story to explain the reason Mrs. Oglesby did not marry the Italian nobleman, but I did not come across any news report about it.
 

Nina Lemira Gillett (1854--1938)

     As indicated earlier, for a time Nina Lemira Gillett took an active part in managing the farmland she inherited from her father. Nina and Amy Gillett had inherited "the old homestead near Cornland consisting of 3,500 acres (Decatur Daily Republican, Dec. 9, 1891, p. 4). Nina and her sister Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby were the only sisters named in the codicil to John Parke Gillett's will to inherit their brother's vast acreage. Nina had testified at the 1904 trial in support of her alliance with her sister, Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby. At the time of that trial Nina lived mostly in Chicago (Decatur Herald, Nov. 13, p. 17). From Mrs. John A. Logan:

 "The third daughter, Nina Lemira Gillett, was educated in a convent, and is one of the best read women of her time--a woman of fine business ability who, after placing her land and property in shape, turned her attention and time to the buying of stocks and bonds, being clever enough in the panic of 1903 to throw her enormous savings which she had in readiness to invest, into stocks and bonds at the opportune moment, holding them several years and disposing of the same, thereby realizing a handsome profit, thus showing her ability to be as great in financial foresight as in farming. She has also made a great success socially and financially in Paris, where she now resides. She has circled the globe more than once in her extensive travels, and is a fluent French and Italian scholar" (p. 895).

     As a world-traveling socialite, Nina Gillett enjoyed the company of European royals. As reported in the Decatur Herald, June 12, 1903, p. 2, she was introduced to the king and queen of Great Britain:
 

     In 1924 Nina Gillett was among her family's party who attended the wedding in Rome of her niece, Felicite Oglesby, daughter of Richard J. and Emma Susan Oglesby, when Felicite married an Italian nobleman, Count Allesandro Cenci (The Pantagraph, July 24, 1924, p. 2). Nina Gillett passed away in Chicago on January 12, 1938, and her will "listed $125,000 in real estate and $25,000 in personal property. John Dean Gillett Hill, Lincoln, a nephew, and John D. Gillett Keays, Elkhart, were named executors, and there were 16 legatees to the will" (Decatur Daily Review, Jan. 20, 1938, p. 14).

          Additionally, "the will provided for the use of $5,000 by the executors, for the construction of a gate to Elkhart Cemetery, which is to contain a room in which to house the tools of the cemetery. The balance of the estate is left to the following relatives: John D. Gillett Keays, grand nephew; Mrs. Elizabeth R. Drake, Elkhart, grand niece; Susan G. Keays Green, Mexico, Mo.; Susan Drake, great grand niece, Elkhart; Mrs. Lemira Hill Hunt, Washington, D.C.; Edgar Logan Hill, John D. Gillett Hill, Logan G. Hill, and Dean McClure, Lincoln; John G. Oglesby, Richard and John L. Oglesby, Elkhart; Emma S. and James Oglesby, Cornland; Jessie D. Gillett, Decatur; Emma Louise Felicite Oglesby Cenci, Italy; Charlotte G. Barnes, New York City" (The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, Jan. 19, 1938, p. 2).

     The executors of Nina Lemira Gillett honored her wishes by constructing an entrance gate to Elkhart Cemetery in her memory, as shown at Find a Grave.com: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/53867888/nina-lemira-gillett. The source of the photo of a regal Nina Gillett at right is unknown.

     The following are photos depicting several of Nina Lemira Gillett's steamer trunks that were put up for sale in the Old Gillett Farm auction on September 2015: https://www.facebook.com/centralillinoisauctions/?tn-str=k*F. Louis Vuitton continues to produce high-end luggage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Vuitton.
 


 


 

     Elkhart was a rural village but not isolated, being served by two passenger railroads: the Alton and Chicago and the Illinois Traction System (ITS, interurban) that connected Chicago and St. Louis, so the world-traveling Gillett sisters would have used the depot facilities pictured below (image sources unknown). The ITS station generated the electricity that powered its cars.
 


Below is a rare, 1910 photo showing passengers disembarking from an Illinois Traction System (interurban) car heading north toward Broadwell and Lincoln.


 

Katherine Gillett Hill (1855--1935)

     As an infant, Lemira Katherine Gillett was baptized at the Chapel of Saint John Baptist Church in Elkhart Cemetery (Journals of the Special Synod and the Synod of the Holy Catholic Church in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, 1892, p. 36).

From Mrs. John A. Logan:

"Katherine Gillett Hill, fourth daughter of the late John Dean Gillett, was educated in a convent at Springfield, Illinois, and was married in 1874 to James E. Hill, a cousin of the late John A. Logan. To them four children were born, two sons and two daughters, the two sons living to manhood and one daughter to womanhood. Edgar Logan Hill, the eldest son, is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a prominent position with the American Steel & Wire Company at Worcester, Massachusetts. John Dean Gillett Hill is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and Lemira Gillett Hill is a graduate of Miss Chamberlain's School in Boston. Mrs. Gillett Hill, at the death of her father, took entire charge of her farming lands, not even requiring the assistance of an overseer. She has for twenty years managed as capably and as systematically as any business man her tenants under her supervision. She is a woman of varied qualifications and interests, being artistic and musical, a splendid mother and likewise is greatly interested in the woman suffrage movement. Farming with her is not amateurish, and not the fad of a rich woman, but with Mrs. Gillett Hill it is at once an art and a science, and a very remunerative business, which has made her one of the best known farmers in America. She is none the less womanly for her business capabilities. From her childhood she has been a fine horsewoman, and having been gifted with a beautiful voice, she has done much charitable work with her musical voice. With her fine intellect, she has become a writer of some note and is withal a splendid entertainer, possessing great natural wit and repartee. She has been much sought after in the social world. Mrs. Gillett Hill in the year 1910 purchased a charmingly artistic home in Washington, and this home, once a studio, has proved to be one of the most unique and picturesque residences in the city" (p. ). Note: My research did not discover anything further about Mrs. Hill's writing.

     Bobby Olson provided the images below, a photo portrait of a young Katherine Gillett and the card of the photographer. Bobby notes, "Probably about 1873, the same time as her eldest sister married Governor Oglesby. The Oglesbys lived in Decatur in that era, and this photo seems to have come from there."
 

 

 

 

      In Washington, D.C., Mrs. Hill lived at 2133 R Street. It was an exclusive location and continues to be, as revealed with a contemporary Google Earth street-level view. Trees obscure a full view of that building, but enough of it is visible to show that it was constructed with an old-world, European design. As noted below, Mrs. Hill's sister, Amaryllis, also lived on R Street a few blocks away, and a Google Earth screen capture reveals that her residence was similarly designed. While Mrs. Hill lived in Washington, her socialite daughter Lemira was married there. According to The Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record (Vol. 7, No. 1, January 1929), Lemira Gillett Hill (1891--1972) married US Army Lieutenant James Nichols Wynn McClure of Kentucky in December 10, 1917, at Washington, D.C. in Mrs. Hill's distinctive home at 2133 R. Street. The wedding announcement in the Washington Herald (Dec. 16, 1917) describes the setting and bride: "a very large, artistic living room . . . adorned with Christmas trees across the far end of the studio. . . . The bride is a gifted musician: her voice is a fine one, and she is an excellent pianist. Long before the craze of the ukulele she learned to play that instrument in Hawaii, where she and her mother usually spend a portion of each year. They have large fruit interests there." Lemira and James McClure had a son named John Dean Gillett McClure. In 1941, after spending summers in Lincoln, he married during his senior year at Harvard University.

     In the 1920s Mrs. Hill moved back to Illinois, taking up residence in Lincoln. There, she and her son, John Dean Gillett Hill, and his wife, Irene, built distinctive homes next to one another on Lincoln Avenue, and Mrs. Hill's daughter, Lemira, lived in an adjacent house. All three lived out their lives in those residences. The homes of Mrs. Hill and her son were constructed with a particular European design, as described by artist David Alan Badger, who researched these houses and made drawings of them. He identifies the design as "Spanish eclectic," a popular style from 1915 to 1940. Originally, "both houses were pink stucco with blue tile roofs." According to Badger, these houses were allegedly the first in Lincoln to have basements dug by a "bulldozer" (The Badger Collection Featuring Lincoln of Illinois, 1987, no pagination).

     John Dean Gillett liked to give his farms names, and the Hills of Lincoln gave names to their Lincoln Avenue homes. Katherine Gillett Hill named hers Suma Ray, Spanish for "perfect peace." Mrs. Hill's son and daughter-in-law named theirs Irendean--a blend word (compound) of their names. An article titled "Twenty Homes Featured on Local Tour" in lincolndailnews.com (May 8, 2000) dates the construction of Suma Ray and Irendean to about 1927, noting that "the balustrades and entrance door pillars were carved on-site and designed to match the interior fireplaces." Badger summarizes Irendean's "identifying features [as] . . . low-pitched tiled roof . . . double-sash door which opens onto balconies . . . ornamental iron window grilles . . . broken, pedimented door surround . . . spiral columns. . . ." The entrance and fireplace of Irendean were the work of master stone carver Joseph Petarde of Peoria, Illinois. Petarde was a vigorous craftsman whose work survives in Peoria (e.g., St. Peter's Church, G.A.R. Building, and numerous monuments in Springdale Cemetery) and such other central Illinois cities as Bloomington (Illinois Wesleyan School of Music, harp and violin designs), Champaign (Huff Gymnasium), Normal (old gym at Illinois State University), and Springfield (entrance building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds).

    Below is a screen capture of 2012 Google Earth view of the Gillett family homes on Lincoln Avenue: Katherine Gillett Hill's, at the center; her son and daughter-in-law's, at left; and her daughter's (Lemira Gillett McClure Hunt), at right. After Katherine Gillett Hill's death, her daughter lived in Suma Ray. She, like her brother, John Dean Gillett Hill, took responsibility for managing their inherited farmland, but townspeople considered her quite eccentric, as she rode around in a black Cadillac driven by a black chauffer. More information about John Dean Gillett Hill and Lemira Gillett McClure Hunt appears below in later sections. The were both stewards of the farmland they inherited.
 

 

Amaryllis (Amy) Gillett (1857--1921)

From Mrs. John A. Logan:

"Amaryllis T. Gillett, fifth daughter, was educated in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During her school years she devoted herself to the study of history particularly, and was always a referee for dates and historical events. She held in trust the money presented by her mother, Lemira Parke Gillett, to the Library at Elkhart, Illinois, and selected and bought all of the books for this library for about twenty years. After superintending her farms in and about the town of Cornland for many years, she removed to the City of Washington, in 1908, and bought up a great deal of real estate, building handsome houses and selling them at a great profit. With keen foresight she realized that real estate at the capital was sure to advance. Miss Gillett is one of the prominent women of Washington, and entertains lavishly in her handsome home during the winter season. She is a member of the best clubs of Washington, viz: Chevy Chase Club, Archaeological Club, Aviation Blub and the Riding Club, and was elected Librarian-General of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the last National Congress, on the ticket with Mrs. Matthew T. Scott, President-General. By the latter, she has been placed on many special commissions to further the improvement of the grounds and surroundings of Memorial Continental Hall" (pp. 895--96).

     As noted early, before the 1904 trial Amaryllis Gillett actively supervised the farming operations she inherited from her father. After she moved to Washington, D.C., in 1908, she became a socialite. In the second decade of the twentieth century, Washington, D.C., newspapers often carried stories of the luncheons, dinners, teas, and receptions hosted by Amaryllis that were attended by high-ranking government officials and other dignitaries. Sometimes those events made headlines in the society pages, for example, as seen in this notice from the Washington Herald, June 7, 1911, p. 5:

     A headline in the Washington Times, September 7, 1911, p. a11, reflects Amaryllis Gillett's prestige in the capital's high society. The article says she "opened her residence on [2225 R Street in Washington, D.C.] after spending the last two months in Illinois and Michigan, where she made a series of visits. . . . Miss Jessie Dean Gillett . . . will return to Washington in October." Jessie Dean Gillett and other family members often visited Amaryllis Gillett in Washington.


 

     Amaryllis Gillett died unexpectedly in Washington at the age of sixty-four from complications after an appendectomy. Her sisters, Charlotte Barnes and Jessie Dean Gillett, were with her. The funeral was held in Washington at her residence before her body was transported to Elkhart for private burial in the Gillett family section of Elkhart Cemetery. The contemporary Google Earth screen capture below shows that Amaryllis Gillett's former residence at 2225 R Street in Washington, D.C., endures as a luxurious structure with a classical, European architectural design:


 

Jessie Dean Gillett (1859--1947)

     More information is available for Jessie Dean Gillett than her other sisters except for Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby. The 1910 newspaper report below refers to Jessie Dean Gillett's estate as Cro'hurst. She inherited this property from her father, who acquired it in 1855. The original part of the house was built between 1836 and 1841 by John Latham (1812--?), the son of James Latham, who moved his family to Illinois from Kentucky in 1818 and in 1819 built a cabin on Elkhart Hill because he considered wooded land more valuable than prairie grassland. James Latham's cabin was the first in the area north of the Sangamon River (Lawrence B. Stringer, History of Logan County, 1911, vol. 1, p. 54). John Latham purchased land for his homestead in 1835 (Ibid., p. 121). The name Cro'hurst may trace to G. R. Crow, who owned part of this farmstead in the 1870's (Elkhart, Illinois, Centennial History, 1855--1955 [Lincoln, IL: Feldman's Print Shop] p. 31.



 

     Mrs. John A. Logan's biographical sketch of Jessie Dean Gillett:

"Jessie D. Gillett is the sixth daughter of John Dean Gillett. A woman who runs a 3,000-acre farm, takes a prominent part in the management of a National Bank, and is the founder of a public library, which she presented to the village of Elkhart, Illinois, in memory of her mother, in addition to being a shrewd financier, and expert stock grower and an accomplished horse-back rider--all of which is Miss Jessie D. Gillett--has taken a long step in the direction of proving that no nook or corner of what was once the exclusive domain of man is now secure against feminine invasion. After taking hold of 'Crowhurst,' her home farm, located near the village of Elkhart, Illinois, she soon showed the surrounding farmers what a woman could do with a farm, and the result has caused her male competitors not only to envy, but also to adopt many of her improvements. 'Crowhurst' is now one of the most inviting and attractive country residences in the middle west. Miss Gillett believes that if one would be a successful farmer the latest and most progressive agricultural principles must be applied. She has converted this once old-fashioned farm into a model producing possession, and her surroundings are of the most -up-to-date character. Her lands being tilled [sic] and drained in the best manner known to-day, she produces crops that are seldom equaled in the state; she makes a great specialty of corn and her farm has been made famous in this, the great corn-belt of Illinois. Added to her ability as a farmer, Miss Gillett's personality is most charming. She is a very beautiful woman, with great tact and a most fascinating manner; is one of the women the state of Illinois may well be proud of" (p. 896).
 

     Managing her farmland clearly was Jessie Dean Gillett's principal concern, but she chose certain cultural projects to support and social activities to participate in, including those in the lives of her sisters. In 1912 Jessie Dean Gillett sponsored a cultural program in Springfield, Illinois, according to the Decatur Herald, April 14, 1912, p. 20: "In Springfield's social list of the last week one to which considerable local interest is attached is the affair which Miss Jessie Dean Gillett of Elkhart gave Thursday afternoon in the new Leland Hotel. The company of guests is described as being a large one, numbering more than 200 persons. The afternoon was of the nature of a musical, and Messrs Miner Walden Gallup and Edward B. Hitchcock, of this city, furnished the program, which consisted of a musical-reading of the opera, 'Children of the King.' The musical numbers were presented by Mr. Gallup, and Mr. Hitchcock reading. In the assembly room where the event took place, Easter lilies and pink roses were handsomely arranged as the decorations, and a charming touch of green was given the arrangement by the potted palms and ferns used. Following the program, tea was served. Miss Gillett was assisted in receiving her guests by her sister, Mrs. William Barnes, of this city and Mrs. Stuart Brown, Mrs. George Chatterton, Mrs. George F. Stericker and Mrs. Kate Fondney. Others who assisted, presiding at the tea urns, were Mrs. George Stanton, Mrs. Albert Barnes and the Misses Ewing, all of this city, and Misses Margaret Chatterton, Elsie Chatterton, Christine Brown and Lucy Bates."

     In 1917 Jessie Dean Gillett subsidized the publication of a scientific book about butterflies co-authored by her brother-in-law, William Barnes, MD, and J.H. McDonough. Titled The City Directory of United States Butterflies: List of Lepidoptera of North America, this book, published by the Decatur Herald, "is an effort to compile the complete list of such members of the butterfly family as are found in North America. Opposite each page is a blank page ruled for checking purposes. Five hundred copies in cloth binding together with a few deluxe copies have been struck off" (Decatur Herald, April 1, 1917, p. 3). Most likely, Dr. Barnes conducted some of his research on Elkhart Hill.

     In 1944 Jessie Dean Gillett established the John D. Gillett Memorial to award cash prizes annually at the Logan County Fair for Shorthorn cattle, and after her death in 1947, her nephew and beneficiary, John Dean Gillett Hill, increased the size of the awards "to $360--double the previous cash awards (Decatur Herald, March 22, 1951, p. 5).

     Jessie Dean Gillett, 88, died at her home of Cro'hurst at 3:20 a.m. on September 6, 1947. She was survived by her sister, Mrs. William (Charlotte) Barnes, Sr., and several nieces and nephews. She never married. According to her death notice, "She personally managed her farms in Logan and surrounding counties, and had an unfailing interest in agricultural problems. She traveled extensively over the world and had a keen appreciation of all each trip presented to her" (Decatur Daily Review, September 8, 1947, p. 20). Her funeral was held in her home on September 8, and she was buried in the Gillett family section of Elkhart Cemetery. The following news report describes the provisions in her will: "Real estate valued at $400,000 and personal property worth up to $69,000 was left by Jessie D. Gillett who died September 6 in her farm mansion near Elkhart, according to a petition to probate her will which was filed Saturday in Logan County Court. Two nephews, William Barnes, Jr., of Southmoreland place, and John Dean Gillett Hill of Lincoln, were named executors. To a sister, Mrs. Charlotte Gillett Barnes of 467 West William Street [Decatur], Miss Gillett bequeathed Cro'hurst--the mansion in which she died--and all its household accessories, in addition to a share in business property in Lincoln [Charlotte Gillett Lancraft Barnes (1865--1953) was the youngest child of John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett]. Also named to share the Lincoln property are Mr. Barnes and two nieces, Joan Dean Gillett McArthur, whose address was given as Decatur, and Mrs. Lemira Gillett McClure Hunt of Lincoln.

     The will, drawn July 22, 1935, also makes these bequests: The Gillett farms, Westway, Overway, and Platt Acres, to Mrs. McArthur and Mrs. Barnes. The Edgefield Farm to the descendants of Edgar Logan Hill with reversion rights, if any, to the Springfield diocese of the Episcopal Church. The Northfield Farm to Mr. and Mrs. J.D.G. Hill of Lincoln. Broadwell Place to Mrs. Hunt with reversion rights, if any, to the Episcopal Church Cathedral foundation in Washington, D.C. Indian Acres Farm in Menard County and South Acres Farm in Sangamon county: One-third each to J.D.G. Hill, Mrs. Hunt, and the descendants of Edgar Logan Hill. The bequests under reversion rights in the Episcopal church are memorials to Miss Gillett's parents, the late John Dean Gillett and Lemira Parke Gillett" (Decatur Herald and Review, Sept., 28, 1947, p. 3). On the previous day that newspaper published the following anecdote: "The late Miss Jessie Gillett of Elkhart had a man on her estate who had been born there and had always lived and worked on the place, and to whom she willed a little footstool that has a history. When the man was about four years old, says Miss Gillett's sister, Mrs. Will Barnes, and was naughty, Miss Gillett would call him into the house, sit him on the stool, and lecture him. He sat there so much in those days that the stool became associated with him. 'John,' said Miss Gillett, 'when I die, I will leave that little stool to you.' 'Well, will you please die now?' said the child. He explained afterward to his shocked mother that he wasn't so eager to get the stool as he was to have the lectures cease."

     The legend of Jessie Dean Gillett lives into the 21st century and is one the subjects that Elkhart historian Bob McCue likes to share. In a 2007 article in the Illinois Times, Job Conger of Springfield writes: "He spends his time as a walking encyclopedia of local lore and has been known to regale total strangers at the drop of a hint. Few others could point out the trackside shamble that was once the Crowhurst Siding, a special rail-passenger landing constructed so that industrialist George Pullman could visit his lady friend Jessie Dean Gillett, daughter of cattle baron John Dean Gillett. The landing permitted Pullman to travel from Chicago to her home without getting mud on his boots": https://illinoistimes.com/print-article-4078-print.html.
 

     After the death of Jessie Dean Gillett's sister, Charlotte Barnes, in 1953, Cro'hurst became the property of her daughter, Joan Dean Gillette Barnes McArthur (1892--1965), wife of Selim Walker (S.M.) McArthur, MD. Mrs. McArthur was the last member of the Gillett family to own Cro'hurst. The next owners were Mrs. and Mrs. John Gehlbach, an attorney at Lincoln, Illinois, with an interest in history and Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Gehlbach was a friend of Lincoln scholar James T. Hickey and served on the Board of Directors at Lincoln College. Mr. and Mrs. Gehlbach were benefactors of that institution, as was Mr. Hickey. In 2019 Cro'hurst is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Neal, who are extensively improving it with both restorations and new refinements in its historical, architectural style. Access a link to a video documentary of this work under Suggested Supplementary Sources. Mrs. McArthur's granddaughter, Gillette Ransom, presently farms some of the Gillett-heritage land.

     Below at left is the engagement photo of Joan Dean Gillette Barnes (poor quality because printed from microfilm of the Decatur Daily Review, July 18, 1915, p. 16). The aerial photo of Cro'hurst Farm below at right was published in 1955. The mansion, with its distinctive four columns and expansive front lawn, appears at center left of the photo. More trees enhance this estate than most Logan County farmsteads (John Drury, ed., This Is Logan County, Illinois: An Up-to-Date Historical Narrative with County Map and Many Unique Aerial Photographs of Cities, Towns, Villages, and Farmsteads [Chicago, IL: The Loree Company, 1955], p. 210). 
 


 

     Dr. and Mrs. S.W. McArthur provided the undated photo below (enlarged here) of their Cro'hurst mansion for publication in The Village of Elkhart City, Elkhart, Illinois: Centennial History, 1855--1955. The photo's caption names the men pictured from left to right: Patrick Bohan, Labon Allison, C.A. Dobey (p. 32). (Note: The light-colored horse is perhaps one of Jessie Dean Gillett's favorite yellow horses. Labe Allison testified in the 1904 trial. The Elkhart Public Library is on Bohan Street.)

     The photo below by Mr. Bob Neal accompanied an article in the Lincoln Courier about the Elkhart Historical Society's use of Cro'hurst as the setting for a  “an evening of casual elegance, classical music, food, and wine on the lawn of the beautiful and historic Cro’Hurst Mansion on Elkhart Hill" in 2011, courtesy of Mrs. and Mrs. Bob Neal, owners of Cro'hurst: http://www.lincolncourier.com/article/20110811/News/308119947. Find links to other articles about Cro'hurst and a documentary video about its restoration/renovation in the Suggested Supplemental Sources below.
 


 

Charlotte Lancraft Gillett Barnes (1865--1953)

     From Mrs. John A. Logan:

"Charlotte Gillett Barnes was the seventh and youngest daughter. She inherited her property when quite young, and married the following year, 1891, Dr. William Barnes, one of the most-noted surgeons of central Illinois. Her beautiful home is in Decatur, Illinois, where she interests herself most enthusiastically in musical circles. Mrs. Barnes' land lies in and about the cities of Elkhart and Mt. Pulaski. She inherited a talent for describing lands and could repeat off-hand and without notes, rapidly and without error, proper descriptions of her lands that numbered up into the thousands of acres."
 

     While an interested and enterprising business woman, she has let music be her principal work in life, and her talent for music has made her one of the most note pianists of the Middle West. She has two children, Gillette Joan Barnes and William Barnes" (pp. 896--97). The photo of Charlotte Gillett Barnes is from Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/40894846/charlotte-lancraft-barnes.
 


 

 

 


 

John Dean Gillett Hill (1884--1962)

     As noted earlier, John Dean Gillett Hill (1884--1962), a son of Katherine Gillett Hill and grandson of John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett, was a beneficiary of Jessie Dean Gillett, and a friend and correspondent of William Maxwell. Beginning in the 1920s, Mr. and Mrs. John Dean Gillett Hill, his mother, and his sister, Lemira Gillett McClure Hunt, lived in adjacent homes on Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln, as described in later in this webpage. John Dean Gillett Hill was born in Springfield, Illinois, and he married Irene Harry of Lincoln, as announced in the Bloomington Pantagraph, March 30, 1914: "John Dean Gillett Hill and Miss Irene Harry, of Lincoln, were married today following a romantic courtship.
    

     No announcement had been made and friends thruout [sic] the state will be taken by surprise. Mr. Hill is the son of Mrs. Katherine Gillett Hill, social leader of Washington, D.C., is a Harvard graduate, lawyer and prominent Republican leader in his territory. He is a nephew of the late Gov. Richard J. Oglesby and was a leader in the commission form of government fight here. He is heir to a large estate. His bride is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harry, and is beautiful, popular and belongs to a prominent family. Rev. William Baker, of Bloomington, officiated. The ceremony was at Trinity Episcopal Church in the presence of 200 guests" (p. 2).

This photo of John Dean Gillett Hill's young wife shows her at a time when she visited her in-laws in Washington, D.C., and was part of the high-society scene there. The photo's caption: "Mrs. John Dean Gillett Hill is one of the most attractive of recent visitors to Washington. She is the guest of Mrs. Gillett Hill and her daughter, Lemira, and has been continuously feted since her arrival. Mrs. Hill and Lemira are being welcomed back to Washington with open arms after an absence of two years" (The Washington Times, Jan. 16, 1916, p. 6).

     In his writing about John Dean Gillett Hill, William Maxwell makes no reference to Mrs. Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Hill apparently had no children, and I find no other information about her.

     The Google Earth screen capture below shows the home of the John Dean Gillett Hills (at the left) on Lincoln Avenue just west of its intersection with Union Street. Blue is the original color of the roof, but the original color of the exterior walls was pink, as seen in the adjacent house, which was first his mother's home, then his sister's (Lemira Hunt).

 

 

 


 

     Robert "Bobby" Olson observes that "Mr. J.D.G. Hill must have had one of the finest educations of any person, in any era, who hailed from Logan County, Illinois. His secondary education included the Coulter School in Chicago; Williams College (BA, 1907) at Williamstown, Massachusetts; and the Law School at Harvard University (Bachelor of Laws, 1910). Harvard Law is impressive, but Williams College is perhaps America's finest private college, then and now." Mr. Olson reports that historian Paul Gleason has called Mr. Hill "one of the most important Logan County persons whom you've probably never heard of."

     As a result of several inheritances, by mid-twentieth century Mr. Hill owned and/or managed large tracts of the original Gillett empire, and he sought to preserve and protect it as family heritage. I came across two legal cases that demonstrate this commitment. In 1920 Mr. Hill realized that the wills of his aged, childless aunts, Nina and Amaryllis, could result in a problem with control of their inherited farmland, so he brought suit against his aunts to gain control of their farmland and business property in Lincoln. After the county and appellate courts ruled against him--declaring that "a woman was never too old to bear a child," he took his case to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (Dec. 26, 1930) reported the result of that appeal. Headline: "Aunt, 67, Not Too Old to Become Mother, is High Court's Ruling." Full report: "Women are never too old to bear children in the eyes of the law as interpreted by the Illinois Supreme Court. This decision was made today in refusing Dean Hill of Lincoln absolute title to his grandfather's property while his two aunts, Nina Gillett, 63 years old and Amarila [sic], 67 years old, are living. The property remains in the possession of the two aunts as a contingent remainder from the estate of their father, John Dean Gillett, who, 30 years ago, was one of central Illinois' richest men. Both the women, upon whose possibility of issue [children] their right in the property depends, are sisters of Mrs. Richard Oglesby, wife of former Governor Oglesby" (p. 2).

     Bobby Olson speculates on the motivation for Mr. Hill's lawsuit: "My guess is that Mr. Hill was NOT worried about any inheritance, The will of John Dean Gillett forbade the aunts to sell real estate or leave it outside the family. Had Mr. Hill actually been worried about not getting the land in the long-run, he never would have insulted his aunts with any lawsuit. Rather, Mr. Hill was likely finding that his aunts were still treating their tenants according to very generous, old-fashioned terms and conditions of farm tenancy at a time when those terms were being updated by all the other family members (and generally being updated throughout the farm community). Mr. Hill did not convince his aunts in this regard, and when those farms finally passed to other family members in the 1930s, the old-time tenants got quite a bit of a shock. One of the 'training' letters from John Dean Gillett Hill to his sister, Lemira, describes in detail how to get more money out of a farm that she had inherited from one of their aunts."

     Bobby Olson reports on a 1938 business letter from Mr. Hill to his sister, Mrs. Lemira Hunt, concerning the sale of farmland that their late Aunt Nina Gillett had owned as an example of the legal matters associated with attempting to keep Gillett heritage farmland in the family. Mr. Olson writes:

"Miss Nina Lemira Gillette (1854--1938) has recently died. It seems that Miss Jessie D. Gillett and some family members wish to sell the Hill family a parcel of land out of this estate. Mr. Hill wants the land, so it was probably near or adjacent to property the Hill family already owns.  Miss Jessie likely feels that she is granting a favor to her niece and nephews. Mr. Hill is concerned that NOT buying the land would make the seller very upset (certainly understandable if the seller were Miss Jessie) or have other financial implications. The hitch seems to be that each and every adult member if the Hill family would need to sign the mortgage for a loan that seems to be necessary to partly cover the purchase price.  Lemira Hunt's husband, Mr. Risely G. Hunt, is apparently very reluctant to do this (he does not want any potential personal liability). Mr. J.D.G. Hill writes a letter trying to explain the situation and to allay concerns.

The last paragraph and closing of the letter illustrate the many responsibilities of settling a large estate, including seemingly small matters like opening safe deposit boxes. This paragraph shows Mr. Hill's signature. I also have a close-up photograph of the hand signature by John Dean Gillett Hill. Without any additional research, it strikes me that Dean and Irene Hill may have bought this farm personally at the end of the deal. If you look at the 1955 photo book of farms, there is one single farm that is owned in the name of Mr. and Mrs. J.D.G. Hill only. All the other farms are in Mr. Hill's name only. I speculate that this letter may be related to that first farm, but the Hill's owned so many farms in 1955 (when the photo book was published) that this is only speculation.

     Link to PDF of the second page of this 1938 letter: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/JDHilltoLemira-1938farmsale2of2.pdf.

     John Dean Gillett Hill's signature (courtesy, Bobby Olson)--a graphologist's delight:

     In 1942 Mr. Hill apparently engaged in legal actions to control the inheritance of his late brother, Edgar Logan Hill, who committed suicide in February 1941 because of ill health. Edgar Logan Hill was a 1905 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a "nationally known mechanical engineer," and railroad executive. He "left a son by a former marriage, Logan S.G. Hill of New York City" (Decatur Daily Review, Feb. 15, 1941, p. 3). The details are unclear, but a brief news report in the Bloomington Pantagraph of Oct. 1, 1942, reveals Mr. Hill's interest: "An appeal from an order of the Logan County court in the matter of the estate of the late Edgar Logan Hill, who died Feb. 14, 1941, at Miami, Fla., was filed in circuit court Wednesday by Dorothy Stoker Hill. Judge [Lawrence B.] Stringer in the [Logan] County court had held the divorce obtained by Edgar Logan Hill from Gladys B. Hill at Reno, Nev., July 26, 1932, is invalid and also held that the purported marriage of Mr. Hill to Dorothy Stoker, Dec. 4, 1940, at Miami, was invalid and void. The court also held the will of Edgar Logan Hill had been sufficiently proved and admitted the will to probate. John Dean Gillett Hill, a brother, was appointed executor" (p. 10). Dorothy Stoker Hill appealed, but the "appeal from county court was overruled, and the will admitted to probate by Judge Frank S. Bevan in circuit court. The lower court had previously admitted the will from which decision the widow Dorothy Stoker Hill had appealed" (Pantagraph, July 21, 1944, p. 14).    

     One of Mr. Hill's civic-minded projects was helping to acquire the Postville Courthouse block in Lincoln so that the courthouse replica could be built. D.F. Nickols worked to find the right people and the necessary money. With the help of Attorney Dean Gillett Hill, a financial plan was devised. "Franklin Nickols, son of D.F. Nickols, who was in Detroit, the-then home of Mr. Ranney, opened the final negotiations, assuring Mr. Ranney that the site would be dedicated to the memory of Abraham Lincoln."  Ref: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/memoirofpostville.html.

     In Ancestors: A Family History (1971), William Maxwell describes the fishing expeditions of his father, Mr. Hill, and another friend during their retirement years. The setting most likely was Lincoln Lakes, south of Lincoln. "Dean Hill had a bad heart and wasn't allowed to row the boat, my father was more than half blind, and the third man was deaf as a post. They took a humorous pleasure in compensating for one another's physical deficiencies. When my father had a bite but couldn't see that his cork was bobbing wildly, the other two would cry, 'Bill, you've got something on your line!' And when this crisis was passed, out would come the pint of whiskey. Sooner or later, the conversation always got around to a subject that both Dean Hill and my father loved to talk about--the Gillett family lawsuit" (p. 158). One of the pallbearers in Mr. Hill's funeral in 1962 was Tom Perry, a cousin of William Maxwell who lived in Lincoln and who corresponded with Maxwell, keeping him informed of Lincoln news and providing him with newspaper clippings that Maxwell used as source material for his writing about Lincoln, including his masterpiece, So Long, See You Tomorrow.

     Bobby Olson provided the following tribute to John Dean Gillett Hill with this note about its source and context: "This oration was written and given by Lynn R. Parker (or very possibly read by his son, Brewster Parker) at a biennial memorial service at the Logan County Courthouse to honor members of the bar who had passed away since the last time such a memorial service was held. My original typed copy of this document was found in a dresser drawer at Brewster Parker's former cabin at Lincoln Lakes. I think my sister-in-law's family owns it now, and some of the contents remained when they took control of the property." Note: Lynn R. Parker was the founder of the Logan County Title Company of which John Dean Gillett was an officer. The nineteenth-century flowery rhetoric that persisted well into the twentieth century colors the introduction and conclusion of this tribute. Plain English characterizes the body of the tribute but with some degree of wordiness ("deadwood").

"MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: Standing here today at this memorial service which honors the memory of our colleague who no longer remains among us, I am acutely aware that I am indeed privileged to have the opportunity to pay some tribute, however limited by my own infirmities of expression, to one whose passing was and has been a real loss to each of us. At the same time and by the same token, sadness and bereavement must inevitably accompany this honor, this privilege. Notwithstanding all of our accomplishments in every line of human endeavor we, in our vaunted civilization have not yet devised a way to publicly proclaim the deserved virtues of our contemporaries while they yet live and so that they may learn of our appreciation of their talents. On the contrary, we thoughtlessly delay our tributes and then pour forth our sentiments at a time when they can no longer hear us and when we, grieved over their passing, finally realize that we have waited over long to express what is in our hearts.

     And so it is with mixed feelings of sadness on the one hand and of gratitude for the honor paid me on the other, that I call to your minds the name of John Dean Gillett Hill, more familiarly known to us all as 'Dean.' He was born in Springfield, Illinois, on September 4th, 1884, one of three children, to the union of James Edgar Hill and Katherine Gillett. He traveled extensively with his family in his early youth and received his secondary schooling at The Coulter School in Chicago, following which he entered Williams College at Williamstown, Massachusetts, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the year 1907. While at Williams, Dean, who was a fine athlete in his youth, was very active in sports and became a valued member of the track team and the football team of his college. His social activities included membership in the chapter of Theta Delta Chi fraternity located there. Following his graduation from Williams, he entered the Law School at Harvard University and graduated from that renowned seat of learning in the year 1910 with a degree of Bachelor of Laws.

     Dean then returned to Lincoln and following his admission to the Bar that same year, entered into a law partnership in this community with Lyman S. Mangas. After about two years he opened his own law office and thereafter practiced alone until illness forced his retirement in the year 1952, and on June 12th, 1962, he passed away and was buried in Elkhart Illinois [in the Gillett section of Elkhart Cemetery].

     On March 29th, 1914, Dean intermarried with Miss Irene Harry, who survives him, as does his sister, Mrs. Lemira Hunt. A brother, Logan Hill, preceded him in death.

     In addition to his devotion to the law, Dean was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church of Lincoln, Illinois, and was keenly interested in civic and community affairs. During World War I he held a commission as Captain of Company C of the Sixth Regiment of the Reserve Militia of the State of Illinois. He served as a Director of the original First National Bank of this city [which his Gillett grandfather founded], the McGrath Sand and Gravel Company, the Decatur Gravel Company, and the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. In addition, he was an active organizer and an early president of the Lincoln Commercial Club, a forerunner of our present Chamber of Commerce. Dean had many years of experience in the management and supervision of farms throughout Logan, Menard, Mason, DeWitt, and Sangamon Counties, and he originated the John Dean Gillett Breeders' Prize awarded annually at the Logan County Fair.

     He actively assisted in the organization of the Logan County Title Company and served as a director and vice president of that organization. He became very active in title work, addressed the National Titleman's Association and wrote several articles for its publications. He was one of only two men ever to be named president of the Illinois Title Association for two successive years.

     During a great part of his life Dean had an abiding interest in the history of this county and its people. Himself a member of a well known and highly revered pioneer family, he played a prominent part in the restoration of the old Postville Court House [actually, the construction of its replica] and at the time when he became incapacitated in 1952, he was actively planning the erection of a replica of the Deskins Inn, to be located across the street from the old Courthouse [site], where Abraham Lincoln so frequently was a guest. Unfortunately, his illness curtailed this project.

      In addition to the ordinary practice of law, Dean on two occasions served the Circuit Court of Logan County as a Master in Chancery. In 1942 he became a candidate on the Republican ticket for the office of County Judge, but the science of politics was not his forte and the Bar gained that which the Bench lost. For more than fifty years, he was a member of the Logan County Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He also was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Williams Club of New York City and the Harvard Club of Chicago, Illinois. In 1957 the members of the Williams Club residing in the New York area honored him with a dinner in that city in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation from Williams College. It was a signal honor, indeed.

     Dean early became interested in the Masonic Order, serving in 1917 as Worshipful Master of Lincoln Lodge No. 210 of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. He was a member of Lincoln Chapter No. 147 of Royal Arch Masons, was a past Commander of Constantine Commandary No. 51, Knights Templar and was also a member of Lincoln Council No. 83, Royal and Select Masters.

     For about thirty years, from 1923 to 1953, Dean was closely associated with Lincoln Savings and Loan Association and, in addition to being a director of the corporation, acted as its chief legal adviser. His law practice was general and widespread, and he became and was one of our most able practitioners. His interest in the younger men who followed him in point of time was proverbial. Many of us can testify to his kindnesses and his never failing patience with those who were less experienced and informed in the law than he. His honesty and integrity were unquestioned, and he was widely loved and respected by all who knew him. Witty and wise, perceptive and patient, diligent, learned and entertaining, he was a credit to his family, his friends and his community and a worthy representative of a great profession.

     Dean was a lover of nature and a true sportsman. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other kindred pursuits were close to his heart during his leisure moments. Many there were indeed, who, on numerous occasions enjoyed his company on trips to the mountains, the fields, the woods and the streams. It was a rare delight to listen to his experiences for he was a raconteur of parts, and he had the ability to sweep his listener into the story he told and to make him a part of the tale. His was a rare quality--perhaps best described by his great and good friend, Lynn R. Parker, who so eloquently described him as "a great commoner in sports."

     So he was--a commoner--not only in sports, but in law, in civic affairs and in fellowship. Thus he lived and thus he died--leaving all of us the poorer for his passing but immeasurably the richer for having known him. We have lost a brother and a companion. May he rest in peace forevermore.

MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: I move that these remarks be filed in this memorial service and that they be spread at large upon the records of this Court."
 

Lemira Gillett Hill McClure Hunt (1891--1972)

     The previous section on Katherine Gillett Hill described her daughter Lemira's wedding in to US Army Lieutenant James Nichols Wynn McClure of Kentucky December 10, 1917. Mr. and Mrs. McClure had a son named John Dean Gillett McClure. In 1941, after spending summers in Lincoln, he married during his senior year at Harvard University. I do not know about the fate of Lemira's marriage to James McClure, and I have not researched the life of her son or the story of Lemira's later marriage to a Mr. Hunt. Sometime after Lemira's mother, Katherine Gillett Hill, passed in 1935, Lemira made Suma Ray her home, after having lived next door.

     Lemira Gillett Hill graduated from Miss Chamberlain's School in Boston. Lemira later studied in New York City, according to the Washington, D.C. Evening Star, 9-2-1916, which reports that "Mrs. Katharine Gillett Hill and Miss Lemura [sic] Gillett Hill, who are in Washington for a few days, stopping at the Lafayette, spent the past summer at Narragansett Pier and Newport. They are now en route to the Lindens, Mrs. Gillett Hill's farm in Lincoln, Ill., where they will spend the early autumn, returning here for the winter."

     Lemira Gillett Hill Hunt was proud of her grandfather as one of the three founders of the First Lincoln Namesake Town. She wrote an account of the town's founding in which she credits her grandmother, Lemira Louise Parke Gillett, as the one who originated the idea of naming the town for Mr. Lincoln. Mrs. Hunt's credibility as a historian, however, is undercut by the inaccurate statement that implies the town was founded on land owned exclusively by her grandfather [one of three who had invested in that real estate], and her account of the town's founding overstates her grandfather's role: "My Grandfather John Dean Gillett hired the-then unknown Abe Lincoln (a 'new young man' from Kentucky) to plat (in 1853) and incorporate (in 1857) a town on land he owned so that the freight trains would stop to load his shorthorn cattle [the Chicago & Alton Railroad needed a watering station there for its locomotives]. Lincoln, who was a lawyer, and my grandfather rode horseback 20 miles north from Springfield to spend the night in grandfather's farm home. My grandmother was enchanted with the courteous and witty guest and said, 'John, why not name the town for that nice young man?'"

     The next morning they rode out about 10 miles. Grandfather and Mr. Lincoln stepped off the blocks for the proposed town--so many paces to a block. Lincoln was tall and grandfather was short--that's why there is a disparity in street block lengths here today. Farmers gathered around on the day of the christening. Lincoln chose a ripe watermelon from a wagon, smashed it over the wheel of a spring wagon, and christened the town. This was the first town ever named for Lincoln--by his consent, and long before he became famous" (Illinois. Illinois Towns, from the files of the Lincoln Financial Foundation).

     Lemira Hunt had inherited land in and near Lincoln, and took responsibility for managing it. Robert "Bobby" Olson writes, "I have read enough correspondence between Mr. J.D.G. Hill and his sister to assure you that Mrs. Hunt was almost entirely guided and taught about being a landlord by her brother (who was, of course, a leading attorney himself). I do not know if Mrs. Hunt had anything to do with the farm business before her mother's death in 1935, but I have seen a series of letters dated 1940 between Mr. Hill and Mrs. Hunt, and you can clearly see that he is trying to teach his sister the fine details of managing a large farm estate. Mr. Hill did a lot of work for his mother, Katherine Gillett Hill, from 1910 until her death, and he was expert in such matters."

      Lemira Hunt owned a lot of farmland at the southeast edge of Lincoln, as did her son Dean McClure after her. Mrs. Hunt's land near Lincoln included acreage obtained by the Logan County Board to build its airport and the thirty acres obtained by the District 303 Board of Education used to build its 1959 Lincoln Community High School at the east end of Wyatt Avenue. Bobby Olson explains, "Mrs. Hunt sold the 30.34 acres where Lincoln Community High School now stands to the Board of Education in early 1955. For fifty dollars, Mrs. Hunt gave an option in late 1954 to the Board of Education of Lincoln Community High School District 404, Logan County, Illinois, to purchase the land before March 15, 1955, for the sum of $45,510." 

      "Presumably the voters were polled on their approval of the new high school project and the related taxes at an election shortly before this date. The option describes the real estate being offered in three tracts, contains various easements to Mrs. Hunt and the future owners of her adjacent farmland, and describes the steps Mrs. Hunt will take to convey the specified acreage once the purchase price is paid. Her attorney was William C. Bates, Jr., as her lawyer brother, Mr. J.D.G. Hill had retired from active practice before 1954."

     Lemira Hunt also owned a cottage on Cottonwood Lane at Lincoln Lakes. According to a report in the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph (Feb. 24, 1954), city and rural fire departments were called to Mrs. Hunt's cottage to extinguish a roof fire, which caused little damage. Mrs. Hunt apparently kept close track of her various properties. According to a report in the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph (Oct. 18, 1949) titled "Woman Asks Court to Order Line Removed," she filed a "suit for ejectment and $10,000 damages . . . in circuit court Saturday . . . against the Central Illinois Electric and Gas Company. The plaintiff alleges the utility company has been using right of way for a power line on her farm at Amarilla, northeast of Lincoln, unlawfully since 1940 and asks that the line be withdrawn."

      In Lincoln, Mrs. Hunt rode around in a black Cadillac driven by a black chauffer, and as a teenager, I recall seeing it, especially at times when it stopped on Union Street at the intersection of Fifth Street because I hung out at a Dial's Texaco gas station there. I also recall that townspeople considered her quite eccentric. She was the subject of many anecdotes and salacious rumors, and I am familiar with several of both. I will not relate any of the controversial rumors, but here is my favorite anecdote, by the nonagenarian Bill Gossett--a "larger than life," native Lincolnite who could write a book on the townspeople he has known: "When Lemira Hunt walked her Corgies, she took Kleenex, wiped their little butts & dropped the Kleenex on the spot.

     ONE MORE BIGGIE!! She was a good customer of ours [Gossett Cleaners & Furriers, then located at 114 S. Chicago St.]; had several furs, in the day when they were not out of favor. We had an insured & climate controlled vault built to store furs, etc. Early May one year I called her to make sure we did not run out of room before getting her FURS. 'Lemira, I just wanted to make sure we had your furs, because the vault is getting full.' Lemira replied, 'Oh don't worry . . . this year, I put them in my deep freeze chests.' AND SHE DID JUST THAT."
 

     Small-town eccentrics are sometimes the target of pranksters. The following is a news report from the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph (Dec. 25, 1954) titled "42 Windows in Lincoln Broken": "Police Chief Earl Minder today was investigating the smashing of 42 windows in the home of Mrs. Lemira Hunt, 119 Lincoln Ave., by two 7-year-old boys Wednesday night. The youngsters admitted the vandalism but would give no reason for stoning the house. They said they tossed rocks through the windows of one side of the house about 5 p.m. and returned about 7:00 p.m. to break windows on the other side. Neighbors heard the noise during the second attack and notified police.

     The boys said they had not entered the house and used rocks found in the yard. Mrs. Hunt was away from home, spending the summer [?: news report was in Dec.] at Mackinac Island, Michigan. Chief Minder estimated the damage at more than $400, and the parents have agreed to pay for it." Robert "Bobby" Olson observes that "Mrs. Lemira Hunt was a nice person who had to be somewhat guarded because of her wealth. Overall, she gave my Dad his first big business opportunity (he was her farm manager 1964--1972)". This image of Miss Hill as a thoughtful reader appears at Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13034596&PIpi=145288170.
 

 

      Bobby Olson shares information about Lemira Hunt that humanizes her beyond the popular stereotype of her as a cold-hearted eccentric. For example, she had a sense of humor, as Bobby explains about an undated letter in which "Mrs. Hunt pokes fun at her sister-in-law, Irene (her next door neighbor, Mrs. John Dean Gillett Hill) and says that she herself would like to own a Ferrari (but that it has no room for her dogs!). While this letter is typed and not signed, the taped/attached photo has an annotation in Mrs. Hunt's own handwriting and lavender ink." Here is a PDF link to the letter. It has insider references that characterize much humor: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/LemiraHunthumorousletter.pdf.

     In a second example that Bobby offers, Lemira Hunt observes the family ties between the Olsons and the Gilletts, and compliments Robert F. Olson with kind words about his prospects. Link to PDF of this undated note: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/LemirtoRFOlsonfamilyties-compliment-2.pdf.

     The third example concerns Mrs. Hunt's last communication with the public: a touching, published letter. Bobby Olson explains that on Valentine's Day 1972 Lemira Hunt wrote the following letter, which the Lincoln Courier published two days later, on February 16. Mrs. Hunt died that very day, and the Courier published her death notice the next day. My sense is that the Courier publisher, Mrs. Allyne V. Nugent, wrote the death notice. She, too, was a dog lover. When I was four years old, my parents rented an apartment in a house owned by a Mrs. Miller on Fourth Street directly across from the Nugents' home. Their two Great Danes roamed their yard, which was enclosed by a low, stone-and-brick fence (standing as of 2019). I was afraid the beasts would bound over the fence and attack me, but they always respected their boundaries. Apparently they were better trained than I could appreciate at the time.
 

 

Conclusion

     Maps of the Broadwell and Elkhart townships in the 1962 Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of Logan County (below in the Appendix) show that at mid-twentieth century, third-generation Gillett descendants continued to own numerous farms in Logan County. Third-generation Scullys (Michael and Peter) were farmers, but recent-generation Gillett descendants mostly limited their involvement to management or hiring it. Ms. Gillette Ransom of rural Elkhart is an exception. With the decline and passing of recent-generation Scullys and Gilletts, descendants likely employ management agencies. As with the Scullys, the use of trusts has enabled Gillett descendants to retain farmland investment. I have not attempted to trace Gillett descendants' ownership of Logan County farmland since mid-twentieth century. The 1992 article cited above notes that "just how much of the original Gillett farmland remains in family hands is unclear because so many scattered kin have inherited portions, but it remains in the thousands of acres-most of it farmed by tenants on as many as 20 farms, family members said."

     I return to the epigraph: "We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while." -- Willa Cather, O Pioneers! John Dean Gillett family history shows a tradition of individuals who have revered their inherited land by farming and managing it responsibly. I would welcome communication from any Gillett descendants engaged in farming and/or managing their Gillett heritage land who would like to add information to this website about their experience. An advantage of website publication is that it allows for such collaborative development.   
 

Appendix

Author's Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

James Edgar Hill (1848--1937), author's compilation of newspaper reports (PDF) about John Dean Gillett Hill's colorful, controversial father, who was a Republican mayor of Lincoln, veteran of the Spanish-American War, and career military officer who found marriage to Katherine Gillett Hill and life in Lincoln too confining:  http://findinglincolnillinois.com/JamesEdgarHillnewsreports2-27-19-3_opt.pdf

Jasper Ernest "Jap" Oglesby (1882--1935), younger son of Richard J. and Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby, ran away from home at age eleven, and his adult behavior was sometimes reproachable. PDF of news reports about him: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/JasperOglesbynewsreports-3_opt.pdf. Memorial at Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18695306/jasper-ernest-oglesby. Unlike his brother, Jasper Oglesby's less-than-favorable reputation perhaps explains why he may have been considered a "black sheep" and thus not interred in the Oglesby Mausoleum at Elkhart Cemetery with his distinguished parents and brother but in an ordinary grave in the nearby but somewhat obscure the Latham-Thompson Cemetery.

John Dean Gillett Oglesby (1878--1938), older son of Richard J. and Emma Susan Gillett Oglesby was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, elected to two, non-consecutive terms as the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, and managed two, vast Gillett heritage farms. PDF of news reports about him: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/gilletttrial/JDGOglesbynewspaperarticles.pdf. Memorial at Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39511130/john-dean_gillett-oglesby.

John Dean/Lemira Parke Gillett Genealogy to 1929

Source: Gilbert H. Doane, ed., The Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record, 7.1, Lincoln, NE: January 1929, pp. 5--6:



 

1962 Maps of Broadwell and Elkhart Townships of Logan County Showing Names of Farmstead Owners

     These maps bear the names of the last Gillett descendants with ownership of the John Dean Gillett empire: Charlotte Barnes, William Barnes, the Barnes-McArthur Trust, Elizabeth K. Drake, Susan K. Green, John Dean Gillett Hill, Logan Hill, Lemira Hunt, S.T. Littler, Gillette McArthur, several Oglesbys, and the Oglesby Estate at the Springfield Marine Bank. The bottom lower left of the Broadwell map shows the rarity of land owned by Scully and Gillett descendants in close proximity. The Elkhart map is a bit smaller than the Broadwell map so that it, like the Broadwell map, can fit on an individual, printed page.


 

Bound Copy Donations of The Real Estate Empire of the John Dean Gillett Family of Elkhart, Illinois

 

August 20, 2019: My wife, Pat Hartman, and I recently visited the Elkhart Public Library to donate a bound copy of this pictorial history website. Ms. Sarah Armstrong Wilson, director of the Elkhart Public Library District, accepted it and kindly told us about the library's features and resources, and her progress in devising and implementing an original, user-friendly, genre-based catalog and shelving system. Bound copies have also been donated to the Sangamon Collection of the Lincoln Public Library, Springfield, Illinois; the Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, Public Library District (in the Gillett empire ten miles east of Elkhart); the Lincoln, Illinois, Public Library District; the Genealogical and Historical Society of Logan County, Illinois; and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, Illinois. Additional copies will be offered to Milner Library at Illinois State University and Meyer Library at Missouri State University.

 

 

 

Historical Plaque at the Entrance to the Elkhart Public Library

 

 

 

Lemira Parke Gillett (adapted from library wall photo)

 

 

 

Sarah Armstrong Wilson, Director of the Elkhart Public Library District, Accepting Bound Copy of
The Real Estate Empire of the John Dean Gillett Family of Elkhart, Illinois

painting by Renee Sisk, completed March 5, 2007

 

 

 

 

Sarah Wilson and Pat Hartman

 

 

 

John Dean Gillett (at left; identity of man at right, uncertain; adapted from library wall photo)

 

Suggested Supplemental Sources

The following are in addition to the works cited in the body of this publication.

Barnes, William, M.D. For a 2016 article about the professional life and civic leadership of Jessie Dean Gillett's brother-in-law, whose book on butterflies she underwrote, see https://herald-review.com/lifestyles/barnes-butterflies-return-home/article_d1980ea0-342b-5734-a7f8-47a6aace767f.html

Elkhart Hill: Little Town on the Prairie: https://www.ilfbpartners.com/family/elkhart-hill-little-town-on-the-prairie/.

Elkhart Historical Society: http://www.elkharthistoricalsociety.org/.

Gillett Family Papers, 1736--1904, Chronicling Illinois, The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/items/show/250.

Gillett Memorial Bridge: http://www.landmarks.org/preservation-programs/success-stories/gillett-memorial-arch/.

Henson, D. Leigh, "Adam Bogardus in Lincoln, Illinois": http://findinglincolnillinois.com/hotels-eating.html#bogardusinlincolnillinois.

_______. Elkhart Cemetery Google Photo and Video Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Dbp7SCbTGFeaLywT7.

_______ . James T. Hickey (1922--1996): http:findinglincolnillinois.com/historians.html#jth.

_______ . Paul J. (1936--2019) and Sue Beaver: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/historians.html?fbclid=IwAR0RY3PLqeuCpW9VhzQZYG1Lbz9LCz84P8ymzR0ANwnLE4q-TyX2gdy7UdE#paulandsuebeaver

_______ . "The First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Illinois, William Maxwell, and Governor Richard J. Oglesby: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/churches.html#firstpresbyterianatlincoln.

________ . "The Founding of Lincoln, Illinois: The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History/Lore in His First Namesake Town," including the role of John Dean Gillett in the town's founding: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/alincoln-lincolnil.html.

_______. The Town Abraham Lincoln Warned: The Living Namesake Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois (2011): http://findinglincolnillinois.com/townabewarned.html.  

Hickey, James T. The Collected Writings of James T. Hickey, 1953--1984 (Springfield, IL: the Illinois State Historical Society, 1990).

Hurt, James. Writing Illinois: The Prairie, Lincoln, and Chicago (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

Illinois Stories | Cro'hurst, Oldest House In Logan Co | WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79oMeNYmWmI.

James T. Hickey Papers, 1938--1954: http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/items/show/283.

Latham--Thompson Cemetery at Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2326319/latham-cemetery.

Logan County Title Company history, for which John Dean Gillett Hill served as vice president in the 1930s: https://www.logancountytitle.com/history.htm.

Mazrim, Robert. "Chapter 10: Overlooking Wilderness: Excavations at Elkhart Hill" in The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 153--182. Pictorial report on pioneer artifacts found near the Latham cabin site, later site of the Richard J. and Emma Gillett Oglesby's first Oglehurst (see map above).

Oglesby, Emma Susan Gillett, information at Genealogy Trails: http://genealogytrails.com/ill/oglesbymrsobit.html.

Oglesby Family Papers, 1845-1938 | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: http://alplm.libraryhost.com/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=9.

Pine Lodge Farm, the home of James and Betty Hickey in rural Elkhart, described in https://www.sj-r.com/x380040512/Dave-Bakke-Old-fashioned-dedication-for-rebuilt-barn.

Plummer, Mark A. Lincoln's Rail-Splitter: Governor Richard J. Oglesby (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001): https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/23xqg9tc9780252026492.html.  

Schilling, Roy. Oral history interview by Chris Reynolds of a man familiar with Elkhart and the Oglesby family early in the twentieth century: https://www2.illinois.gov/alplm/library/collections/oralhistory/illinoisstatecraft/general/Documents/SchillingRoy/Schilling_Roy_4FNL.pdf.

Scully Family Papers, 1781-2001 | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: http://alplm.libraryhost.com/?p=collections/controlcard&id=81.

Scully, Michael John. 2008 obituary: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sj-r/obituary.aspx?n=michael-j-scully&pid=110646742. Related: Erin Frost, PhD, "Logan County Land Heir Dies": https://www.lincolncourier.com/x1644563963/Logan-County-land-heir-Scully-dies.

Scully, Peter Dennys. 2012 obituary: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=peter-dennys-scully&pid=161931763.

St. John the Baptist Chapel, Elkhart Cemetery, Elkhart Hill, Illinois: https://graveyards.com/IL/Logan/elkhart/chapel.html.

Stringer, Stan. A native Lincolnite's research and report on the 1932 fire in downtown Lincoln that destroyed the Gillett-Oglesby Corner Building: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/stanstringer.html#oglesbyfire.

"View from Elkhart Hill: A Town of Enduring Character at the Crossroads of History" by Rick Wade, 2009: https://illinoistimes.com/article-5781-the-view-from-elkhart-hill.html.

Wildhare Cafe, Elkhart, Illinois: http://www.wildharecafe-elk-il.com/?fbclid=IwAR2Hd7jSIsJyGCUllYMpwknjFUDmcMu1PGxzFOUxF7s3vSq1pziXbzouycE.
 


 

Feel free to email me with questions, corrections, or other comments: DLHenson@MissouriState.edu.
Feel free also to connect with me at https://www.facebook.com/leigh.henson and https://www.linkedin.com/in/d-leigh-henson-9231a516/.

 

 

  website counter

 

D. Leigh Henson's Collaborative, Community History Website of
The First Lincoln Namesake Town