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Dow, Augustus
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Dow, Augustus
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 250-253


Augustus Dow, a leading representative of commercial and industrial interests in Pittsfield and also a prominent factor in public life, having been honored by election to the state legislature, where his official services reflected honor upon the constituency that had called him to office, was born in South Coventry, Tolland county, Connecticut, on the 9th of October, 1841. His parents, Cyrus and Charity A. (Chapman) Dow, were of Scotch descent. The father was born in the year 1800 and died in 1855, when scarcely past the prime of life, but the mother reached the advanced age of ninety-three years, passing away in Connecticut on the 12th of March, 1905.

In the public schools of his native town Augustus Dow began his education and afterward attended an academy, pursuing a good practical course of study. He entered upon his business career in the capacity of a clerk at Hartford, Connecticut, but wisely thinking the great west, which Illinois was then considered, would offer better opportunities to a young man of energy and determination than could be secured in the older towns of the east, he came to Pike county, Illinois, in 1858, bringing with him good business habits, laudable ambition and strong determination. He accepted a position as clerk in a store in Pittsfield and was employed in that capacity until 1862, when he entered the service of the government, being appointed paying clerk of the Army of the Cumberland under Major W. E. Norris with headquarters at Louisville, Kentucky. There he remained until 1865. During the time that he was connected with this department he paid to the troops nine million dollars and carried as much as three hundred thousand dollars at one time. He was then about twenty-two years of age-a young man for such responsibility-but his duties were most faithfully discharged and not a cent was lost in the transactions.

After the close of the war Mr. Dow returned to Pittsfield and established himself as a dry goods merchant, continuing in the business until 1872, when he joined C. P. Chapman in the milling business. He has devoted himself strictly to the work, soon gaining a full understanding of milling in all of its details, and as the years passed developed a large and profitable enterprise. In 1898 Mr. Chapman died and Mr. Dow admitted Mr. Chapman's son-in-law, M. D. King, to a partnership, so that the firm is now Dow & King. The mill which they owned and operated was built in 1870 and therein their products were manufactured until 1900, when the mill was destroyed by fire. The firm then rebuilt as soon as the insurance was adjusted. The new mill has a greater storage capacity than the old one and is one of the most modern and best equipped plants of the kind in the state, its capacity being six hundred barrels per day. The old plant was built as a burr mill, but in 1883 the roller process was installed. In March, 1902, the elevator was burned, but was immediately rebuilt on a more expensive scale, its capacity exceeding the old by forty thousand bushels, its present capacity being one hundred and twenty thousand. The principal brands of flour manufactured by the firm are Crystal Gem, Principia, Superlative and Dow’s Dew Drop. The capacity of the mill is six hundred barrels of flour and the company manufactures all of its barrels, having a large brick cooper shop in the rear. They furnish employment to about fifty men altogether, so that the enterprise is a most creditable one to the city as well as a source of gratifying income to the proprietors.

Mr. Dow has figured prominently in public affairs and in 1892 was elected to the state legislature for a two-years’ term. While acting as a member of the house he served on the committees on canals, river improvements, commerce, drainage, state municipality, indebtedness, and on the visiting committee to charitable institutions, and he gave to each question which came up for settlement his careful consideration and be ably represented his constituents, his course reflecting honor upon the county that honored him. In 1894 he was appointed one of the trustees of the Illinois Institution for the Blind at Jacksonville and served four years, during which time Hon. N. W. Branson was president, while Hon. Augustus Dow and Hon. Edward Rew, of Chicago, were trustees and Frank H. Hall, superintendent of the institution. Mr. Dow is widely recognized as one of the leading republicans of Pittsfield and has been a member of the central committee. He has also figured prominently in municipal politics, being mayor of Pittsfield for four years and president of the central board for a number of years. He has likewise been a member of the county board of supervisors, and his excellent business talents and executive ability made him an enviable official. He is one of the directors of the First National Bank of Pittsfield and was one of the trustees that built the Opera House in this city. He has been connected with all of the improvement of a local nature and his name stands high in financial circles far beyond the limits of the county.

Mr. Dow has been married three times. He first wedded Miss Jennie E. Winans in 1865. She was a native of New Jersey, born in 1841, and her death occurred in 1870. In 1872, in St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Dow was married to Judith W. Morton, who was born in Massachusetts in 1840, and they had one son, Harry A., who spent two years as a student in the Illinois College, four years at Yale and three years in the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He is now private secretary and attorney for N. W. Harris & Company, of Chicago, the largest bond house in the United States. On the 21st of September, 1904, he married Miss Florence Bachelder, of Ypsilanti, and they now reside in Chicago. Mr. Dow, in company with his son Harry, traveled abroad, visiting England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Following the death of his second wife, in 1887, Mr. Dow was married to Mrs. Mary S. Bates, who had one daughter, Sarah, now the wife of Fred Utt, a druggist residing at Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Mr. and Mrs. Dow hold membership in the Congregational church, in which he has been a trustee for many years. He owns a beautiful home in Pittsfield and has been a resident of this city since 1858. He is not only well known in Pike county, but throughout this section of Illinois. His trade extends over a wide territory, and in this connection he has been the promoter of what has become one of the leading industrial enterprises of Pittsfield. His success has been the result of honest, persistent effort in the line of honorable and manly dealing. His aims have been to attain to the best, and he has carried forward to successful completion whatever he has undertaken. His life has marked a steady growth and now he is in possession of an ample competence and more than all, has that contentment that comes from a consciousness of having lived for an honorable purpose.

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Submitted: 04/12/09 (Edited 09/09/09)

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