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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Page 250

WILLIAM DODD CHENERY - William Dodd Chenery figured prominently for many years in connection with the hotel business of Springfield, and because of this gained a very wide acquaintance, while his genial manner, consideration for others and genuine personal worth won for him the friendship of many with whom he came in contact. His residence in Springfield began in the year 1852, and he became the landlord of the old American house, one of the first hotels established in this city.

He was born in Boylston, Massachusetts, May 1, 1796. His paternal great-grandfather, Lambert Chenery, was a native of England and came to America at an early epoch in the colonization of the new world, landing at Salem, Massachusetts, where he made his home throughout the remainder of his life. His son, Dr. Isaac Chenery, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Massachusetts and served his country as a patriot in the Revolutionary war. He was commissioned under Colonel Nathaniel Ward and a copy of his commission is now in possession of the family in Springfield, being a cherished heirloom. Dr. Chenery, throughout his business career, engaged in the practice of medicine in Massachusetts and was well known there as a successful and capable physician. Dr. Thaddeus Chenery, the father of William Dodd Chenery, was born in Medfield, Massachusetts, and also prepared for the practice of medicine. During much of his life he made his home in the town of Holden, Massachusetts, and in 1846 he made a trip to the west on horseback in order to visit his son, William, in Morgan county, Illinois. He afterward returned, however, to Holden, where both he and his wife spent their last days. None of their children are now living. Mrs. Chenery bore the maiden name of Mary Dodd and was a native of Princeton, Massachusetts.

William Dodd Chenery acquired a collegiate education in his native town, and, possessing a young man's hopeful view of the future, together with a laudable ambition, he determined to try his fortune in the west. About 1830 he started for the Mississippi valley, going by boat to New Orleans and thence up the Mississippi river, establishing his home in Cook county. He intended to settle upon a farm there, but, not liking the country on account of the great number of wolves which infested it, he returned to Fort Dearborn. He then traded his Illinois land for Iowa land which he never saw. He remained in the west for only a brief period at that time, but decided to locate here and returned to New England for his family. He started eastward on horseback during the winter of the deep snow, which has become an historic event. He had not traveled far, however, before he was joined by another man eastward bound and they finished the journey together in a sleigh. With his family Mr. Chenery again started for Illinois in 1831, traveling by wagon across the country. They settled in Jacksonville, Morgan county, and there Mr. Chenery embarked in general merchandising, which he followed until the financial panic of 1837, when he disposed of his business and turned his attention to farming in that county. He was thus engaged until 1848, when he again took up his abode in Jacksonville and there purchased the Western Hotel, which he conducted until 1852, when he came to Springfield and took charge of the old American House, which was one of the first hotels established in this city. This he conducted for several years and then purchased the City Hotel at the corner of Fourth and Washington streets, being there engaged in the hotel business up to the time of his death. He was a popular host, because he studied the wants and wishes of his patrons and provided for them pleasing entertainment and an excellent cuisine.

Mr. Chenery was married in Boylston, Massachusetts, in 1825, to Abigal Partridge, a native of the old Bay state and a daughter of James Partridge, who was a soldier of the Revolutionary war and resided in Massachusetts up to the time of his death, which occurred at the very advanced age of ninety-two years.

Eight children, three of whom are now living, were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Chenery: Mary F. and Susan A., who were born in Morgan county, and now living in Springfield; Cyrus E., born October 21, 1842, is living with his sisters in this city. He ran away from college at the beginning of the Civil war and enlisted in Company G, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, under Lieutenant Van Huff, Captain Wilson and Colonel Judy. This company was in all the engagements in the south under General Grant, including the battle and siege of Vicksburg. Mr. Chenery had enlisted in 1862 and was honorably discharged in Springfield in 1865, returning to his home with a most creditable military record, for on many a battlefield he had displayed his loyalty to the Union in his bravery in facing the enemy and defending the old flag. He now belongs to Stephenson post, No. 30, G. A. R., of Springfield. The members of the Chenery family who have passed away are as follows: John W., who was born in Boylston, Massachusetts, July 28, 1826, and was engaged in the hotel business with his father, married Miss Eleanor Hallihan and died December 28, 1903, while his widow still resides in Springfield; James H., born January 28, 1828, died in Springfield in March 1898; Ann Jane, born in July, 1829, became the wife of Emanuel Hamilton and died in October, 1893. Her husband has also passed away. Thaddeus W., born January 8, 1835, died in 1882. Edward died at the age of eleven months. The father of this family departed this life October 21, 1873, at the age of seventy-seven years and six months, while his wife passed away October 31, 1880, at the age of seventy-eight years. They are now survived by three children, seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, who are residents of Illinois or Missouri.

In early life Mr. Chenery gave his political allegiance to the Whig party and subsequently he became an advocate of Republican principles. during his later years he was a member of the Masonic fraternity and his wife belonged to the Second Presbyterian church of Springfield. In his business he was very successful and became well-to-do. A man of strong domestic tastes, he put forth every effort in his power to promote the welfare and happiness of his children, and not only provided them with excellent educational privileges, but also made it possible for them to enjoy the pleasure and benefits of travel. He had a very wide acquaintance among the early settlers of Sangamon county, and those who were prominent here during the middle portion of the nineteenth century, and his activity in business affairs and his hearty co-operation in all movements for the general good make it imperative that his record be given in this volume, for he was recognized as a representative, honored and popular citizen. His three surviving children occupy a fine residence at No. 732 North Fifth Street.

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