Biography - Thomas Oglesby

THOMAS L. OGLESBY, proprietor of the Oglesby House, at Belknap, was born in England, April 22, 1839. He is a son of Joseph and Sarah A. (Dennis) Oglesby, natives of Norfolk County, England. Joseph H. Oglesby owned a farm of one hundred acres in the county of his birth. After his death his widow sold the farm and started to the United States with her family of six children, but died while on the sea. The year after her demise the children all died with the exception of Thomas L. and his brothers Joseph and John.
Thomas L. started out in life nearly empty-handed, as sickness caused the loss of almost all the property brought to this country. At the age of twelve years he hired out to work for one year at $10 per month, and during the year he saved $100, having spent but $20 in that time. In the fall of 1851 he went to Missouri, and learned the miller's trade at Cape Girardeau, remaining there until 1857, when he went to St. Louis and followed milling until 1858. In the meantime he had learned engineering, and in that year he quit milling and took a position on a packet called the ''Northerner." He served on several different boats, and was engineer on the "Ben Louis," which exploded at Cairo in the summer of 1859, at which time several on board were killed, including the captain and second engineer, and many others were wounded. Mr. Oglesby escaped uninjured, after being in the water an hour and a-half.
Having continued to follow engineering until the breaking out of the war, our subject enlisted in the Missouri State Militia, and afterward in the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth Senior Tennessee Regiment, which had been organized during the Mexican War. He served in this regiment until the battle of Perryville, and was taken prisoner in September, 1862. He was taken from the battlefield to Louisville, then to Cairo, and to different places, and was then started for Alton penitentiary, but managed to escape at Neeley's Landing, and at length reached Illinois. Locating at Jonesborough in 1863, he there engaged in the milling business for about one year. From that town he went to Dongola, and followed milling for about three years. He continued in the same line of business at different places, owning different mills, and was in partnership with his father-in-law in the mill at Dongola some time. At length he bought an interest in a sawmill in Jackson County, which he sold after operating about six months. On his return to Dongola he again bought the old mill there, which he ran about three years, and then sold. He next bought an interest in still another mill, but sold that the same year.
In the spring of 1879 Mr. Ogles by opened a grocery store and boarding-house in Belknap, and in process of time added to his store different branches, until he finally ran a general store, and dealt in farming implements and coal. In 1892 he sold his grocery and dry-goods departments, and now deals in hardware, agricultural implements and coal. He is also the proprietor of the Oglesby House, the best hotel in the village. Mrs. Oglesby conducts a millinery business. Mr. Oglesby is one of the leading citizens of Belknap, and is a thorough business man. He was married August 10, 1864, to Naomi Davis, a native of Union County, Ill. They have had two children: Lavender W., who was born December 25, 1866, and died October 3, 1892; and John Dennis, who was born October 18, 1870, and is now in a grocery house in Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Oglesby are members of the Congregational Church. Politically, he is a Democrat, and in his social connections is identified with Belknap Lodge No. 251, I. O. O. F., and Vienna Encampment No. 53.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 550-551.

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