History of Whiteside Co., IL 1908
12 Jul 2011
Bert Besse, a representative general farmer of Portland township, is
prominent in the local ranks of the republican party, serving at the present
time as a member of the county central committee and also as chairman of
the county board of supervisors, in which connection he is rendering efficient
service in support of measures of value to the community at large. He was
born December 28, 1862, in the township which is still his home.
His father, Peter B. Besse, was a native of Oneida county, New York,
born in 1812. He removed to Erie county in 1819 and in July, 1835, cameto
Portland township, Whiteside county, entering a claim on section 12.
There he made his home until his death, which occurred September 17, 1890.
He was always one of the leading men of the town and served as county commissioner
for several years. He was also supervisor and township trustee, and
for a considerable period filled the office of justice of the peace. He aided in
establishing the policy and molding the history of the county during its
formative period and aided in laying broad and deep the foundation upon
which to build the present progress and prosperity of the county. Every evidence
of pioneer life was here seen at the time of his arrival. Only three
years before had the Black Hawk war occurred, whereby the white race gained
supremacy over the country and proved their right to continue the work of
civilization here. Indians were still seen, however, in the state and wild game
of all kinds was abundant. Deer were frequently killed, while wild turkeys,
prairie chickens, ducks and other game were seen in large numbers. Thehomes
of the early settlers were usually small and frequently built of logs.
The fire-place was a feature of the household and the furnishings were primitive,
but the occupants of the homes were usually people of stalwart purpose
and determination who had come here to gain a start in business life and aid
in reclaiming the western frontier for the uses of civilization. Mr. Besse bore
his full share in the work of progress and development and in fact was one
of the valued citizens not only of the early days but through the middle portion
of the century as well.
On the 5th of February, 1843, Peter B. Besse married Miss Sarah D.
Crook, who was born in Erie county, New York, December 27, 1825, and died
in Portland township, July 21 1907. She was a daughter of Asa Crook who
settled in Prophetstown in May, 1834, and entered a claim adjoining the present
site of the village of Prophetstown. He was probably the first justice of
the peace of the county, being elected to that office in 1835. He was also postmaster
early in 1836, and numbered among the honored pioneer settlers he
well deserves mention in this connection, for he, too, bore his part in shaping
the history of the county at an early day. His birth occurred in Rutland
county, Vermont, in 1790, and his death occurred in Sharon, Henry county,
Illinois, in 1854. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Dustin, was
born in 1793, and they were married in 1811. They had a large family, all
of whom lived to an advanced age.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Peter B. Besse were born thirteen children, of whom
eleven survive: Mrs. Josephine Mulford, of Long Beach, California; Mrs.
Louisa Fuller, of Geneseo, Illinois; George B., a resident of Portland town--
ship; Mrs. Sarah Fones, of St. John, Oregon; H. Clay, who resides in Chicago;
Robert J., of Lyndon township; Mrs. Katie F. Gleason, who makes "her home
in Lincoln, Nebraska; Bert, of this review; Marion B., of Portland township;
Frank, a resident of Springfield, Missouri; and Mrs. Lucy Timmerman, a
resident of Portland township. Eugene L. was a soldier of the Civil war, was
wounded and died in a hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, while Charles L. died
at the age of six years.
Bert Besse, whose name introduces this record, obtained his education in
the common schools, worked upon the home farm through the period of his
boyhood and youth and when twenty-one years of age started out in life on
his own account. He continued with his mother for some time after his
father's death and in 1902 he purchased his present farm property of one hundred
and seventy-four and a half acres on section 1, Portland township. This
is a rich and productive tract of land situated in the midst of the finest farming
district of the state and responding readily to the care and labor which
Mr. Besse bestows upon it. He keeps the place under a high state of cultivation
and its neat and thrifty appearance indicates at once his careful supervision
and his practical methods.
Mr. Besse is not only recognized as a representative agriculturist but is
also a leader in republican circles and one whose work in behalf of the county
has been effective and far-reaching. He is now a member of the central
county committee and upon the party ticket has been elected to the office of
supervisor for several terms, his incumbency covering a period of eight years.
He is now chairman of the county board and is also serving as school director.
He is a worthy representative of one of the leading pioneer families of the
county and the fact that many of his stanchest friends are those who have
known him from his boyhood to the present time is an indication of the
straightforward rules that have governed him in his life contacts and experiences