Leonard Andrus (deceased) – The founder of the village of Grand Detour, and one of the first settlers of Ogle County, was a man of energy, and one who clearly saw the possibilities of the beautiful Rock River country.  He was born Cornwall, Vermont in 1805 and was a son of Cone Andrus, a native of Connecticut.  He traced his ancestry back for many generations on both his father’s and mother’s side, both families being early residents of the New England states.  His father’s family went from Connecticut to Vermont, and later to Malone, New York in which place he grew to manhood.  After due preparation he entered Middleberry College, where he spent two years; he did not complete the full course but on the death of his father he left college and returned home.  Cone Andrus was a farmer by occupation, and while of retiring disposition, was a man of good business ability.  One of his brothers was the father of the celebrated Bishop Andrews.  In his family were four children who grew to maturity: Leonard, the subject of this sketch; William, who died in Malone, New York; Lucius, who spent his life in Brooklyn, New York; Albert, who lived and died in Malone, New York; and George, who lived in Malone until late in life, and then moved to New Jersey, where his death occurred.  Cone Andrus died in Malone, New York.
After attaining his majority Leonard Andrus went to Rochester, New York, where he engaged in the mercantile business until 1833, meeting with fair success.  Not satisfied, however, and believing the west a better place for a young man, in the fall of 1833, he came west as far as Constantine, Michigan, where he remained until the spring of 1834 when he made his way to the Ohio River and started down that stream to St. Louis, with the idea of making that city his future home.  Before locating, however, he concluded to go on a prospecting tour through northern Illinois, having heard something of the beauty of that country and believing that the time would soon come when it would be settled by a thrifty and enterprising people.
Arriving at Dixon he took a canoe and went up the river until he came to the great bend, the beauty of which and the possibility of founding here a great manufacturing point, for which there seem sufficient water power, he made his claim.  At that time there were but few settlements in all this region and they were far between; the settlement at Kellogg’s grove and at Dixon was those nearest to this point.  Returning east he settled up his business, and in the spring of 1835 returned, stopping, however, at Constantine, Michigan, where he had relatives living.  From that point Willis and Willard A. House, twin brothers, accompanied him.  Mrs. Sarah I. House, the wife of Willard A. House, came a little later, arriving here July 4, 1835.  She was the first white woman in Grand Detour.  She later gave birth to a daughter, Gertrude who was the first white child born in Grand Detour.
Soon after his arrival Mr. Andrus became associated with Flint & Walker, proprietors of the old stage line, which connection was continued but a short time.  In 1836, in company with Russell Green, Amos Bosworth, William G. Dana, Marcus and Dennis Warren, he formed the Hydraulic Company, for the improvement of the water power and the erection of mills and in 1837 the company commenced to build the dam, race and sawmill and make other improvements.  Among the number to come to Grand Detour was John Deere who afterwards became the noted plow manufacturer and who made a world-wide reputation and a colossal fortune.  Mr. Deere was a blacksmith, and opened a shop and in addition to the job work that came to him, he engaged in the manufacture of shovels and pitchforks.  With Mr. Andrus two years later, he formed a partnership, and under the firm name of Andrus & Deere they commenced the manufacture of plows.  The fame of the Grand Detour plows was soon established throughout the west, and the firm did a good business.  Mr. Deere later withdrew and moved to Moline, where he continued the business and established his fame.

The Hydraulic Company built the first grist mill in northern Illinois.  It was to have commenced running on the 4th of July, 1830 and was to form part of the celebration of that day, but it failed to start and it was one year later before it was in successful operation.  Its success was immediate, and it had more patronage than it could well accommodate, with its three run of stone.
When Mr Deere removed to Moline, Mr. Andrus continued the business alone until it became too large for him to manage without help, when he took in Amos Bosworth, his brother-in-law, as a partner, which partnership continued until Mr. Bosworth’s death in 1862.  After running the business alone again for a time Mr. Andrus formed a partnership with Theron Cummins, which partnership lasted until the death of Mr. Andrus.

On the 3rd of June 1838, Mr. Andrus was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Ann Bosworth, a native of Royalton, Vermont, and daughter of Amos and Susan (Wheelock) Bosworth, both of who were also natives of Royalton, Vermont and who were among the early settlers of Grand Detour.  By this union three children was born – Caroline C., who died at the age of eight years; William C., and Leonard of the Dixon National Bank, Dixon, Illinois.

In early life Mr. Andrus was a Henry Clay Whig, a great admirer of that grand old statesman.  On the dissolution of the Whig party, he became a stanch Republican and was an earnest advocate of Republican principles until his death.  He was always in public life and filled almost every local official position.  He also served as a member of the legislature, making a good, working member of that body.  His acquaintance with the public men of his day was quite extensive and his influence was always felt.  He was a man of the people, and had at heart the interests of the people.  The founder of the village of Grand Detour, he was connected with almost every enterprise that was introduced into the village.  He was a pioneer among pioneers and experienced all the hardships common to those who engage in the development of a new country, but he lived to see his adopted county and state take front rank, and most of the great inventions that have made our whole country famous.  In the development of the country and the various industrial enterprises, he certainly bore will his part, and his name will not soon be forgotten.  His death, which occurred February 18, 1867, was entirely unexpected, having contracted pneumonia and living thereafter but a few days.  His death was a sad loss to the business and local interests of his adopted county, of which he was such a worthy citizen.       

Transcribed by Denise Border

Biographical Record of Ogle County

 

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Illinois Ancestors