Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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McGovney House
McGovney House
TitleMcGovney House
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
Date of the DrawingAugust 22, 1926
DescriptionThis is a drawing of the McGovney house, built in 1854 on Richards street. This drawing is a part of the Robert E. Sterling Collection.
Title of ArticleOld dwelling unchanged by passing years : built in 1854, it still retains that air of comfort. Home of Pioneer.
Date of ArticleAugust 22, 1926
Transcript of the ArticleWritten in pencil at top: " McGovney House 3rd Ave & Richards S."
From Joliet Herald-News Sunday August 22, 1926 -
"Behold the determined quaintness and air of comfort held by the small old fashioned dwelling of 1854 that persists in being itself whatever the kings of this so wild and frantic, modern year of 1926.
And 72 years is quite some cycle to sojourn, unchanged, serene in a world of change. And on a street too where there are few of the three dimensional relics that have not been yet lengthened or shortened or moved or enlarged or bobbed or clipped in some way.
Picket Fence Gone.
To be sure, this dwelling has met a few of the vicissitudes of time, tho bravely.
The quaint picket fence has been removed, and the once luxuriant gardens are no more. One by one it has shed the old fashioned blinds that served once to give it a proper eye lash effect. And the south annex has been added with a little porch whereon the family dog and cat receive nourishment frequently.
When it is known that this quaint dwelling occupies the southeast corner of the Richards street and Third avenue intersection, its courage and quaintness will be further admired.
Is McGovney House.
Ever since 1854, when the lot was bought and the house was built on the blank areas of Richard street, it has been known as the McGovney house.
Thomas McGovney, the pioneer, who came to Will county with his parents in 1831, was an early occupant. John McGovney, his father, married Nancy Graham, in Ohio, and brought his brood to Will county. They had eight children, including John, Thomas, Wilson, Ozias, Nancy, Sarah Jane, Margaret Ann and Eliza, a thriving group.
The true pioneers of the family, however, were James , and his wife, Nancy Crockett, the Scotch-Irish couple from Belfast, Ireland, who braved the rigors of the new country in 1772, just before the revolution.
Davy Crockett's Relative.
Nancy Crockett McGovney, by the way was a relative of Davy Crockett. And Nancy Graham McGovney, wife of John, was the famous great-grandmother of the present youthful McGovneys, who was warned by Shab-bo-na's son-in-law of an expected Indian raid, and thereupon in haste and trembling removed with her family to Indiana, where they abode for six months. And when they returned to their Will county home, by all that was wonderful, a batch of loaves that Nancy had set out to rise, just before the hasty departure was still ‘settin' unmoved in the place where she left it.
Steel Mill Employe.
Pioneer Thomas, the builder of the Richards street dwelling was first a farmer and later a carpenter in the Illinois steel mills. He married Marinda Fisk, and there were three children, Alvan, Louise and Jennie. Alvan, the elder, married Ella Goodspeed, niece of Charles Goodspeed, the first, and moved to Colorado, where he occupied the position of member of the house of representatives and country treasurer. They lived in Colorado Springs. Louise, eldest daughter to Thomas, married John Wilson, brother of Charles E. Wilson of the Will County National bank. John Wilson is now auditor in the Gary steel mills.
Lives on Third Avenue.
Jennie McGovney, second daughter of Thomas and Nancy married the late and well known attorney, August Knox, and is still living in Joliet at 814 Third avenue, with her grandson, Howard Augustus Knox and his wife, Eloise Matteson Knox, who was a daughter of F. A. Matteson. Thomas McGovney died in 1885. His brother, Ozias married Matilda Jane Elsworth, who became the parents of Ozias the second, who lived in Mokena, and married Georgia Knapp of Chicago and Mokena.
Their son was Ozias Wilson McGovney, the third Ozias in a straight line. This youngest Ozias live with his mother on Casseday avenue and is assistant cashier of the Will county National bank.
History Is Uneventful.
The history of the house and lot in the records if the People's Abstract company, according to John Morrison, is uneventful. David Richards first took title to the land from the canal trustees in 1854. Altho he subdivided it the same year, and sold this corner lot to Thomas McGovney for a consideration of a few hundred dollars. And so it was carried down thru the family until 1920, when the McGovney heirs sold it to Alexander Conroy, in 1922. Conroy sold it to Leonard and Sarah Seltzer in 1922 and there it stands today.
The present occupants of the old McGovney house are Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Vertin and Charles, the only son, who is in seventh grade and whose hobby is pigeons. They are native Joliet people and Mr. Virtin is an engineer on the Rock Island.
Changed Hands Often.
But the house opposite on Richards street, which you see faintly indicated with a few lines among the trees at the right of the sketch, had a far busier life, or at least the history of the lot was changeful.
Julius D. Fitch and Mrs. Eliza Fitch bought the property in 1880 from Mrs. Mary Macomber, and it has remained in the hands of the Fitch family ever since Miss Ella Fitch, former teacher in the Medill High school, Chicago, now occupies the homestead.
Kenneth C. Fitch, who is also a teacher of science in Chicago, with his wife, Alice, and children, Kenneth and Alice, live in the handsome brick house close by. Mrs. Fitch was also a teacher in Chicago. In fact, an educational atmosphere has always surrounded the Fitch family from the time of the Rev. James Fitch, their pioneer ancestor, who came from England in 1638.
Real Estate Active.
The lot on which stands the pretty white frame house of the family 40 or so years ago, was bought by Mrs. Macomber in 1876 from Cornelius Van Horne, one of the historic pioneers and the very first mayor of Joliet. Mr. Van Horn bought it in 1875 from Emery E. Hardy. Mr. Hardy took it in 1874 from Richard Barber. And Barber acquired it in 1872 from Francis Goodspeed, who received the title in 1854 from Thomas Jones, who got the title from the canal trustees in 1854.
All of which seems to prove the activity of Seventh ward real estate as early as 1854 and ever since, as is shown by the close formation of stately and comfortable homes all thru the region today."
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
Joliet (Ill.) -- History
Physical Description28 cm. x 35 cm.
SourceClick this link for more historical information on the Joliet area - http://lewisu.edu/imcanal
Publisher (Digital)Lewis University
RightsAll rights held by Lewis University. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection at Lewis University at 815-836-5665.
CollectionAdele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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