| HON. GEORGE W. CULVER. The province of biography is
not to give a man's modest estimate of himself and his accomplishments
but rather to establish his worth and position by the consensus of pubic
opinion, which, in the case of George W. Culver, was altogether
favorable. His life was so varied in its activity, so honorable in its
purpose, so far-reaching and beneficial in its effects, that it became
an integral part of the history of Sandwich and likewise left its
impress upon the annals of the county. He was in no sense a man in
public life, yet nevertheless exerted an immeasurable influence on the
city of his residence; in business life as a financier and promoter of
extensive industrial and commercial enterprises; in social circles by
reason of a charming personality and unfeigned cordiality toward those
who came within the circle of his friendship; in politics by reason of
his public spirit and devotion to the general good as well as his
comprehensive understanding of many of the questions affecting the
Mr. Culver was a native of Coila, Washington county, New York, born April 1, 1830, and his life span covered the period between that date and the 8th of August, 1903, when he was called to his final rest at the age of seventy-three years, four months and eight days. His parents, Nathan and Eliza Culver, people of genuine personal worth and high character, had a family of twelve children, eight of whom are yet living; Mrs. Martha Gow, of Norfolk, Nebraska; James H., of West Superior, Wisconsin; Mrs. Sarah Skiff, of Coila, New York; Mrs. Sophia Green, of Cambridge, New York; Mrs. Mary McKillipp, of Chicago; John, of Sandwich; and Julia and Electa, of Coila, New York. A sister and brother, Mrs. Mabel Phelps and Captain Charles Culver, were at one time residents of Sandwich, the former remaining here until her death, while the latter became a resident of Sioux City, Iowa. Both he and his brother John, who has also passed away, were soldiers of the Civil war.
George W. Culver spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native state, acquiring a public-school education and learning from his parents the lessons of industry and integrity which shaped his entire life. Attracted by the opportunities of the growing west, he came to Illinois in 1852, accompanied by his brother James, and for a time they made their home with Mr. and Mrs. Alexander R. Patten at Freeland Corners. In 1854 they took up their abode at Sandwich, a recently established station on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, where, as partners of Mr. Patten, they opened a mercantile enterprise. This was practically the :first store of the new town and for twenty-one years occupied the leading place in business circles here. After a few years Mr. Patten retired, the business being continued by George and James Culver, who won success in its conduct. In 1875 they sold the store and established the Culver Brothers Bank, of which they were proprietors for eleven years, when they disposed of their banking interests in 1886 to Sedgwick & Sons. At that time George W. Culver retired from the active management of business interests, although he was financially interested in various important commercial and industrial pursuits in Sandwich up to the time of his death. The name of Culver ever stood as a synonym for business enterprise and integrity in Sandwich and was foremost on the list of those promoting business interests in the city along progressive modern lines.
In September, 1857, occurred the marriage of George W .Culver and Miss Harriet Delia Beardsley, of Sandwich, and unto them were born four children: Mrs. Minnie L. Hills, now of Denver, Colorado; Mrs. Helen C. Latham, of Sandwich; Freddie, who died August 5, 1870, at the age of ten months and seven days; and Mrs. Mabel G. Mitten, of Genoa, Illinois. After a happy married life of nearly thirty years the wife and mother was called to her final rest, her death occasioning deep regret to all who knew her.
Several years later, on the 9th of March, 1892, Mr. Culver wedded Mary Elizabeth Palmer, who was born in Sandwich, a daughter of Alexander H. and Nancy Ann (Childs) Palmer. The father was for years a druggist of Sandwich. On the 8th of September, 1834, he wedded Miss Childs, a native of Columbia, Pennsylvania, while his birth had occurred in Madison County, New York, in May, 1815. They came to Illinois in 1843 and established their home in Sandwich in 1865, the father's death occurring here when he had reached the age of seventy-two, while his wife passed away at the age of seventy-seven.
The life record of no resident of Sandwich has been more closely connected with its history than was that of George W. Culver. Aside from the business interests previously mentioned many other enterprises felt the stimulus of his activity, sound judgment and keen business discernment. For eighteen years he was the president of the Sandwich Manufacturing Company, the leading business institution of the city, and his prudence, his sagacity and wise counsels contributed greatly to its success. He was always deeply interested in everything that pertained to the prosperity of the city and with generous hand supported each enterprise that advanced its welfare and growth. For many years he was president of the Oak Ridge Cemetery Association and to his earnest and constant attention is due much credit for the enlargement and improvement of the city of the dead.
His political allegiance was given to the republican party and he was twice elected mayor of Sandwich. He was filling the office for the second term at the time of his death, having been elected by the largest majority ever given to a candidate for the position. He was a trustee of the Presbyterian church for years and for a long period was one of the members of the school board, the cause of education :finding in him a stalwart champion. All things that tended to promote civic virtue and civic pride were of interest to him and his name headed the list for the support of every movement that had for its object the upbuilding and development of the city. Perhaps no better estimate of his life and character can be given than in the words of one who knew him well and who said "He was reserved and retiring in manner, and was more given to thought than to words. He was modest and unassuming, shrinking from all display and desired no trumpet to be sounded before him to herald his deeds. He was a man of peace, loving quiet and pleasant surroundings, and above I all things, hating noise and discord. He lived within himself and his words that were few were the expression of well considered thoughts. Yet those who knew him best were admitted into his intimacy, well knowing how genial and social was his nature. He loved his friends but the expression of his devotion was not in words but in deeds. Loyal to his friends he was also loyal to his country and few had deeper interest in its welfare in its hour of peril and distress.
"In all his business relations he was a man of the strictest and most inviolable integrity, and through his long and active business life, and in all his positions of responsibility there can be found no stain, no reproach. His heart was tender and sensitive as a child's and the fountain of his tears was readily reached by some tale of sorrow or of need. It was in his home where tender and beautiful traits of his character were revealed. To the comfort and welfare of wife and children he gave his heart's best devotion. Here was his sanctuary, where he ministered with a hand that never wearied, with a patience that never failed, with a watchfulness that knew no intermission. Here at this shrine was offered up continually his heart's choicest incense through all the long years."
George W. Culver was a great man because of the use he made of his talents and his opportunities, because his thoughts were not self-centered but were given to the mastery of life problems and the fulfillment of his duty as a man. in his relations to his fellowmen and as a citizen in his relations to his city, state and country.
Source: Gross, Lewis M. Past and present of DeKalb County, Illinois. Chicago: Pioneer Pub. Co., 1907, Volume 2, pp. 364-366.