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Diggins, Wesley

Born: 1806-XX-XX Vermont

Died: 1876-08-22 San Francisco, California

Flourished: Chemung, Illinois

Wesley Diggins, sawmill owner, lumber merchant, and builder, settled in McHenry County, Illinois about 1838, where he was one of the earliest white settlers of Chemung. In 1840, he purchased just over 400 acres of land in McHenry County and around that same time he built a sawmill which he operated for a number of years. In the 1850s, he constructed a hotel in the town of Harvard. Diggins served as a justice of the peace, and as a county supervisor in 1852, 1853, and 1856. He represented McHenry County in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1855 to 1856 and served as a delegate from that county to the Illinois Anti-Nebraska Convention the latter year. Diggins and his family left Illinois about 1859 and by 1860 they settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a wood dealer and owned real estate valued at $20,000 and possessed $1,800 in personal property. He married Elizabeth (Eliza) Owen in Milton, Vermont, and the pair had five children. Politically, Diggins was a Whig and later a Republican and an acquaintance described him in 1854 as an “old abolitionist.” He was an early organizer of a Methodist Episcopal church in McHenry County.

Ralph Dornfeld Owen, ed., Descendants of John Owen of Windsor, Connecticut (1622-1699): A Genealogy (Philadelphia: n.p. 1941), 198-99; U.S. Census Office, Fifth Census of the United States (1830), Fort Covington, Franklin County, NY, 43; History of McHenry County Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1922), 1:62, 63, 355, 373, 375, 408; History of McHenry County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-State, 1885), 431, 437, 438, 696, 743; Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, McHenry County, 683:236, 249, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Sixth Census of the United States (1840), McHenry County, IL, 247; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), McHenry County, IL, 437; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 221; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Ezra M. Prince, ed., Meeting of May 29, 1900 Commemorative of the Convention of May 29, 1856 That Organized the Republican Party in the State of Illinois, vol. 3 of Transactions of the McLean County Historical Society (Bloomington, IL: Pantagraph, 1900), 150; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA, 85; San Francisco Chronicle, 24 August 1876, 4:5.