Talcott, Wait

Born: 1807-10-17 Hebron, Connecticut

Died: 1890-11-07 Illinois

Flourished: 1854-11-14 Winnebago County, Illinois

Wait Talcott, businessman, farmer, manufacturer, state legislator, and federal government official, moved with his family to Rome, New York in 1810 and lived there until age eighteen when he apprenticed in a store in Booneville, New York. He continued to work in the mercantile line, first at Utica until 1830, and then in the village of Horseheads, New York until 1837, after which he and his family left New York to settle in Illinois. Talcott arrived in Rockton in 1838, and was listed as a farmer there in the 1850 census. Between 1842 and 1853, he purchased twelve tracts of land in McHenry and Winnebago counties. Talcott was active in the Congregational Church in Rockton, serving variously as a trustee, clerk, and deacon, and introduced anti-slavery resolutions that the congregation adopted in 1844. He was an incorporator of Beloit College in Wisconsin and of the Rockford Female Seminary (later Rockford University) and a trustee of the former. During the 1850s, Talcott was involved in the construction of the Racine and Mississippi Railroad from Rockton to Freeport. In 1854, he moved to Rockford where he joined in the firm of J. H. Manny & Company with his brother, Sylvester Talcott, and John H. Manny in the manufacture of a reaper and mower of Manny’s design. The company subsequently added Jesse Blinn and Ralph Emerson, Jr. as partners, and became Manny & Company. The firm was soon thereafter sued by Cyrus H. McCormick for patent infringement. Abraham Lincoln was retained as a defense attorney on the case, but his fellow defense attorneys Edwin M. Stanton and George Harding blocked his participation in the trial. In a subsequent lawsuit by a different plaintiff alleging patent infringement by the surviving partners of Manny & Co., Lincoln represented the plaintiff. Talcott was a committed abolitionist and in 1846 he ran unsuccessfully as a Liberty Party candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives. He represented Winnebago County in the Illinois Senate from 1855 to 1858. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Talcott collector for the second district of Illinois. Talcott attended Lincoln’s funeral and joined in the procession from the Executive Mansion to the Capitol as a representative of the State of Illinois. He married Elizabeth Anna Norton in 1834 and they had five children who survived to adulthood.

S. V. Talcott, comp., Talcott Pedigree in England and America from 1558 to 1876 (Albany, NY: Weed & Parsons, 1876), 209-14; U.S. Census Office, Fifth Census of the United States (1830), Rome, Oneida County, NY, 394; Edson I. Carr, The History of Rockton, Winnebago County, Illinois. 1820 to 1898 (Rockton, IL: Herald Office, 1898), 44-45, 120; Charles A. Church, History of Rockford and Winnebago County Illinois (Rockford, IL: W. P. Lamb, 1900), 206, 289, 322, 333-34; U.S. Census Office, Sixth Census of the United States (1840), Winnebago County, IL, 423; For a detailed list of Talcott’s land purchases, search “Talcott Wait,” Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, https://apps.ilsos.gov/isa/landsrch.jsp; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Rockton, Winnebago County, IL, 405; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 221; McCormick v. Talcott et al., Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137741; Haines & Haines v. Talcott et al., Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137699; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Rockford, Winnebago County, IL, 189; Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1887), 13:16, 113; The Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 12 November 1890, 4:5; Gravestone, Greenwood Cemetery, Rockford, IL.