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Biography of Colonel George SCROGGS


Biography of Colonel George SCROGGS, Champaign County, Illinois

From: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878

Few men probably of his age have attained so much and well-merited a popularity as Col. George SCROGGS. A history of Champaign county would be deficient without a record of his life. He is a native of Wilmington, Clinton county, Ohio. He was born Oct. 7th, 1842. He is the eldest of a family of three children, and is the only survivor of the family. His parents were Dr. John W. and Sarah A. SCROGGS. His father was also a native of Ohio, born in Harrison county, March 12th, 1817, and was the youngest of eight children of Alexander and Mary (PORTER) SCROGGS, the latter a native of Richland county, Ohio. The father of Alexander SCROGGS left in company with his two brothers, his ancestral home among the Highlands of Scotland, and settled prior to the American revolution in Pennsylvania, a short distance from Philadelphia. From these three brothers the name originated in America. One moved to the state of New York, another went south and was the progenitor of a large family. 

The great-grandfather of Col. Scroggs served as a soldier in the Revolution, and his grandfather served in the war of 1812. His grandfather, Alexander SCROGGS, had emigrated in the beginning of the present century to Ohio, where he resided until his death. His father, Dr. John W. SCROGGS, when but a mere youth moved further westward in the state of Ohio. On account of his mother's death the family were scattered, and at the age of ten years he left his father's roof, and joining a brother in Knox county, and relying upon his own resources he began the battle of life. 

Working upon a farm for several years, attending school a few months each winter in a log schoolhouse, under the tuition of an Irish pedagogue more skillful as a wielder of the birch perhaps than proficient in other points of a liberal education, the time sped by. Realizing the need of more extended opportunities, he improved such as he had, hoarded up carefully his earnings to this end, and at the age of sixteen was enabled to avail himself of the instructions of the seminary at Martinsburg, Ohio. Failing health however divorced him from his studies, and necessity drove him to labor. 

For a time he worked as a mill-wright, with his brother, devoting his leisure hours to his books. He chose the profession of medicine, and in 1837 began the practice with Dr. Sabin, of Knox county. He attended lectures in the Ohio Medical College, at Cincinnati. Disliking the theory of that school, he changed to the Eclectic Medical College of the same city, from which institution he was duly graduated in course. In 1840 he began the practice of medicine in Wilmington, Ohio, where he continued for seven years. In 1841 he was married to Miss Sarah ROACH, of Warren county. In 1847 he removed to Harveysburg, where for over ten years he enjoyed a very extensive practice. His health, however failed him under the strain of professional duties and he was compelled finally, to abandon the practice. 

Having made investments in real estate in Illinois, he came west and settled in Champaign, in the spring of 1857. Regaining his health, he was remarkable for his industry and energy. In the winter of 1858 a newspaper called the Agricultural Press, having failed, he was induced to take the office and pay off the indebtedness, and assume control of the office and paper. The name of the paper was changed to Central Illinois Gazette. The paper was uncompromising in opposition to slavery and intemperance, and ardent in the advocacy of Abraham Lincoln for President. About the outbreak of the war he sold out his office to Mr. John CARROTHERS. 

In 1866-7 Champaign county was endeavoring to secure the Industrial University. No man was more influential in securing this glorious goal than Dr. Scroggs. After its location at Champaign, he was appointed by Gov. Oglesby, one of its trustees. He was elected to the Legislature, and during the winter of 1868-9 he was influential in securing for the institution an appropriation of $60,000. Again his health failed, and in 1871 marked evidences of paralysis appeared, and it was evident the crisis was near. On Dec. 25th, 1873, he suffered a severe stroke, and nine days afterward, suffered the fatal attack, dying on the 3d of January, 1874. 

His wife, Mrs. John W. SCROGGS, was born in Ohio, Sept. 12th, 1825. Her descent is through a long line of French ancestry on the maternal side. Her grandmother was a native of France and her mother of Virginia. The family emigrated at an early day and settled in Virginia, and subsequently moved to Ohio. As previously stated their children were three in number. Sarah, born May 22d, 1847, died the following June. Leonidas, born June 11th, 1848, died March 24th, 1864. Mrs. John W. SCROGGS died July 14th, 1878. She and also her husband were members of the M. E. Church. 

The Col. acquired his elementary education in the common schools of Ohio. Young Scroggs, at the age of fifteen, became an apprentice in the office of his father at Champaign, and so continued until the summer of 1862, when he enlisted in Co. E 125th Ill. Vol. Infantry, Col. O. F. Harmon. Col. Scroggs was mustered into service at Danville. On Sept. 13th, the Regiment was ordered to Cincinnati, thence to Louisville, and participated in the Kentucky campaign which was made in pursuit of Bragg's army. The Col. enlisted as private soldier, but was soon appointed Sergeant-Major, and on June 22d, 1863, received a commission as second Lieutenant of the company. On the 8th of Feb. following he was promoted to the first Lieutenancy of the company. He was afterward commissioned Captain of the same company, but declined the honor, and was subsequently commissioned Adjutant of the 60th Ill., but declined to muster. He was at the time on the staff of Gen. James D. Morgan, and suffering from wounds in his left breast, received in the battle of Bentonville, N.C., on the 19th of Feb., 1865. He served on the staff of Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, commander of the second Division of the 14th Corps, for a year, and then Gen. Davis having been put in command of the Corps, and Gen. Morgan in command of the Division, he as has been noticed was Aid-de-Camp on his staff. 

The principal battles in which he participated were, Perryville, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Atlanta, Savannah and Bentonville. He was with Sherman on his grand march to the sea. "With forty miles front of serried ranks, they held the onward way," and so in the march northward, through the Carolinas, ending in the surrender of Johnston. The Colonel was present at the grand review in Washington, and mustered out his division with the exception of a few of the veteran regiments. He was retained in the service on recommendation of General Grant under the special order of the secretary of war. The veterans were ordered to Louisville and went into camp, but the war was over, and Colonel Scroggs resigned in July, 1865. 

After his return to the peaceful walks of life, he determined to pursue his studies still further, and became a student at the Chicago University in September, 1865. Afterward he became a law student in the office of E. L. Sweet, in Champaign, and was admitted to the bar. While a student he wrote local and editorial articles for the publisher of the Gazette and Union. His early training as an apprentice and his natural taste for the business led him to leave the law and embark in journalism. He at first purchased a half interest in the office, and in 1872 became sole owner of the office, which to-day is one of the best and most completely equipped printing establishments in the State. 

He was married to Miss Fannie STANGE June 4th, 1868. Mrs. Scroggs, his wife, daughter of James and Sarah C. STANGE, was born at West Liberty, Logan county, Ohio, Oct. 4th, 1849. She was a noble woman; of excellent and happy disposition, and of unbounded liberality. She was an invalid for several years previous to her death. She was a member of the Methodist Church. After a prolonged illness she died on the 8th of July, 1877. She was the mother of two children, Bessie, born May 18th, 1869, and Fannie, born December 6th, 1872. 

Col. Scroggs is and has always been a Republican. At the earnest solicitations of many influential friends in the State, he permitted his name to be presented to the State Republican convention for the office of secretary of State. Although he failed to receive the nomination, he received liberal and flattering support from various sections of the State. Soon after the organization of the State militia he was commissioned as captain, and assigned to the inspector-general's department. On the 20th of October, 1877, he was commissioned Colonel and appointed aid-de-camp on the Governor's staff. In July, 1878, he was nominated by his party for the legislature, and as the Republican party is largely in the ascendancy in the district the nomination is generally regarded as a sure guaranty that he will be elected. He has ever been and still is a most vigorous worker in the Republican party, and his nomination, while an honor to himself, is creditable to the party making it, as a recognition of true merit.


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