“Q” is for Quincy Lamartine Dowd

Gazette Article by: Chris Fullerton
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1999

Several years ago when the Minnesota Historical Society reopened its exhibit area, a unique approach was taken to interpret its history from “A to Z.” Various objects and topics were depicted by “letters,” and visitors moved through the gallery “alphabetically.” The editorial board of the Winnetka Historical Society Gazette has decided to adopt a similar technique and has added a new feature, “WINNETKA HISTORY: A to Z.”

Patterson, Peck, Garland, Hubbard, Greeley, Lloyd, Windes. The names of Winnetka’s earliest residents are familiar to many villagers today. Although the name Quincy Lamartine Dowd is not featured in that roll call, his accomplishments have left a lasting mark on our village.

4128The Reverend Quincy L. Dowd moved to Winnetka in 1885 to become the first full-time pastor of the Winnetka Congregational Church. Prior to his arrival, the church had been served by the Rev. Simeon Gilbert, the first acting pastor, and later by the Rev. Samuel Kidder who split his ministry between Wilmette and Winnetka.

Born in Seville, Ohio, in 1848, Dowd graduated from Oberlin in 1870 and attended Yale Theological Seminary with half of his Oberlin class, about 15 students. When he arrived in Winnetka at age 37, the population of the village was only 600, fifty-five of whom were members of the Congregational Church. One prominent citizen who was not a churchgoer but became a staunch friend of Dowd’s was Henry Demarest Lloyd, editor of the Chicago Tribune.

Together, Dowd and Lloyd were leaders of the community who molded much of what Winnetka is today. The two men started the Town Meetings in 1890. Meetings were held monthly in the basement of the church, which at that time was located on Elm Street (just west of Hadley School). One of the first village matters discussed by the residents was an ordinance to forbid bicycle riding on the wooden sidewalks. The Town Meeting eventually moved to Academy Hall on the site of the current Public Safety Building and at the instigation of the Rev. Dowd, it became an institution of the village, not the church. Winnetka’s Caucus system evolved in 1915 from the Town Meeting.
Dowd and Lloyd were early advocates of depressing the railroad tracks and are also credited with leading the village to maintain ownership of its water and light plants. Dowd was also an early board member and supporter of the Winnetka Public Library.

The first village-wide celebration of the 4th of July was organized by Dowd in 1887. Although residents today no longer engage in greased pig chasing, greased flagpole climbing or pie-eating contests, the annual foot races and the parade are traditions that have lasted more than 100 years.

The Reverend Dowd served the Winnetka community for 16 years. Upon his departure, he and his wife traveled abroad for six months. He then accepted a pastorate in Roscoe, Illinois where he remained until his retirement in about 1920. He was married for 59 years to Nellie H. Evans and he died in Lombard in 1936.

Today, there are no streets or parks named after Quincy Dowd. However, when the foot races take place on the 4th of July, when a light bill comes from the Village of Winnetka, or when residents request that skateboards be banned from the downtown sidewalks, think of the legacy he left behind. Remember Q is for Quincy…Quincy Lamartine Dowd.

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