William H. Kinney
William Henry Kinney was born in Illinois in 1842. His parents, Joel and Permelia Kinney, were well-known in Winnetka as the owners of the first store and trading post in the Village, the Kinney Store. Joel Kinney also served as Winnetka’s postmaster in 1857, likely distributing mail out of the family’s trading post at the southwest corner of Oak and Linden.
Kinney worked as a station agent for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway in Winnetka until he enlisted in the Union army in Company C, 89th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in 1861. Company C was nicknamed the “Railroad Regiment” because so many men on the company’s roster worked in the Chicago-area railroad business.
At the end of the war, Kinney left the army with the rank of First Lieutenant. He returned to Winnetka and resumed his position as station agent. He and his wife, Jennie, welcomed their first child, Nellie, in 1867. In 1869, he served as Winnetka’s village clerk. That same year, his parents store, the Kinney Store, was converted into a school. It was later converted into the Christ Church Parish House. CLICK HERE to learn more about the history of the Kinney family and the Kinney Store.
Frank Alson Alles
Frank Alson Alles was born in Winnetka on December 26, 1846. Like many early Winnetka settlers, his parents, Catharine and Jacob Alles, both immigrated from Trier, Germany. Notably, his mother, Catharine Schmidt, immigrated with her brother, Peter Schmidt, who became the first known resident of the Schmidt-Burnham Log House. His father, Jacob, was the brother of prominent early Winnetka settler John Alles.
While he was too young to enlist, Alles nonetheless joined the 39th Illinois Infantry in 1864. Although the war ended less than two years after he enlisted, he participated in several key events, including the siege of Petersburg and the Confederate surrender at the Appomattox Court House. He was injured at Appomattox, but made a full recovery and returned to Winnetka.
After the war, Alles married Katharina Schaffer, on November 10, 1874. They moved to Wilmette and had 10 children before Frank mysteriously disappeared in 1889. His wife, likely assuming him dead, filed for widow’s pension for his Civil War service in 1896. In 1909, Alles made a dramatic return and was, by most accounts, welcomed back by the family he had deserted. While some records indicate he spent some time in California, where exactly he went and why he left remains a bit of a mystery. CLICK HERE to learn more about Frank Alles’ Civil War service and strange disappearance.
Julian Edward Buckbee
One of Winnetka’s most distinguished Civil War veterans was Colonel Julian Edward Buckbee. Born in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1844, Buckbee enlisted in the Union army with the First Michigan Sharpshooters on January 1, 1863. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a Major before being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel towards the end of the war.
In June 1864, Buckbee participated in the Siege of Petersburg. Unfortunately, before the city was taken by the Union army, he was captured by the Confederates. While being held as a prisoner of war, he attempted to escape several times. His last attempt was successful, during which he purportedly escaped by wading through a swamp. He returned to his regiment, where he helped solidify the Union’s victory. Once the Confederates surrendered, Buckbee hung the first Union flag in the city.
After the war, he married Mary Marble “Mollie” Church, daughter of Colonel William Church. The Church family were well-known early settlers in the growing city of Chicago, building a small homestead at the corner of present-day State and Madison downtown. Colonel Church was one of the first sheriffs of Cook County, as well as a friend and colleague of Abraham Lincoln. Colonel Church sat on the stage with Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address and served as pallbearer at his funeral in Illinois.
The Buckbees settled in Winnetka in 1876, first moving into a modest home at 556 Cherry and, later, a stately mansion at 410 Sheridan. While living in Winnetka, Buckbee worked for the Land Department of the Chicago & Northwest Railroad Company and served as a Village trustee. The Buckbees lived in Winnetka until 1910, when they retired to California. The couple had 6 children, several of whom went on to serve in the military. Colonel Julian Edward Buckbee died in 1920.
Capt. Albert Banfield Capron
Captain Albert Banfield Capron was, perhaps more than any other Winnetkan, destined to join the Union effort when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Capron was born in Laurel, Maryland on June 12, 1841. By the time he was old enough to enlist, his grandfather, father, and uncle had all made names for themselves as distinguished military men.
Following in his family’s footsteps, Capron enlisted early on in the war as a Corporal in the 33rd Illinois Infantry. He was quickly promoted to Lieutenant, and later made a Captain with the 14th Illinois Cavalry, of which his father was Colonel. He served throughout the war, proving himself to be as able in battle as his family. The Caprons became known as the “Fighting Caprons,” a nickname that celebrated the family’s long history of military service.
After the war, Capron was sent as an ambassador to Japan by President Ulysses Grant. He returned to his adopted hometown of Winnetka. He married Amelia Doolittle, purchased the house at 314 Ridge, and raised 3 children: Horace, Albert Snowden, and Florence. He became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, and was well-respected for his business acumen. In addition, he served as a Winnetka Village Trustee in 1878 and 1879.
Shortly before he died of pneumonia at his home in Winnetka on May 8, 1901, Capron presented a paper to the Chicago Loyal Legion detailing his experience during the Stoneman Raid in Macon, Georgia during the war. CLICK HERE to read Captain Capron’s historic recount.
Sanford S. Burr
Sanford S. Burr was a student at Dartmouth when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted on June 20, 1862 as a Captain with the Rhode Island Volunteers, 7th Squadron. After the war, Burr became a prolific designer and inventor. Read more about him, his designs, and his connection to co-founder of the Winnetka Historical Society, Carrie Prouty, HERE!