Death of John Beattie

Death of John Beattie


“Rockford’s Aged and Wealthiest Contractor Dead”

Mr. Beattie was compelled to take a block of West State Street land, now worth $70,000, for a debt of a few hundred dollars.

Beattie was urged to erect a building on the block across from the courthouse that would stand as his monument when he was gone.

At the time he had completed some work on the courthouse and this property was given to him for his work.

On the day he became possessor of the property, he wept, thinking he had been defrauded payment for his work.

But Rockford grew and became a city, and an elegant courthouse supplanted the old one. Improvements were made all around Mr. Beattie’s property, until what he thought was not worth hundreds of dollars could be sold for $60,000. His North Main property is estimated at $50,000, at least.

In addition, he owned a number of houses in the city, fine farming land in Argyle, and a lot of mining land. His estate is estimated at $200,000 – $300,000.

He built G A Sanford’s House and Dr. Lane’s. John Beattie came to Rockford in 1837, in the company of D D Alling and William Peters.

Mr. Beattie lived in the house where he died for forty years. He purchased that property about the same time as the West State Street property.

Mr. Beattie had been in poor health for some time. He sprained his ankle last September.

He was born in the north of Ireland and was of Scottish-Irish descent. He came to America when quite young. He was opposed to change and was a very quiet, secretive man, quite averse to talking of his affairs and very cautious and slow in business affairs. He attended Second Congregational Church, but was a member of no societies.

He leaves a wife, two sons, Ed and George, both of Helena, Montana and men of large means, and two daughters, Misses Mary and Anna Beattie, both of Rockford.


Source: Daily Register, 12/04/1899

Courthouse – keystone – 1970

courthouse keystone

“”To Big for a Watch Fob”

“Now that we brought it down, what are we going to do with it? That’s what county officials might be wondering after their hopes to save the keystone to the main arch of the 1876 courthouse were fulfilled Thursday, when workmen with Madison Moving & Wrecking Co., managed to lift the huge stone out of the arch with careful steps. Some county officials have advocated incorporating the keystone and other artifacts into the new county courthouse, (Morning Star photo)”

Source: Rockford Morning Star March 6, 1970

“Keystone– call it art, or atrocious”

“Doral Falconer, executive secretary of the Winnebago County Public Building Commission, resolves the problem by explaining that the keystone —  “sort of a sculpture deal, a hand with a hammer” — was in the arch of the old Courthouse.”

“It is to be mounted into the wall and be on display in the trophy room which is also to contain some of the things in the old cornerstone — money, old city director, and a couple of newspapers. Falconer estimates that the room will be ready around the first of the year.”

Source: Rockford Morning Star March 21, 1971  p23

Note: library staff thinks that it was an old city directory, NOT a city director, that was inside the cornerstone.