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Oglesby, John Gillett (1878-1938) | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Name: Oglesby, John Gillett (1878-1938)

Historical Note: John Gillett, the third child of Richard J. and Emma Gillett Keays Oglesby, was also the first childborn in their newly built Decatur home in 1878. He attended public schools in Decatur until hewas twelve years old; and he was sent for a short time to Adams Academy in Quincy,Massachusetts. In 1891 he and his brother Jasper were sent to school in Pekin, Illinois due to theirbeing “troublesome boys to handle”. They were then sent to St. Marks Preparatory School inSouthborough, Massachusetts until John matriculated into Harvard. After two years at Harvard, with the prospect of war with Spain, he left to enter the military. Hehelped raise Troop K of the First Illinois Cavalry and served as Captain until the end of theSpanish American War. He continued to serve in the militia, eventually on the reserve list, untilhe attained the rank of colonel.He went to work in the shipping department of Republic Iron and Steel Company in Chicago andwas promoted several times until he became the iron inspector of the plant. During the secondGovernor Yates’ term, Oglesby acted as his private secretary. In 1904 and 1906 he was elected tothe state legislature. He was chairman of the Primary Election Committee and was the author ofthe direct primary law. In 1908 he was elected lieutenant governor, ran for that office again andlost in 1912, but was elected to it in 1916. During World War I he was a member of the IllinoisState Council of Defense and chairman of its Military Committee. He helped plan and organizethe Illinois Volunteer Training Corps and the Illinois Reserve Militia. He also served as: Directorof the Bureau of Agriculture, Eastern and Western Divisions; Republican National Committee forthe 1928 campaign; Illinois Republican Central Committee secretary, 1930; member of the StateAgriculture Conciliatory Committee, appointed by Governor Henry Horner in 1933; and memberof the United States District Recovery Board in Wisconsin and Illinois. He was considered for thenomination as governor in 1936 but withdrew from the primary campaign in March1936. He alsowas a farmer looking after the family land, managing “Oglehurst” for his widowed mother, Emma.He died in 1938.

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