Biography - Phillip Kroh
PHILLIP H. KROH. Much of the real history of a new country is generally contained in the accounts of a few families that became members of the young society and whose force of character impresses itself upon the development of the community, and directs and shapes the destiny of affairs about them. Often a close study of such men is necessary in order to comprehend the commanding forces they have exercised, and while the individual may pass away, the effects of which he has been the cause may go on perpetually. And often such men may not gain great local notoriety. The individual may not be self-asserting, the best thoughts of the best men are generally retiring, and yet they will give the world the benefits that may come of strong and active minds. It is impossible to estimate in money value the worth of such men to a community, and there is but one way that a people who reap the benefits of their lives can manifest their appreciation of such men, and that is by gratefully cherishing their memories, and passing them to posterity as a legacy to be guarded, loved and admired, and placed before their children as models for their guidance and control. History, some time in the future, will consist of the biographies of good men, the true soldiers in the cause of civilization and morality, whose lives have tended to advance mankind and beat back ignorance, promote the happiness of their fellow-men, and ameliorate the pains and penalties of ignorance and vice. In other words, it will cause to be known some time that the best history consists of the best biographies of the best men and that here the coming generations may find those lessons that constitute the highest and best type of knowledge. The world's history cannot now be written because the biographies of the true men who have humbly toiled, and thought, and worked, and died, sometimes of want in a garret, and then again of fire and fagot at the stake, has not been preserved, and it is only a modern conception that begins to place the writers of true biographies among the ablest and best of all interpreters of philosophy. The study of the human mind is the source of the best possible education, and the study of the better minds the world has produced is the fountain of the highest wisdom that is given to man to have. All else called history is generally mere chronology, a skeleton of dates and important events that have been most temporary in their effects, and that bear no lesson in their story of which can come the ripened fruit of civilization. In local histories, then, the real eras that are eventful to the young communities are the coming of certain families, who thus cast their fortune among the few simple pioneer settlers in a new country and aid and assist them in developing and building up the blessing of a good government and a. ripened and just public and moral sentiment. Rev. Phillip H. Kroh was born in Frederick County, Va., February 10, 1824, and in company with his parents, Henry and Mary (Stough) Kroh, came to Union County in February, 1842, and settled one and one- half miles south of Jonesboro. The father, Henry Kroh, was a minister of the German Reformed Church; had studied theology in Mercersburg College, Penn., and was engaged in the active service of the church during his life. In 1832, he came with his family to Wabash County, Ill., and ten years thereafter, as stated above, came to Union County. In the year 1847, he removed to Cincinnati, and in 1849 he joined the Argonauts in their overland search for the Golden Fleece in California. Something of the character and intellectual force of the man may be gleaned from the circumstances on this trip. He stopped to rest awhile in Salt Lake City, and while there, at the request of Brigham Young, preached to the Mormons from the text, "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of good things." The sermon came like a revelation indeed to the benighted followers of Joe Smith. While this man of God told the story of the true God and His only begotten Son in his simple, touching and eloquent way, the vast audience became entranced, and when the discourse was ended the people were so deeply moved that tears and sighs pervaded the entire congregation, and Brigham Young had become so impatient that he could hardly restrain himself until Mr. Kroh had taken his seat, after which he commenced an excited harangue against the President of the United States and the constitution and laws of the land. The cunning old fox saw the marvelous effect the true word of God had produced among his people, and he knew he could not directly oppose the fervid eloquence and the sublime simplicity with which the truth had been presented, and so he commenced by complimenting Mr. Kroh very highly upon his great sermon, and the moment he had done this and thus gained the close attention of the audience he commenced to launch his fierce epithets at the United States Government, and thus destroy the effects the word might otherwise produce upon the people. Rev. Henry Kroh died in Stockton, Cal., in 1877, his widow having died in that city in the year 1876. He was the son of Simon Kroh, of Virginia, and his wife was a native of Berks County, Penn., born in 1802. She was of German descent, and the daughter of Conrad Stough, a native of Wittenburg, Germany, who came to America and took an active part in the American Revolution. After the war, he was for many years the cashier of the bank of Wormendorf, Penn., They had nine children, of whom eight are now living, as follows: Elizabeth, wife of Clark Flagler, of Evansville, Ind.; Phillip H. Kroh, the subject of this sketch; Matilda, who married William Trembly, of California, both of whom died in the latter State; she was for some years principal of the high school in Stockton; Jane, wife of William Knight, the efficient agent of the Adams Express in Oakland, Cal.; Sarah, wife of William Harrold, a prominent merchant of California; Margaret, wife of Engineer Alivison, of San Francisco; George, who is at present a mechanic in Stockton; Loretto, wife of Mr. Zimmerman, a farmer near Stockton, and Olevianus, who is at the present time a farmer and cattle-dealer of California. Phillip H. Kroh has spent more than an average life-time among the people of Union County. In farming, preaching and in active political life, he has been a leader among men, he has been a conspicuous figure in the county's history for many years. His life has been a busy and useful one, and his versatility of talents are well illustrated by his various occupations and his triumphs in them all. In the pulpit to-day, telling the pathetic and sublime story of the Cross and calling sinners to repentance; in the political rostrum the next day, exposing shams and holding up to the scorn of the people the frauds and demagogues who would cheat and rob the people of their birthright; on his farm the next day, directing, commanding, and with his own hands doing deftly the work of the trained laborer; then in the school room, the lyceum, the debating club, or last and best of all, in his family circle, and everywhere aiding, counseling and directing to the pleasure and weal of all, is the work of no laggard, but constitutes one of those true soldiers of life that make of this a pleasant and wholesome world. Amid all these many self-imposed labors, he has found time to pursue a large and varied course of literary and scientific reading that has kept his growth of knowledge on an even pace with the great thinkers who have in the past quarter of a century fairly startled a slumberous world with their bold and brilliant thoughts and investigations. A mind thus trained and cultivated will produce a liberal, broad and generous religion, a pure and elevating political sentiment, and a warm, generous and noble social life, whose genial effects will remain in the world long after their author has gone to sleep with his fathers. Judge Kroh was educated in Wood College, Indiana, and at the Theological College of Columbus, Ohio, graduating at the latter in the class of 1850. He returned to Union County and had ministerial charge of the Reform Church of Jonesboro, and filled this position until 1854, when he went to California, where he dug for gold and preached for God until 1858, when he returned to his old home in Union County, and resumed the pastorate of his church, at this time making his home in Anna. In 1862, he accepted the chaplaincy of the One Hundred and Ninth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and continued in this position for eighteen months, when, receiving a serious injury at Bolivar, Tenn., he resigned and returned home. In 1879, he was elected Superintendent of Schools of Union County, and for four years discharged the difficult duties of this position to the entire satisfaction of the people. When he retired from the position, he gave his entire time, except when forced out to stump the district in the interest of some candidate who “couldn't speak," to raising improved stock and farming. He was elected Police Magistrate for the city of Anna, at the last city election, and his friends are well satisfied that for the next four years, he will continue to hold aloft the scales of justice with the same signal ability and integrity that has marked all his past life. In 1851, he married Miss Diana Bowman Perry, of Pulaski County, Ill., a daughter of Capt. Ellery Perry, the popular commander of the steamer Diana, of the Ohio and Mississippi River trade. Of this marriage are four children — Nellie, Jennie, Frank and Lulu.
Extracted 02 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, pages 74-77.