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Michael F. Kanan
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Birth: Nov., 1837
Essex County
New York, USA
Death: Mar. 18, 1909
Macon County
Illinois, USA

End Comes Suddenly to Long Prominent Man
Charter Member of Old Post One, Grand Army
Captain Michael F. Kanan, ex-mayor and one of the most prominent citizens of Decatur, died suddenly just before 11 o'clock Friday forenoon at his home, 247 East Wood street.
He had not been in good health for the last ten years, suffering from a chronic case of kidney trouble, but his change was so gradual as to be scarcely noticeable. About three weeks ago he had a sudden attack of what appeard to be heart failure. It was of short duration and he soon rallied. He was able to be up and around town, and when he got up Friday morning he appeared to be as well as he had been for some time.
About 9 o'clock he experienced a severe attack and Mrs. Kanan telephoned for her brother, Joseph W. McClellan, state bank insepector, to come to the house. He went over and Captain Kanan soon got better and was able to sit up on the side of the bed. He had all his clothes on and he and Mrs. Kanan were to have gone to Miss Josephine Stamper's for dinner.
When Captain Kanan lay down on the bed in the first attack Friday morning he kept his clothes on. Later Mr. McClellan helped him off with his coat and collar, but he would not remove his other clothing, believing that the attack would soon be over.
About 10:45 he had another attack and in five minutes he was dead. Physicians had been summoned, but he was dead when they arrived. Captain Kanan had not only been mayor of Decatur, but was also state senator one term. The funeral will probably not be held until Monday afternoon.
M.F. Kanan was born near Troy, N.Y., 71 years ago. His ancestors were Irish. He came to Decatur early in the '50's. He was a clerk in a store in his early years in Decatur.
He enlisted at Decatur in the Forty-first regiment, Colonel I.C. Pugh's regiment. April 8, 1862, he was made captain of Company A. He was with his comopany at several of the principal battles of the war and was at the seige of Vicksburg.
After the war he returned to Decatur and went into business, becoming connected with the Decatur furniture company, first as bookkeeper. About 1880 he was made secretary-treasurer of that organization and held that position until it went out of business.
He was mayor from 1885 till 1891 and after that was state senator. He was president of the Decatur club one year, being elected in 1905.
Captain Kanan and Miss Jane McClellan of Decatur were married at Kansas City Nov. 12, 1903. The widow survives him and is the only near relative. Captain Kanan was always prominent in the Republican party and was half a century one of its most influential members in this section. He was for many years connected with the county central committee,k or other party committees, and was always consulted in matters of moment in party affairs. He was recognized as having great influenence in all political undertakings.
His administration as mayor is often spoken as among the best in a business way that the city ever had and it was at that time that some of the most important public improvements were made. It was soon after his election that the first general street paving movement began and before he went out of office the city that one his coming in had practically no paving had laid many miles of brick streets.
Among the streets frist paved at that time were Water street, North Main street, Lincoln square, Prairie street, Wood street, William street, North street, Eldorado street and some of the north and south streets. The main sewers, costing more than $125,000, were also contracted for and for the most part built while he was mayor.
No one here could tell such stories of the Civil War as Captain Kaplan. He had a very retentive memory and talked well. Nothing pleased him more than to get a good listener and sit and tell stories of his experiences in the war. Coming from him the most simple and comming things become interesting. He had the gift of the born story teller.
Only yesterday morning Captain Kanan was in the L. Burrows & Co., bank, a favorite loafing place of his, and was talking to Lowber Burrows about some incidnets of the war. He had seen an article in a newspaper about a General Cushman. He wondered if that was Colonel Cushman whom he knew and of whim he told an anecdote.
Mr. Burrows, who knew Captain Kanan well said of him, "No man in Decatur had a higher reputation for absolute honesty and integrity. His word was never questioned. I have known him to reward even his enemies. He was a man of strong convictions and absolute sincerity.
Judge Johns said of him:
"He was one of the best soldiers that ever lived. Members of the Forty-first regiment would swear by him. He was just as cool and deliberate under fire as at any other time. In camp the comfort of his men was always uppermost in his mind. He was the truest, sincerest friend that I ever knew. He had few occasions to call on his friends, but he always responded when any friends called on him. He could have been department commander of the G.A.R. He could have had any honor that the old soldeirs could have conferred on any one of their number. He was of retiring disposition and shunned publicity. He did not care particularly to go to the senate and he hated to make a speech."

The Daily Review (Decatur), 19 Mar 1909
Captain Riebsame Will Be At Captain Kanan's Funeral Monday
The funeral of Captain M.F. Kanan will be held at 3 o'clock Monday afternoon from the residence on East Wood street. Though Captain Kanan was a prominent member of both the Masons and Knights of Phthias, his identification with the Grand Army of the Republic was such that it would be out of the question to have any other organization in charge of the funeral, so the services will be under the auspices of Dunham post 141, G.A.R. The interment will be in Greenwood.
In accordance with an agreement made with Captain Kanan last summer at a regimental reunion held in Decatur, Captain C. Riebsame of Bloomington, the last surviving member of the original post 1, G.A.R., will attend the funeral of his old friend and comrade on Monday afternoon. Although the two men had met and fraternized many times in the years since the war, and since they met for the formation of the original Grand Army post, yet the subject of the death of either had not been mentioned till their last meeting, when Captain Kanan, grasping his Bloomington comrade by the hand, asked him to agree that the one who should survive the death of the other should attend the funeral. This they both did, and Captain Reibsame will carry out his solemn and sad duty.
"I may not remain long myself," said Captain Riebsame, in speaking of the incident.
Captain Riebsame paid a heart-felt tribute to his old comrade, in speaking of his death. He said they had been friends in the days before the war, and Captain Kanan had taken pleasure in teaching Captain Riebsame, then a young man and not very familiar with English literature, some of the choice writings in that tongue. They had kept up with increasing zeal this friendship ever since and the Bloomington man loved and honored his comrade with the advancing years of both.
The Daily Review (Decatur), 20 Mar 1909
The funeral of Captain M.F. Kanan will be held at 3 o'clock Monday afternoon from the residence on East Wood street. It will be under the auspices of Dunham Post 141, G.A.R. Captain Riebsame of Bloomington, the only surviving member of old Post 1, will be here to attend the services. The semon will be preached by Rev. George P. Hoster, rector of St. John's Episcopal church. The interment iwill be at Greenwood.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 21 Mar 1909
Captain M.F. Kanan was about as generally known in this community as any man who has lived in it. Also he was about as widely known in a way, for he he could have gone to any pasrt of the country and on short notice scrpaed up at least collateral acquaintances. He had been around some in his time and he had a good memory; also wherever he went and stopped for a few days he was recognized as a man out of the ordinary. No two of us are alike, but Captain Kanan was considerably more unlike than the run of people.
In all truth many good things can be said for the man. They tell of him that he was the best business mayor Decatur has had. Not all of them waited until he died to say that; it is a remark you could have hears on the streets of Decatur for the last half dozen years. The city was fortunate in getting him for mayor at the time it did, for during those years it was especially in need of a careful business manager. Since then it might have used that talent to advantage, but it was needed most at that time. Decatur then quit being a burg and started in to become a city; Captain Kanan had a larger directing hand than anyone else in that change. That he did his work well is indicated by the conditions in which he left the city's finances. Certainly he made a great deal of the very limited means at his command; and he always had the caution that made it natural and easy for him to resist every temptation to go beyond the city's means. It seems to us that he got most out the situation, and that it was always instinct in him to know when to stop.
Likely the most important work of his life was what he did as mayor of Decatur, important in the sense that it will ahve most lasting desirable results. It is a little strange that he was given the opportunity to do this work, for he was not a speeckmaker, not even a mixer. One must be in politics to be mayor, and mixing and talking are still considered requisites in any sort of political career, and they were even more so in the days of Captain Kanan was at the head of affairs. Of course he had political talent, for he was prominent in the game for forty years, and a thing of that kind does not just happen. He must have had an insight in the game that is denied to most of us.
He was never a grafter in politics; so clean was his record in that particular that it was not even questioned. We are glad to note that many did not fail to mention this to the reporters when the captain died; it was recognized as something worth saying of a man.
Captain Kanan held other political positions and was also prominent in G.A.R. circles; but his disposition in all of them, as when he was mayor, was not to make noise with his tongue. This was worth something to him; when he retired from active political life about a dozen years ago it was not necessary for him to change his manner in the least. He continued to meet men in just the same way, walked practically the same subjects, apparently had exactly the same interests in life that had been his. It means that when in office he conducted himself toward his fellow men just the same when out. Office was a mere incedent in his life; not a crowning consummation or anything of that kind. This along stamps him as having been a remarkable man. We think of other men as having once been mayor, and that is all their names suggest to us; we think of the man who has just died as Captain Kanan, who for more than fifty years in Decatur was much the same; always capable and interesting, never allowing himself one day to cast a shadow over himself another day. He was an exceptional personality.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 21 Mar 1909
The death of M.F. Kanan reminds Charles Laux of the St. Nicholas hotel of his first meeing with Mr. Kanan. It was in 1857, Mr. Laux thinks, and his family had just come to the town. They were residing southwest of the city. Mr. Kanan, who had also lately come, was bookkeeper for a packing house located on the premises which the Parlor market now occupiesat the corner of West Main and Lincoln square.
Mr. Laux determined to boom the family income a little by marketing some of the timber on the property as firewood. He admits that he did not know anything about timber, in fact could not distinguish between elm and pine. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first tree he cut was a water elm. He selected this because it was straight and he thought it would split well. He cut it into stove wood lengths and split it to the proper size to appeal to the taste of fastidious purchasers. Then he put a load on the wagon and hauled it to town. The first man he met was M.F. Kanan. Mr. Kanan was shivering in a little box-like office and he wanted a fire. The wood looked good to him and he bought it. Both men were satisfied and Mr. Laux went his way.
It was some time afterward when Laux came to town and again saw Mr. Kanan.
"You are the man who sold me the wood," said Mr. Kanan sternly. "Come in here. I want to show you something."
Mr. Laux followed him, half frightened and not knowing what would happen next. They entered the little office which showed no signs of warmth. Mr. Kanan opened the stove door and pointed within. The stove was filled with sticks of elm wood. Underneath this the pine kindling had burned out without igniting the elm. But the sticks were steaming and the water dripping from the ends trickled across the stove hearth.
Mr. Laux looked in amazement and finally said, "Why, we don't put water on our wood when we want to start a fire."
Mr. Kanan explained that the water was not on the wood but in it, and added that he had paid more per cord for water than water was really worth in Illinois at that season of the year. However, he would ignore that transaction and he hoped Mr. Laux would bring him another load - wood this time - not water.
From this time on, Mr. Laux knew elm when he sae it, and Mr. Kanan had also acquired some knowledge of fuel. The relations of the two men were ever cordial, but Mr. Kanan could not forbear from time to time making some remark about that cord of water.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 22 Mar 1909
Funeral Services Held This Afternoon at Residence
The funeral of Captain M.F. Kanan was held at 3 o'clock Monday afternoon at the residence, 247 East Wood street, attended by scores of old friends and former comrades who turned out to pay their last tribute of respect to a brave soldier and honored citizen. Old soldiers, Kinghts of Pythias, Masons, friends from all walks of life were there. The house was filled and many had to stand outside during the services. The floral tributes were exceeingly beautiful.
Mayor E.S. McDonald, the members of the city council, heads of the city departments, and several of the ex-mayors attended the funeral. Charles A. Partridge, of Waukegan, assistant department adjutant of the G.A.R. was here to attend the funeral.
The services at the house were simply, but impressive. The Episcopal burial service was read by Rev. George P. Hoster, rector of St. John's church. The music was furnished by a quartet composed of Mrs. Corydon C. Nicholson, Miss Theckla Leafbourg, Mr. Hodge and Elmer Lyons. Their selections were "Asleep in Jesus," "Abide in Me," and "Rock of Ages."
The members of Dunham post 141, accompanied by Captain Riebsame of Bloomington, the only surviving member of old Post 1, G.A.R. attended in a body and acted as an escort to the grave. The members of Coeur de Leon lodge No. 17, Knights of Pythias, also attended in a body and many members of the Masonic lodge were also in attendance.
At the grave the ritualistic exercises of the Grand Army of the Republic were conducted. Taps were sounded over the grave and the last tribute of respect from his old comrades had been paid. The active pallbearers were John Armstrong, C.M. Imboden, F.L. Hays, John B. Prestley, Charles T. Kellam and J.F. Roach. The honorary pallbearers were L. Burrows, B.O. McReynolds, Judge W.C. Johns, Captain R.P. Lytle, Dr. Cass Chenoweth, W.S. Grubbs, I.N. Cool and D.C. Shockley. The interment was at Greenwood.
Will McClellan of Kansas City and brother Ed McClellan of Kansas were in Decatur for the funeral. Will McClellan gets here once or twice a year, but Ed McClellan has not been here for several years.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 22 Mar 1909
Adjutant General Scott and Past Commander Inman of the G.A.R., were both in Decatur Monday to attend the funeral of Captain M.F. Kanan. Between 140 and 150 member of Dunham Post, No. 141, G.A.R. attended the Kanan funeral. By actual count 104 were in the line that formed at the post hall and forty or fifty more joined them at the Kanan residence.
Captain Kanan's Company
Maroa, March 29 - Editor Review; please allow me to correct your statements in Sunday's Review regarding Captain Kanan's company. There were ten of his company at the funeral service, Albert Bell, H.M. Stever, William Parr and Bert Strope of Argenta left for home after the funeral. The six that attended the body to the cemetery whose pictures were in the Review were George Betzer, K.H. Roby and Aaron Smick of Decatur, C.C. Crandall, Maroa; Aaron Cole, Cerro Gordo; and Joe Ray, Emery. The ocmpany has one commissioned officer alive, Lieutenant Rolando Bell of Wichita, Kan.
After nearly half a century wrongs have been forgotten; but with Kanan there was none to forget. We knew him as a man, soldier, and friend who never committed a wrong toward his men. Kanan needs no eulogy. Our feelings toward him are unknown the the civilian, growing stronger as the years pass by. He was only equaled in our regiment by Colonel Harner, who lost his commission by kindness to his men. Signed, C.C. Crandall.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 31 Mar 1909


Illinois Civil War Detail Report

Rank CPT
Company A
Unit 41 IL US INF
Personal Characteristics
Age 24
Height 5' 11
Complexion LIGHT
Marital Status SINGLE
Occupation MERCHANT
Service Record
Joined When MAY 29, 1862
Joined Where CORINTH, MS
Joined By Whom GOV YATES
Period 3 YRS
Muster In MAY 29, 1862
Muster In Where NATCHEZ, MS
Muster In By Whom
Muster Out
Muster Out Where
Muster Out By Whom

Family links: 
  Mary Jane McClellan Kanan (1846 - 1933)*
*Calculated relationship
Capt., Co. A, 41 ILL. Inf.
Greenwood Cemetery
Macon County
Illinois, USA
Created by: kpet
Record added: Feb 22, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48501565
Michael F. Kanan
Added by: Jim Lyons
Michael F. Kanan
Added by: Marilynn Blair
Michael F. Kanan
Added by: Marilynn Blair
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- LeeAnne Peterson
 Added: Jan. 4, 2015

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