MRS. RICHARD J. OGLESBY, 1845-1928
Funeral services for Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby, widow of Richard J. Oglesby, former governor of Illinois, and United States senator, were held at 2:30 p. m., Wednesday, November 28th, 1928, at St. John's Memorial chapel at Oglehurst, the historic family estate near Elkhart. Rev. Edward Haughton, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal church of Springfield, officiated. Interment was made in the mausoleum at the
Mrs. Oglesby died at 5:20 p. m., Sunday, at the family estate. She had been seriously ill for some months. All her children were at her bedside when death came.
For years Airs. Oglesby was a prominent figure in the life of Illinois and of the nation. Her years as first lady of the state, as a member of the Washington official set, as a social leader and as a member of the board of directors of the World's Columbian exposition, her acquaintance abroad gained through travel, made her a nationally known figure.
Hospitality at Oglehurst is widely known. Many celebrities of the nation and the world have been entertained there. It has been a long established custom to entertain the tenants of the estate each Christmas, at which time Mrs. Oglesby took personal charge of the dinners.
Oglehurst exemplified the broad culture of its owner. Works of art from all parts of the world are contained in it.
Mrs. Oglesby was born Feb. 11., 1845 at Cornland, a daughter of John Dean and Lemira Parke Gillett. She was married to Hiram David Keays of Bloomington in November, 1864, and he died in 1868. She was married to Governor Oglesby in November, 1873, at her father's house in Elkhart, Illinois. Seven children were born to them.
Mrs. Emma Gillett Oglesby had preserved to the last much of the beauty and dignity which gave her the reputation of being the best looking woman that ever occupied the executive mansion at Springfield. Her last days had been spent at Oglehurst, the family estate, with her son, John G. Oglesby, former lieutenant governor.
Her husband was first elected governor of Illinois in 1864. He was chosen again in 1872 but resigned to serve a term as United States senator. He was elected governor for the last time in 1884 and after serving out his term retired from public life. After his death in 1899, Mrs. Oglesby went back to live at Elkhart amid the scenes of her girlhood days.
Mrs. Oglesby was prominent in society during her years as the first lady of the state during her husband's three terms, her life in Washington while Richard J. Oglesby was United States senator from Illinois, and several trips abroad. It was during one of the trips to Italy that she saw her daughter Felicite married to Count Allessandre Cenci Bolognetti.
Of recent years she had outlived most of the friends she knew when she was prominent in Springfield society and had taken recourse to books for companionship. Although the passing of more than eighty years had told on her, she was said to be as witty and mentally active as during her earlier years.
Her father terminated her school days in New Haven, Conn., when she was sixteen years old and placed her under the tutelage of his cousin, a classical scholar who laid out a course of reading for her. Beginning with the Bible it included Shakespeare, Plutarch, Rollin, Gibbon, Robertson, D'Aubigny, Guizot, Motley, Parkman, and Bancroft.
The walls of the library of Oglehurst presented a nearly unbroken array of much worn classics-history, fiction, biography, philosophy, and travel. Situated on the peak of Elkhart hill, the home overlooked the village of Elkhart. Its spacious rooms contained many art objects and curios significant of past associations.
Mrs. Oglesby is survived by four children: Hiram Gillett Keays, Elkhart; Mrs. Felicite Oglesby Cenci Bolognetti, John Gillett Oglesby and Jasper Oglesby at home. Richard James Oglesby, Jr., died in 1913. Decedent also is survived by the following sisters: Miss Nina Gillett, Paris, France; Miss Jessie Dean Gillett, Elkhart; Mrs. Katharine Gillett Hill, Lincoln ; and Mrs. William Barnes, Decatur.
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