Biography of William H. Oliver
Will County, Il Biographies





William H. Oliver. - One of the most representative business men of Joliet, William H. Oliver, has discharged ably the many duties devolving upon him through the responsibilities he has assumed; and today stands deservedly high in public confidence and esteem. The popular and modern Oliver Hotel was founded by him in 1925 and stands as a testimonial to his public spirit and enterprise. He is a son of Capt. Stephen A. and Caroline A. (Laskey) Oliver, and was born in Chicago, III., Aug. 5, 1879.

The Oliver family were a prominent and distinguished family of Lynn, Mass., in the early days. The paternal grandfather of Mr. Oliver, was Edwin H. Oliver, who was born in Lynn, Mass. He was engaged in the manufacture of shoes. He was postmaster of Lynn for many years and represented his district in congress. He married Mary E. Sanderson, a native of Salem, Mass. Their son, Stephen A. Oliver, was born at Lynn, Mass., on Feb. 28, 1838. In early life he became associated with his father's business in which he continued until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he enlisted in the Eighth Massachusetts State Militia, on April 15, 1861. He served his three month's enlistment, then reenlisted in 1862, serving in the same original company and regiment. He was with the Army of the Potomac and in North Carolina during that period, and was with the reserves at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. At the expiration of his second enlistment he returned to his old home and again engaged in the manufacture of shoes. In 1878 he removed to Chicago where he was associated with the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Palmer, shoe manufacturers. In 1882 Mr. Oliver came to Joliet as superintendent of the shoe factory at the state prison for Selz, Schwab & Company. He resigned this position in 1885 to engage in the real estate business with A. C. Clement which partnership lasted one year. He then engaged in the real estate business for himself and built up one of the largest real estate and insurance concerns in the county. On Oct. 2, 1863, Stephen A. Oliver was married to Carrie A. Laskey, a native of Salem, Mass. Mrs. Oliver died Dec. 31, 1909, and he died Jan. 16, 1910. Both are buried in Elmhurst Cemetery, Joliet. Mr. Oliver was the first commander of the G. A. R. Post in Joliet, and was senior vice department commander in New Hampshire. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Blue Lodge of Masonry, Royal Arch Mason, and was a life member of Apollo Commandery, K. T. No. 1. Mr. Oliver was a worthy citizen and commanded the esteem and confidence of all. Capt. Stephen A. and Carrie A. (Laskey) Oliver were the parents of two children: 1. Lizzie J., born Feb. 7, 1866, married H. Fred Humphrey, reside at St. Petersburg, Florida. He was born in 1864, and for many years was a prominent manufacturer of foundry supplies at Joliet. 2. William H. Oliver, the subject of this sketch.

Mr. Oliver's early education was acquired in the public schools of Joliet, graduating from the high school in 1899. After leaving school he entered the employ of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad in the engineering corps, and was later with the Chicago and Alton Railroad as assistant engineer. He resigned in 1906 to enter the employ of the First National Bank at Joliet as a bookkeeper where he spent one year.In 1907 he entered his father's office. In 1908 the Oliver Realty Company was incorporated, and William H. Oliver became president. In 1915 he sold his interest, but the firm still continues in business as one of the largest real estate and insurance brokerage houses in Joliet.

During the time Mr. Oliver was in the real estate business he supervised the building of the Morris block which was rebuilt in 1908; supervised the building of the Woodruff Inn in 1914-1915. In 1915 Mr. Oliver and Robert McRobert operated the Woodruff Inn. In 1917 he sold his interest in same to Mr. McRobert. He then went on a trip to South America but when the United States entered the World War he returned and served one year in the Department of Justice at Chicago. In December, 1919, Mr. Oliver assumed the vice presidency of the First National Bank of Braidwood, Ill., and the Commercial National Bank of Wilmington, Ill., serving in this capacity until 1922 when he returned to the Oliver Realty Company.

In 1925 Mr. Oliver built the Oliver Hotel on the site of the old homestead of George Woodruff. This hotel was incorporated Dec. 31, 1925, and Mr. Oliver elected president. Mrs. R. M. Oliver is secretary and treasurer. The hotel contains 102 rooms and has bungalows built on the roof.

In 1920 Mr. Oliver was married to Miss Ruth Marie Kobliska, a daughter of John and Mary Kobliska.

Mr. Oliver is a member of Mount Joliet Lodge, A. F. and A. M., No. 42; Joliet Chapter, R. A. M. No. 27; Joliet Commandery, K. T. No. 4; Medinah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; Medinah Athletic Club; and the Illinois Hotel Men's Association. Politically Mr. Oliver is a Republican. Both he and his wife are members of the Central Presbyterian Church.

From:
History of Will County, Illinois
By: August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1928


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