Biography of The Woodruff Family
Will County, Il Biographies





Woodruff Family. - George Woodruff came to Joliet from Watertown, N. Y., in 1836. He was then 24 years old and arrived in Chicago by boat. At that time Chicago amounted to very little and he came on to Joliet, as at that time Chicago came to Joliet for its mail. He engaged in the provision business until 1841, when he decided to operate a farm he had purchased at Plainfield. He spent two years on this farm; his son, Frederick Woodruff being born there.

Returning to Joliet, where he had retained active business interests, he again engaged in business and in 1857, in partnership with Frank L. Cagwin, S. W. Bowen and E. Harwood, started the Joliet Bank.

Seven years after the organization of the Joliet Bank, in 1864, the National Banking Act was passed and the Joliet Bank incorporated under the name of the First National Bank of Joliet. This was one of the first national banks chartered under this Act and the incorporators were George Woodruff, his son, Frederick W. Woodruff, J. E. Bush, William Tonner and J. F. Woodruff.

George Woodruff was elected president and Frederick Woodruff, then 23 years old, was elected cashier.

The old books of the First National Bank, now in its archives, show some transactions that seem peculiar today. One entry shows a charge of $3.00 against Governor Matteson for a pair of shoes.

While the Woodruff family has been interested in various lines of business, its main business has always been that of banking.

For eighteen years, from 1864 until 1892, George Woodruff was president of the First National Bank, and he was succeeded as president by his son, Frederick W. Woodruff, who held that position from 1882 until 1906, at which time he was succeeded by George Woodruff H, who had just graduated from Yale and was well fitted to carry on the work.

In 1909, Frederick Woodruff II finished his college course at the University of Pennsylvania and became assistant cashier and then vice president of the Citizens National Bank of Joliet. This institution was merged with the First National Bank of Joliet eighteen months later and became the largest bank in Illinois, outside of Chicago, and Frederick W. Woodruff was elected first vice president of that institution.

In 1922, George Woodruff II became president of the National Bank of the Republic of Chicago, and Frederick W. Woodruff II became president of the First National Bank of Joliet.

The Woodruff boys, as they were called to distinguish them from the older Woodruffs, built the Woodruff Hotel, the new First National Bank Building, the Sippell Garage, the two Woodruff Realty buildings and the Woodruff building at the corner of Jefferson and Chicago streets, and this building activity gave a great deal of impetus to the development of Joliet.

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


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