Lawrence I. Folk

Life of Laurence I. Folk
1892, Jo Daviess County, Illinois

This is a brief account of the Laurence I. Folk's life. It's mostly organized from census reports and City Directories.

According to everything I can find, Laurence led kind of a Spartan life style, keeping to himself, married but never had any children. He was born in Pennsylvania in Jun 1862. He moved with his father Conrad T. Folk and mother Louisa A. Geisler from Somerset, Pennsylvania to Dubuque, Iowa around 1883. Laurence and his brothers, father, and mother, were all living together on Grand Avenue in Dubuque. Conrad was apparently a journeyman blacksmith with the Dubuque Lumber Yard. Laurence was working with him as a blacksmith. Conrad died around 1885. The exact date of death is unknown at this time.

Laurence journeyed to Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois where he married Mary Jane Casserly on 14 June 1897. Galena is only about 16 miles from Dubuque so this was not much of a journey. Mary Jane’s parents, Michael and Catherine Malone Casserly were from Ireland. Mary Jane was born in Galena on 15 Nov 1862, making her about the same age as Laurence. She had three brothers, Peter, William, and Michael B. Casserly. Mary Jane and Laurence lived in Galena their whole life. At times they were living with Casserly brothers.

Mary Jane died 25 January 1927 and Laurence on 26 January 1955. They are buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Galena. They are in Section 5, lot 3 with no tombstone. On the census reports, Laurence’s occupation is listed as “wagon maker or blacksmith”. On the 1930 census it states “Proprietor – Blacksmith”. That indicates that he had a shop somewhere and it's probable it was on the main street in Galena. The 1914 City Directory shows that location as 108 S. Commerce Street. There appears to be an empty lot at that 108 S. Commerce location today.

There is a story, related by my Wife, Jean Ann, how some of the Folk brothers (sons of Leo Francis Folk) heard there was buried treasure up where Laurence lived. Supposedly, they even went up there to look for it but came back empty handed. I've always wondered if this is a true story. Where exactly did Laurence and Mary Jane live in Galena? Jean Ann and I were in Galena one time and seems like she indicated it was somewhere in the business district on that main street where all the shops are located.

Laurence was granted two patents back in Dubuque in 1892 along with partners, Louis H. Dempsey and J. W. Nairn. The patents were No. 471,969 Granted 29 March 1892 for an improvement in vehicle wheels and No. 483,803 Granted 4 October 1892 for improvement in a wrench (some kind of ratcheting wrench).

Submitted by Toney Walden who passed it on for posting to the Jo Daviess County site.