William Rueben Rowley

William Rueben Rowley

William R. Rowley

William R. Rowley

  • Born February 8, 1824 Lawrence County New York
  • Came to Jo Daviess County in 1843 to teach
  • Held succession of county governmental positions
  • Commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Company D, 45th Illinois Infantry, November 1861
  • Promoted Captain and Aide-de-camp on staff of U.S. Grant, February 1862
  • Detailed as Provost Marshal General of Departments of Tennessee and Cumberland, 1863
  • Promoted Lieutenant Colonel and Military Secretary to General Grant, March 1864
  • Resigned due to ill health, August 1864
  • Brevetted to ranks of Colonel and Brigadier General
  • Resumed post of Jo Daviess County Circuit Clerk until 1876, and subsequently judge of the county court
  • Died in Galena, February 9, 1886; buried in Galena

Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers, William Rowley was born in Governor, New York.  In the early 1840s he moved to Brown County Ohio to teach and then  in the mid-1840s he settled in Scales Mound to continue teaching.


Rowley married Elizabeth Miller in 1847 and had four children. It was around this time that Rowley was appointed Assessor and Collector for Jo Daviess County.  Between 1847 and 1861s, Rowley held several other county government positions like Deputy Circuit Clerk and Sheriff. By 1861 the Rowelys were living at 515 Hill Street in Galena. On November 13, 1861 Rowley became the First Lieutenant of Company D of the 45th Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He participated in the battle of Fort Donelson in February of 1862, then was commissioned Captain and became aid-de-camp to Grant, who had been recently promoted to Major General of Volunteers. Rowley fought in the battle of Shiloh and the Vicksburg Campaign. When Grant was promoted Lieutenant General on March 2, 1864 Rowley was appointed Lieutenant Colonel and Military Secretary on Grant’s Staff. He held that position until his health forced him to resign from the army in October of that year.

Rowley returned to Galena as Circuit Clerk of Jo Daviess County. In July 1866, on recommendation of Grant, Rowley was appointed brevet Brigadier General of volunteers for his service in the war. The Rowleys moved to 305 Park Ave in 1869. Shortly after, Rowley and his son Lewis opened a real estate and insurance business on Main Street. Rowley was elected County Judge i n 1877, a position he held until his death on February 9, 1886. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. rowleygrave