R.P. Lane, founder of Lane/Rochelle

The town of Lane (later, Rochelle) formally began with the filing of a plat at the Ogle County Recorder’s office on  30 July 1853 by Robert P. Lane. Some background information about Lane:

• Robert P. Lane, M.D., lived Feb. 21, 1818 to March 7, 1891, (aged 73 at death), according to Find a Grave, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford.

•  Holland’s Rockford City Directory for 1874-5 lists Dr. R.P. Lane on page 153 as living at 508 N. Church and as having these titles: president, Second National Bank; cashier, Rockford Savings Bank, and treasurer, Rockford Insurance Co.

•  In a “Historical and Business Review” of Holland’s Directory (pages 9 and 10), Dr. R. P. Lane is named among a list of “prominent gentlemen [who] associated themselves under the style of ‘Rockford Water Power Company’ and determined to build another and stronger dam” after a first dam across the Rock River failed. Also mentioned in Kett’s History of Winnebago County, 1877. (page 403)

•  In a section describing his management of the Second National Bank, Dr. R. P. Lane is described as “one of the foremost and progressive public lights of Rockford” who “settled here in 1836, and has succeeded abundantly in the many and varied enterprises of his own creation.” (page 35) This 1836 date of arrival is contrasted to the 1851 date given in the Past and Present source below.

•  Lane “secured” “a special charter” for Rockford Savings Bank, an institution that may be “highly appreciated” by “the working classes and those of small means.” This bank is “another evidence of [Dr. Lane’s] business capacity and good will toward his cherished home, Rockford.” (page 52).

•  According to the book Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois, (here at Google Books, full-but-uncorrected text here), Robert P. Lane, M. D., was born in Hopewell, Bedford County, in south-central Pennsylvania, in 1818, and came to Rockford in 1851.

Past and Present also says that Lane “was a member of the banking firm of
Lane, Sanford & Company and was “one of the organizers of the Second National Bank, and continuously served as its president from 1864 to 1881, when
he resigned to accept the Presidency of the Rockford Insurance Company. He served as a member of the library board, and was senior warden of the Episcopal church for forty years.” Library board report here, in Annual Reports of the City of Rockford, page 50.

• R. P. Lane was involved in the building of the Kenosha & Rockford Railroad in the later 1850s, and he was involved  — it’s not clear to me exactly how — in some military or political organizing during the Civil War times. (Past and Present, pages 80-81, 88).

•  In addition, Lane was involved in organizing a hospital for Rockford, and he served as one of the first “consulting physicians” for the hospital that opened 1 Oct. 1885. (Past and Present, page 128)

• “January , 1855, the banking firm of Dickerman, Wheeler & Co. began business on West State street. The firm consisted of W. A. Dickerman, Buel G. Wheeler, G. A. Sanford and R. P. Lane. This house became the Second National bank.” (Past and Present, page 132)

•  Lane was involved in building the Chick Hotel at 123 S. Main in Rockford.

•  In March 1855, Lane was president of an effort to build a rail line between Rockford and Mendota, but “operations were never commenced on this line.” (History of Winnebago, 1877, page 284)

Robert P. Lane may have never lived in Rochelle, but his son Jas. B. Lane is listed as a Rochelle resident on page 664 of the 1878 History of Ogle County. Jas. B. Lane is said to work in the manufacture of malleable iron in the firm Barber, Lane & Co. and “he also attends to the sale of lands for his father, Dr. R. P. Lane,  of Rockford.”

2 responses to “R.P. Lane, founder of Lane/Rochelle

  1. Thank you. Fascinating, and good to gain a deeper understanding about our history.

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