John Lugg

by Amber Romano (MC, ’08)

On May 18, 1870, John Lugg was born to Henry Lugg and Eleanor (Carolyn) Lugg, in Cornwall, England [1] Life in England was quite beautiful living in Mawnan Smith, a quaint town on the Southern tip of the island.[2] He had an average home life with his father working as a blacksmith and his mother a housewife. John’s parents did not have any other children and they both agreed that John should use his time wisely to become a valuable and reliable citizen.[3] 

While in England, John studied mathematics, literature, and the rest of the basics, yet he had an undying passion to focus on the classics.[4] John was an active child that loved to increase his intellect. He studied hard and began to work with his hands. To stay busy, John collected old clocks and put them into working condition.[5] He eventually found pleasure in theology study of the Bible and Christianity.    

On May 18, 1887, John celebrated his birthday as well as his family’s new arrival in the United States. They had moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, located close to the Illinois border. There, John learned the jewelry and watch-making trade which was useful when he wanted to earn some extra money. He attended the local city high school and, again, focused on the classics. [6] He continued to study theology and became an academic within the field. 

His love for the subject helped him attain a job as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. He also worked as a supply pastor at Tylerville Church and Liberty Chapel in Wisconsin.    

The Tylerville Church was a developing church which did not have a steady congregation, but John would go there, not knowing if there would be anyone to preach to; if no one showed up, he would gather neighbors around and preach to them. He went wherever he was needed and would in no way turn anyone away who was looking for guidance. He never missed an opportunity to spread the word of Christianity.   John worked as a minister in Wisconsin until 1911,[7] but because of failing health for most of his pastoral career, he could not carry on a full-time job. [8]

On March 10, 1898, John married Clara Egerton, only a few months after his mother had died. [9] Clara was born on December 14, 1873, the daughter on Henry A. Egerton and Louisa (Foot) Egerton.[10] She was a native of Wisconsin and lived in an area that bore her maiden name. Her grandparents, Ezra and Clarissa Foot, were the founders of the area and traveled from Massachusetts to become prominent settlers in Footville, Wisconsin, located only nine miles West of Janesville. [11] Two years into the marriage, and two years after his mother’s death, John lost his father.

Several years after John and Clara were married; they had their only child, Ruth Louise on July 24, 1901.[12] Following in her father’s footsteps, Ruth wanted to do civil service for her community. Ruth learned from her father to serve her community, have faith in God, and to have faith in her country. Ruth attended Monmouth College and majored in education. She graduated in 1923 and then took a position at Monmouth Junior High School as a teacher. In April 1926, she married Franklin H. Wells of Massachusetts. Not long after her marriage, Ruth left Monmouth and moved to Pennsylvania.  ranklin and Ruth came to develop the Franklin H. and Ruth L. Wells Foundation that donated money to educational institutions in need.  Today, they have donated to hundreds of organizations including Monmouth College.[13]

  In 1911, John and Clara moved to Monmouth, Illinois, where he took up a position at both Monmouth papers, The Monmouth Daily Atlas and The Monmouth Review.[14]  John became an impressive reporter. He had hundreds of articles published between the two newspapers, but in 1916, he demonstrated interest in local and city politics.  In 1924, John picked up reporting again when he was offered a daily front page column in The Monmouth Review Atlas. [15]

 In the articles, titled “Here and There”, John wrote about important issues in the nation at the time. For example, on Monday July 6, 1925, he wrote an article that included information about President Wilson and the War, an immigration law that stated that everyone should be able to become a national citizen, and information on the education of automobile safety.[16] The next day John wrote about the need for women’s rights, how Uncle Sam needs you to be a patriot, and about big businesses. [17] John not only wrote about national news, he felt that he should cover the local news as well. On August 6, 1925, John mentioned the government blimp, the TC7, and how it was the first time many citizens of Monmouth had seen something in the sky that was not an airplane.  Even though John was a professional reporter, he let his personal opinion about patriotism and the war be well known.[18] 

John was an experienced writer, thus every “Here and There” article was edited carefully and was easy to read. To prepare for his articles, he rose early in the morning every day to read the Chicago and New York papers, searching every page for the top local and international news of the day; he would then report on what he had read. Besides a couple of sick days, and vacation days, he wrote an article every day until he was put into the hospital in 1951.[19]

John’s political career started and ended in Monmouth. In 1916, he was appointed Clerk of Circuit and County Recorder, two positions he held until 1920.[20] The responsibilities that John held in the Clerk of Circuit position included record tracking for the courts, jury management, court finances, and court administration.[21] As County Recorder he was responsible for “examination and recording of all documents presented for recording that deal with establishing ownership of land in the County or as required by statute; administers the real property transfer tax law and maintains a permanent record and indexes of all documents for public viewing plus providing certified copies requested by the public; recording of all lawful documents such as deeds, deeds of trust, judgments, liens, affidavits, Uniform Commercial Code, Financial Statements, etc; and the filling of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages.”[22] 

During his “off-time” he began to advertise Liberty Loans for the United States government. As the United States did not enter World War I until 1917, many people did not agree with U.S. involvement, therefore, the government was in need of people who were willing to “sell” the idea of the war to the public. During World War I, John sold patriotism when he became a speaker for Liberty Bond Committee as well as for the Red Cross, in 1917. He became, what was known as, a “four-minute speaker.” [23]

The goal of a four-minute speaker was to sell the support of the war at home and abroad to the citizens of the United States. President Woodrow Wilson developed the Committee on Public Information which in then turn developed the idea of a “four-minute speaker.” It was an all-volunteer job where the volunteers could recite a speech that boosted American morale at any given moment. They were trained to have a compelling speech that inspired the audience to purchase a Liberty Bond backing the war.[24] John would begin by creating something controversial to captivate the audience.  One popular speech that was given began in this manner: 

“Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have just received information that there is a German spy among us--a German spy watching us. 

He is around, here somewhere, reporting upon you and me-sending reports about us to Berlin and telling the Germans just what we are doing with the liberty Loan. From every section of the country these spies have been getting reports over to Potsdam--not general reports but details--where the loan is going well and where its success seems weak, and what people are saying in each community.

For the German government is worried about our great loan. Those Junkers fear its effect upon the German morale. They’re raising a loan this month, too.

If the American people lend their billions now, one and all with a hip-hip-hurrah, it means that America is united and strong. While, if we lend our money half-heartedly, America seems weak and autocracy remains strong.

Money means everything now; it means quicker victory and therefore less bloodshed. We are in the war, and now Americans can have but one opinion, only one wish in the Liberty Loan.

Well, I hope these spies are getting their messages straight, letting Potsdam know that America is hurling back to the autocrats these answers:

For treachery here, attempted treachery in Mexico, treachery everywhere--one billion.

For murder of American women and children--one billion more.

For broken faith and promise to murder more Americans --billions and billions more.

And then we will add:

In the world fight for Liberty, our share-billions and billions and billions and endless billions.

Do not let the German spy hear and report that you are a slacker.”[25] 

John completed seven hundred to eight hundred of those types of speeches all across the Midwest endorsing the Liberty Bond as well as promoting the Red Cross in specific circumstances. In 1917, He toured the Michigan and Illinois area in a government train stopping often in small towns, trying to connect with the small town mentality of the communities. He was once referred to as “one of the most eloquent and effective orators in Western Illinois.”[26] He proved his patriotism to others by living by the words that he spoke. He signed his “Declaration of Loyalty” on March 25, 1918.

It stated: 

“Firmly believing the war which the United States is now waging against the Military Rulers or Germany is being waged,

FIRST--To protect and preserve the liberty of the people of the United States, and

SECOND--To make the world safe for Democracy.

I hereby pledge my allegiance and loyal services to the Government of the United States, and I agree to do all I can in the conservation of food and other necessities and promise to do my share in every reasonable way to aid in the successful prosecution of the war.”[27]


After aiding in the war efforts, John returned to Monmouth and decided to take on a new challenge. Venturing into the undertaking business, John was elected coroner of Warren County, in 1920. Responsibilities of the coroner were to attend to all deceased bodies in Warren County. His position as coroner was helpful to convince R.E. White to allow him to join him in a partnership of a memorial chapel, located at 207 N. Main Street, in Monmouth.[28] In 1923, he purchased the entire business from R.E. White and renamed it “Lugg Funeral Home.” It became the most popular funeral home in the surrounding area. John performed all of the ceremonies, his background in ministry allowed him to handle the delicate emotions that are surrounded by death. The business became too much too handle and John felt that he should look for a new partner. In 1928, John formed a partnership with Mitchell E. Holliday, changing the business name to “Lugg and Holliday Funeral Home.” John left the business in 1947, selling his share to William Hoover. Well after John’s death, in 1965, Holliday left the memorial home; Hoover then changed the name to “Hoover Funeral Home,” which it bears today.[29] 

John was elected mayor of Monmouth in 1925 and served that office until 1927. He was elected because of his community involvement and he had amazing people skills.  He was known to help his fellow citizens out whenever they were in need. He always spoke on behalf of others if they wanted a lending hand. John was part of many associations within the city. He was an active member in many organizations and held offices in several of them--he was the secretary of Monmouth Chautauqua Association, member of Monmouth Rotary Club, Chapter Mason, Modern Woodsmen, Odd Fellows,[30] Monmouth Lodge # 61, and A.F. & A.M. There was nothing that John did not take part in and he became well-known throughout the city. As a Republican, he was an avid speaker for women’s rights and helped them get their voices heard. [31] The Memorial Home made him many friends and his ministerial positions helped him gain trust among.

After two years, John decided to focus on his ownership of the memorial home and became more business oriented. He gained a partner and his relationship with his him was sprouting. John also began to take in boarders into his home. Zelda Elliot lived with the Lugg family for several years; even though he was about the same age as their daughter Ruth Louise.[32]

John’s death did not come as a shock to anyone. Contrary to the local newspaper headline, “City Shocked by Death Today of John Lugg,” John had been ill for quite some time.[33] He suffered from benign prostatic hypertrophy and the doctors also came to the conclusion that he also had vesicle calculus.[34] Several months before his death, John underwent a surgical procedure but, unfortunately, it did not help.  He entered Cottage Hospital, in Galesburg, one week prior to his death. At 5:00 a.m. on December 3, 1951, John died leaving his wife and daughter behind.[35] His funeral was held at Hoover Funeral Home, his former place of ownership and employment. The church service was held at First Methodist Church with Reverend H.A. Cochran officiating.[36] He was buried in the Monmouth Cemetery along with his wife. Clara Lugg died in 1970, at the age of 73. She had been a dedicated member of the Daughters of the Revolution, and was a patriot just like her husband.[37]

  This biography was written in the fall of 2006 in William Urban's historiography class at Monmouth College.

[1]  “City Shocked by Death Today of John Lugg”, The Monmouth Review.  4 December 1951.

[2]  Pictures of Mawnan Smith. 

[3] Ralph Eckley. History of John Lugg and His Churches.

[4] Luther E. Robinson, History of Monmouth and Warren County. Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County Illinois. Volume II.  (1927).

[5]  “City Shocked.”

[6] Robinson.

[7] Eckley.

[8] John Lugg.  Medical Certificate of Death. Warren County Courthouse.

[9] Robinson.

[10] Eckley.

[11] Eckley.

[12] Ruth Lugg, Wisconsin Births, 1820-1907.

[13] The following is a press release from June 4, 2001: Monmouth College has been awarded a $30,000 grant to purchase computers for its new graphic arts lab/classroom in McMichael Academic Hall from the Franklin H. and Ruth L. Wells Foundation of Harrisburg, Pa.

Associate professor of art Cheryl Meeker and assistant professor of art Marjorie Blackwell were the lead faculty in preparing the grant project, titled “Curriculum Enhancement in Graphic Design.”

“With the dawn of technologies, a whole new area of art has emerged,” said Meeker, who likened the impact of the development of the computer to the invention of the printing press. “Graphics enhanced through computerization is a fascinating area of creative study, as well as an advancing commercial field of specialization.”

Blackwell, who was hired by the college in 1999 to help address the need for graphic design instruction, has designed two new courses which will be offered during the 2001-02 academic year. The Wells Foundation grant provides the funding to equip Blackwell’s lab/classroom for 15 students.

One of her courses will introduce the fundamentals of graphic design and visual communication. It will include formal application of design principles and exposure to tools, computer technology, methodology and visual analysis. A second-level course will build on those fundamentals and use them toward the design of multiple-page productions. Special attention will be given to editorial layout requiring the effective modular design of various types of information within a single, cohesive format.

The Wells Foundation was established by the late philanthropist Ruth Lugg Wells, a Monmouth native and a 1923 Monmouth College graduate, whose husband, Franklin, was director of research for the Aircraft Marine Products Corp. Previous grants awarded by the foundation to the college assisted in the renovation of the Auditorium and the construction of Wells Theater.

[14] The Monmouth Review was changed to The Monmouth Review Atlas in 1922.

[15] “City Shocked”.

[16] John Lugg. “Here and There.” Monmouth Review Atlas. (6 July 1925).

[17] John Lugg. “Here and There.” Monmouth Review Atlas.  (7 July 1925).

[18] John Lugg. “Here and There.” Monmouth Review Atlas.  (6 August 1925).

[19] “City Shocked”.

[20] History and FamiliesWarren County, Illinois, 2003. p. 74. 

[21] Responsibilities of the Clerk. Circuit Court Services.

[22] Recorder-Clerk. County Recorder-Clerk.

[23] John Lugg.  Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County IL.

[24] Liberty Bond.  Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

[25] Four Minute Men:  Volunteer Speeches During World War I.  History Matters.

[26] John Lugg.  Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County IL.

[27] John Lugg.  Declaration of Loyalty, Warren County.

[28] Robinson.

[29] History and FamiliesWarren County, Illinois, 2003. p. 74. 

[30] John Lugg.  Historical.

[31] City Shocked.”                                                  

[32] Elliot, Zelda:  1930 United States Federal Census. Library Edition.

[33] City Shocked.”

[34] Vesicol Calculus is a calcium buildup in the urinary tract.

[35] John Lugg.  Medical Certificate of Death.

[36] City Shocked.”

[37] Lugg, John.  Monmouth Township.


   The first historical water fountain that once graced the public square was originally built in 1890 by the J. L. Mott Iron Company of New York City. The fountain was purchased and installed in October that year by the City of Monmouth for a cost of $350.00.
   The first fountain itself was made of iron, 18 feet high, and stood in a pool 20 feet in diameter. Atop the Renaissance-style fountain was a figure of a boy (possibly cupid) holding a short staff. During its dedication, it was reported “to have sprayed a fine mist of water.”
   The fountain was removed during the tenure of Mayor John Hanley (1917 - 1921) because it caused too much strain on the city’s water supply. (Water recycling pumps had not yet been invented.)  When the fountain was scrapped, it was sold to interested parties and the whereabouts of several pieces are unknown today.


Works Cited


“City Shocked by Death Today of John Lugg.”  The Monmouth Daily Review. (4 Dec. 1951.)

Eckley, B. Ralph. “History of John Lugg and His Churches.”. The Monmouth Atlas. (9 Mar. 1987).

Elliot, Zelda:  1930 United States Federal Census. Library Edition.

“Four-Minute Men: Volunteer Speeches During World War I.” History Matters. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

History and Families. Warren County, Illinois. Monmouth:  Warren County Genealogical Society 2003

Liberty Bond. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

Lugg, John. Declaration of Loyalty. Warren County. Volume VI.  Warren County Genealogical Society. (1918).

Lugg, John. “Here and There”. The Monmouth Daily Review.  6 July 1925.

Lugg, John. “Here and There”. The Monmouth Daily Review.  7 July 1925.

Lugg, John. “Here and There”. The Monmouth Daily Review.  6 Aug. 1925.

Lugg, John. Medical Certificate of Death.  Warren County Court House, Recorder’s Office.

Lugg, John.  Monmouth Township. Monmouth Cemetery. Volume I. p. 330

Lugg, John.  Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County IL. Volume I. Chapter XVI: Churches. Warren County Genealogical Society.

Lugg, RuthWisconsin Births, 1820-1907. Library Edition.

News Release. Monmouth College. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

“Pictures of Mawnan Smith.” Pictures of England. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

Recorder-Clerk. County Recorder-Clerk. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

Responsibilities of the ClerkCircuit Court Services. 2 Nov. 2006 <>.

Robinson, Luther E. History of Monmouth and Warren County. Historical and Biographical Record of Monmouth and Warren County Illinois. Volume II.  Warren County Genealogical Society (1927).