Richard Rowett (1830–1887) was a leading figure of nineteenth-century Illinois and American history. The English-born Rowett was a Civil War hero who entered service as captain of Company K of the Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which is considered the first unit from Illinois to answer President Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers.

Rowett fought with distinction at the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth and proved himself a thorn in the side of Confederate guerillas in northern Alabama at war's mid-point. However, his greatest moment came at the battle of Allatoona, Ga. on Oct. 5, 1864, when he spearheaded the defense of a pivotal Union supply depot.

After the war, Rowett returned to his adopted home of Carlinville, Illinois and established himself as a nationally recognized breeder of thoroughbred horses at his farm, The Meadows, one mile north of town. The Rowett colors of orange jacket and blue cap were known across Western and Southern tracks, but his outstanding production at The Meadows was Spokane, the winner of the 1889 Kentucky Derby.

Rowett is also credited by many as the first to introduce the true-bred beagle hound to America from his native England. The Rowett strain of beagles was recognized as a leader in the field of beagling around the turn of the century. Rowett was also one of three men who drafted the first-ever beagle standard for bench and show judging in 1884.

A one-term member of the Illinois House, Rowett held several statewide appointive posts and was a vocal member of the Illinois Republican party. But his health began to fail in his later years, and he died suddenly at Washington Park (Chicago) on July 13, 1887.

As a measure of his national stature, news of his death was reported on page one of the New York Times the following day.

References[edit | edit source]

  • "Richard Rowett: Thoroughbreds, Beagles, and the Civil War" by Tom Emery (History in Print: 1997)
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