Many interesting people have called Lanark home over the years.
Donald R. Buss, entrepreneur/inventor – born August 26th, 1911 in Lanark. He started Buss Mfg. Co. in 1947, producing “Lucky Boy” baits, hooks and allied fishing necessities. Buss Bed-ding was invented in response to the need for something to keep the night crawlers alive until they reached the customers. Soon the customers wanted to purchase the product in which the night crawlers were packed. Buss Bed-ding was shipped from coast to coast in the United States. It is still sold today by Magic Products Company of Wisconsin.
Daniel W. Dame, Lanark’s first mayor – was born in Tuftenborough, NH on February 8, 1820. Tireless efforts marked Daniel Dame’s personal program to lure railroads through Carroll County. He served three terms in the State Legislature for such promotion and endlessly organized trips to meet with investors. D.W. Dame found a way to supply a good word at someone’s birthday, eulogy at a funeral, assistance for a burned out business, a trade or manufacturer necessary to the town. His obituary said that he was a stickler for detail, small or large. He got things done. Surprisingly, perhaps, his obituary related that he was a believer in the supernatural, was a Mason, Knight Templar and belonged to the Odd Fellows. D.W. Dame died December 10, 1895, much mourned, always praised, the father and founder of Lanark.
Glenn Ward Dresbach
Glenn Ward Dresbach, writer – born September 9, 1889 in Section 13 Salem Township. “Poet of the Prairie” was an appropriate title for Lanark’s one-time nationally known poet. It was ideal. It is claimed that he began writing poetry when he was eleven and had a book published when he was thirteen. He graduated with the Lanark High School class of 1908 then entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he presented the library with a copy of his book. Following graduation from the university in 1911, he took a job as an accountant for the Panama Canal and Panama Railroad. By the 1930s his output of poetry was steady and prolific. He won many awards. His work appeared in all the major magazines and in 1937 it was claimed that he was the highest paid poet in the nation. Glenn Ward Dresbach was named to the top ten Illinois poets along with Carl Sandburg, Eugene Field, Edgar Lee Masters, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Charles Cotta, entrepreneur/inventor – born and raised at a residence/farm and rural post office four miles east of Lanark, just off present day Route 64. Charles and brothers operated a threshing machine throughout the neighborhood. During the 1890s he acquired professional quality photograph equipment and started a business.
Cotta invented a feature on an automobile of his own construction and design (“Cottamobile”). It had four wheel drive, four wheel steering, independent springing of each wheel and a special transmission with non-clashing gears. By using chains by which the power of the motor was applied equally and individually to each of the four wheels they each became a traction wheel. Its motive power was steam. It was like no other auto on the market. How and why four wheel drive transmissions came to Charles is not known. He had no background in mechanics or engineering so the excellence in tooling, building each and every part and piece is a mystery.
That year, 1901, Cotta, then thirty, asked twenty year old Harry Curtice, Shannon, Illinois, to come assist him in building an automobile with some novel special features and the Cotta steamer took form.
Charles Cotta died on July 26, 1945 at the age of seventy-three. His patent application read “an automobile running gear and transmission device.” Nothing said of four wheel drive, a device that changed the industry. But then at that time, hardly anyone knew its meaning. It was the first. Not even the journalists in the motor magazines of the day – “Four wheel traction principle might possibly be used sometime in the future.” And, “Ingenious but impractical.” Lanark’s hometown inventor proved them wrong.
These are excerpts from the book “Sesquicentennial Lanark IL 1861-2011”
On June 28, 2014, a State historical marker was erected to mark the location of the shop where the first four wheel drive vehicle was created.