It’s no secret the Theodore Roosevelt had family connections in North Barrington.
Research published by Cuba Township Republicans and confirmed by Village of North Barrington history shows that Roosevelt’s cousin Margaret was the daughter-in-law of Dr. Edmund Kimberly—who built what is known as the Kimberly House in 1857 on the shores of Honey Lake.
Roosevelt, who served as the 26th U.S. President from 1901 to 1909, is said to have stayed at Kimberly House on several occasions over the years. Seems Margaret had married Dr. Kimberly’s eldest son, Augustus Van Horne Kimberley, and eventually made the house their home.
There is even a story that flower urns at the front of the house were a wedding gift from “Teddy” to the newlyweds.
But the big historical mystery that no one can solve is whether the former “Rough Rider” stopped by the Kimberly House on that fateful journey to Chicago after a manuscript tucked in his breast pocket saved him from a fatal bullet wound in Milwaukee.
The day was October 14, 1912, and Roosevelt, who was running for a third term as president on the National Progressive Party ticket (also known as the Bull Moose Party), had just stepped out of the Hotel Gilpatrick on his way to deliver a campaign speech at a nearby auditorium.
He was just settling into the back seat of a car and raising his hat in thanks to the crowd on onlookers when he was shot at close range with a Colt .38 revolver by John Schrank, an unemployed saloonkeeper.
Against the advice of Roosevelt’s closest companions, he insisted on continuing forward with the evening and delivering the speech as planned. A former cowboy and officer in the Spanish-American War, he used his experience with weapons to assess that the bullet had not entered his lung. In fact, it had been slowed by an unlikely shield—the 50-page speech he had tucked in his pocket along with his spectacles case.
The campaign address reportedly went on for nearly an hour with enthusiasm and vigor, manuscript pages fluttering down one by one as they were read, as became Roosevelt’s signature style. One of the most famous lines from the incident was a moment in the speech where he held up one of the blood-stained pages and declared, “You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose.”
Doctors in Milwaukee who cleaned up Roosevelt’s wounds immediately after the speech determined that a bullet had lodged in his rib, where it would stay for the rest of his life. Undeterred, Roosevelt and his crew returned to Chicago.
While there is historical evidence that Roosevelt received additional treatment at a hospital in Chicago, and would be met there by his wife, Edith, there is also a long-held local legend that he may have been brought to the Kimberly House on his way back.
Local historian Barbara Benson, who contributed to the Cuba Heritage series for Cuba Township Republicans, has indicated that while this rumor could indeed be true, it remains unproven “after careful research.”
That doesn’t stop people in town from talking about it though. And it doesn’t prevent North Barrington history buffs from digging through the archives. You never know what can turn up in an old manuscript.