Biographies (W-Z)


Jesse Wagner Moses O. Williamson
John Wagner Edward Williams
Barney Wagoner William Williamson
S. A. Wagoner Hjalmar W. Willing
Daniel Wainright Horace Willsie
Harmon Way John Wilson
Lafayette Weinberg Prof. Loren Witherell
J. D. Welsh Herbert Wood
Gustave Wenzelman Tobias Woods
Lloyd F. Wertman David Woolsey
Charles White Frank Woolsey
Edward Whiting William Woolsey
Frederick Z. Wikoff Stephen Wyman
James Wilks William Yates
George Williams John Young

 


 Stephen Wyman - A well known agriculturist of Knox County, who is now living retired on his beautiful homestead located on section 20, Persifer Township, is Stephen Wyman, whose holdings in this country aggregate four hundred and sixty-five acres.  He was born in Vinton County, Ohio, on the 21st of June, 1834, and is a son of Arthur and Annie (Soltz) Wyman.  The father was born in the state of New York, but when a lad of eight years he came to Ohio with his people, who passed the remainder of their lives in the Buckeye state.  Arthur Wyman was reared and educated in Vinton County, and there he met and subsequently married Miss Soltz, who was a native of Ohio.   They began their domestic life on a farm in that state, where Mr. Wyman continued to engage in agricultural pursuits until 1852.   In the latter year with his wife and family he came to Illinois, settling in Knox County.   He subsequently acquired the title of two hundred and forty acres of land in Persifer Township, northeast of the farm of their son Stephen, and now the property of Harvey England.  A man of much energy and determination of purpose, he industriously applied himself to the further improvement and cultivation of his property, erecting thereon a comfortable dwelling and good substantial barns and outbuildings.   His farming was conducted along general lines, the greater part of his time and attention being devoted to stock-raising, which proved to be lucrative.  He passed away on his homestead at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried at Westfall cemetery, as was also the mother, who was seventy-five at the time of her death.  They were members of the United Brethren Church, and in his political views the father was a republican.  He was always interested in all township affairs and served with efficiency in some of the minor offices.  The family of Mr. and Mrs. Wyman numbered eleven, all of whom were born in Ohio.   John, who passed away at the age of seventy years and was buried in Westfall cemetery in Persifer Township, became one of the prosperous farmers of this county, owning at the time of his death eight hundred acres of land in Persifer Township.   He married twice, his first union being with HANNAH TAYLOR, a daughter of Daniel Taylor, while for his second wife he chose Miss KATHERINE MUNDWILDER, who now resides in Knoxville.   Minerva, the eldest daughter, married Noah Dawson, of Persifer Township, and they are now both deceased.  Edward J., who died at the age of sixty-nine years and was buried in Westfall cemetery, married Elizabeth Bradford.  The next in order of birth died in infancy, and the fifth is Stephen, our subject.  Levi died in Missouri, while in the Union army.  Mary married Charley Taylor of Persifer Township and they are now both deceased, as also are Eliza and Andrew, who were twins.  Arthur, who was a volunteer in the Union service, died from yellow fever just after the battle of Vicksburg, and George, the youngest member of the family, when last heard from was living in Idaho.
     The first eighteen years of his life, Stephen Wyman passed in his native state in whose common schools he obtained his education.  He accompanied his parents on their removal to Knox County in 1852, and remained at home until he had attained his majority, assisting with the operation of the farm.  When he was twenty-one he began working for himself, so capably and intelligently directing his activities that he met with excellent success in his agricultural pursuits.  He kept adding to his holdings as he was able until he now owns ninety-two acres of land in Knox Township, and three hundred and twenty on Section 20 of Persifer, where he had resided for many years and fifty-three in section 18, making in all four hundred and sixty-five acres.  The dominant factors in the success of Mr. Wyman have unquestionably been his perseverance and energy, which have been utilized to most excellent advantage.  He is most ambitious and applies himself conscientiously and painstakingly to whatever he undertakes, striving to excel in everything.  No effort has been spared in the development of his farm, all of which is now under high cultivation and well improved.  He has erected good substantial buildings on his place, to the value of which he has added at various times by installing many modern conveniences and improvements.  Both his residence and grounds afford a most attractive and pleasing appearance from the public highway and he has built a fine private road on his grounds with cement bridges across the culverts.  In connection with general farming, Mr. Wyman raised stock, making a specialty of hogs annually, making large shipments to the near-by markets.
     Mr. Wyman has been married twice.  His first wife was Miss KATHERINE MINER, a native of Indian and a daughter of Thomas Miner, who resided in Knox County only one year, and they became the parents of seven children.  In order of their birth they are as follows: Richard, a resident in Knoxville, who married Annie Swanson; Marion, who was drowned in the state of Washington; Electra, the wife of Cornelius Ward; Thomas, who married Bessie Brandt and is residing in Abingdon, this state; George, who lives in the state of Washington; Sanford, who died in Oregon and is buried in Westfall cemetery; and Viola who died at the age of nine months.   The mother died on the farm where she had passed the period of her married life and was laid to rest in the family lot in Westfall.   She was a fine Christian character and held membership in the United Brethren Church.   Mr. Wyman subsequently married Miss ERMA F. RAMBO, who was born in Peoria, and is a daughter of George Rambo.  They have five children: Jasper Newton, who is living in the northwestern part of Colorado; Walter Stephen, who is operating the home farm; Iva, the wife of Norman Arbogast, of Galesburg, Illinois; and Lewis, who married Mary Arthur and is living in Douglas, Illinois.
     Ever since granted the right of franchise upon attaining his majority, Mr. Wyman has given his political support to the men and measures of the republican party.  He has never prominently figured in township affairs but he has given efficient service as a school director.  (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 972-973, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Edward Whiting - Farmer; Elba Township, born October 5, 1856, at Kickapoo, Illinois; educated in the Kickapoo schools.   His father and grandfather were called William Whiting and came from Sussex County, England; his mother, Jane (Cummings) Whiting, came from Portage County, Ohio; his maternal grandmother was Susan Cummings.  He was married January 1, 1884, in Elba Township, to ETTIE PATTERSON, who was born in Elba Township, October 23, 1861, and is the daughter of James and Elizabeth (Marshall) Patterson of Preble County, Ohio.  James Patterson was married in 1847, and came to Elba Township in 1849.  Their children are: Etha Z., born November 13, 1884, and James Kirby, born November 14, 1885.  Mr. Whiting has a fine residence and fine farm of one hundred and ten acres on Section 25, three and one half miles northeast of Yates City.  In addition he manages his father-in-law's farm.   In politics, he is a republican.  (HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS AND KNOX COUNTY, Munsell Publishing Company, 1899, page 898, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


William Woolsey - Farmer; Elba Township; born in Haw Creek Township, August 11, 1861.  His father, David Woolsey, was born in Ulster County, New York; his mother, Mildred (Logan) was born in Virginia.  His paternal grandparents were Hezekiah and Hannah (Cutter) Woolsey.   August 23, 1883, Mr. Woolsey was married in Knoxville to NORAH M. TAYLOR.   They have two children, Forest Taylor, born June 18, 1884, and Harley H., born April 4, 1886.  Mrs. Woolsey was born in 1860.  Her parents were Abraham and Emeline (Cartright) Taylor.  The father is dead; the mother is living in Caldwell County, Missouri.  Mr. Woolsey is a republican in politics.  He has been Assessor of the town in Elba, and School Director a number of terms.  He is a member of the Odd Fellows, No. 256, Maquon; also of the Modern Woodmen of America, in the lodge located at Douglas.  His farm of one hundred and forty-three acres is on Section 6.   (HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS AND KNOX COUNTY, Munsell Publishing Company, 1899, page 898, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


David Woolsey - David Woolsey was born in Ulster County, New York, January 3, 1828.  His parents, Hezekiah and Hannah (Cutler) Woolsey, were born in Duchess County, New York.  His father died in Ohio, and his mother in Elmwood, Illinois.  The old Woolsey family came from England, and the grandmother and great grandmother on the father's side were born in Holland.  The paternal grandparents were William Woolsey, born in New York, and Hannah (Wright) Woolsey; his maternal grandparents were David and Patience (Sheldon) Cutler, born in New England. 
     Mr. Woolsey was educated in the common schools of Ohio.  In 1849, he came alone to Knox County, where at the age of twenty-one, he was the happy possessor of fifty dollars of cash.  For several years he built fences, made rails, and did such work as he could get from the older settlers.  He was first married August 25, 1850, to ELIZABETH FRY, who was born in Ohio, May 25, 1828.  She was fifth in a family of twelve children: Lefee A., Hezekiah, and William Cyrus, all of whom died when young.
     Mr. Woolsey married his second wife MILDRED, daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth (Wright) LOGAN May 4, 1856.  She was born in Virginia, April 27, 1837.  The children of this union are: Alva, who married Flora Hall and lives in Elba Township; Alonzo, deceased; Louisa, deceased; William, married to Nora Taylor; Arzella, the wife of Frank E. Nelson; Deborah, deceased; Lenora M., married to William Chase, and lives in Haw Creek Township; Julia A., the wife of Milton Sherman, of Oklahoma; Charles, living in Truro Township; Adelbert, deceased; and Clyde, now living in Haw Creek.
     Mr. Woolsey farmed in Maquon, Chestnut, and Haw Creek Townships, remaining for five years in the latter.  He purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land in Haw Creek Township, and began his residence there in 1865.  He greatly improved his farm and added to it, until, at the present time, he owns six hundred and thirty-one acres in Knox County.  He is a very successful and progressive farmer, and is considered one of the best stock men in the county.  Mr. and Mrs. Woolsey are identified with the United Brethen Church, and contribute largely toward its support.   They are noted in the community for their kindness of heart and unostentatious charity.  (HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS AND KNOX COUNTY, Munsell Publishing Company, 1899, page 903, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top



Lloyd F. Wertman - Honored and respected by all, there is no man who occupies a more enviable position in business and financial circles in Galesburg than does Lloyd F. Wertman, the president of the First National Bank. This is not due alone to the success he has achieved but also to the straightforward, honorable business methods he has ever followed, and his record indicates that success is not a matter of genius as held by some but is rather the outcome of a clear judgment and unfaltering energy. He was born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, November 7, 1845, and is one of seven children of Elias and Mary (Kistler) Wertman. The former was a son of Daniel Wertman, a native of Pennsylvania and of German descent. He removed with his family to Lockport, New York, where he died when well advanced in years. To him and his wife were born a number of children, including Elias, Noah, Daniel, Emanuel, John, Jonathan and a daughter. Elias Wertman was also a native of the Keystone State and was there reared. Eventually he followed merchandising in Bloomsburg and Rohrsburg, Pennsylvania, and in the year 1864 removed westward to Illinois, settling that spring in Knox County, where he turned his attention to general agricultural pursuits. He followed farming in both Persifer and Elba townships, being for many years actively engaged in the work of tilling the soil. While in Pennsylvania he had wedded Mary Kistler, a native of that state, as was her father, who was of German lineage. He was a distiller and prominent farmer. The death of Elias Wertman occurred in Yates City when he was about seventy-eight years of age and his wife passed away several years before. They held membership in the German Lutheran Church and were worthy Christian people. Of their seven children five reached years of maturity, two having died in infancy. Those who attained adult age were: Daniel, now deceased; Sarah, the widow of Spencer L. Finney, of Galesburg; Mary Ellen, the wife of Samuel Chester, of Creston, Iowa; Lloyd F.; and Martha J., the widow of James A. Wilson, of Galesburg.

In his native town of Bloomsburg Lloyd F. Wertman spent his early youth and began his education, which was supplemented by further study in the public schools of Rohrsburg, Pennsylvania, and in the academy at Orangeville, that state. He was also for a year and a half a student in the missionary institute or college at Selinsgrove and when his education was completed he came to the middle west and turned his attention to farming, renting a tract of land adjoining his father's place. Subsequently he purchased his father's farm and remained thereon until 1878, when he removed to Yates City, Illinois, where he spent two years in a cooperative store. On the expiration of that period he formed a partnership with J. H. Nicholson and W. P. Parker for the establishment of a bank at Yates City. Their enterprise was known as the Farmers Bank and its doors were open for business on the 1st of August, 1880, with Mr. Wertman as cashier. He filled that position for nine years and the success of the bank is attributable in large measure to his efforts and ability. He then sold out to Mr. Nicholson and came to Galesburg, accepting the cashiership in the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of this city, with which he was connected for six years, when he was elected vice president of the First National and after two years was elected to the presidency, so that he is now the chief executive officer of the bank, his guiding policy being such as commends the institution to the confidence and support of the public. In the conduct of banking interests he has ever adhered to the principle, that the banking institution that most carefully safeguards in order to protect its depositors, is the bank which most merits the public confidence.

On January 11, 1870, Mr. Wertman was married to Miss Isabella J. Oberholtzer, a native of Eugene, Knox County, Illinois, and a daughter of Henry and Martha (Tucker) Oberholtzer. The family is an old one here, having been established in pioneer times. Her father died from the effects of army experience, having been a soldier of the Civil War, and her mother passed away in Gilson when eighty-five years of age. To Mr. and Mrs. Wertman have been born five children: Elmer, who died in infancy; Mary, who is the wife of Arthur D. Stearns, of Galesburg, and has four children, Philip, Helen, Frances and Virginia; Martha Leorah and Maude, who are living at home; and Norma B., who is the wife of Guy B. Hardy, an attorney of Galesburg, by whom she has one child, Jane. Mr. Wertman is serving as a trustee in the Presbyterian Church, in which his wife holds membership. In politics he is a republican, giving unfaltering support to the party, and while residing in Elba township he served as township clerk for ten years, was collector for two or three terms and was also one of the county supervisors while living in Yates City. For twelve years he has been a member of the Galesburg school board and was chairman of its finance committee. No public trust reposed in him has ever been betrayed in the slightest degree and in public office he has done an effective work for progress and improvement. Wherever known he is held in high regard and most of all where best known. The close attention which he has given to his business affairs and to the honorable and progressive methods which he has followed have constituted the secret of his success, which has won him to a prominent position in business circles among the men of affluence in this county.  (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 22-26, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Frederick Zina Wikoff - Frederick Zina Wikoff, a lifelong resident of Knox County, spending the greater part of his years in Sparta Township, represented one of the old pioneer families here and his personal record was in harmony with that of an honored and honorable ancestry. He ever followed up the occupation of farming and by reason of his practical methods and progressive spirit contributed much to the general advancement along agricultural lines. He was born in Ontario, Illinois, December 27, 1846, his parents been John and Cornelia (Crane) Wikoff. The family originally bore the name of Van Wikoff and came of Dutch ancestry. John Wikoff, father of Frederick Z. Wikoff, came from New Jersey to Illinois in the fall of 1836, making the trip from Ohio on horseback. Knox County was his destination and after arriving here he entered one hundred and forty acres of land, situated on section 36, Rio township. It was just as it had come down from the hand of nature, but the soil was naturally rich and productive and responded readily to the care and labor which he bestowed upon it. Year after year the work of cultivation and improvement was carried forward until the farm became one of the valuable properties of that section. Thereon Mr. and Mrs. Wikoff resided for fifty-four years, celebrating their golden wedding there. In early manhood he had married Cornelia Crane, a daughter of Zina Crane, who came with his family to Knox County when Mrs. Wikoff was but fourteen years of age, making the journey from the state of New York overland in wagons. She afterward engaged in teaching school in Henderson and always strove to cultivate a love of learning among her children. She also proved a faithful companion and helpmate to her husband, aiding and encouraging him throughout his business career. The farm that John Wikoff secured on coming to Knox County is still in possession of the family, being now occupied by a son of Frederick Z. Wikoff. The old homestead is a beautiful place, having been improved by two generations and always kept in excellent condition. John Wikoff was actively interested in the public affair and gave his aid and cooperation to many movements for the general good. He was at one time supervisor of Rio township and there he resided until his death, which occurred April 30, 1897, when he was eighty-four years of age. Unto him and his wife were born five children: Gertrude A., now the widow of Hiram Colby; Frederick Z. of this review; Harriet E., the wife of G. H. Pratt; Carrie F., the wife of S. T. Howell; and Mary M., the wife of O. Oliver, now deceased.

Frederick Z. Wikoff spent his entire life in Knox County, been reared upon the old homestead farm, where he was early trained to habits of industry, economy and integrity. He acquired his education in Knox and Hedding Colleges and the intellectual development thus stimulated constituted a chief source of his success. His entire life was devoted to general agricultural pursuits and he became the owner of a fine farm in Knox County, in the cultivation of which he was very successful, adding thereto many improvements.

On the 16th of September, 1874, Mr. Wikoff was united in marriage to Miss Ida M. Conger, a daughter of John N. and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Conger. Her grandfather, Uzziah Conger, came to Knox County, in 1838, and settled in Cherry Grove. He married Hannah West and they lived to celebrate their golden wedding. Their son, John N. Conger, was a native of New York and, having arrived at years of maturity, wedded Elizabeth Wheeler, a native of Connecticut and a daughter of Alvah and Jerusha (Stevens) Wheeler who on leaving New England removed from Connecticut to Knoxville, Illinois, in 1838. Mr. Wheeler was a carpenter by trade and assisted in building the first courthouse in Knox County. It was their daughter Elizabeth who became the wife of John N. Conger, who was one of the early settlers of the county and is mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Their daughter Ida became the wife of Mr. Wikoff and to them was born four children who are living: Winn C.; Gem, who is now the wife of W. B. Nelson; John N.; and Cornelia. They also lost a child. The death of Mr. Wikoff occurred March 10, 1905, when he was but fifty-eight years of age. He had spent the greater part of his life in Sparta Township and no one of the committee was more widely known or more widely respected. His political allegiance was given to the republican party and he was ever a public spirited citizen, interested in the welfare and upbuilding of county, state and nation. He attended the Baptist Church and was ever a kindly and generous man, whose heart went out in ready response to all who needed assistance, while his beneficent spirit was manifest in many tangible ways. He did not seek to figure prominently in the public life of the community, but his genuine personal worth gained him high regard so that his death was deeply deplored not only by his immediate family, among whom he was ever a devoted husband and father, but also by the many friends whom he had won during his long residence in Knox County.  (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 42-43, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


George Williams - George Williams, who at different times was connected with commercial and industrial interests in Galesburg, had a most excellent record both as a man and citizen. As a soldier, too, his course was a most commendable, for on southern battlefields he proved his loyalty to the Union cause. His birth occurred in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, April 3, 1831, his parents being Mr. and Mrs. Robert Williams, who were residents of Mount Vernon, where they remained for a long period. The son spent his youthful days under the parental roof and was indebted to the public-school system of that district for the educational advantages he enjoyed. On the 12th of March, 1856, being then about twenty-five years of age, he was married to Miss Eliza J. Marble, a daughter of J. H. Marble, a resident of Mount Vernon. Three days later they left Ohio for Knox County, making their way at once to Galesburg where Mr. Williams thereafter resided, save for a period of two years spent as a soldier of the Civil War. He enlisted as a member of the 108th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, became drum major and was on active duty at Arkansas Post, and Haines Bluff and in other engagements. At length he was honorably discharged and returned to Galesburg.

On first becoming a resident of this city Mr. Williams established a shoe store which he conducted for many years, enjoying a good trade in that direction. In later years he conducted a dairy business and found it also a source of gratifying income and profit. In all of his business dealings he was thoroughly reliable and enjoyed the confidence and regard of his fellow townsmen in an unusual degree.

As the years passed by three children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Williams: Walter W., who lives in Galesburg; Flora B., deceased; and G. W., who makes his home in Bridgeport, Conn. Mr. Williams took an active interest in Masonry and was an exemplary representative of the craft. He was also much interested in politics and for a number of years was a staunch supporter of the People's Party or, as it is now known, the Populist party. He adhered closely to its principles and doctrines and always kept thoroughly informed on the vital questions of the day. Few men outside of politics had a broader or more correct knowledge of the many questions which he studied from every possible standpoint. He was a firm believer in the power of the government to issue money and was one of the earliest to advocate that idea. At different times he served his party on various committees and was a leader in all of its movements. At local elections he voted with the Prohibition Party and was ever a stalwart champion of the cause of temperance and of all those activities which tend to uplift the individual and the community at large. Death called him on the 15th of January, 1905, and thus when almost seventy-four years of age he passed away. He had ever been loyal to his honest convictions and his word no man had ever questioned. His life was in many respects worthy of emulation and wherever known he enjoyed the regard and goodwill of those with whom he came in contact. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 51-52, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Judge J. D. Welsh - Judge J. D. Welsh, a distinguished member of the Knox County Bar, well merits the success and honor that has come to him in this connection, for he has ever been careful to conform his practice to a high standard of professional ethics and, while he has given to his client the service a well developed talent, unwearied industry and broad learning, he never forgets that there are certain things due to the court, to his own self-respect and above all to justice and a righteous administration of the law which neither the zeal of an advocate nor the pleasure of success permits him to disregard. He is now a member of the firm of Williams, Lawrence, Welsh, Green and McFarland, having entered upon this connection since his retirement from the county bench.

Judge Welsh was born in a log cabin in Truro township, this county, September 10, 1858, a son of Michael Welsh and a grandson of William Welsh. The latter was a farmer of Ireland, where he died when more than seventy-five years of age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Hoben, passed away in middle life. Their family numbered three sons, Edward, Richard and Michael. The last named was born and reared in Ireland and pursued his education there. He came to the new world when a young man of twenty years, arriving in 1850, and making his way into the interior of the country, he settled at Maquon, Illinois, where he followed the occupation of farming. In 1853, however, he removed to Truro township, Knox County, where he purchased and improved a farm, making it his home for more than half century. He won a credible position among the industrious and progressive agriculturists of the community and his fellow townsmen, appreciative of his worth and ability, called him to a number of local offices. He served as justice of the peace for twenty years and made a notable record of never having an appeal from his decisions--such was the fairness and impartiality of his opinions. He was also collector and assessor for a number of terms and served as school trustee. He married Catherine Grace, who, like her husband, was born in Kilkenny, Ireland. Her parents were John and Catharine Grace, farming people of Ireland, where both passed away. They had a large family, which included John, Catharine, Stacia and others whose names are not remembered. Unto the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Welsh there were born seven children: William M., now residing in Williamsfield, Illinois; Alice, the wife of David Cloonan, of Zearing, Iowa; Benonia F., also a resident of Williamsfield; J. D.; Jay, who makes his home in Williamsfield; M. M., a practicing physician of Odell, Illinois; and Mary, the wife of Richard Judge, of Pontiac, Illinois. The parents were both members of the Catholic Church and passed away in that faith, the mother's death occurring six months prior to the demise of her husband on the 28th of July, 1908. He was then seventy-seven years of age and in his passing the county lost one of its worthy and respected pioneer farmers.

Judge Welsh was reared on the old homestead in Truro township and early became familiar with the work of tilling the fields. After attending the district's schools he was sent to Lombard College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1885. Subsequently he attended the Law School of the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington and in June, 1887, was admitted to the bar. He located for practice in Springfield, Missouri, where he remained for two years, and then came to Galesburg, where he has since followed his profession as an active practitioner save that for four years he was county judge, filling the office from December, 1902, until December, 1906. In his practice from 1890 until 1895 he was associated with George W. Prince and in August of the latter year he entered into partnership with E. P. Williams and George A. Lawrence under the firm name of Williams, Lawrence and Welsh. At the same time there were associated with them E. N. and Guy P. Williams and the present style of the firm is Williams, Lawrence, Welsh, Green and McFarland, F. O. McFarland having been admitted to the firm relationship. During his practice Judge Welsh has conducted important litigation in the federal and state courts with gratifying success, winning well earned fame and distinction. He has much natural ability but is withal a hard student and is never contented until he has mastered every detail of his cases. He believes in the maxim "there is no excellence without labor" and follows it closely. He is never surprised by some unexpected discovery by an opposing lawyer, for in his mind he weighs every point and fortifies himself as well for defense as for attack. There are few lawyers to win a larger percentage of their cases before either judge or jury then does J. D. Welsh. He convinces by his concise statements of law and facts rather than by word paintings and so high is the respect for his legal ability and integrity that his assertions in court are seldom questioned seriously. In addition to his law practice he is a director of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank.

Judge Welsh was married June 27, 1888, to Miss Ella C. McCullough, who was born in Galesburg, a daughter of Samuel K. and Emily Rosina (Reed) McCullough, a former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of New York. They became early residents of Galesburg, where Mr. McCullough was employed as foreman by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, remaining in the service of that company from 1856 until his death save for the period of three years spent as a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil war. He died in 1901, at the age of sixty-nine years, and is survived by his wife. They had but two daughters, Ella and Estella, the latter the wife of Charles E. Dudley. Unto Judge and Mrs. Welsh has been born a son, Vernon M., who is a junior at Knox College. The parents are associated with the Universalist Church and Judge Welsh is a trustee of Lombard College, conducted under the auspices of that denomination. He belongs to Alpha Lodge, No. 155, A. F. & A. M., and to Galesburg Chapter, R. A. M. His political views accord with the principles of the Republican party. He is worthily regarded as an able, faithful and conscientious minister in the temple of justice and in his private life the simple words of his character has gained him the high regard of his fellow men. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 58-62, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Lafayette Weinberg - The prosperity and growth of every community depends not so much upon its machinery of government or even upon the men who feel its public offices as upon the enterprise and the character of the men who are controlling its commercial and industrial interests. Prominent in this connection is Lafayette Weinberg, a member of the firm of Weinberg Brothers, wholesale dealers in fruits and produce, conducting also a freezer and cold-storage business. Along the legitimate lines of trade they have secured an extensive patronage and the business and its volume and importance is a satisfactory one, bringing annually very substantial returns.

Mr. Weinberg is one of the native sons of Illinois, having occurred in Augusta, January 3, 1868. The surname indicates the ancestral connection of the family. The grandfather, Isaac Weinberg, was a native of Rehburg, Germany, and served for thirteen years as a soldier in the German army, during which he participated in the Battle of Waterloo. He was connected with the cavalry branch of the service. To him and his wife were born four children, Jacob, Simon, Frederika and Regina. Of this number Simon Weinberg was the father of Lafayette Weinberg. He, too, was born in Germany, near Rehburg, and was reared in that land, there learning the butcher's trade. The favorable reports which he heard concerning America and its business conditions and opportunities determined him to try his fortune in this country, and on the day on which he was twenty-three years of age he landed in the United States. He first located in Cincinnati, where he remained for several years, and subsequently removed to Augusta, Illinois, where he established a butchering business and general mercantile store, continuing in this line of trade throughout the remainder of his life. He married Louisa Jurgins, who was born in the same locality as was her husband. Her father, too, was a native of Germany and on coming to America settled near Cincinnati, where his remaining days were passed. Mr. and Mrs. Simon Weinberg became the parents of nine sons and nine daughters: Regina, the wife of John Tarr, now living in Moravia, Iowa; Jacob, deceased; Joseph, a resident of Augusta; Elizabeth, the wife of B. E. Bacon, of Pleasanton, California; Fredericka, the wife of F. M. King, of Augusta, Illinois; Deena, the deceased wife of G. S. Stark; Mina, the wife of C. M. Allensworth, of Galesburg; Moses, living in Rushville, Illinois; Mary, the wife of George Worman, of Grubgulch, California; Pearlie, the wife of F. A. Reiche, of Moravia, Iowa; Abraham L., who is in partnership with his brother Lafayette; Aaron, living in Augusta; Lafayette, of this review; Zeline, of Galesburg; Adolph, of Augusta; and Simon, who died when twenty-five years of age. Two of the children died in infancy.

The father's death occurred in Augusta in 1901, when he had reached the advanced age of eighty-three years, and his wife passed away in 1895, when sixty-three years of age. She held membership with the Presbyterian Church, while Mr. Weinberg was reared in the Israelite faith.

Spending his youthful days in his native town, Lafayette Weinberg attended the public schools there until 1888, when he entered Knox College in Galesburg, being graduated upon the completion of the commercial course. He made his initial step in the commercial world in connection with the wholesale fruit and produce business of Byram Brothers, entering into partnership under the name of Byram Brothers and Weinberg, which connection continued for a little more than a year. Since then his brother Abraham L. has been associated with him under the firm style of Weinberg brothers. Gradually they have built up an extensive business, handling everything that the market affords in fruit and produce and conducting as well a cold-storage and freezer business. Both branches are proving profitable owing to their capable management, unfaltering energy, and thoroughly reliable business methods.

On the 23rd of November, 1893, Lafayette Weinberg was united in marriage to Miss Mabel L. Babcock, a daughter of Charles M. and Margaret (McChesney) Babcock. Mrs. Weinberg was born in Detroit, Michigan, and her father was a native of New York, while her mother's birth occurred in Illinois. Mr. Babcock came as an early settler to Knox County, this state, establishing his home in Galesburg, where his last days were passed, his death occurring in 1906, when he was sixty-three years of age. His widow still survives and now makes her home in Los Angeles, California. They were the parents of two sons and two daughters, George M., Mabel L., Clara and Frank O. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Weinberg has been blessed with five children, of whom three are now living, Helen Louise, Dorothy and Fayette. The last two are attending school and the older daughter was graduated from the Galesburg High School in the spring of 1911.

In his political views Mr. Weinberg has always been a Democrat since age conferred upon him the right of franchise and he keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day, but has never sought nor desired public office. That he is a man of social, genial nature is attested by his membership in the Soangetaka Country Club. He belongs also to the Galesburg Business Men's Club and is interested in all of its projects for the welfare and improvement of the city along the various lines that contribute to the city's growth and development. His life record has no spectacular phases but it stands as an incontrovertible proof of what may be accomplished through determination, energy and ambition. Mr. Weinberg is today recognized as one of the foremost merchants and businessmen of Galesburg, honored and respected by all, not only for what he has accomplished, but also for the straightforward methods which has ever characterized his business career. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 63-65, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Tobias Woods - Only a brief summary of the lives of many of the residents of Knox County is given in these records, but they go to show their claim to genuine manhood, citizenship, and an honored place among the active workers of life. Among these none is better fitted to draw forth approbation than the subject of our sketch, whose home is situated in the thriving little village of Maquon, and who is retired from the active labors of farm life.

The parents of our subject were James and Catherine (Sarver) Woods, who were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was of Scotch-Irish and the mother of Dutch ancestry. Their family consisted of eight children, bearing the names of John, James, Fannie, Tobias, Catherine, Sarah, Mary, and Joseph.

Tobias Woods was born in Allegheny County, Pa., Oct. 27, 1820. He remained at that place until he had attained the age of majority, when he removed to Venango County, Pa., at which place he remained until the spring of 1867. While there he engaged in different occupations, his chief business being that of an agriculturist. The spring of the year 1867 was the date of his arrival in Knox County; he came hither with his parents' family, making settlement in Chestnut Township. He afterward rented a farm for the period of two years, subsequently purchasing 120 acres of land, on which he resided until 1882, when he made his final move to the village of Maquon. He is the owner of 117 acres of tillable land.

Mr. Woods was married to Miss Mary J. Henderson, in Venango County, Pa., Oct. 31, 1850. She is the amiable daughter of Charles and Mary (Simcox) Henderson. The father was a native of Ireland and the mother of Pennsylvania. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Henderson consists of nine children. The record is as follows; Shadrach, Margaret, Robert, Archie, William, Johnnie, Mary J., Eleanor and Nancy.

Mrs. Woods, of whom we write, was born in Venango County, Pa., Aug. 29, 1829. She has born her husband nine children, namely: James, Charles, Francis M., Tobias Jr., Henderson, Harvey, Kate, John and Robert. Charles Woods married Josephine Roberts, and they are at present residing in Nebraska; Frank H. is the name of their only son. The other members of the family are residing at home. In politics our subject is a firm adherent to the principals of the Democratic party. (History of Illinois and Knox County, Illinois, Chapman Bros., 1886, submitted by Todd Walter)

Back To Top  


James Wilks. One of the enterprising men of Knox county and well known for the excellent character of his work is James Wilks, who is a painter, paper hanger and decorator and is also proficient in the brick and stonemason's trade. He was born in Gloucestershire, England, April 17, 1845, his parents being George and Susan (Aston) Wilks, natives of the same locality. His father was for many years a gardener but later learned the stonemason's trade. The mother, who was skilled in the use of roots and herbs, practiced her art of medicinal cures with much success throughout her life. In 1849 the family, which consisted of nine children, left their home in England and crossed the Atlantic, landing in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, after a tediously drawn-out journey of sixteen weeks. They remained in Pottsville for a brief period, removing thereupon to Mount Savage, Maryland, where they resided for four years. In 1853 the father came to Knox county, Illinois, and made a close survey of this locality with a view to settling and the following year brought his family from Maryland to their new home in Wataga. During their residence in that town Mr. Wilks and his two sons James and Thomas went to Iowa for a time and bought a tract of land in Jasper county, where they began the development of a coal bank. Later he traded this tract for land near Wataga and opened up the first coal bank that was ever operated in Knox county. The parents both passed away in Wataga, the father in 1887 and the mother in 1879. Only four children of the family survive, of whom Thomas is the eldest and possesses an interesting record of service during the Civil war. He enlisted from Wataga in Company K, of the Forty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, one of the leading regiments, and served all through the war, participating in about forty engagements. Among these was the siege of Vicksburg, in which he was one of the three that performed the daring deed of carrying the torches that ignited the fuse which blew up the city. He was severely wounded in this battle but continued his military service as soon as he recovered. James Wilks also has two sisters: Mrs. Elizabeth Mallin, of Galesburg; and Hattie, of Canton, Illinois. His twin brothers, Job and John, are both deceased.

During the residence of the Wilks family in Maryland James Wilks began his education in the schools of Mount Savage and after their removal to Wataga, Illinois, completed his education. During the progress of the Civil war he enlisted for one hundred days from Wataga in Company B, One Hundred and thirty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry and was mustered in at Quincy, but not found old enough to go to the front. He reenlisted, however, and was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, serving six months. At the close of the war he returned to his home in Wataga and learned the stone and brick-mason's trade, which he has followed ever since, making a specialty of building cisterns. He worked at his trade for a time in Abingdon and in Galesburg, coming to Knoxville twenty-six years ago. In addition to the trade which he originally learned, he mastered the methods employed in painting, paper-hanging and decorating, evincing great skill in these allied departments of the building trade. He has the distinction of being the first in Galesburg to decorate a room, having performed the contract for Henry Gart.

On October 20, 1868, Mr. Wilks was united in marriage to Miss Mary Isabel Laird, born in Pennsylvania in 1846. Her parents, Matthew and Isabel Laird, came to Illinois in 1855, their family being the first to settle in Woodhull, where her father followed the shoemaker's trade. Mr. and Mrs. Laird are now deceased. To Mr. and Mrs. Wilks five children were born, four daughters and a son. Charlotte is the wife of Wilson Kitchens, an engineer in the employ of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and resides in Manitou, Colorado. They are the parents of two daughters and a son, Maude, Earl and Ellen. Valetta, the second in order of birth in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Wilks and now deceased, was the wife of Charles Rogers. They were the parents of three children, Geneva, Charlotte and Forrest. Nellie, deceased, was the wife of Homer Jones. Martha, the wife of John Schwensen, an engineer in the employ of the Santa Fe Railroad, lives in Kansas. Fred, living in Galesburg, where he is employed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, is married to Catherine Sikes and has one child, Richard.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilks are members of the Presbyterian church, to which they give their loyal and helpful support. Mr. Wilks is a member of Knoxville Post, No. 239, G. A. R., of Knoxville, in which he has been past lieutenant commander. All those who know James Wilks—and his acquaintance is a wide one—hold him in high esteem for his honest, upright character and his industrious mode of life. He is still actively engaged in the pursuit of his calling and finds his greatest joy in doing well the tasks of each passing day. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 101-102, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Frank E. Woolsey. The late Frank E. Woolsey, for many years engaged in the harness and saddlery business in Knoxville, was born here, on the 30th of August, 1851, and was a son of Edwin and Mary (Tingle) Woolsey. The father was a native of the state of New York, where he engaged in farming until 1848 when he came to Knoxville. Soon after his arrival here he engaged in business, continuing to be identified with the commercial activities of the town until his retirement. He had resided here but a short time when he was married to Miss Tingle, a native of Ohio, and they became the parents of six sons and two daughters, as follows: Frank E., our subject, who was the eldest; James E., who is engaged in the wholesale grocery business in Chicago; Charles, who is living near La Junta, Colorado; Hattie, who died at the age of eighteen years; Ida; George, who is also deceased; Arthur, a brick mason of Knoxville; and Leroy, who is deceased. The mother passed away in 1907, at the age of seventy-nine, while the father was eighty-four years of age when he died in 1910. He was a veteran of the Civil war, having enlisted and gone to the front from Knoxville, when hostilities first broke out, continuing in the service for three years.
     Frank E. Woolsey was educated in the common schools of Knoxville, and when old enough to commence preparations for his life work, learned the harness-maker's trade. He followed this for a time in his native town, when he went to Moline and subsequently took a position on the road. Withdrawing he returned to Knoxville and established a harness and saddlery business that he conducted until his death, which occurred on May 30, 1895. The business was continued for about a year thereafter under the supervision of his widow, who then disposed of it.
     Rock Island, Illinois, was the scene of the marriage of Mr. Woolsey, on the 19th of March, 1882, to Miss Hannah Arabella Simpson. She was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, and is a daughter of Jesse Swan and Eliza (Gunnell) Simpson. Her father was also a native of Westmoreland county, his birth occurring in Hempfield township, on the 18th of November, 1815, his parents being James and Hannah (Steinmetz) Simpson. James Simpson was born and reared in Scotland, whence he emigrated to America in the very early days, locating in Pennsylvania before the war of 1812, in which he participated. His wife was a native of Germany and a daughter of John and Mary Steinmetz, who were also among the early settlers of Westmoreland county. Mrs. Woolsey was born on the old homestead in Pennsylvania, where her grandfather Simpson lived and died. In the maternal line Mrs. Woolsey is of French extraction, her great­grandfather having emigrated to America from France in the early days of the last century and settled in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. The grandfather, Corbin Gunnell resided there until 1862, when he removed to Moline, lllinois, where he for many years was engaged in the dry-goods business, but he was living retired at the time of his death, which occurred in Moline. His parents were Jonathan and Parmelia Gunnell, the father a veteran of the Revolution having served under General Washington. Jesse Swan Simpson, Mrs. Woolsey's father, came to Rock Island, Illinois, in 1869, locating in Coe township, where he bought a farm that he operated until his death on the 30th of June, 1903, in his eighty-seventh year. Her mother, who died very suddenly from heart failure on October 4, 1908, at the age of eighty-six, was born in Pennsylvania, on the 11th of May, 1823. Of their marriage there were born six sons and five daughters, as follows: Benjamin F., who is now deceased, a veteran of the Civil war, having enlisted from Pennsylvania; Maria C., the wife of Joseph Askew, of Cordova township, Rock Island county; Mary Jane, who died when she was twenty-four; Silas M., who resides near Hillsdale, Rock Island county; Jesse L. and Almira, twins, the latter the wife of William Aldridge of Port Byron, and the former also a resident of Rock Island county; Mrs. Woolsey; Emma C., the wife of John Groom, editor of the Aurora Daily Beacon, of Aurora Illinois; Curtis, who is living in St. Louis; Elmer E., a farmer of North Dakota; and Ulysses Grant, who is a resident of Rock Island, so named from General Grant, a cousin of Mr. Simpson. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Woolsey there was born one son, Jesse Francis, a manufacturing chemist connected with the firm of Strong, Cobb & Company of Cleveland. He married Miss Maude Belle Johnston, a native of Indiana, and they have one son, Robert J. Woolsey.
     Mr. Woolsey was a member of the Presbyterian church, as is also his widow and son, and fraternally he was connected with the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He belonged to the Sons of Veterans and his political support he gave to the republican party. Mrs. Woolsey has continued to live in Knoxville ever since the death of her husband, where she owns a very pleasant residence and has many friends, by whom she is held in high esteem.
(History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 182-183, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Daniel Wainright. A long life of activity and enterprise devoted to agricultural pursuits gained for Daniel Wainright the financial independence that now enables him to live retired. For more than forty years he was successfully identified with the farming interests of Chestnut township, and was a prominent factor in promoting its development along the various lines of public utility. He is a native of Ohio, his birth occurring in Claremont, on the 4th of May, 1829, and a son of Vincent and Nancy (Hall) Wainright. His father was born in New Jersey, in 1793, while the mother was a native of the state of Ohio. The paternal grandfather, Daniel Wainright, was likewise born and reared in New Jersey, from which state he joined the Continental ranks during the Revolution. In the maternal line, Daniel Wainright is of English extraction, his grandfather, Jeremiah Hall having emigrated from the mother country to the United States in the early years of the last century. He was a carpenter and millwright by trade, but subsequently withdrew from this vocation and took up farming, locating on a tract of land in Claremont county, Ohio, that he cultivated until his death in 1844. Of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Wainright there were born nine children, five sons and four daughters, as follows: Jonathan and Jeremiah, both of whom are deceased; Daniel, our subject; Catherine and Delia Ann, who subsequently became Mrs. Tuttle, both of whom are deceased; Rachel M., the wife of a Mr. Barr, William Henry and Hannah Lucinda, who are also deceased; and Wesley, who is living near Springfield.
     The early years of Daniel Wainright's life were spent on his father's farm, in the work of which he assisted while pursuing his education in the district schools. In common with most country youths at that period his textbooks were early laid aside and his attention devoted to the work of the fields and care of the stock. He was married at the age of twenty years and for some time following continued to engage in agricultural pursuits in his native state. Later deciding that better opportunities awaited him in what at that time was termed the west, he and his wife with their two children crossed the prairies to Illinois. Knox county was his destination and upon his arrival he purchased some land on section 3, Chestnut township, and there he continued to reside until 1901. Upon this worthy young couple devolved all of the hardships and discouragements that are incident to frontier life, but they were enterprising and hopeful and their determination never faltered. He applied himself intelligently and persistently to the cultivation of his fields, improving his place as his means warranted from time to time, and ultimately became one of the substantial agriculturists of the county. With prosperity came the respect and esteem as well as friendship of his many acquaintances, who recognized and appreciated the many fine qualities that made him a successful man and estimable citizen. Ten years ago, at the age of seventy-two years, Mr. Wainright decided to withdraw from active work and he and his wife left the farm and took up their residence in Knoxville, where they continue to live.
     Twelve years ago Mr. and Mrs. Wainright celebrated their golden wedding, their marriage having occurred on the 13th of December, 1849. The maiden name of Mrs. Wainright was Eliza Jane Cramer, and she, too, is a native of Claremont county, Ohio, her birth occurring on the 10th of November, 1830. She is a daughter of William and Sarah Ann (Shoats) Cramer, the father a native of Germany and the mother of English extraction. She was an only child and was left an orphan at an early age, but she had a half-brother, Joseph Heritage. To Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright were born six children, two of whom are deceased, Benedict, who was the fourth in order of birth, and Loretta, the next younger, who died in infancy. Vincent, the eldest, whose birth occurred in Ohio, married Miss Frances Hauk, a native of Illinois, and they have two children Ernest and Ena. McGuire, also a native of Ohio, married Miss Arenia Coe, of Missouri, and they have two children, Clara, who is married; and Jennie, Joseph married Arenia Mallory, who was born in Kansas, and they have the following children: Arthur, Edith, Bertha, Mildred and Lloyd. Sarah Eliza, is the wife of Bert Eikey, a farmer of Orange township, and their children are: Louis, Bert, Ross and Henrietta.
     Mr. and Mrs. Wainright have always been active members of the Methodist Episcopal church and for forty years he was superintendent of the Sunday school. Fraternally he is a Mason, being affiliated with Pacific Lodge, No. 66, A. F, & A. M. He always recognized the obligation of citizenship by assuming his share of the governmental responsibilities in his township. For three terms he discharged the duties of supervisor and for three years he acted as road commissioner, while for one term he served as school trustee and as school director for twenty-eight years. A man of high principles and keen judgment, Mr. Wainright's views were always valued in the community where he resided, his foresight and powers of discernment giving weight to any opinion he might advance relative to the public welfare. During a residence in the county that has covered a period of more than half a century he has not only won many friends, but has established for himself a reputation that will be to his children a valued heritage. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 208-209, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Professor Loren R. Witherell. Unquestionably one of the most versatile and highly cultured residents of Knoxville is Professor Loren R. Witherell, who is not only a scholar and writer of more than local reputation, but an able attorney and a successful lecturer, in addition to which he has taken out patents on twenty-five different articles, all of which are in common use. He was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, on the 10th of May, 1843, and is a son of Ephraim H. and Rebecca (Donaldson) Witherell. The father was born in Vermont, on May 1, 1816, his parents being Asaph and Johanna (White) Witherell, natives of Massachusetts. Asaph Witherell was the first manufacturer in America of the cut nail, in the making of which he engaged in his native state for many years. Together with his wife and family in 1818 he started westward to Pennsylvania. They made the journey in the winter, and as Lake Erie was frozen they started to go from New York to Pennsylvania on the ice, but as it was thin in places they deemed the crossing unsafe, and returned to the shore. When they reached the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, they went south for about fifteen miles to the vicinity of Wattsburg, spending the night at the home of James Donaldson. Ephraim Witherell at that time was a lad of two years, while his future wife was a babe of one day. As his parents located in the vicinity, Ephraim Witherell there grew to manhood and learned the carpenter's trade. At the age of twenty-six years with his family he removed to Washington county, Indiana, where he engaged in contracting and building for five years. At the end of that time they crossed the prairies in a wagon to Peoria county, Illinois, residing there until the spring of 1851, when they came to Knoxville. The mother of our subject was born in Pennsylvania, on the 5th of March, 1818, her parents being James and Mary (Moore) Donaldson, who were also natives of the Keystone state. In both the paternal and maternal lines Professor Witherell is descended from old colonial families, both of his grandfathers being veterans of the war of 1812, while some of his mother's ancestors located in this country more than two hundred and fifty years ago. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Ephraim Witherell numbered seven, the four eldest having been born before they located in Knox county. In order of birth they are as follows: Ursula, who died at the age of twenty years; Loren R., our subject; George, who is a farmer, residing a mile south of Knoxville; and Eri A., who is in the lecture field on a western circuit and is also engaged in teaching; Willard W., who engages in the real-estate business and also in building and contracting in Visalia, California; Silas, who is secretary and treasurer of a manufacturing company in Springfield, Missouri; and Oscar C., who was engaged in the drug business in Knoxville, but has now passed away, his demise occurring at the age of thirty-eight years.
     Professor Witherell received his introduction to the elements of English learning in the common schools of Peoria county, which he attended for one year. His education was continued in the public schools of Knoxville until he was eighteen years of age when he was sent to a private school in Erie county, Pennsylvania, where he studied for two winters. He was a brilliant student, possessing the retentive mind, strong powers of concentration and rapid reasoning faculties that mark the natural scholar. Study was to him not a hardship, but a joy and he applied himself so attentively to his work that he made the best record of any pupil in the school, standing at the head of his classes in every subject. Upon the completion of his course he returned to his Illinois home and subsequently entered Lombard College. He matriculated in the latter institution in 1864, and there pursued special studies for three years, making a most creditable record. Having decided to take up the study of law, at the expiration of that time he entered the office of Willoughby and Grant in Galesburg, where for three years he diligently applied himself to the mastery of the principles of jurisprudence. He was admitted to the bar in 1871, and immediately thereafter opened an office in Rock Island county, where he engaged in practice for several years. He was meeting with most excellent success and was building up a very good clientage when trouble with his eyes compelled him to abandon his profession. In order to restore his sight and improve his health generally he turned his attention to fruit-raising and for thirty years devoted his summers to this occupation. In the winters he lectured on astronomy, geology and natural history in different schools, colleges and societies of the northwest, addressing more than a thousand different audiences. Although he still occasionally delivers a lecture, he has not followed the work regularly for about ten years, having withdrawn from it in 1901. Much of his time now is devoted to writing for the current magazines, while he also contributes editorials to various newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois. He has had more than one hundred of his poems published in papers throughout the country and in 1877 he published a history of John Brown in the Davenport Gazette. Not only does Professor Witherell possess unusual literary ability, but rare mechanical skill and he has always devoted much of his time to perfecting various contrivances upon which he holds patents. His first invention was a sugar-cane stripper, which he patented in 1865, when he was only twenty-two years of age. Later he patented a spiral gate and door spring, that is now used all over the world, while to him must be given the credit for the rubber stamp and printing wheels, which were placed on the market in 1866. He also invented the first computing postal scale, and he likewise holds the patent on a dusting brush and window fastener, as well as a clothes wringer and corn popper, and a number of other useful articles.
     On the 5th of March, 1868, Professor Witherell was united in marriage to Miss Lottie A. Anderson, the ceremony being performed in Knoxville. Mrs. Witherell was born in Sweden, in 1852, and is a daughter of Swan and Mary Anderson, who emigrated to the United States and located in Knoxville during the early clays. The parents are now both deceased and Mrs. Witherell passed away, on March 13, 1909. None of the children born of this marriage lived and Professor and Mrs. Witherell adopted two children, Arthur L. and Augusta. The former is now married and residing in Seattle, Washington, where he is superintendent of a large printing and publishing company. Augusta is the wife of Robert McCall of Davenport, Iowa. Professor Witherell has resided in the house he now occupies for fourteen years, the place being known as "Shady Hill," because it contains the largest and oldest tree in Knox county, which stands in the front yard. The kitchen of this house was built by Professor Witherell and it is a most interesting room. It is constructed from wood taken from a number of historical houses in Knoxville, the old Hebbard House providing the door. This was taken from the room that was occupied by Abraham Lincoln, on the night of October 6, 1858, the time he and Douglas held their memorable debate.
     In addition to all of his other talents, Professor Witherell is endowed with considerable musical ability and he has devised a number of clever musical instruments of real artistic value from squashes, gourds and other vegetables. Professor Witherell has been an ardent curio collector for over fifty years, and has an immense and beautiful collection, handsomely arranged in cases, which he has named "The Old Curiosity Shop" and which he will locate permanently in some public park, where it will be a permanent attraction and of great value to the public for years to come. He has always been too deeply engrossed in the pursuit of his various personal interests to devote much attention to outside affairs, so has very few public connections. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, belonging to the Knoxville camp, one of the oldest in the county, which is his only fraternal connection. Professor Witherell has a wide and favorable acquaintance among the citizens of Knox county, where he has spent practically his entire life and is recognized as a man of rare worth and ability. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 223-225, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Gustave Wenzelmann. The name of Gustave Wenzelmann figures prominently in connection with the industrial and manufacturing interests of Galesburg, in which city he took up his abode in 1904. He now has an extensive manufacturing plant, which stands in the midst of sixteen acres of ground, affording him excellent shipping facilities over the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and Santa Fe Railroads. In business management he displays all those requirements which are essential to success and has gradually worked his way upward to a creditable and gratifying position.
     Mr. Wenzelmann was born in Neunkhausen, Germany, on the 8th of March, 1867, a son of Ludwig and Rosina (Schneider) Wenzelmann, who were also natives of Neunkhausen, the father having been born on the 7th of January, 1838, and the mother on the 10th of October of the same year. Ludwig Wenzelmann was a cabinetmaker and sawmill owner and continued in business in his native country until 1882, when he came to the United States, settling in Kankakee, Illinois, where he followed his trade. He lived a life of usefulness and activity, his labors being terminated only in death, on the 17th of May, 1910. For a considerable period he had survived his wife, who died in 1886. Both were members of the German Evangelical church and his political allegiance was given the democratic party. In their family were three children: Alwina and Bertha, both now deceased; and Gustave.
     The last named pursued his education in Germany, becoming a gymnasium student, and in the high school of Kankakee he continued his studies following the arrival of the family in America. After putting aside his textbooks he secured employment in a lumberyard and store at Kankakee in the capacity of bookkeeper and later he utilized his earnings in establishing a general merchandise store at Missal, Illinois, embarking in business there on his own account in 1884. From the beginning he enjoyed a good trade and continued in active connection with this commercial interest for a considerable period, also serving as postmaster. In 1895, however, he disposed of his store and removed to Streator, Illinois, where he turned his attention to manufacturing, being thus active in the business affairs of that place until 1904, when he came to Galesburg and built the plant which he is now operating. He manufactures portable elevators, hardware specialties, power wash machines, vacuum cleaning plants, electric light outfits for farm houses and general labor-saving devices as well as gas engines and he also has a small piano factory. There is also a well equipped chemical laboratory connected with the establishment. The business is conducted under the name of the Wenzelmann Manufacturing Company and was incorporated in 1899, with Gustave Wenzelmann as the president, Mrs. Wenzelmann as vice president and E. H. Overholt as secretary and treasurer. Employment is furnished for many people and the company owns sixteen acres of ground adjoining the tracks of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and Santa Fe Railroads. The building covers eighty-three thousand square feet of floor space and is splendidly equipped for the different lines of manufacture there conducted. All departments of the business are well organized and, keeping in close touch with the trade, Mr. Wenzelmann understands the demands of the public and the needs of the times and so conducts his business as to meet these.
     Mr. Wenzelmann has been married twice. In the spring of 1892 he wedded Miss Florence Esther Powell, a daughter of Rev. A. B. and Mary (Haffner) Powell, of Missal, Illinois. They became the parents of four children, Rosa, Naomi, Jessie and Maxwell, all at home. The wife and mother passed away June 22, 1907, and on the 12th of August, 1908, Mr. Wenzelmann wedded Miss Marion Rees, a daughter of David and Mary Ann Rees, of Galesburg. There is one child of this marriage, Ann. Both wives of Mr. Wenzelmann were successful schoolteachers prior to their marriage. In politics he is a republican and has served as school director of the first ward but has never sought nor desired office in recognition of his party fealty. He belongs to the Galesburg Club and to Grace Episcopal church, of which he is a vestryman. While he is winning success in his business undertakings, his interests are not confined by his manufacturing activities but extend beyond to the broader and more general interests of life, he being ever recognized as a progressive citizen whose cooperation in public affairs marks him as a valued resident of Galesburg. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 231-233, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Edward Payson Williams. It is a difficult matter during the life of any one, to render a satisfactory tribute to his character, especially when the man concerned is of a disposition so retiring and unobtrusive as E. P. Williams. He was born at Russia, New York, in the year 1833, and moved to Galesburg with his parents in the year 1836.
     It seems most fitting and appropriate that he should be mentioned in this volume in the History of Knox County, of which he has been so important a factor for many years. In the absence of a personal biography, we copy by permission from the "Bench and Bar of Illinois," edited by the late John M. Palmer of Springfield, Illinois, former governor and former senator from Illinois, the following historical sketch of Mr. Williams:
     "Edward Payson Williams has resided in Galesburg for more than fifty years, and for the past twenty-five years has been the recognized leader of the Knox county bar. His modest and unassuming nature has kept him from the public gaze, but the strength, clearness and accuracy of his judgment, coupled with an unflecked purity and integrity of life, have made him known and respected and loved by all who have been either his clients or his friends.
     "His father, Sherman Williams, was one of the early abolitionists, and first settled in Missouri; but his views on the slavery question were not accepted there and he was driven from the state by the pro-slavery element, fleeing by night with his wife and young children. His mother, Sally (Bradley) Williams, was a woman of very remarkable intellectual power, an omnivorous reader, with a genius and love for guiding and instructing youthful minds.
     "Mr. Williams' early life was spent on a farm, and, excepting portions of a few years which were spent in the district school and in Knox College, he did the hard and exacting work of the farm until he had passed his twenty-fifth year. An injury which he then received disabled him from continuing in that calling, and he took up with indomitable purpose his preparation for the practice of the law. After two years of study, he was admitted to the bar of Illinois on an examination conducted in person by the late Judge Corydon Beckwith. From the very beginning of his practice, he took rank as a lawyer who knew the law and could present it clearly, who prepared his cases with thoroughness and who tried them both skillfully and honorably; who gave the same high service to the small cause and to the poor client that the largest interests could command; and it was soon known to all that he would neither take a retainer because the professional rewards were to be large if the cause did not commend itself to his judgment and conscience, nor refuse a cause that seemed to him meritorious though no reward were promised and its advocacy was unpopular.
     ''His name will be found as counsel in nearly every volume of the reports of the supreme court of Illinois from the forty-eighth to the present time. Upon important or intricate questions of law, no better briefs than his have been filed in that court. They have furnished the basis for the opinions of the supreme court in many leading cases; notably, in the celebrated county seat fight between Knoxville and Galesburg, settling the right of citizens by a bill in equity to purge poll books and election returns of the illegal votes cast, and to have the court determine the result of the legal votes at such election. Knox County versus Davis, Illinois Reports, volume 63, page 405. In Stowell versus Bair, Illinois Appellate Reports, volume 5, page 104, he filed a masterly brief on the question of the priority of lien upon growing crops between the landlord and the mortgagee. In Patterson versus McKinney, Illinois Reports, volume 97, page 41, his brief upon the proposition that conveyances to one's family made while heavily indebted and engaged in speculations can be set aside in equity as fraudulent, is preserved in the report. In Kiernan versus C, S. F. & C. Railway Company, Illinois Reports, volume 123, page 188, the court sustained his splendid set of instructions as to weight of evidence in condemnation cases.
     "During his long career at the bar he has met in professional contests nearly every prominent lawyer of the Military Tract, and has won his full share of victories. In the early days his practice was not confined to Knox county, but extended to all the counties of the circuit. In Fulton county he practiced with Hon. William C. Goudy, who afterward became a well known lawyer in Chicago, and Hon. S. P. Shope, afterward justice of the supreme court and now in af the Chicago bar, and many others. He was an early friend of John P. Wilson, Esq., and of Judge Blodgett, of Chicago. All who have met him in the courts or have in other ways come to know him, esteem him for his fidelity as a friend and his integrity as a citizen, and warmly admire the ability and conscience which have characterized every act of his professional life. But his best work and highest title to distinction does not lie in his purely professional work. His greatest influence has been wielded as a man of honor and moral bravery, and through the many men who have gained their professional ideals and inspiration while students in his office.
     "From the day he entered a law office until now, he has placed the obligations of a lawyer before his rewards and has always cared more to settle strife and protect rights by fair compromise than to encourage litigation or imperil his clients' interests in the hope of professional reward or distinction.
     "He has not drawn the line merely against dishonest claims or methods, but against causes and courses that while entirely honest might prove hardships to the party, though beneficial to the attorney. For example, a mortgage for over twenty thousand dollars was sent him with instructions to begin foreclosure proceedings. The mortgagor was in default and a foreclosure proceeding would have brought an attorney's fee of an unusual size and of which, on account of the large number of persons dependent upon him, he was in real need. Yet because the mortgagee was honest and would, in his judgment, be able to pay the larger portion of the defaulted interest within the next six months, he made the unasked recommendation of a postponement of the foreclosure proceedings. The result was that the mortgagor saved his land and the mortgagee secured his debt, and Mr. Williams received but a nominal fee. And examples of this sort might be multiplied. The golden rule controls him both as a lawyer and as a man.
     "Students from his office are found in the upper ranks of the profession from New York to Seattle, Washington, and all hold him both as a lawyer and citizen in the highest regard and affection.
     "He is a republican in politics, as was natural from his early experiences, but he has never sought public office. In the early days of his practice he was city attorney of Galesburg for one term, and master in chancery of the circuit court for a short time. His friends have long desired to place him upon the circuit bench, where his profound knowledge of the law, tempered by his fine sense of justice, would have been so valuable to litigants; but he has been unwilling to make any canvass for the place or to undergo the strife of a political campaign. He has neither the temperament nor the natural gifts of an advocate, though in cases appealing strongly to his feelings he has made some very notable and effective arguments to juries. His conspicuous preeminence, however, is as a wise counselor who always sought and rarely missed 'the right of the matter.' Though past three-score years, he is still in active practice in the full possession of his ripened powers, and has associated with him in the practice two sons—Messrs. Edwin N. and G. P. Williams—who are rendering him strong and efficient aid in conducting the litigation in which the firm is retained." The Bench and Bar of Illinois, pages 452 to 454.
     Since this biography was published, Mr. Williams has continued in the successful practice of his profession at Galesburg, Illinois, with a constantly increasing reputation. His life has been filled with deepest sorrows. His wife, for fifty years his constant and loving companion, assistant and adviser, has passed away, and two of his sons who were associated with him in the practice of law have also passed to the beyond. Perhaps no better idea can be given of the estimate in which Mr. Williams is held by the bar of Knox county, than to quote a resolution unanimously passed at a meeting of the bar association of Knox county, held for the purpose of adopting resolutions upon the life and services of the late Justice Alfred M. Craig, in January, 1912.
     "The Bar Association of Knox county assembled for the purpose of paying its respects and tribute to the memory of a distinguished member, who has passed away, are reminded of the fact that we have still with us, in active practice, the Nestor of this bar, whose seventy-ninth birthday will soon be here. While paying our tribute to the deceased, it is fitting that we remember the living who is still with us to guide and to inspire, and to extend to him our felicitations upon his approaching anniversary. Edward Payson Williams, by a long and distinguished career at the bar, has brought distinction, not only to himself, but the bar of which he is the acknowledged leader. By his unselfish public service, he has well served his day and generation. His unfailing kindness has endeared him to us all and his integrity and moral worth is an example to us. May his sorrows be tempered to him and his remaining years be filled with joy."
     We cannot close this brief sketch without mentioning one of the greatest honors that ever came to Mr. Williams, or in fact, to any other attorney of this state, and it must always stand as a most beautiful and substantial tribute to his memory and legal attainments.
     In the year 1899 the legislature of the state of Illinois passed a resolution creating a "Practice Commission" for the purpose of making a thorough examination of the Practice Act and to suggest needed reforms and commission seem to be necessary and conducive to the improvement in court procedure. Two members were to be appointed from Cook county, one by the Cook County Bar Association, one by the appellate court of the First district, and of the remaining three, one by the State Bar Association, one by the governor of the state and one by the supreme court of the state of Illinois. Mr. Williams, of all the attorneys of this state, was selected by the supreme court to act upon that commission, thus signifying the full confidence of that august body in him as being qualified in every way to represent it in all the questions that might come before the commission. His appointment bears date September 15, 1899. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 226 & 239-241, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Herbert W. Wood. Herbert W. Wood is now living retired in Galesburg but in former years was identified with general merchandising, with the grain trade and financial enterprises. The success which he achieved while still an active factor in business circles brought him a handsome competence that now relieves him from the necessity of further labor, save for the supervision which he gives to his invested interests. He was born in Westford, Vermont, April 24, 1844, a son of William S. and Phylena (Smith) Wood. The father was also a native of Westford and the mother's birth occurred in Braintree, Orange county. Vermont. William S. Wood followed merchandising in his native town and also conducted a tannery, after which he removed to Burlington, Vermont, where he filled the office of deputy sheriff. In the spring of 1859, he came to the middle west settling in Wataga, Knox county, Illinois, where he carried on general merchandising and also engaged in the grain trade for a number of years. He likewise conducted a banking and loan business at a later date and carried forward to successful completion whatever he undertook. He was ever watchful of any opportunity and in its improvement steadily advanced toward success. In 1884 he went to Elgin, Illinois, where he resided for three or four years living retired during that period. In 1888, he came to Galesburg, where he also lived retired up to the time of his death, which occurred February 3, 1897. For more than three years he had survived his wife who died in this city, September 21, 1893. In his political views William S. Wood was a republican and served in some local offices, acting as justice of the peace and as treasurer of his town. His life was upright and honorable and both he and his wife were members of the Congregational church in which he served as a trustee. They were married in Braintree, Vermont, and unto them were born four children, of whom Herbert W., is the eldest, the others are: Ella J., the widow of George F. Niles of Hartford, Connecticut; Clarence E., who was born July 1, 1850, and died April 29, 1852, and Carrie M., the widow of Albert T. Lewis of Elgin, Illinois.
     Herbert W. Wood was educated in the schools of Westford and in the Burlington high school, after which he attended Knox College in Galesburg during the year 1863-4. His education completed, he entered his father's store as a clerk and received thorough training in commercial methods as applied especially to general mercantile interests. In 1868 he became his father's successor in business and formed a partnership with his uncle, H. P. Wood, which connection continued until 1880. They carried on the same line of business and also engaged in general banking. Throughout that period they conducted a prosperous business carrying a large and well selected line of goods for which they found a ready sale. The growth of their trade brought them an excellent annual income which in time afforded Mr. Wood a competence sufficient to enable him to retire from active life. He came to Galesburg in 1888 and has since retired from further labor save for the supervision which he gives to his invested interests. He is now a stockholder in the First National Bank and has important realty holdings. He served as town clerk and in many other local offices, being corporation clerk at Wataga for a time.
     On the 21st of January, 1904, Air. Wood was united in marriage to Mrs. Emma Walton, a daughter of Joseph and Orlena A. (Kirk) Woods of Plymouth, Illinois. Her father was born near Mt. Sterling, this state, May 10, 1829, of German parentage and died June 30, 1905. He was a soldier of the Mexican war, serving for a year and one-half after which he was honorably discharged. He followed the occupation of farming, owning and cultivating a tract of land until the time of his death. He was also an ordained minister of the Baptist church and his life was ever a helpful one, his time being largely spent in efforts to uplift and benefit humanity. In his political faith he was a democrat and he served as school director, but never sought political office. His wife died July 19, 1909, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Wood, in Galesburg. There were seventeen children in their family, of whom Mrs. Wood was the seventh in order of birth. Her early education was acquired in the schools of Providence, Illinois, and later she spent three years in Eureka College. She was also an art and music pupil in Chicago, studying under Seabeck and Liebling for three years. She afterward engaged in teaching music in Macomb, Camp Point and Augusta—three towns of central Illinois.
     She is a member of the First Christian Church, Galesburg, Ill., Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Woman's Relief Corps and the Round Table Club. A lady of broad intelligence and wide reading, she is prominent in the social circles of the city and shares with her husband a popularity that has brought him many friends. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 242 & 247-248, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Charles A. White. Charles A. White, who has been engaged in the real-estate and insurance business at Galesburg since 1890, has built up an extensive clientage in these connections. His birth occurred in Greenville, Illinois, on the 26th of February, 1860, his parents being Richard and Nancy (McAdow) White, both of whom were natives of Bond county, Illinois. The paternal grandfather, Wesley White, was born in North Carolina and became an early settler of Bond county, Illinois. He was an agriculturist by occupation and lived to attain the age of about eighty-seven years. He was three times married and reared a large family of children. Judge Samuel McAdow, the maternal grandfather of our subject, served at one time as county judge of Bond county. He was a native of North Carolina, followed farming as a life work and lived to attain a ripe old age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Paisley, died when still a comparatively young woman. To them were born four daughters and two sons, namely: John, William, Emily, Elizabeth, Lucy and Nancy.
     Richard White, the father of Charles A. White, was a contractor and builder on an extensive scale. He erected the courthouse at Greenville, where his demise occurred in 1886, when he had attained the age of fifty years and five months. His first wife died when our subject was but two years of age, and for his second wife he chose Miss America Moss, by whom he had four children, as follows: Anna, who married a Mr. Kelly; Frank; Sarah; and Elsie.
     Charles A. White was reared on a farm at Elm Point, Bond county, Illinois, and obtained his early education in the country schools. Subsequently he attended the public schools at Newton, Kansas, and later pursued a course of study in a business college at Keokuk, Iowa. After putting aside his text-books he started out as an agriculturist on his own account, following farming near Greenville, Bond county, until 1882, when he removed to Newton, Kansas. In 1890 he came to Galesburg and embarked in the real-estate and insurance business, in which he has been successfully engaged to the present time, enjoying a large clientage. He has thoroughly informed himself concerning realty values and its appreciation or diminution in price and is thus enabled to assist his clients in making judicious investments and profitable sales. He owns farm lands in Morgan county, Missouri.
     On the 20th of October, 1886, Mr. White was united in marriage to Miss Keziah McCulla, a native of Cincinnati and a daughter of Thomas and Mary (Abernathy) McCulla. The father passed away at Birmingham, Missouri, when about seventy-five years of age, but the mother is still living at the age of eighty-six and makes her home in Greenville, Illinois. They were the parents of four daughters and one son, as follows: Lillian, Harriet, Addie, Keziah and Thomas A. Mr. and Mrs. White had four children, namely: Edna B., Ruby M., Frances and one who died in infancy. The family residence is at No. 752 North Cherry street.
     In politics Mr. White is a republican, while his religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Presbyterian church, to which his wife and daughters all belong. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons, belonging to Vesper Lodge, No. 584, A. F. & A. M.; also Council No. 1, at Knoxville; and Galesburg Chapter, No. 46, R. A. M. He is likewise a member of the Court of Honor and the Illinois Commercial Men's Association. He is alert and enterprising, possessing the progressive spirit of the times and accomplishing in business circles what he undertakes, while his geniality and deference for the opinions of others have made his circle of friends almost coextensive with the circle of his acquaintances. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 274-275, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


William A. Yates, an old and respected citizen of Ontario Township, is a bright and pleasing example of a successful farmer. His home is located on section 22. He is the son of John Yates, a farmer, and a native of the State of Virginia. He was of Irish descent and his marriage with Nancy Shields, who was of the same ancestry, took place in that State, and they began life in Berkly County, in which their son, William A. was born 12 March 1814. He was about eight yaers of age when his parents came to Delaware, Ohio, where they passed the remaining years of life. Mr. Yates was the oldest son of a family of eight children. He remained under the family roof up until the time of his marriage with Mary Finley, 9 November 1848. She died at her home in Ontario Township 16 June 1859. She was born on a farm in Delaware County, Ohio. Her parents were native Virginians. She was the mother of five children, as follows: Emily, deceased; John, Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret. The latter is deceased.
     Mr. Yates, on first coming to this State, remained but a few months and then returned to Ohio. Coming West the second time, he settled in Knox County, and went back to bring his wife to his new home. He purchased land in Ontario Township, consisting of 160 acres. He afterward purchased 20 acres in Sparta Township, and 16 in Henderson Township. In 1855, he purchased the farm which is his present home. He now has 160 acres of land in a high state of cultivation.
Mr. Yates married Miss Marcia Gaston for his second wife, in Delaware County, Ohio. She was born in Delaware County, Ohio, 14 June 1830, and in that section was reared and educated. Her parents lived on a farm, and her father, James Gaston, was of Scotch origin and her mother, Lois (Jones) Gaston, a native of the State of New Hampshire. They established a home in Delaware County, where they lived out their remaining years. The grandfather of Mrs. Yates, on her mother's side was Solomon Jones, a noble old warrier and an officer in the Revolutionary War.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Yates, of this notice, has been blessed with two children: Nancy C., who lives with her parents; and Electa, a most successful and popular teacher. They are both Presbyterians in belief. Mr. Yates has held many of the minor offices, and is one of the most enterprising citizens of the township. He is a solid Republican and takes a lively interest in politics and affairs of State. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 198, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top


John H. Wagner. Among the successful business men of Maquon may be found the gentlemen whose names stands at the head of this brief narration. He is the son of Jesse and Nancy (Whittacker) Wagner, who were natives of Pennsylvania and of German and Irish ancestry. They married and settled in Pennsylvania, where they lived until 1840, when they came to Fulton county, and from thence, in 1848, removed to Maquon Township, and in 1866 settled in the pretty and thriving village of Maquon, in the same state. They raised a family of eight children, as follows: William, Jacob S., Mary E., Francis J., George K., Julia A., H. and Rebecca C.
     John H. Wagner was born in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, the date of his birth being 12 June 1838. He received his education in the common schools and supplemented this by attendance at Hedding College, Abingdon. Afterward he attended Knox College for a short period, but was obliged to leave on account of ill health. He taught school in McDonough county for five months, and afterward went to Chicago and there accepted a position as traveling agent for an insurance company located at Freeport, Illinois. On returning to Chicago, he entered the commercial college of Bryant & Stratton; afterward, returning to Maquon Township, he engaged as an agriculturist, which occupation he followed for ten years. In September 1875, he bought the hardware stock of Israel Howel, of Maquon Township, and since that time has conducted the business. By fair and honest dealing with his fellow men he has established a good and constantly increasing trade. He is at the present time the owner of 210 acres of fine land in Maquon and Chestnut townships.
     He formed a matrimonial alliance at Fairview, Fulton County, Illinois, 25 December 1865, the lady of his choice being Martha A., daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Alcott) Brunton, natives of Pennsylvania. They have been blessed by seven children, by name as follows: Eliza J., William H., Martha A., John, Mary E., Rachel and Milton. Martha was born in McDonough County, 8 March 1841.
     Mr. and Mrs. W., of this notice, are the parents of four living children, namely: Reginald V., Harry, Sarah E., and Emma. They buried two children, by name Ida G. and Warren H. Ida died when seven years of age and Warren at the age of four.
     Mr. Wagner has been one of the Trustees of the village of Maquon for the period of five years. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and both himself and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he is a believer in and supporter of the principles advocated by the Democratic party. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 311, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top


Jesse Wagner. The different residents of Knox County are distinguished for various acts of usefullness and honor reflected back in the form of substantial successes and advancement. One of the most important factors in her internal machinery is the subject of this personal sketch, who has always followed the vocation of a farmer, but at the present time is passing the sunset of life retired from the active labor of farming, in the thriving little village of Maquon. He has always shown himself able and willing to forward all good and worthy enterprises calculated to aid in the upbuilding of this section of country.
     Mr. Wagner came to Knox County in the spring of 1849, from Fulton County, Illinois, purchasing a farm in Maquon Township, upon which he resided until May 1867, when the village of Maquon became his home and where he has since lived a retired life, in the meantime, having disposed of his farm. Mr. Wagner was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 3 February 1802. Upon the removal of his parents to Columbia County, Pennsylvania, our subject was quite young in years, but remaining in that county, he engaged in the manufacture of woolen goods for about 16 years. In the spring of 1840 he left the Keystone State and came to Canton, Illinois, where he remained two years, until his removal to the north part of Fulton County, whence he moved to Knox County in 1849.
     Jesse Wagner took to wife Nancy Whittaker, 28 September 1839, the nuptials being celebrated in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. The date of birth of Miss Whittaker was 8 July 1803, she being born in Columbia County. Our subject and wife have been blessed by the birth of eight children, who were named as follows: William, Jacob, Mary, Frances, George, John H., Harriet and Catherine.
     Our subject and wife are devout and working members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, having been members of that denomination for many years. The parents of Mr. Wagner were by name Jacob and Elizabeth (Minier) Wagner, of German ancestry. William and Francis (Hazelton) Whittaker are the names of the parents of Mrs. Wagner. They were residents of Columbia County, Pennsylvania, where they both passed away. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 312, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top
 


Barney Wagoner. Throughout his district Mr. Wagoner is regarded as a representative farmer of the old school. He resides on section 20, Galesburg township, where his land is to be found in an advanced state of cultivation. He was born in Madison County, New York, in 1830, and came to Illinois in 1856, locating first at Peoria. For some time he worked on the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad as an engineer, an occupation which he subsequently followed for 25 years on the C. B. & Q. R. R. While serving in this responsible capacity, he was considered a very careful hand, and never met with any serious accident while on the road. His parents were Henry and Mary (Lane) Wagoner, natives of Pennsylvania. The mother was born in 1800 and the father either in 1798 or 1799. He died about the year 1835, in the State of New York; his wife's decease took place in Peruville, Tompkins county, New York. By the marriage there were ten children - Nancy and Catherine, living; Myra, Elizabeth and Effaline, who died of cholera in 1832; Hiram, Barney, Jane, Caroline, and Joseph, living.
     28 January 1862, the gentleman whose name heads this biography married Miss Elizabeth Bruington, the daughter of Benjamin and Harriet (Scott) Bruington, both natives of Kentucky. Benjamin Bruington was born in 1811, while his wife's birth took place in 1818. They first came to Illinois in 1833 and located on section 19, now Galesburg Township. He was the father of five children, and still resides in the township. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Bruington are George, Thomas, Mary, deceased 13 July 1886; Elizabeth and Melissa. Mrs. Bruington's decease took place in 1881, and she lies buried in Williams cemetery. Melissa, her daughter, is also dead, her demise taking place in 1879. By Mr. Wagoner's marriage, there were seven children, all of whom are living - Hattie, born 27 October 1862; George F., 19 January 1864; Marion, 21 May 1868; Henry H., 13 February 1870; Barney Elwood, 10 September 1874; Eugene C., 26 September 1878, and Edward Benjamin, 11 December 1883.
Mr. Wagoner has 100 acres of prime land, which is in a thorough state of cultivation. His residence is one of the best buildings of his vicinity, being comfortably planned and well furnished. He is a prominent member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, a body to which he has belonged since 1865. In politics he is a thorough Republican and constantly watchful of all movements connected with and dear to Republican principles. Mr. and Mrs. Wagoner have two interesting grandchildren, the son and daughter of Willard and Hattie (Wagoner) Ellis - Charles A. born 25 January 1884 and Maude I. born 1 March 1886. This family is widely known and universally respected in their township and surrounding vicinity. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 960, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top


S. A. Wagoner. Persistence of purpose and unfaltering energy have been strong forces in winning success for S. A. Wagoner and thorough training in his especial line has also constituted a feature in the establishment of his present prosperous business which is conducted under the name of the Wagoner Printing Company at Galesburg. The business was established in 1897, and since that time Mr. Wagoner has been active in its control and management. He is one of Wisconsin's native sons, his birth having occurred near Viroqua, March 25, 1863, his parents being Alexander and Hannah (Bahr) Wagoner, The father was born near Watertown, Jefferson county, New York, and when a young man came to Wisconsin. He was a farmer by occupation and at one time engaged in the conduct of a meat market in Laporte City, Iowa. He afterwards spent six years as a minister in connection with the Evangelical Association and then returning to commercial life became manager for a lumber company in Duluth, Minnesota, and now resides at Tower, Minnesota.
     It was in 1861 that he married Hannah Bahr, who was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and they became parents of two children, Simon Alvey and William E., both residents of Galesburg. The father is a republican in his political views and in his fraternal relations is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Simon A. Wagoner was educated in the public schools in his native state and also in the high school at Red Oak, Iowa. He was only fourteen years of age when he began learning the printing business at Anita, Iowa, where he remained for two years. He then returned to Laporte City, Iowa, where he followed his trade for nine years, and during his residence in that place established the Laporte City Review in connection with a partner with whom he remained for nine years. While there he made the acquaintance of A. D. Thurston, night telegraph operator, and they formed a partnership for the publication of the monthly paper called the Railroad Telegrapher. These two men called a meeting of the telegraph operators of the United States at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in July, 1886, and one hundred delegates from a number of different states assembled in convention there and established the Order of Railroad Telegraphers, Mr. Thurston becoming the first grand chief telegrapher of the order. Mr. Wagoner remained the editor and manager of the paper which was printed at Laporte City, Iowa, until 1888, when he removed to Vinton, Iowa, where he remained for three years and in November, 1891, he came to Galesburg as superintendent of the printing plant of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, of which he was in charge until it was removed from Galesburg five years later. At the same time he conducted a small fruit farm near the city, and in 1897 he established his present business in which he was joined by W. E. Wagoner and G. H. Mehler. They began business in a small way on the third floor of the Bank of Galesburg building on Main street where they continued until 1901 when they consolidated their interests with the job-printing department of the Evening Mail, called the Mail Printing Company. The business was incorporated for thirteen thousand dollars with S. A. Wagoner, as president, F. H. Sisson, vice president, E. S. Tobey, secretary and C. H. May, treasurer. They removed to the Mail building on Cherry street, and there continued until 1909 when the business was reincorporated under the style of the Wagoner Printing Company and capitalized for twenty thousand dollars, with S. A. Wagoner as president and manager, H. W. Lass, vice president and E. S. Tobey secretary and treasurer. They employ thirty-five people and conduct a general printing business, a complete system of direct-connected individual motors to all machines forming a part of the equipment of the plant. The business has steadily grown until it amounts to seventy-five thousand dollars annually, two thirds of which comes from outside the city. They make a specialty of college and fraternity printing and keep in touch with the most modern and advanced styles of the printing art.
     On the 25th of November, 1885, Mr. Wagoner was married to Miss Emma R. Fischer, a daughter of Henry Erhardt and Catherine (Freiberger) Fischer, of Laporte City, Iowa. Her parents were natives of Darmstadt, Germany, and came to the United States in the '50s, settling in Ondaga county, New York, where the father followed the occupation of farming and also as a representative of the ministry of the Evangelical Association engaged in preaching in Utica and in Troy, New York. He died in Manlius, New York, in 1868, after which his widow came to the west, settling in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while later she became a resident of Laporte City, Iowa, where she married the Rev. George Eckhard. He died November 28, 1910. Mrs. Eckhard still survives and now makes her home in Cedar Falls. Her daughter, Mrs. Wagoner, was born in Utica, Ondaga county, New York, March 28, 1865, and by her marriage has become the mother of two daughters but the younger, Helen R., who was born in Galesburg, died when but eighteen months old. The elder daughter, Nora M., was born in Laporte City, Iowa.
     Both Mr. and Mrs. Wagoner are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the work of which they take active and helpful part. Mr. Wagoner is now serving on the board of stewards, is secretary of the building committee, is one of the trustees of the church and is teacher of the men's bible class in the Sunday school. He is greatly interested in Sunday-school work and is serving on the executive committee and finance committee of the Knox County Sunday School Association. He is also an exemplary member of Vesper Lodge, No. 584, F. & A. M.; Camp No. 667, M. W. A. He is also a member of the Galesburg Club and is president of the Retail Merchants' Association. He has made an excellent record in business, wisely used his time and opportunities, and as the years go by, has steadily progressed, winning success along the legitimate business lines. He has ever recognized the fact that satisfied customers are the best advertisement, and the excellent work which he has done has been the chief factor in his enviable and well merited success.  (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 306-308, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


Harmon Way. We should not fail to mention among the more important, progressive and practical farmers identified with Knox County the name of the gentleman of whom this biography is written. His home is situated on section 22 of Chestnut township, and he is by occupation an agriculturist, and in connection with this branch of business carried on the breeding and raising of stock.
     Our subject was born in Portage County, Ohio, February 19, 1815, and came to Illinois in the fall of 1841, locating in Knox County where he now lives. Mr. Way's father was born in the State of Connecticut and came to Ohio at an early day. He was by name David and united in marriage with Rebecca Baldwin, and they both died in Ohio, at a date not exactly known.
     Mr. Harmon Way of this notice entered the matrimonial estate with Miss Elizabeth Wilson, January 1, 1837, in the state of Ohio. She was born in Stark County, in that State, March 15, 1821, and her parents were Charles W. and Betsy (Shelton) Wilson, the former of whom was born in England and the latter in Maryland. Both of these are now deceased, but left eight children.
     Mr. and Mrs. Way have a family of nine children, eight of whom still survive, as follows: David born January 27, 1838; Baldwin, January 14, 1840; Samuel, Mary 24, 1841; Andrew J., June 12, 1843; Jacob, December 14, 1845; Lewis, June 22, 1849; Harmon Jr., July 22, 1852; Hiram, August 30, 1855; and Sonora, January 22, 1859. Samuel, Jackson, Jacob and Baldwin were in the late Rebellion, fighting for the Union army and doing a good and noble service for their county. Baldwin died in the full flush of his early manhood, in 1865, at Dalton, Georgia, while in the service. The other three were protected from the perils of war and at the end of their military labors were discharged with honor from the army, living to meet their father and mother at home, after peace was declared. All of these children are married and prosperous. Mr. Way is one of the pioneers of this section, who has grown wealthy and influential in pursuing his own chosen path of duty. He is the possessor of 200 acres of fine land, and devotes his time to that and the other above-named interests. When he first came into the State he spent part of his time in hunting, as he is naturally a sportsman, and game was plentiful in the early days. Deer, wolves, wild fowl and foxes fairly flocked about him, and he considers he should exaggerate in no way if he claimed to have killed 5000 deer in this county. He has also slain many wolves. Gradually he has watched the growth of the county and may pardonably consider himself one of the oldest and strongest pillars. Both himself and wife are Universalists in theological belief and Mr. Way is a stanch Republican, the political sentiments of which party he upholds and defends and with which he votes. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 863, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top


William Henry Willcox. William Henry Willcox is a retired farmer now living at No. 940 North Prairie street in Galesburg. He was born in Moriah, Essex county, New York, January 9, 1836, his parents being Henry and Mary K. (Meacham) Willcox, the former a native of Bridport, Vermont, and the latter of Poultney, Vermont. The Willcox family comes of Saxon origin and was seated at Bury St. Edmunds, in the county of Suffolk, England, before the Norman conquest. James Willcox, the grandfather of our subject, was born at Bridport, Vermont, and was a son of Giles Willcox, of Killingsworth, Connecticut. He joined a band of immigrants from Connecticut towns for the "New Hampshire grants"
and bought a tract of land on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain, in Bridport township. On the memorable morning of May 10, 1775, he acted as one of the guides to Colonel Ethan Allen, who was bent upon the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. He served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war, participating in the movements of the Green Mountain boys in that district. The maternal grandfather of William H. Willcox was William Meacham, who was born at North Adams, Massachusetts, September 20, 1771. He married Keziah Howe, whose birth occurred at Poultney, Vermont, May 25, 1775. They were married August 14, 1796, and both passed away in the state of New York when well advanced in years. Their children were William H., Laura M., Martha J., Jemimah C.. Mary K. and Lorain E.
    Henry Willcox, father of W. H. Willcox, was reared upon a farm and in Moriah, New York, wedded Mary K. Meacham. He afterward worked in a woolen mill on Lake Champlain until he decided to come to the west and with his wife and family made his way to Knox county in October, 1836. He then located on the present site of Galesburg, just north of what is now Henderson street, owning a ten-acre lot there and purchasing a farm of eighty acres just west of the town. He afterward removed to his farm and improved it, also extending its boundaries until it comprised one hundred and twenty-seven acres. Upon that place he reared his family, but in 1866 again took up his abode in Galesburg, where he died in 1872 at the age of seventy-five years. His wife, who was born in 1803, lacked but ten days of being eighty-five years of age when she passed away in 1888. They were both charter members of the Congregational church, in which Mr. Willcox served as an elder. In their family were two sons and two daughters: Erastus, who acts as librarian in Peoria; Mary Helen, who gave her hand in marriage to William T. Bartle and passed away when about twenty years of age: William H., of this review; and Clarissa Adeline, the deceased wife of Edwin R. Willcox, a cousin.
    William Henry Willcox was reared upon a farm adjoining Galesburg and is one of three of the original colony who are still living in this city, the others being Mrs. Charles Hinckley and Mrs. Henry Sanderson, whose husband was the first mayor of Galesburg. Mr. Willcox spent his youth in the usual manner of farm lads and attended the first school in Galesburg. its site being on what is now the public square. He was afterward a student in Knox Academy and when he had completed his education he purchased his father's farm of one hundred and twenty acres, to which he added seven acres. There he continued to engage in general farming until the spring of 1879, when he removed to Trego county, Kansas, where he operated a ranch for eleven and a half years. At that time he returned to Illinois and engaged in farming in the northwestern part of Peoria county for another eleven years. He next removed to Wyoming, Stark county, where he lived for six years and in 1907 he returned to Galesburg, where he has since made his home, now enjoying a well earned rest, made possible through the success which he won while he followed farming.
    On the 3d of October, 1866, Mr. Willcox was married to Miss Eliza P. Kellogg, who was born August 3, 1838, and died March 6, 1905. She was originally a member of the Presbyterian church but afterward joined the Congregational church of Galesburg with her husband. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Willcox were born five children. Elizabeth, the eldest, is the wife of Dr. Alvin F. Sherrill, of Atlanta, Georgia, who is dean of the theological seminary there. Edward K., who is a farmer of Wyoming, Stark county, Illinois, married Ella Jane Austin and they have four children: Dorothy A., Lawrence A., Marion
E. and Charles F. John H., who follows farming near Billings, Montana, married Hattie Jaques and has three children: Marjorie L, William J. and Lois E. Caroline is the fourth member of the family. Maurice M., who is the youngest, is a graduate of the state university and now follows the profession of civil engineering in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He married Eve I. Dills and they have three sons: Henry K., Philip M. and John T.
    In his political views William H. Willcox has always been a republican, having attained his majority soon after the party was organized. He is entitled to wear the Grand Army button, for on the 5th of August, 1862, he enlisted as a member of Company A, Seventy-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered in as duty sergeant and was mustered out July 10, 1865, as second lieutenant. Among the battles in which he participated were those that occurred in the vicinity of Vicksburg leading to the capture of that city. Mr. Willcox was made a prisoner of war at Sabine Crossroads, April 18, 1864, and was sent to Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas, where he was held until the close of hostilities. After the war he followed farming successfully for a number of years but eventually retired to enjoy a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves. He has ever commanded the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens and has a very wide and favorable acquaintance in Knox county. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 406-407, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top

 


Colonel Horace H. Willsie was born in Lower Canada, January 27, 1827, and was the second son of John and Sabra (Hudson) Willsie, who reared a family of five boys and four girls. The senior Mr. Willsie removed from Canada to the State of Minnesota, in 1856, and died there in 1879, in his 80th year. His widow yet survives him. She resides in Fillmore County, Minnesota and is in the 81st year of her age.
     The subject of our sketch spent the first 14 years of his life upon his father's farm. He was then apprenticed to the tanning and carrying trade at Moore's Junction, New York, which he followed until about 25 years of age. In 1853 he left Canada and came into the States to make his home, railroading while in Missouri, spent a year in Iowa, and reached Galesburg in the fall of 1854. Here he clerked awhile in a dry goods establishment, was appointed Deputy Sheriff in the fall of 1855, and held the position for two years. The following year he engaged in the livery business, which he abandoned to again accept the position of Deputy Sheriff, a position he was filing when the war broke out.
     In July, 1862, he entered the service of the United States as Captain of Company D, 102nd Volunteer Infantry, and served about one year with the rank of major, then resigning on account of poor health. The following spring (1864) he recruited a company for the 148th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and was tendered the Colonelcy of that regiment, with which rank he left the service in the following September. While with the 102nd he was in Kentucky and Tennessee; with the 139th in Kentucky and Missouri; and with the 148th in Tennessee and Alabama. During the entire service his only injury, aside from disease, was accidental. At Tullahoma, Alabama, his skull was fractured by the fall of his horse.
At four different times during the war Colonel Willsie is credited with having, by his own personal influence, filled Galesburg's quota to the army. Altogether he has been six years Marshall of the city, which, aside from his Deputy Sheriffship, constitutes the sum of his civil war offices. Colonel Willsie has worked his way through life, and his successes are attributable only to the efforts of himself. In 1876 he engaged in his present business, that of a livery and sale stable, and his establishment is one of the best in the city.
     June 5, 1855, he was married in Galesburg to Betsey A. Nichols, a native of Earlville, New York, who has borne to him five children, viz: Wilber F., United States Mail Service; Horace M., storekeeper's department C. B. & Q. R. R.; Alfred N., clerk in Master Mechanic's office C. B. & Q. R. R.; John, machinist; and one daughter, Daisy A. resides at home. In politics he has always been identified with the Republican party. Colonel Willsie is a genial, whole-souled, affable gentleman, and has won hosts of friends. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 790, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top

 


John Wilson, a farmer, residing on section 27, Galesburg township, was born in Persifer Township on 23 September 1841. He is the son of Francis and Elizabeth (McPherrin) Wilson. (See sketch of Francis Wilson.) Mr. Wilson was born 1 March 1809 in Pennsylvania. She was born 15 December 1819 and died 15 August 1882; the former is still living. She moved to Illinois in 1835 and married Mr. Wilson on 26 November 1840, in Knoxville, this county. They had five children, as follows: John, James A., Francis M., Drucilla J. and Mary E.; the two girls being deceased.
     Mr. John Wilson married Miss Annie Carr on 5 September 1865. She was born in Vinton County, Ohio on 21 December 1843, and came to Illinois in 1864. They have two children living - William C., born 27 July 1866 and Katie M. born 6 June 1875. Mrs. Wilson is the daughter of Cornelius and Catherine (Lotts) Carr. He was a native of Connecticut, where he was born in 1801, inheriting the rugged virtues of that land of steady habits, and died in Ohio, 5 September 1877. His wife was born 4 July 1804 and is still living in the latter state. They had six children - Marshall P., Caroline Carr, Sylvester, John K., Annie and Harriet S. Annie the youngest of the family, married Mr. John Wilson, the subject of this sketch. Mr. Wilson is really one of the pioneers of this county, having been born, as above stated, within its limits, and has witnessed its growth from the wilds of the prairie to one of the most populous and thrifty counties of the State. He has 280 acres of fine land in this section, all under a high state of cultivation. He has a fine dwelling-house, two stories high and built at a cost of $4,000. It is elegantly finished in all its departments and has a fine basement under the entire building. Mr. Wilson bought this farm in 1871 and has since begun the breeding of Polled-Angus cattle, thus keeping pace with the enterprise and improvement of the day. He has on his farm 2,400 rods of tile draining, of from four to eight inch tile; he has also three miles of good hedge fence and a beautiful maple grove around his dwelling.
     Mr. Wilson is a Democrat like his father before him, and practices the principles of toleration peculiar to the Declaration of Independence as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson. He is an enterprising, public spirited citizen, a good neighbor and a successful business man, and keeps up with the improvements of his time. (Portrait & Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois, pub. in 1886, page 790, submitted by Pat Thomas)

Back to Top


John R. Young. One of the representative agriculturists of Knox county is John R. Young, whose enterprise and progress is manifested through the attractive appearance of his highly cultivated and improved farm, located on section 32 of Persifer township. Foresight and sagacity have always characterized Mr. Young, who has so intelligently directed his activities as to become one of the extensive landowners of the county, his holdings now aggregating six hundred acres.
    His birth occurred on the old family homestead on section 31, Persifer township, on the 23d of May, 1852, his parents being Robert and Mary F. (Johnston) Young. Robert Young was a native of Warren county, Ohio, and there he was also reared and educated, receiving his agricultural training on his father's farm. In his early manhood he left his native state and came to Illinois, engaging in farming in this county during the remainder of his active life.
    He subsequently settled in Persifer township, acquiring the title to three hundred and twenty acres of land on section 31, that upon his death was equally divided among his children. He was an extensive stockman and met with lucrative returns from both this and his agricultural pursuits, becoming one of the substantial citizens of the community. He was one of the prominent settlers of the pioneer period, his efforts having contributed much toward promoting the development of this section of the county. Although he withdrew from the active work of the fields during his later days, he continued to make his home on the farm and there passed away at the venerable age of eighty-one years. He was buried in the cemetery at Knoxville, as was also the mother, who was seventy-five when she died. She was a native of New Jersey and a daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Johnston, who came to Illinois during the pioneer period settling in Knoxville, where they both passed away. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Young, four of whom are residents of this county, as follows: Edward J., who lives in Galesburg; Hannah E., the wife of E. M. Collins, of Knoxville; John R., our subject; and Robert L., who is a resident of Knox township. In matters of faith the parents were Methodists and politically the father was a republican, but never held any office save that of school director, the duties of which he discharged efficiently for several years.
    Persifer township has always been the home of John R. Young, who completed his education at Heckling College. He subsequently returned to the farm and has ever since diligently applied himself to agricultural pursuits. In the direction of his activities he has used as much discretion and has as carefully adhered to a definite system of operations as he would have followed in any industrial pursuit, and to this fact unquestionably can be attributed much of his success. Mr. Young is a practical man, at the same time he is progressive in his ideas, and is always ready and willing to adopt a new method if it appeals to him as being practicable. In the cultivation of his fields he has closely followed the most highly approved methods of the modern agriculturists, and his efforts have been well rewarded by abundant harvests. He has six hundred acres of land, four hundred and ninety-one of which is embraced in his homestead and is tilled under his personal supervision. His farm is fully equipped with all modern appliances and conveniences that will reduce the labor or expedite the work, while his large commodious barns and outbuildings provide ample shelter for all the stock and farming machinery and implements. He has thoroughly tiled his land wherever necessary, having eight miles of tiling on one quarter section, and the soil is carefully watched and studied being supplied with such fertilizer as is deemed essential to promote its productivity. One hundred and ten acres of his land, located on section 13, of Knox township, is used exclusively for pasturage. Here he also has a sawmill that was called into requisition when he was clearing the timber away preparatory to placing the land under cultivation. During the long period of his ownership Mr. Young has erected some very fine buildings on his farm, which are kept in good repair. From time to time he has also installed various modern conveniences and improvements, consistent with the spirit of progress he has at all times manifested in his undertakings. His fields are well fenced and under high cultivation, the grounds about his residence are neat and attractive in appearance and everything about the place evidences the close supervision and careful regard for details that are indicative of capable and efficient management.
    Mr. Young has been married twice. His first union was with Miss Samantha Lotts, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Lotts, and they became the parents of four children: Earl L., who married Pearl Adams, and is now living at home; John R., Jr., who married Alarie Wolf, a daughter of John Wolf, of Haw Creek, residing on one of his father's farms; Merrill, who married Marie McClure; and Trella, the wife of Robert J. Tarpy, who is living on section 32, Persifer township. The mother of these children passed away at the age of thirty-seven years and was laid to rest in the cemetery at Knoxville. In 1891, Mr. Young married Miss Mary England, a daughter of George and Susan England, and they have two children, Leon D. and Margie, both of whom are still at home.
    In matters of faith Mr. Young has no strongly pronounced views and has never identified himself with any organization. He is in hearty sympathy with all church and Christian work, however, and liberally contributes toward the maintenance of the various denominations and has generously assisted in erecting a number of edifices for religious purposes in this vicinity. His fraternal relations are confined to his membership in the Modern Woodmen of America, his affiliation being with the camp at Gilson. Politically he is a stanch advocate of the principles of the republican party and casts his ballot in support of their candidates. He has assumed his share of the governmental responsibilities in the township and has efficiently served in various capacities. For twenty years in succession he discharged the duties of supervisor, while for three he served as road commissioner and as assessor for one, and he was likewise school director for a time. He is interested in various local enterprises, and is now president of the Knox County Farmers' Mutual Fire & Lightning Insurance Company, having been identified with this office for six years, while for twelve he was a director. He also owns stock in the Gilson Farmers' Telephone Company and is one of the directors of the Farmers' & Mechanics' Bank at Galesburg. Mr. Young is one of the estimable citizens of his community, where he has passed his entire life and numbers among his many friends the comrades of his boyhood, whose regard is a high tribute to his character, as it covers a period of more than fifty years of close acquaintanceship. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 402-406, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


William S. Williamson, M. D. Dr. William S. Williamson, a well known and successful representative of the medical profession in Knox county, has continuously practiced at Galesburg for more than two decades. His birth occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 21st of August, 1848, his parents being Hiram and Lydia (Pierce) Williamson. The father was born in Virginia, on the 12th of May, 1800, while the mother's birth occurred in Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, on the 4th of May, 1810. The paternal grandparents of our subject, Hiram and Martha (McClellan) Williamson, were planters of Virginia and were representatives of old families of that state. Hiram Williamson, Jr., the father of Dr. Williamson, was engaged in business as a lumber contractor and also owned large timber tracts in western Pennsylvania. In 1856 he came west and took up his abode in Henry county, Illinois, there devoting his attention to general agricultural pursuits with excellent success. The last few years of his life were spent in honorable retirement at Orion, Henry county, Illinois, where his demise occurred on the 18th of July, 1884. He gave his political allegiance to the republican party and while living in the east served as justice of the peace and also as a member of the school board. In early manhood he was a member of the Society of Friends but after locating in the west affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal church, acting therein as class leader and also as a member of the board of stewards. It was on the 4th of May, 1828, in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, that he had wedded Miss Lydia Pierce, who passed away in May, 1900. Unto them were born ten children, as follows: Jacob, who was killed in the battle of Vicksburg while a member of the Union army, serving in Company D, Thirteenth Illinois Infantry; Eliza Jane, who is also deceased; Hiram F., living at Central City, Nebraska; Sarah and Joseph, both of whom have passed away; Lydia, the wife of Smith F. Purely, of Abingdon, Illinois; James, deceased; William S., of this review; F. Nettie, who gave her hand in marriage to Samuel McGee and resides in Aurora, Nebraska; and Sevena C., the wife of Aaron Elder, residing in Indiana county, Pennsylvania.
    William S. Williamson obtained his early education in the public schools of Henry county, Illinois, later attended Prairie Home Academy and subsequently continued his studies in Grinnell College of Iowa. He next read medicine under the direction of Dr. John N. McKelvey, of Orion, Illinois, and afterward entered the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated with the class of 1875. Locating for the practice of medicine at Rio. Knox county, Illinois, he there remained for eight years and then removed to Aurora, Nebraska, where he followed his profession for six years. On the expiration of that period he entered the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, completing the full course in 1889. In that year he opened an office at Galesburg, Illinois, and this city has since remained the scene of his professional labors, his success in the administration of remedial agencies and the restoration of health insuring him a constantly growing and highly remunerative patronage. There is also a military chapter in the life history of Dr. Williamson, for at the time of the Civil war he enlisted as a member of Company B, Sixty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, remaining with that command as a private for three years.
    On the 20th of April, 1875, Dr. Williamson was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Burns Cook, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 4th of August, 1860, her parents being Alexander and Mary (Burns) Cook, of Mercer county,
Illinois. The father was a native of the Isle of Arran, off the coast of Scotland, while the mother was born in the Scotch highlands. They were married in Glasgow, Scotland, and emigrated to the United States in 1862, locating in Lynn, Henry county, Illinois, where Alexander Cook followed farming. His last days were spent in honorable retirement at Swedona, Illinois, where both he and his wife passed away. In politics he was a republican, while his religious faith was that of the Presbyterian church, in which he served as a deacon, elder and trustee. Unto Dr. and Mrs. Williamson were born four children, namely: Winfield Howard, who is a resident of Desmet, Idaho; Jean Burns, the wife of Dr. John C. Murchison; Nellie, deceased; and Bessie, who is at home.
    At the polls Dr. Williamson supports the men and measures of the republican party, believing firmly in its principles. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen and the Red Men. Both he and his wife belong to the Central Congregational church and take an active and helpful part in its work. Genial in disposition, unobtrusive and unassuming, he is patient tinder adverse criticism and in his expressions concerning brother
practitioners is friendly and indulgent. (History of Knox County, Vol. II, by A. J. Perry, pages 413-415, submitted by J. Crandell)

Back To Top


 Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions would be deeply appreciated!

Knox County Home Page

Copyright © Janine Crandell & all contributors
All rights reserved
Updated October 3, 2006