Illustrated Atlas Map of Menard County, Illinois 1874|
Published by W.R. Brink & Co., of Illinois
Prominent among the younger men of Menard County is Mr. Fred Wilkinson, the Sheriff of the County. He is a native of Menard County, but, like a large proportion of her citizens, his immediate ancestors were of foreign birth. He comes from Welsh descent, his father having been a native of Wales, a country whose immigrants to America have always proved a thrifty and valued class in the community.
His father was John Wilkinson, born at Castle Head, in Wales. His life was not, however, spent in his native country. He was brought up at Cheshire, England, and lived there till about the year 1837, when, attracted by the wide field of enterprise opened up in the New World, and its promise of homes for all, he emigrated for America. He at once pushed his way to Illinois, of the fertility of whose prairies he had heard, and, arriving here, located at Sugar Grove, in Menard County. The year succeeding his arrival was signalized by his marriage, the bride being Miss Sarah Goble. Having secured land, he engaged in farming, and his attention was also directed to raising and dealing in livestock. Success attended him in all his business enterprises, and he formed a valued member of the community. In 1859 he built the hotel at Greenview, and otherwise contributed to local improvements in the neighborhood.
At the time of his arrival in this country the Whig party was near the height of its prosperity, and John Wilkinson became identified with it. He remained a Whig until the disruption of that party. In the Presidential election of 1860 he gave his vote for Stephen A. Douglas, and subsequently till his death was a firm adherent of the Democratic party. He had eleven children, of whom seven are now living, four boys and three girls. He was a man of liberal views, of habits of industry, of sound and extensive information, with intelligent opinions concerning the questions of the day. He ended his useful life in 1871.
Fred Wilkinson was the second child of his father, and was born August 17, 1840. He is a native of Menard County, being born and raised on his father s farm at Sugar Grove. His early education was such as could be obtained from the schools of the neighborhood in which he resided, and he soon became proficient in the branches commonly taught. His father was also his teacher for a considerable period of time, and under his care he made rapid advancement. As was common in those days, some months of the year were spent as work on the farm, and the winter months mainly devoted to schooling.
His youth and early manhood passed away unmarked by any remarkable incidents until he was twenty-seven years of age, when his marriage occurred November 19, 1869, to Miss Mary E. Wade, of Menard County. Her parents F. A. and Louisa M. Wade, were formerly residents of Bath County, Kentucky, and came from there to Illinois. Soon after he was married he began farming for himself, an occupation in which, for the most part, he has ever since been engaged and one which his tastes have always led him to prefer.
He imbibed his political principles from his father, who, by the time Fred had arrived at years sufficient for him to form intelligent convictions concerning the political issues of the times, had become a member of the Democratic party. From his boyhood he has been an earnest advocate of Democratic principles and measures. His first vote was cast for the nominees of the Democratic party, and he has never voted any other ticket. His zeal and enthusiasm have materially contributed to the success and propriety of the party in Menard County. In 1869, his name was prominently brought forward by his friends at the County Democratic Convention, as a candidate for Assessor. He was unsuccessful in obtaining the nomination, but in the Convention of the following year he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Sheriff and was elected by a large majority. He filled the office with great satisfaction to the people of the County, and at the conclusion of his term was again was again nominated and elected.
During his term of service he made a popular officer, and proved alike his integrity and qualifications for the position. He is well and favorably known throughout the County, and has the confidence and esteem of the community.