1906 Historical Encyclopedia Of Illinois & History
of Morgan County IL
& HISTORY OF MORGAN COUNTY
Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.
WATSON, Isaac, a prosperous and substantial farmer, who follows his occupation in the vicinity of Woodson, Morgan County, Ill., was born March 19, 1847, at Seaton, near Olnsey, England, the son of John and Sarah (Hardy) Watson, also natives of that place. John Watson passed his life as a laborer in his native country. Isaac Watson, while yet a child, moved with his parents to Clayton, near Scarborough, England, where during his more mature years, he worked on a farm until May 6, 1869, when he came to the United States. He located near Jacksonville, Ill., and worked there as a farm hand until 1871 when he rented a farm and operated it himself. Six years later he bought a farm and now owns 200 acres of most valuable and finely improved land, situated in the southeast quarter of Section 15, and 40 acres in the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 14, all in Township 14, Range 10, west of the Third P.M., Morgan County. Mr. Watson claims the distinction of killing the last wolf seen in the county. He is known throughout Central Illinois, at all "burgoos" and picnics, as an expert "burgoo" soup maker.
On October 27, 1872, Mr. Watson was united in marriage with Sarah Jane Ranson, a daughter of James and Sarah (Richardson) Ranson, of direct English descent. Her father was an early and prominent settler in Morgan County and a farmer by occupation. This union resulted in five children, namely: Nellie G., wife of C. E. Reynolds; Leonard R., who married Edith Meggison; Charles W.; Anne M.; and Sarah Elizabeth.
In politics, Mr. Watson is a Republican. He is one of the most careful,
systematic and successful farmers in Morgan County, and bears the reputation
of a worthy and useful citizen.
WEIR, Miller, a prominent citizen of Jacksonville, and a National Bank Examiner, makes his home in the handsome residence at No. 623 West State Street. He was born in Kentucky, July 2, 1859, a son of Edward Rumsey and Harriet R. (Miller) Weir, both natives of that State. Edward Rumsey Weir's great-uncle, James Rumsey, was the inventor of the steamboat (see Sparks' "Life of Washington") and had demonstrated its effectiveness on the Potomac River, in the presence of George Washington, prior to the advent of Fulton. The father of Miller Weir was a lawyer, merchant, planter and politician - a very active and sagacious business man - and at one and the same time a slave owner and an Abolitionist. He was one of the three War Commissioners for Kentucky appointed by Abraham Lincoln on the breaking out of the Civil War. His home was at Greenville, Ky., and after the reverses of war, being left a comparatively poor man, accepted the appointment as Postmaster of Greenville. He was a candidate for Elector-at-Large on the Republican ticket in 1864, and was a confidential advisor to Mr. Lincoln for Kentucky. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, his forefathers having settled in South Carolina in early colonial days where they became active members of the Revolutionary party. Nearly all the male members of the Weir family were soldiers in the Revolution, four great-grandfathers of the subject of this sketch, besides at least ten of his great-grand-uncles, having participated in that conflict. Edward Rumsey Weir died in Kentucky in 1890, and his widow, an elderly woman of great refinement, now resides with Miller Weir, in Jacksonville, Ill. James Weir, the paternal grandfather, when a young man migrated from South Carolina to Greenville, Ky., and was a surveyor by profession. Later he was a banker and merchant, and became very wealthy, owning no less than twenty-five stores in different parts of the country.
Miller Weir, the subject of this sketch, received his education in the High School at Leavenworth, Kans., living at the time with relatives there, and in the Greenville (Ky.) College, but the most valuable portion of his education has been gathered in the school of experience. His commercial career began at Jacksonville as a clerk, and for six years he was a boot and shoe merchant in that city. He was in the Revenue service in 1881, serving in the mountains of Kentucky, and, during the Harrison administration, was Special Agent of the Eleventh Census in the Interior Department, at Washington, being also for a time prominent in the hardwood lumber business in Arkansas. He was then appointed Special Officer in the Internal Revenue Service for Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota; Field Deputy United States Marshal for the Quincy (Ill.) District; Assistant National Bank Examiner in New York City; and National Bank Examiner for the District of Arizona, New Mexico and Northwestern Texas, for the Southern District of Illinois. Since coming to Jacksonville in 1877, Mr. Weir has continually made this city his home.
Mr. Weir is a member of the Congregational Church, at Jacksonville,
and in politics is a Republican. He was married January 2, 1882, to Fannie
C. Bancroft, daughter of Horace Bancroft, formerly a prominent citizen
and business man of Jacksonville, and they have one daughter, Fanita C.
WEMPLE, Edward, partner in the well known banking firm of Wemple Brothers, Waverly, Ill., was born three miles southeast of that place, April 12, 1847, the son of Jacob Anthony and Delia (Visscher) Wemple. His parents were of Dutch descent, representing one of the old substantial families of the Mohawk Valley. In 1884 the family located upon the farm where Edward was born, the father accumulating a large estate prior to his death in October 1887, his wife, the mother of Edward, passing away two years previously.
Edward Wemple received a thorough education in the schools of Waverly and at the Wesleyan College, at Bloomington, Ill., and his mental training was strengthened by wholesome farm labor on the family homestead. He remained thus profitably employed until 1877, when, in partnership with Francis H. Wemple, his elder brother, he established the banking house of Wemple Brothers, which is acknowledged to be among the most reliable private financial institutions of the State. Their real estate transactions, in connection with the banking business, have reached considerable proportions, the basis of the bank's stability being 1,400 acres of rich farming lands owned and operated by the Wemple Brothers.
On May 15, 1878, Edward Wemple was united in marriage with Martha Adeline
Carter, daughter of Orrin Carter, a leading farmer of Morgan County. Their
six children are Hattie Leonie, Mary Edith, Jay Earle, Leland Edward, Clarence
Carter and Holland Russell. Mr. Wemple is a member of the Masonic fraternity,
a Republican, and in every respect a substantial and progressive factor
in the prosperity of Morgan County.
WEMPLE, Francis Holland, banker, Waverly, Ill., was born in Montgomery County, N.Y., August 27, 1840, a son of Jacob Anthony and Delia (Visscher) Wemple. Both his parents were of Dutch descent, and representatives of two of the oldest and most respected families of the historic Mohawk Valley. The founder of the Wemple family in America was Jan Barentsen Wemp (or Wamp), who came from Holland about 1640, and became one of the prominent members of the colony which settled in the manor of Rensselaerwyck, in the Hudson Valley. The Visscher family was founded in the Mohawk Valley shortly afterward, the name first appearing in the annals of the ancient city of Schenectady, N.Y.
Jacob A. Wemple brought his wife and family to Illinois in 1841, locating upon a farm situated about three miles southeast of Waverly, in Sangamon County. There the remainder of the life of the elder Wemple was spent. He became the owner of about 400 acres of farming land of great value, led a quiet, unostentatious life, was deeply interested in the welfare of the early schools, and was active in the promotion of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He died in October, 1887, and his wife passed away in 1885. They were the parents of three children, one of whom died at the age of five years. The remaining children are two sons _ Francis H. and Edward, who are partners in the bank of Wemple Brothers.
The early life of Francis H. Wemple was spent on his father's farm in Sangamon County. His education was received in the common schools and the Wesleyan University at Bloomington, Ill. Removing to Waverly in April., 1869, he engaged in general merchandising for seven years as a member of the firm of Crain, Manson & Wemple. Disposing of his interest in this concern in 1876, in the following year he and his brother established the banking firm of Wemple Brothers, the oldest established institution of the kind in Waverly. This house was established entirely independent of the mercantile business bank of Crain, Manson & Wemple, and has become recognized as one of the strongest and most reliable private banks in Illinois. Its basis is a body of 1,400 acres of rich farming land, which the brothers operate in connection with their financial institution. Their real estate operations are also quite extensive.
Mr. Wemple has taken an active and unselfish interest in the promotion of the best interests of the community in which he has lived for so long a period. He has served as Mayor of Waverly for several terms, and for a number of years has been a member of the School Board, of which he has been President. He is also identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, having filled the office of Commander of John W. Ross Post, No. 331, of Waverly. His military experience extended over a period of ninety days, beginning with his enlistment in August, 1862, in Company G, One Hundred and First Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain McKee. He was elected Corporal, and filled the same post when mustered out.
On December 8, 1870, Mr. Wemple was united in marriage with Mary Carter,
a daughter of Orrin Carter, who died March 9, 1900. They became the parents
of five children, two of whom are deceased. Those surviving are Charles
Francis, Cashier of the bank; William Lester, an attorney, practicing in
New York, and Paul Wilbur, a student in Harvard Law School. Mr. Wemple
is regarded as one of the most substantial citizens of Morgan County. He
is a man of public spirit, on all occasions accomplishing what he can for
the advancement of the highest interests of the community.
WHITMER, Edwin, who is successfully engaged in the manufacture of brick in the outskirts of Jacksonville, Ill., at No. 1500 East Railroad Street, was born in Macon County, Ill., October 16, 1863, a son of Henry and Anna (App) Whitmer. He received his early mental training in the district schools of that county, and learned the manufacture of brick under his father, who operated extensive plants at Litchfield and Decatur, Ill. Edwin Whitmer, afterward engaged in contracting and building, but upon locating at Jacksonville began the manufacture of tile. After conducting this industry for some time, Mr. Whitmer commenced making all kinds of brick for paving and building. The manufacture of this material so developed that he now operates eleven kilns, and the capacity of his plant is 10,000,000 brick per annum. In 1893 the output was 7,000,000.
On January 28, 1866, Mr. Whitmer was united in marriage with Ida Lee
Mitchell, who was born and schooled in Jacksonville. Mrs. Whitmer is a
daughter of James Melvin and Catherine (Fitzgerald) Mitchell. The latter
died in 1886. Mr. and Mrs. Whitmer have had three children, namely: Edith
Helen, Vivian Catherine and Helen Beatrice. On political issues, Mr. Whitmer
gives his support to the Republican party. His religious belief is that
of the Presbyterian Church. In fraternal circles, he is identified with
the A.F.& A.M., K. of P., I.O.O.F., and B.P.O.E. He is a man of the
highest principles, and all his transactions bear the stamp of strict integrity.
The large proportions to which his business has developed are due to the
untiring energy and diligent application to its details, which have characterized
his conduct of the enterprise.
WIDENHAM, John Clark, Dr., who is successfully engaged in the practice of dentistry in Jacksonville, Ill., was born in Peoria, Ill., April 7, 1852, the son of William and Charlotte B. Widenham, natives of Ireland and England. He is remotely descended from the Widenhams of Mallow, County Cork, and County Limerick, Ireland, whose family motto was, "Pro Deo et Patria," with arms argent, two bentlets gules on a shield azure, a lion passant on the first crest and a lion's head proper.
In youth Dr. Widenham attended school in Peoria, after which he took private instruction in dentistry, and commenced the practice of his profession in his native city in 1871. He subsequently assisted for a time in a dental office at Elmwood, Ill., and then returned to Peoria, where he continued in practice until 1874, when he located in Jacksonville. In that year he became a life member of the Illinois State Dental Society, in which he has always taken an active interest. Dr. Widenham is one of the promoters of the Illinois Telephone Company, which transacts the larger part of the local telephone business in Scott, Greene and Morgan Counties, and of which he is a director and a member of the Executive Board. He became identified with the company when it had only a toll station in the city of Jacksonville, and has witnessed its development to the proprietorship and operation of about 1,600 telephone instruments there, and 3,300 in the entire line. Dr. Widenham has platted two additions to Jacksonville, the most recent being a re-subdivision of Dewey Park, which is being rapidly improved with tasteful dwellings. The Doctor's progressive public spirit is indicated by the fact that when a period of drought threatened to cut off the water supply to Jacksonville, he secured the services of an expert driller and discovered immediately north of the city an abundant source of pure cold water. In this connection he endeavored to secure from the City Council a franchise whereby to utilize this supply for public purposes, such franchise containing a stipulation annulling it in the event of a failure of the guaranteed supply. The Council, however, rejected the Doctor's proposition. Dr. Widenham has made an excellent professional record in Jacksonville. In business circles he is regarded as an able and sagacious man, and his social standing is of the highest.
On December 25, 1876, Dr. Widenham was united in marriage with Carrie
L. Allen, a native of Kentucky, and daughter of the late Dr. Robert W.
Allen. Six children were born of this union, the first of whom died in
infancy. Those surviving are: Margaret B., Allen W., Ruth M., William Whiting
and John Maxwell. In politics, Dr. Widenham is a supporter of the principles
of the Democratic party. He was elected a member of the board of Education
in 1891, and served four years. In 1901 he was the Democratic candidate
for Mayor, but was defeated with the balance of his ticket. In fraternal
circles, the Doctor is identified with Jacksonville Lodge, No. 152, K.
of P. His religious associations are with the State Street Presbyterian
Church, of which he is a Trustee. He is now serving as President of the
local board of the Children's Home Society.
WIDENHAM, William, (deceased), father of Dr. J. C. Widenham, of Jacksonville, Ill., was born in Castle Widenham, County Cork, Ireland, January 1, 1809, and came to the United States in 1838. The Widenhams were of English origin, their remote ancestors being adherents of Oliver Cromwell, and from this family William Widenham was descended. In childhood he migrated from Ireland to England, and there received a thorough mental training, becoming especially proficient as a linguist.
In London Mr. Widenham learned the trade of a watch and chronometer maker and, at No. 13 Lombard Street, made instruments of great exactness and accuracy for the British Navy. On arriving in this country, he proceeded direct to Peoria, Ill., and, having abundant means, bought farm land in that vicinity. At a later date, he opened a jewelry store in Peoria, and there spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1883.
Mr. Widenham was united in marriage with Henrietta Benden, a native
of Bristol, England, where she was born in 1819. Ten children resulted
from this union, one of whom a daughter, was born in London, England, where
she died. Of the ten children but three are now living-Elizabeth and William
Widenham, of Peoria, Ill., and Dr. J. C. Widenham, a prominent dentist
WIDMAYER, Charles Henry, ex-Mayor of Jacksonville, Ill., and President of the Jacksonville Meat Company, was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, March 4, 1841, a son of Jacob and Frederica (Hoffstetter) Widmayer, natives of Wurtemberg, where the former was born in 1811, and the latter, in 1812. By occupation his father was a blacksmith. The family came to the United States in 1854, and settled in Newark, N. J., whence they soon moved to Niagara Falls. There Jacob Widmayer died during the year of his arrival. His widow became the wife of Anton Muth.
The subject of this sketch received his early mental training in the public schools of Germany, and on coming to America acquired a knowledge of the English language. At Niagara Falls he learned the trade of a butcher, and followed it in Chicago from the fall of 1857 until the spring of 1862. In the latter year he went to Omaha, Neb., with the intention of hauling freight between that point and Denver, Colo., but the outbreak of the Salmon River excitement changed his plans, and he enlisted in Capt. M. Crawford's company of Government emigrant escorts, destined for Walla Walla, Ore. He received his discharge, however, at Auburn, in that State, and there worked at his trade for about four months, going thence to Pioneer City, Idaho. At the latter place he formed a partnership in the meat business with Charles Burkhalter, and was quite successful. When the Wind River gold excitement broke out, however, he went to Montana, where he prospected for gold until the spring of 1863. This proving a failure, he located at Nevada City, and, in partnership with George Beringer, there conducted a meat business. This cooperation continued until Mr. Widmayer's leg was broken by a Texas steer. On recovering from the injury, he again applied himself to prospecting in Montana, near the site of the present city of Helena, which was founded five days after he reached the spot. The Pioneer City partnership had continued in the meantime, and Mr. Widmayer returned to that point and purchased his partner's interest in the business. He soon became dissatisfied, however, sold the concern in 1864, and started for Chicago, sailing from Victoria, B. C., via San Francisco and Panama, to New York. After remaining a short time in Chicago, he went to Jacksonville, Ill., reaching that city April 18, 1865. In that year he formed a partnership in the retail meat business with Leopold Wiegand, under the firm name of Wiegand & Company. This venture met with great success, and the firm continued until 1882, when Mr. Wiegand died. His widow then assumed his interest in the concern, and the business was conducted with her as a silent partner, until Mr. Widmayer bought her interest, and admitted his son, William F. Widmayer, as a partner, under the firm style of Widmayer & Son. Meanwhile, in 1879-1880, Mr. Widmayer, as a member of the firm of Wiegand, Widmayer & Bryant, had opened another establishment in the old Nealy packing house, in the eastern portion of the city, and there, in 1889, erected a large and thoroughly equipped plant. In 1892 this was destroyed by fire, entailing a heavy loss. Mr. Widmayer, however, immediately rebuilt the structure which is the one now owned by the Jacksonville Meat Company. The retail business in connection with William F. Widmayer continued until 1895, when the latter sold out to his father, who conducted the concern alone until 1898. In that year, together with the packing house, he disposed of it to the Jacksonville Meat Company, in which he became a stockholder, and is now its President.
On August 13, 1865, C. H. Widmayer was married to Louisa A. Ream, of Hampshire, Kane County, Ill., a daughter of Levi and Magdalena (Schumacker) Ream, of German descent. From this union have resulted eight children, as follows: Ida, born in 1866, wife of Mont N. Ross, of Las Vegas, N. M.; Minnie, who died in 1867; William F., of Jacksonville, Ill., born in 1869; Lydia M., born in 1871, wife of W. C. Osborne, of Jacksonville; Emma, born in 1873, wife of Frank O. Smith, of Dayton, Ohio; Carl, who was born in 1875 and died in 1883; Bertha, born in 1879, wife of Herman Voges, of Springfield, Ohio; and Ernest, who was born in 1877, and died in 1894.
Mr. Widmayer is a Democrat, and formerly took an active part in political affairs. Beginning in 1876 he served four terms as Alderman from the First Ward of Jacksonville. In 1882 he was elected Mayor of that city, and during his incumbency the present fine system of brick pavement was inaugurated. His administration was signally successful, and in 1895 he was again elected to the mayoralty. During this term of service, when all the city water supply was exhausted, the artesian wells were sunk, which now form the source of the general supply. Both of his administrations were noteworthy for public improvements and economical management. In 1898 Mr. Widmayer was elected Sheriff of Morgan County, and served in this capacity for four years. At the expiration of his term, he withdrew from active politics and devoted his attention exclusively to his business affairs.
Religiously, Mr. Widmayer has long been a zealous and consistent member
of the Salem Evangelical Congregational Lutheran Church, in which he has
officiated as Elder, and President of the Board of Trustees, since 1877.
He is noted for his charitable spirit, and has contributed liberally to
various benevolent organizations. Mr. Widmayer has always maintained a
high prominence in business and financial circles in Jacksonville, and
is regarded as one of the foremost citizens of Morgan County.
WILKINSON, Ira O., Hon., (deceased), lawyer and jurist, was born in Virginia in 1822, the son of Otway Wilkinson, for many years a prominent merchant of Jacksonville. In 1835 he became, with his parents, a resident of Jacksonville, Ill., where he was educated and studied law with Judge William Thomas. On being admitted to the bar he formed a co-partnership with Hon. Richard Yates, Sr., which was relinquished on his removal to Rock Island in 1845. There he built up an extensive and successful practice and in 1855 was elected and served two terms os Judge of the Sixth Judicial District, in which position he obtained an enviable record, and gave very general satisfaction. In 1867, he removed to Chicago, and became the senior partner of Wilkinson, Sackett & Bean. He was appointed by the Editorial Convention at Decatur on the 22d of February, 1856, a member of the State Central Committee which called the first Republican State Convention held at Bloomington in May following.
Judge Wilkinson was unassuming in his manners, dignified and courteous
in his deportment, and, without the circle of his intimate friends, somewhat
inclined to reticence. He had a vigorous and well balanced mind, trained
and developed by liberal professional and general culture. He possessed
undoubted integrity, and in his practice united the probity and fairness
of the Judge with the acumen and fidelity of the lawyer. He was thoroughly
familiar with the general principles of the law, and in argument he reasoned
from his own premises, deduced his own conclusions, and used cases only
so far as they illustrated principles. He was a counselor rather than an
advocate, and, as such, was a very safe adviser.
WILKINSON, William, the efficient Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane, at Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born in Bound Brook, N.J., November 3, 1859, the son of Jacob and Maria (Breese) Wilkinson, natives of New Jersey. His father was born in Englishtown, Monmouth County, that State, July 13, 1814, and his mother, in the same town, June 22, 1820. By occupation, Jacob Wilkinson, was a carpenter. During the Civil War he served in a New Jersey regiment, and after the conflict was ended plied his trade in his native State until March, 1878, when he came to Illinois and located in Jacksonville, where he died July 8, 1882, his widow surviving him until October 22, 1903, when she, too, passed away.
The subject of this sketch attended the public schools in his youth, and after his school days were over began learning the machinist's trade in Scott's Farm Machinery Manufactory, at Raritan, N. J. In 1878 he left this concern and accompanied his parents to Jacksonville, securing employment with the old Jacksonville Car Company. When that company was dissolved he secured a position in the old Jacksonville & Southeastern Railroad Shops. When this line was merged with the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad and the new shops were built, he was employed there, remaining fourteen years in that connection. In June, 1895, he formed a partnership with Haller Higgins in the manufacture of cigar boxes, continuing in this line until 1897, when he was appointed machinist in the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane. In 1900, by reason of meritorious service in this position, he was promoted to be Chief Engineer. Mr. Wilkinson is a member of the Machinists' Union, and a Past President of the Trades and Labor Assembly.
On February 25, 1892, Mr. Wilkinson was united in marriage with Anna Probst, of Jacksonville, a daughter of Christian and Clara (Schmalz) Probst. Four children have blessed their union, namely: Arthur L., born December 13, 1892; Clarence W., April 6, 1905; Paul L., February 12, 1899; and Ruth, June 22, 1903.
In politics, Mr. Wilkinson is a supporter of the Republican party, and
religiously, is a Methodist. Fraternally, he is a Past Grand of Illini
Lodge, No. 4, I. O. O. F., and a member of Favorite Lodge, No. 376, K.
of P. He is also affiliated with the M. W. A. That Mr. Wilkinson is a thoroughly
competent and skillful machinist, and worthy of the utmost confidence in
the discharge of whatever duty he undertakes, is evidenced by his long
connection with the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad, and his rapid
advancement in the State Institution to his present important position.
WILLIAMSON, James H. , for many years an enterprising and successful farmer near Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., but now living in retirement, was born in Kentucky, February 16, 1831. He is a son of William and Isabel (Henry) Williamson, of whom the father was a native of Virginia, where he was born June 22, 1792. William Williamson was a farmer by occupation. He was first married March 23, 1815, to Ann Terhune, who was born May 7, 1793, and they had one child-William A. Williamson, who is deceased. Mr. Williamson's first wife died January 2, 1816, and on December 7, 1817, he was united in marriage with Jane Cochran, who was born June 25, 1797. They became the parents of three children, namely: Anne, Samuel and Jane, all of whom are deceased. The mother of these children passed away February 8, 1822, and on September 11, 1823, Mr. Williamson wedded, for this third wife, Isabella Henry, a native of Kentucky, born November 14, 1803. Six children resulted from this union, as follows: Mary, Elizabeth H., Margaret C., James H., John S., and Nancy M. The mother of this family died August 9, 1834, and shortly afterward the father moved with his children to Illinois, settling about five miles northwest of Jacksonville, where he engaged in farming and teaching. These occupations he followed during the remainder of his active life, dying at the age of eighty-two years.
In boyhood the subject of this sketch attended the subscription schools of that period and supplemented the lessons there learned by diligent study at home, where he remained until March 1, 1855. In 1866 Mr. Williamson bought a farm of 63 acres five miles northwest of Jacksonville, which was but slightly improved. All the modern improvements were made by him, and he was engaged in general farming and stock-raising until his retirement from active life.
On March 1, 1855, Mr. Williamson was united in marriage with Amanda
Bridgeman, who was born in Granger County, Tenn., August 10, 1835. Mrs.
Williamson is a daughter of Martin and Anna Bridgeman, the father being
a Virginian by birth, who in 1852 brought his family to Morgan County,
where, with the exception of eight years, he was a farmer for the remainder
of his life. He died at the age of eighty-two years, and his wife passed
away when seventy-nine years old, both being members of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. They were the parents of nine children, as follows: William, of
St. Clair County, Ill.; Amanda; Henry, of Shelby County, Ill.; Cornelia,
of McLean County, Ill.; John, of Morgan County, Ill.; Columbus, of Chapin,
Morgan County, Ill.; Sarah, of Cass County, Ill.; and Laura, of Morgan
County. Mr. and Mrs. James H. Williamson became the parents of five children,
namely: Arcanna, John H. and Katie E. (deceased); Hattie, wife of Charles
Patterson, living near her parents; and Arthur E., who resides on the old
home place. In politics Mr. Williamson is a Republican, and has held most
of the local offices. Religiously, he and his wife have been members of
the Methodist Episcopal Church for more than fifty years. In all respects
Mr. Williamson has been a representative farmer of Morgan County, and an
exemplary and useful citizen.
WINTER, David, farmer, residing four and three-quarter miles south of Jacksonville, Ill., ranks as one of the most successful and highly respected farmers of Morgan County, and represents the best type of the self-made American citizen of foreign birth. He was born in Yorkshire, England, May 13, 1826, the son of William and Mary (Morrell) Winter. His father was a brick and tile maker, a trade which the son learned in his youth, in addition to being trained to agricultural pursuits. On September 10, 1858, having determined to seek his fortunes in the New World, he sailed from Liverpool on the ship "Liverpool", a converted man-of-war, bound for America. Arriving in New York City, he first went to Jefferson County, N. Y., where for nine months he was employed on various dairy farms at $9 per month. Going thence to Pennsylvania, he worked in that State through the harvest season of 1850. Late in the fall of that year he started for Illinois, and near Franklin, Morgan County, he worked on a farm for about nine months, at monthly wages of $13. From that time until 1855 he was employed by the farmers of Morgan County. In 1854, in partnership with his brother William, who, in 1851, had emigrated from England, he rented a farm and raised a crop.
Convinced that good fortune was to follow as the result of his labors in the West, on November 6, 1856, Mr. Winter wedded Nancy Redding, a native of Morgan County, and continued to rent and prosecute farming on land southeast of Jacksonville until 1866, when he purchased a portion of the farm on which he is now located, and where he has since resided. In that year he erected their first home, an unpretentious structure, which in 1894 gave way to the present beautiful residence. Success has attended the labors of Mr. Winter from the beginning, as a result of the care and attention bestowed upon his property, and the earnest cooperation of his devoted wife, who has shared equally with him the arduous duties necessary to success in agricultural life. As the result of the united efforts of this worthy couple, they are now in a position where they may enjoy the balance of their lives in quiet and comfort. Mr. Winter now has 432 acres of land in Morgan County and 240 acres in Nebraska. He still devotes his time to the cultivation of his home property, with the constant assistance of his wife, who is possessed of rare executive ability and carefully manages the financial affairs of the household.
Mrs. Winter was born on her father's farm east of Jacksonville, November 1, 1837, and is the daughter of Jacob and Artemesia (Wade) Redding. Her father who was of German descent, died when Mrs. Winter was but three years of age, and was one of the earliest settlers of Morgan County, being one of the men who laid out the city of Jacksonville. Jacob Redding's wife was a native of Tennessee. Their eldest son, John Redding, the first white child born in Morgan County, died at the Soldiers' Home, at Leavenworth, Kans, in August, 1902, at the age of about seventy-eight years.
Mr. and Mrs. Winter have been the parents of fifteen children. Of these nine are living, named in the order of their birth, as follows: William Thomas, a farmer residing near Aurora, neb.; James Edward, also a farmer living near Aurora; George Washington, a farmer located east of Woodson, Morgan County; Charles henry, who resides near his elder brothers in Nebraska; Sarah Jane, wife of George W. Barnhart, a farmer of Morgan County; Claude Oliver, also of Morgan County; Lillie May, wife of Joseph Helliwell, of Morgan County; Homer Morrell and Bessie Pearl, who reside with their parents. Six children are deceased, as follows: Mary Belle, who married Hiram Sorrell; Jane Elizabeth, Dorothy Ann, John David, Lula Ellen and an infant.
The career of Mr. Winter may well be taken as an illustration for the
present generation of the possibilities of accomplishment by a man who
commences life with no other foundation than good health, industry and
a determination to succeed. The fortune which he has amassed has come to
him and his wife as the direct result of their hard work and mutual assistance;
and Mr. Winter very generously gives his helpmate the credit for the greater
share of ingenuity in caring for his means after they had been accumulated.
WOLCOTT, Elizur, son of Elihu and Rachel (McClure) Wolcott, was born in East Windsor, Conn., August 7, 1817. When thirteen years of age his father removed with his family to Jacksonville, Ill., becoming one of the pioneers of the town. A few years later the son, Elizur, returned to Connecticut to be educated, spending two or three years, first at the well known preparatory school at Ellington, and then going to Yale College, from which he graduated in 1839. He early showed a taste for reading, and in his college days had commenced gathering books for the library which formed so important an element in his life during his subsequent years. After graduation he spent a winter in general reading at his home in Jacksonville, and the following summer, in a canoeing trip on the headwaters of the Mississippi in what was then the Indian country. The following year he attended the Harvard Medical School, but concluded at the close of the year that he had made a mistake in the choice of a profession. At this time Mr. Wolcott had an opportunity to become a partner in a promising book and publishing house in Boston, which later fulfilled its promise of success, but his inheritance from an uncle having been invested in Illinois bonds, for which there was not sale at the time, he was obliged to forego the opportunity of entering a business so much in accordance with his tastes, a matter of deep regret to him always thereafter. After a few months spent in a voyage to England as a sailor, he returned to Jacksonville.
On July 15, 1846, Mr. Wolcott married Margaret Lyman Dwight, formerly of Amherst, Mass., daughter of Daniel and Mary (Mattoon) Dwight. They had two sons who died young and two daughters: Edith Dwight, married in 1898 to Prof. John Herbert Davis, now of Lynchburg, Va., and May Mattoon, married in 1886 to Prof. Edward Bull Clapp, now of the University of California. After his marriage, Mr. Wolcott moved to his farm a few miles from Jacksonville, but he was not, either by taste or education, a farmer, and after a few years returned to town. For the next ten years he was occupied with the business of the Great Western (now the Wabash) Railroad during its construction through Illinois, part of the time acting as Assistant Superintendent. He possessed a decided mechanical talent, a thoroughness which could not allow poor work to pass under his direction, and was unsparing of himself in securing the result which he deemed necessary. At the end of ten years he broke down in health as a result of the strain to which he had subjected himself. In 1862, having recovered his health, he entered into the milling business in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. J. O. King, one of the best known citizens of Jacksonville, and for several years superintended the operation of a flour mill which they owned, retiring then from any further part in active business for the remainder of his life.
In all his business relations, Mr. Wolcott's probity was of the most scrupulous character, and his sense of justice absolute. He gave much time and energy to gratuitous public service. He was instrumental in the purchase and laying out of the Diamond Grove Cemetery, was several times a member of the City Council, a member of the Board of Education for several years, and Trustee of the Public Library for many years. The work in which, perhaps, he took the most satisfaction, and to which he devoted his time and strength so long as they were needed, was in the construction of the Jacksonville Water Works, and he was Superintendent of this important department of the public service for a number of years after its completion. Mr. Wolcott was for many years a member of the "Club", the first literary association formed in Jacksonville, and composed of some of the leading clergymen, college professors, lawyers and business men of the city. At his own house, for nearly thirty-five years, a reading circle of friends and neighbors - men and women - met one evening each week. Mr. Wolcott's large fund of information, his remarkable memory, not only of the substance of what he had read, but of the very form of the wording - even though it might be something he had not seen for years - and his power of apt illustration of a thought, made him a valuable member of any club to which he belonged. Among them were the Art Club of Jacksonville, and the Plato Club, which also met at his residence for a number of years. Mrs. Wolcott's interest was not less strong in all literary and philosophical subjects, and their home was one of the centers of the intellectual life of the town.
Mr. Wolcott's library was a large and well selected one. The new and progressive thought of the day always attracted him. Emerson and Carlyle especially interested him in his early years, and their works always found a place upon his library shelves as soon as published. Later he read with much interest the works of the leading scientists. But his tastes were catholic, and poetry, history, philosophy, science, travels and fiction, all found their place in fair proportion among his books. The use of his library was freely offered to any to whom it could be of use, and he was applied to by all classes and all ages for information upon the large range of subjects on which he could assist them, and his time and interest were given without stint. He also had a collection of several thousand photographs of the best works of art in painting, sculpture and architecture, with many notes upon both the subjects and artists. Mr. Wolcott spent the summers of the last twenty years of his life on the shores of Northern Lake Michigan, and his enthusiasm for the outdoor life of that region was that of a youth.
Upon the death of Mrs. Wolcott in January, 1900, he visited his daughter,
Mrs. Clapp, at Berkeley, Cal., where his death occurred on March 12, 1901,
caused by a fall two weeks previous. He had reached his eighty-fourth year,
and previous to this fatal accident, was in more than usual vigor of mind
WOLKE, George, who is the proprieor of a general repair establishment for bicycles, automobiles, etc., in Jacksonville, Ill., was born in Cumberland County, Ill., April 20, 1870, the son of Joseph and Minnie (Ludwig) Wolke. In boyhood, he received his mental training in the district schools of his neighborhood, and after leaving his father's farm was employed as a carpenter for three years. He then engaged in the business of repairing bicycles, etc., in Jacksonville, thus continuing until 1903. In that year he established his present factory for the handling and repairing of gasoline engines, automobiles and all kinds of motor vehicles, which he is still operating. He also deals in batteries and dynamos, his establishment being thoroughly equipped for such purposes, and he himself being an energetic, painstaking and capable manager in this line of business. In politics, Mr. Wolke ignores party ties, and casts his vote according to the dictates of his best judgment. Religiously, he was reared in the faith of the Catholic Church, of which he is a faithful member.
WOOD, Iven, a prominent farmer residing on his farm on Section 9, Township 14, Range 9 (Pisgah Precinct), Morgan County, was born on the Wood family homestead where he now lives, February 24, 1841, the son of Samuel and Martha (Moore) Wood, a biography of whom appears elsewhere in this volume in connection with the sketch of his son, David Wood, an older brother of the subject of this sketch. During his active business life Iven Wood has followed farming and the feeding and breeding of cattle. As a boy he attended the local school and completed his education in the High School at Jacksonville. In 1863 he bought 640 acres of land in Macoupin County, Ill., five miles west of Palmyra, which he later sold, dealing also in other lands in that county. At the present time he is the owner of 1,200 acres, 900 acres of which comprise the present hone farm. Mr. Wood's residence and surroundings are equal to the best in this part of the county, being largely the result of his own enterprise and established under his supervision.
Mr. Wood was married December 24, 1862, to Mary Camm, daughter of Samuel
Camm, a prominent farmer of Morgan County, and to himself and wife were
born eight children. One child (Mettie) died in infancy; Samuel died at
the age of twenty-seven years; and Emma, who was the wife of R. Y. Gibson,
died leaving two children - Freeman and Grace. The children living are:
Charles, who is farming on his father's estate; Minnie, wife of A. A. Curry,
a farmer; Arthur, who is a bookkeeper in the Jacksonville National Bank,
in which his father is a stockholder; Elizabeth, who resides at home; and
Homer, who is attending the Business College, in Jacksonville. Mr. Wood
has served his district as School Director; is a member of the Union Baptist
Church, in which he has been a Deacon for thirty years; has also been engaged
in Sunday-school work as teacher and Superintendent, and votes the Prohibition
WOOD, David, a prominent farmer of Morgan County, Ill., residing on Section 10, Township 14, Range 9, was born April 4, 1837, on his father's farm within three miles of his present home, the son of Samuel and Martha (Moore) Wood. His paternal grandfather was a native of Virginia, was reared on the James River, and married his first wife in that State. Leaving Virginia, he located in Hart County, Ky., and after living there twelve years moved to Madison County, Ill., where his wife, Celia Gregory (nee Wood), died. He there married as his second wife Hessie Conlee, and later leaving Madison County, removed to Morgan County, Ill, and settled down to farming on the Mauvaisterre. Where he entered 100 acres of land which, in after years, he sold to his son Samuel. He died in June, 1865, in his eighty-seventh year, his wife, Hessie, having preceded him five years.
Samuel Wood, son of the preceding, was a successful farmer and business man, in 1874 was elected a Representative in the State Legislature from Morgan County, and also served one term as Associate Judge of the County Commissioner's Court. He became one of the most extensive cattle-growers and dealers in the county, grazing from 1,000 to 1,500 head of cattle annually, and at the time of his death left an estate of 3,000 acres of land and $75,000 in cash, accumulated by his own enterprise and business ability without capital to start with. On January 5, 1832, he married a widow lady, Mrs. Martha Smith (nee Moore), who was a native of Kentucky and a daughter of a pioneer settler of that State. She had two children by her first marriage, viz.: Grandison and William H. Smith. By this marriage Mr. Wood had eight children born to him: James, of Jacksonville; Elizabeth, who died aged about nine years; David, the subject of this sketch; Milton, who died in Springfield, Ill., in April, 1903; Iven; George; Julia A., the wife of James Beekman, residing near Pisgah, Morgan County; and Richard S., who died near Jacksonville, Ill. Mr. Samuel Wood was en enterprising, public spirited citizen and consistent member of the United Baptist Church, which was organized in 1830, and which he joined in 1850. He died August 27, 1888, his wife having died in June, 1887.
David Wood was reared to farming, and after attending a subscription
school, at the age of nineteen began farming on his own account on a quarter-section
of land given him by his father, and which constitutes a part of his present
farm of 287 ½ acres. It is a well improved farm possessing all modern
improvements - a good residence, outbuildings, shade and fruit trees and
well cultivated fields. Mr. Wood was married November 1, 1855, to Eliza
E. Godbey, whose father was a native of Virginia and moved to Illinois
in September, 1830, settling near Petersburg, Menard County, where he engaged
in farming. Mrs. David Wood died June 5, 1896, leaving four children: Ballard
H., Samuel, Richard R. and Martha S. In January, 1901, Mr. Wood took for
his second wife Mrs. Burrilla Sample (nee Boyer), who has one son, John
W. Sample. Mr. Wood has served his district on the School Board a number
of years, for four years has been Justice of the Peace, and is a member
of the Primitive Baptist Church. In Politics he is a Democrat and attends
the County Conventions of his party.
WOODS, Abram C. (deceased), a pioneer of Morgan County, was born in Franklin, Ky., March 21, 1822, and came to Morgan County in 1827, with his father, William Woods, and his grandfather, John Woods. His father fought in the War of 1812, participating in the battle of New Orleans, and received from the Government a grant of land in Nebraska, which Abram C. Woods afterward sold. John Woods, the grandfather, enlisted as a soldier in the Revolutionary War from Wilkes County, Ga., and served throughout the war, part of his time as a scout in the command of Francis Marion, the noted South Carolina hero of that war. His body lies in the old cemetery at Franklin, Morgan County. Two of his brothers, Nathaniel and William, enlisted with him and served during the war.
When the three generations of the Woods family came to Morgan County in 1827, they located on land now included in the site of the village of Franklin; and the town which sprang up around their home they named Franklin in honor of their home town in Kentucky. Abram C. Woods worked on his father's farm until 1849, when he engaged in merchandising in Franklin, remaining thus occupied until 1865, when he removed to Jacksonville. For many years he was engaged in the dry goods and grocery trade in the latter city, first as a member of the firm of Stevenson & Woods, subsequently acting as a Director and Teller of the First National Bank, and afterward became identified with the firm of Phelps & Osborne. He was prominent in the work of building he first Centenary Methodist episcopal Church, devoting much time to raising funds for that purpose, and for many years was a member of its official board. He also was a leader in the movement for the reconstruction of the church edifice. During his residence in Franklin he served as Postmaster for many years. Fraternally he was identified with the Masons, and in politics, was a Republican.
April 13, 1847, mr. Woods married Susan Dugger, of Carlinville, Ill.,
who became the mother of the following named children: Ellen Adelaide,
deceased; Mary Elizabeth, wife of James W. Crabtree; Edward Jarret, who
died in infancy; Clara Lee, wife of J. V. Read; and Lillian May, widow
of Samuel D. Osborne. Mrs. Woods died February 6, 1894, and Mr. Woods,
July 10, 1903. Mrs. Woods was of French descent, the name originally being
DeGuerre. Her mother's father, William McAdams, served with the Virginia
troops throughout the Revolutionary War with two of his brothers, all of
whom are buried in this State. They first removed to Tennessee, but finally
located in Illinois during the pioneer days. The founders of the Dugger
family in America came with LaFayette, under whom they fought.
WORTHINGTON, Thomas, Hon., one of the prominent citizens of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., and for several years United States District Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, was born in Spencer, Tenn., June 8, 1850, the son of Dr. Thomas and Amelia J. (Long) Worthington, natives of Tennessee and Maryland, respectively. Dr. Thomas Worthington was descended from the Worthington and Calvert families, both eminent in the early annals of the State of Maryland. Although his birthplace was on Southern soil, and he was a slaveholder by inheritance, he was convinced of the fundamental injustice of the institution of slavery, and was largely influenced by this conviction in his removal to Illinois. He was a man of broad capacity and high culture, and as a physician and surgeon enjoyed an enviable reputation. He was an active partisan, and in public addresses was lucid, forceful and impressive. Originally a stanch Whit, he was elected as such from Pike county to the State Senate, serving in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth General Assemblies, in which he strongly supported the "two-mill tax," which saved from tarnishment the financial reputation of the State. He also rendered important aid in establishing the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Jacksonville. His political zeal lent added impetus to the organization of the Republican party in Illinois, and he was a delegate to the first Republican convention in the State, held in Bloomington, in 1856. He was a personal friend and ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He passed the latter part of his life at Pittsfield, Pike County, Ill., and was a very prominent man in that county, dying at Pittsfield in 1888. Mr. Worthington's mother was the youngest daughter of Col. Kennedy Long, of Baltimore, Md., who was in command of the Twenty-seventh Maryland Regiment, which played a prominent part in the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812.
In boyhood the subject of this sketch attended the public schools, and afterward fitted himself for college in the Pittsfield High School. In 1873 he graduated from Cornell University with the degree of Ph. B., and in 1877, from the Union college of Law, in Chicago. Together with four others he received the highest honors at Cornell, entitling them to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity. In the fall of that year he was admitted to practice in the Supreme court of Illinois. Mr. Worthington practiced law in Pittsfield, Ill., and Baltimore, Md., until 1892, when he located in Jacksonville, Ill., and formed a partnership with Hon. Isaac L. Morrison. Later, J. J. Reeve, the present Postmaster of Jacksonville, was admitted to the partnership and the firm became Morrison, Worthington & Reeve, so continuing until the death of Mr. Morrison in 1901.
One of the first suits conducted by Mr. Worthington was brought to recover an interest in his grandfather's estate in Baltimore, nearly fifty years after it had passed into the possession of others. In this he was successful, after the case had tree times been taken to the Maryland Court of Appeals. His most important action at law was as attorney in behalf of a large number of land owners in a case known as Palms et al. Vs. Wheelock et al., to recover certain bonds, and interest, amounting to about two million dollars, from all the owners of lands in the Sny Island Levee District, which would have rendered the entire property in question valueless. In this litigation, the defendants, represented in part by Mr. Worthington, were successful. His associates for the defense were Ex-President Harrison, Ex-Attorney General Miller, Henry S. Green, Judge J. Otis Humphrey, Col. A. C. Mathews and Judge Higbee. The case was taken from the United States Circuit Court to the Unites States Court of Appeals, and finally decided for the defendants in the United States Supreme Court, Mr. worthington and Ex-Attorney General Miller, of Indiana, making the oral arguments for the defense.
On November 16, 1892, Mr. Worthington was united in marriage with Miriam M. Morrison, a daughter of his law partner, Hon. Isaac L. Morrison, a distinguished member of the Illinois Legislature from 1877 to 1883, and one of the Nestors of the Illinois bar, who died at his home in Jacksonville, February 27, 1901. One son, Isaac L. Morrison Worthington, resulted from this union.
Politically, Mr. Worthington has been for about twenty-five years, an earnest worker in the Republican party. In 1882 he was elected Minority Representative in the State Legislature, from the district comprising Pike, Brown and Calhoun Counties. During this term began his friendship with United States Senator Cullom, which has continued every since. Mr. Worthington was selected, together with Hon. W. J. Calhoun, to make a constitutional argument demonstrating Mr. Cullom's eligibility for the United States Senate, and out of this grew the cordial and enduring good will between the two gentlemen. Mr. Worthington served as Presidential Elector from the Twelfth Illinois District in 1888. He was appointed Supervisor of the Census in the same district in 1900, and in the fall of that year made the race for Congress in the Twelfth District, against an ordinary Democratic majority of from 5,000 to 6,000. On March 16, 1901, he was appointed, by President McKinley, United States District Attorney for Southern Illinois, in which capacity he served for more than four years with signal ability.
Fraternally, Mr. Worthington has been affiliated with the A.F. &
A.M. for many years, and for periods of three years each, was Master of
the Pittsfield Lodge, and Eminent commander of the Commandery of Knights
Templar in that town. In Pittsfield he was identified with the Congregational
Church. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Illinois College. During
his residence in jacksonville, Mr. Worthington has vigorously advocated
all measures proposed for the best interests of the city. He is a man of
high capacity and absolute reliability, and, as a lawyer, stands in the
front rank of his profession.
WRIGHT, Alexander H., President and Manager of a private bank at Franklin, Ill., was born near that village October 3, 1844, the son of James and Sarah (Head) Wright, and grandson of Captain James Wright of Revolutionary Army fame. James Wright migrated from Kentucky to Morgan County in the year 1829, and began farming in a modest manner, although at the time of his death he was possessed of 420 acres of fine land. Alexander Wright passed his boyhood and youth in attendance at the schools near his home, and assisting his father upon the farm. Finally he took a course at the Jacksonville Commercial College, after which for a period of three years he taught school in Morgan County. In 1874 he decided to try mercantile life for a period, and, in partnership with his brother, B. F. Wright, owned a general store in Franklin, which for twenty years was successfully conducted.
IN 1892, Mr. Wright, in association with three others organized the
Farmers' and Merchants' Bank of Franklin, which is now conducted as a private
concern, with A. H. Wright, as President and General Manager, and G. P.
Wright, Cashier. ON April 6, 1871, Mr. Wright was married to Mary, daughter
of Wyckoff Poling, an early settler of Adams County, Ill., and of this
union ten children have been born. In political affairs Mr. Wright is a
Democrat, and frequently serves as a delegate of his party to County and
State conventions; is also active in all matters pertaining to the advancement
of the town wherein he resides. Recently he has rebuilt the Opera House
which bears his name. He has been President of the village, and for more
than twenty years a member of the School Board. For a considerable period
he was the efficient Treasurer of the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb at Jacksonville.
Fraternally, Mr. Wright is connected with the Masonic and Eastern Star
organizations, and is a member of the Christian Church.
WRIGHT, John Edward, Captain, retired farmer, Jacksonville, Ill., was born on his father's farm near Murrayville, Morgan County, Ill., July 11, 1842, the son of John Wiley and Eliza E. (Wyatt) Wright. His father, who was born in Tennessee March 5, 1816, was a son of John Wright, also a native of that State. The former came with his father to Illinois about 1830, locating three miles east of the present site of Murrayville, where both entered Government land. John Wright was an active participant in the work of the Methodist denomination, and was probably one of the founders of Zion Church.
John W. Wright was a youth when the family located in Morgan County. He remained with his father until attaining maturity, when he purchased a farm southwest of Murrayville. In early life he was a Democrat, but abhorred slavery and, upon its organization, entered the ranks of the Republican party. He was an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church. A very successful business man, he acquired about 600 acres of land. He and his wife became the parents of the following named children: Deborah Ann, born September 24, 1838, who married William Hughes, and died July 8, 1888; Margaret J., born April 16, 1840, who married Granville L. Ash, and now resides in Murrayville; John E.; Mary E., who died in infancy; George W., born August 13, 1849, who died December 19, 1849; James L., born October 13, 1851, now of Cass County, Mo.; Martha A., born June 29, 1854, married John R. Hill and died August 14, 1898; Sarah E., born September 7, 1856, who married James Cunningham, and now lives near Murrayville; Wiley B., born October 29, 1858, who lives at Murrayville; Emily L., born June 4, 1861, who married Charles Rimbey, of Murrayville; and Cyrus N., born April 24, 1863, who is also a resident of that place. John W. Wright died in January, 1866.
Captain John E. Wright was educated in the common schools of Morgan County. On August 1, 1861, he enlisted in the Duncan Rangers, which was assigned to service with the Union Army in Company G, First Missouri Cavalry. With this command he served three years and two months, participating in all of its engagements, including the memorable pursuit of the army of General Sterling Price southward through Missouri into Arkansas. He was mustered out September 26, 1864, and April 1, 1865, again entered the service as First Lieutenant of Company E, of the reorganized Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. On account of the continued absence of the commanding officer of the company he was in command most of the time. At the close of the war he was located at Mobile, Ala., nearly all of his period of service being passed at Montgomery.
Being mustered out March 31, 1866, he returned home. For several years he continued at work upon the home place, but finally purchased a farm southeast of Murrayville, which he ultimately traded for the farm of 324 acres which he now owns. Since 1872 he has devoted much of his time to the work of an auctioneer. For the past five years he has resided in Jacksonville.
Actively interested in Republican politics, about thirty years ago Captain Wright was the candidate of his party for the office of Sheriff. Though the county was then strongly Democratic, he was defeated by only a small majority. In 1886 and 1887 he served in the Lower House of the State Legislature, and in 1902 was again an unsuccessful candidate for Sheriff. For many years he served on the County Republican Central Committee. He is a charter member of Watson Post, No. 420, G.A.R., of Murrayville, of which he has been Commander several terms.
On October 4, 1866, Captain Wright married Maria S. Wilson, a daughter of Willis T. Wilson, his wife dying in 1868. On April 9, 1870, he married Mrs. Margaret J. Henry, daughter of Jesse Henry, and they have had four children namely: Marie Olive, wife of Edward Strang, residing near Whitehall, Greene County; Martha Eliza, wife of W. R. T. Masters, of Murrayville; C. Justus, of Moline, Ill.; and Jesse, who died at the age of nineteen months.
Captain Wright's mother, who was born in Kentucky February 13, 1823,
was a daughter of Squire Edward Wyatt, who came to Illinois when Mrs. Wright
was a child, probably in 1830. The family settled upon a farm about a mile
and a quarter west of the site of Murrayville, and became widely known
throughout the county.
WYATT, William J., Col., retired, veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars, Franklin, Ill., enjoys the distinction not only of being one of the oldest - if not the oldest - of the living native-born residents of Morgan County, but of having been an active participant in two of the country's wars, besides having participated in the Mormon troubles in Hancock County, Ill., in 1845-46. Colonel Wyatt was born in Morgan County, five miles southeast of Jacksonville, October 28, 1825, a son of John and Rebecca (Wyatt) Wyatt. His father was native of Virginia, descended from Irish ancestry, and his mother (though of the same name, not directly related by ties of consanguinity) was born in Pennsylvania of Dutch ancestry. John Wyatt emigrated from Virginia to Kentucky, thence to Missouri, and finally to Madison County, Ill. He was united in marriage with Rebecca Wyatt and settled in Illinois, the parents probably brining their first-born daughter with them to this State. He was a farmer and stock-raiser. An old-line Democrat, he served in the Illinois State Legislature two terms, when Vandalia was the State capital. During the Black Hawk War he held a commission as Lieutenant, and equipped three young men with horses for that campaign, being, in all respects, a liberal, public spirited man. Late in life he identified himself with the first Christian Church organized at Franklin. He died January 6, 1849, at the age of fifty-three years, eleven months and three days, his wife surviving him until August 29, 1866, when she passed away at the age of sixty-six years, eight months and ten days.
The entire life of Colonel Wyatt has been spent within the confines of Morgan County. His educational advantages were such as were obtainable by a limited attendance upon the subscription schools of his neighborhood. His father was compelled to be away from home much of the time looking after his extensive stock interests, and young Wyatt remained at home managing the farm. In 1845-46 he served in the State Militia, under Governor Ford, detailed to keep the peace between the Mormons and the anti-Mormon element in that part of the State, remaining in quarters that winter at Carthage, Ill. During that period he served as First Lieutenant in a company of mounted infantry. On March 14, 1846, he left his father's home, and on May 30 following, with his father's consent, he enlisted for service in the Mexican War, in Company G of the regiment commanded by Colonel John J. Harden. This was the first regiment of any kind ever organized in Illinois for any national war. Many of Colonel Wyatt's neighbors, who had served with him during the Mormon troubles the preceding winter, enlisted in this organization, and such was their confidence in his ability to command that they elected him to the Captaincy of the company. Early in June the regiment left for Mexico, after having been mustered in at Alton, Ill., its supposed destination being Chihuahua. Instead, they were ordered to Monclovia, whence, five weeks later, they proceeded to Parras, in the province of Durango. There General John B. Wool, who was in command of that division of the army, received from General Taylor orders to proceed by forced march to Buena Vista Pass, and engage the Mexican Army under Santa Ana at that point.
Colonel Wyatt participated in the historic battle of Buena Vista, when the American troops overcame overwhelming odds. His company was in the right wing of the American troops, and consequently received the fiercest shock of the battle, supporting Captain Washington's battery at the pass, the key to the battle-ground. Though during this engagement the American loss was 267 killed, 456 wounded and 23 missing, not a man in Colonel Wyatt's command was lost. At this battle eleven commissioned officers attached to the American army were killed in one and a half hours, four of whom, including John J. Hardin, the commander of the First Illinois Regiment, were Colonels. When the news came that Colonel Hardin had fallen, Colonel Wyatt and five of his men brought the body to the latter's tent, where it lay all night with the bodies of Colonel McKee and Lieutenant-Colonel Clay. All of the bodies were taken to Saltillo the following day and temporarily buried there, but at the close of the service were removed to their respective homes for final interment.
Colonel Wyatt was mustered out at Camargo, Mexico, June 17, 1847, and returned home by way of the gulf of Mexico and New Orleans. Investing what money he had in cattle, he entered into the business with his father, and was thus engaged with success until the outbreak of the Civil War. On September 2, 1862, he was mustered into the service as Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundred and First Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which was organized at Jacksonville, with Colonel Fox in command. Upon arriving at Cairo, Ill., Colonel Wyatt's health failed, but he remained with his command nevertheless. While ill at Holly Springs, Miss., December 20, 1862, he and a number of others were captured by the Confederate forces. With a number of paroled prisoners he was taken to Benton Barracks, where he was placed in charge of those on parole. In May, 1863, after examination by three army surgeons, he was discharged on account of physical disability.
After returning home, as soon as the state of his health permitted Colonel Wyatt resumed business as a farmer and stock-raiser, and devoted the remainder of his active years to this work. For some time he has been living in practical retirement, though still supervising his interests. He has taken an active interest in public affairs in the county, but has never desired political office. He is a Democrat, and a devoted adherent to the principles which that party espouses. On October 22, 1851, he was initiated in Hicks Lodge, No. 93, of Waverly, and on April 8, 1853, he became a charter member of Franklin Lodge, No. 121, I.O.O.F., at Franklin, and is at this time the only living charter member of said lodge. On July 1, 1859, he entered Ridgely Encampment No. 9 of Jacksonville; in November, 1901, he procured a charter for a Rebekah Lodge, which was instituted on the 20th of December, 1901, at Franklin, of which he and his wife were charter members; and with all of these bodies he has since been actively identified. Religiously, he is an old-line Methodist, of the Peter Akers and Peter Cartwright brand. In 1856 and on several succeeding occasions, he served as representative to the Grand Lodge of the State. During his life he has been actively interested in the promotion of a number of enterprises of public utility, the most important of which was the Jacksonville, Louisville & St. Louis Railroad, which was built principally by the late M. P. Ayers of Jacksonville. Colonel Wyatt rendered Mr. Ayers a vast amount of assistance in the project, not the least important service being the securing of the vote for the issue of bonds along the route for the construction of the road. In various other ways he has shown himself to be a public spirited and generous man of affairs, alive to the advancement of the best interests of the community.
Colonel Wyatt was united in marriage October 29, 1848, with Mrs. Eliza
A. (Keller) Williams, who died February 12, 1892, leaving one son and one
daughter by her former marriage, namely: John C. Williams, of Jacksonville,
and Ellen, widow of Samuel P. McCullough, of Jacksonville. Colonel and
Mrs. Wyatt had one daughter and two sons, the daughter and oldest son being
deceased. The other son is George H. Wyatt, now a resident of Morgan County.
On May 16, 1894, Colonel Wyatt was married to Sallie Dodd, of Waverly,
a daughter of Elijah Dodd, a native of Kentucky, who in early manhood located
near Pisgah, Morgan County, and in 1849 removed to the southeastern part
of the county, where the remainder of his life was spent in agricultural
pursuits. His wife was, in maidenhood, Lucinda Deatherage. Mrs. Wyatt is
a native of Morgan County, and retains the ownership of the homestead on
which she was born.
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