Carroll County Illinois

Willard Wicks

Willard Wicks, a noted agriculturist of Mt. Carroll Township and the most successful nurseryman in this region of the country lives on his beautiful homestead adjoining the Carroll County Agricultural Society's grounds, about one mile from the city of Mt. Carroll. His father, Gershom Orvis Wicks, was a native of Vermont, and his mother, nee Maranda Dodge, was born in the State of New York. In this latter State they were married and settled first on a farm in Antwerp, Jefferson Co., N. Y. They made a number of removals, however, during their lifetime and cleared up several farms, selling each one at an advance. The mother died in 1832, and the father was again married, his second wife being Phebe Waters. In 1844 the father removed to Illinois, went to California in 1851, and died in San Jose in that state, in 1882. Of his first marriage there were three children, of whom our subject is the eldest, and of his second union there were four.

Our subject was born in a log hotel, Bentley's Four-Corners, at Antwerp, Jefferson Co., N. Y., Jan. 26, 1827, and remained with his father until he was of age. He received such an education as the public schools of Jefferson County of that day offered to the young, but the facilities for acquiring anything like a thorough education were rather limited. When of age he began life on his own account, and for six years worked out on varous farms by the month.

December 15, 1855, Mr. Wicks was united in marriage with Mr. Philaura Mark, nee Willis, who was born in Vermont, Aug. 4, 1828, and is a daughter of Nathan and Philaura (Tubbs) Willis. Her father left his home in the Green Mountain State when Mrs. Wicks was about two years of age, and coming to what was then considered the West, settled for a time in Ohio, and in 1834 the mother died htere. In 1837 the father removed with his family to Cass County, Ill., and in 1840 came to Carroll County. Here they were pioneers, and became well known throughout this neighborhood, the father continuing to make this his home until life's labors with him were finished. He was called to his final rest Dec. 26, 1879.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Wicks settled in Carroll County, where they engaged in farming for ten years. Possessing a taste for horticulture and arboriculture, our subject devoted much attention to these interesting departments of farm life, and finally engaged in the nursery business, in which he has developed great skill, and has become very successful. His place is noted far and near for its beauty, and for the elegant specimens of trees and plants with which it is surrounded. Sixteen acres of ground are handsomely laid out and decorated with twelve different varieties of evergreens, forming a combination rarely seen in the Western country, the contrast in their shapes and in the tints of their foliage making a beautiful display. A large number of evergreen hedges, trimmed in the most artistic style, are a noted feature of his place, and the beautiful avenue running through the evergreen plantation is the great attraction to all visitors, and is known as the "Lovers' Retreat." A lane connected with the two main roads passing by his place is beautified by an attractive rustic rail-fence which is of his own design and construction, and which it is needless to say is greatly admired. On this place he has three very desirable building sites not yet occupied, which he has surrounded by wind-breaks. The entire grounds are laid out in the most artistic style of landscape gardening, and the fruits from his orchard and vineyard have attracted much attention. As an evidence of the interest he takes in his profession, and the knowledge he is known to possess of all its details, he was invited by the State Horticultural Association to read before them an essay on "Landscape Gardening" which was received with great interest, and was ordered printed. Our subject is also the owner of some property in Iowa near Spirit Lake.

Mr. and Mrs. Wicks have but one child--Martha, now the wife of Lyman Wood of Woodland Township, who has two children--Eugene WIllard and Philaura. Mrs. Wicks is a member of the Disciples Church. Our subject is well known in the county, but has taken but little part in its public affairs so far as holding office, which he has constantly avoided. He has been a life-long temperance man in the broadest acceptation of the word, not only avoiding the use of intoxicating liquors, but abstaining also from tobacco, coffee, tea and all other stimulants. For many years he has been a member of the Temperance League, and of the Prohibition Club, and at the last Presidental election voted for Gen. Fisk. He is a health reformer in the extreme, and has taken no medicine in over thirty years, and to this fact and his temperate habits he attributes his unusually good health.

Portrait & Biographical Pg. 897

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