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McLean County, Illinois
WILLIAM WILES. In this enlightened age, when men of energy, industry, and merit are rapidly pushing their way to the front, those who by their individual efforts have won fame and fortune, may promptly claim recognition.
Years ago when the west was entering upon an era of growth and development, and Illinois was laying its foundation for a future prosperity, there came hither from all parts of Europe men of sturdy independence, and with determination to succeed, that justly entitles them to representation in the history of the great west. Among this class is numbered Mr. Wiles, who after an active and useful life is now enjoying a well-earned retirement from labors in his pleasant home in Chenoa.
He was born in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, England, on the 24th of May, 1820, and is a son of William and Sarah (Sanling) Wiles, whose home was in England, and after years of toil and a life of fruitfulness were laid to rest beneath the soil they loved best.
William was reared in England, and at the age of ten 9 years, after his father's death, commenced the struggle for a livelihood. From the commencement of his career until his retirement in 1883, Mr. Wiles has followed agricultural pursuits, perfecting himself in all branches, and the present thrifty condition of his farm in Yates township, recently given over to the charge of his son, speaks for itself of his understanding and good management.
For the first two years of his working life he received the meager sum of eight cents per day, and the two years following, twelve cents. During his fourteenth and fifteenth years he received sixteen cents per day, and throughout all these years furnished his own board. Mr. Wiles then entered the employ of a farmer from whom he received twelve dollars and fifty cents per year, and with whom he remained for thirteen years, afterward working for various other farmers until his twenty-seventh year.
His experiences, though hard, were not without their benefits. The thorough understanding and experienced derived from the many years of hard labor, enabled him to fill the responsible position of overseer of a large farm, extending over many acres, and upon which he remained for seven years.
On the 16th of May, 1847, Mr. Wiles married Frances Ann Frank, an English woman. Seven children have been born to them, namely: Eliza, deceased; George, Sarah, William, John, Florence, deceased; and Edward, also deceased. The four former were born before Mr. and Mrs. Wiles left England.
In 1857 the family emigrated to America, locating in Eureka, Illinois, where they resided for seven years, and then came to Yates township, where Mr. Wiles had purchased a farm of one hundred and twenty acres, and where he put into practice all the modern and scientific methods known to the agricultural world at that time, but giving the greater part of his attention to the raising of hogs. In 1883 he placed the management of the farm in the hands of his son Edward, and removed to Chenoa, where he now resides in his cheerful and comfortable home, enjoying the fruits of his former active life.
In the quiet evening of life, shadows ofttimes come to darken our horizon. On the 2d of October, 1897, Mr. Wiles experienced the sad loss of his wife, who died in her seventy-fifth year. Our subject gives his support to the Democratic party, and while not aspiring to public office, his fellow-citizens have called upon him to serve as road commissioner, which he has done for three terms, giving due satisfaction.
He is a self-made man in every respect; his life has been long, eventful and useful, and in his declining years he has the love and respect of all who know him. He is not a member of any religious body, but he is a true soldier of the cross, who upholds and believes in the principles of truth as taught by the Savior of men.
[The Biographical record of McLean County, Illinois - S.J. Clarke Publishing Company - (1899)]
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