JOHN M. WILLSON, proprietor of the Maple Grove Poultry and Vegetable Farm, of the West Side, Bloomington, engaged in business at his present farm in October, 1885, and has met with gratifying success. His poultry embraces the Brahma and Plymouth Rock species, and Mr. Willson exhibits some of the finest fowls to be seen in the market. His business is on the increase, and he purposes to carry on breeding extensively in the near future. Before coming to this locality Mr. Willson conducted a grocery trade at Lansing for a period of seventeen years and carried on the poultry business for four years. Of this latter he now has a thorough understanding, and the prospects are that he will build up a fine reputation in this department of business.
Mr. Willson is descended from English and Scottish ancestry, and was born in the county of Brant, Ontario, the date of his birth being Dec. 15, 1845. He was reared in his native Province, and came to the United States in 1867. His father, Joseph Willson, is still living, making his home with our subject. The mother, Eliza A. (Parsons) Willson, died at Lansing, Mich., July 3, 1879. Of the parental union there were born but two children, our subject and his sister Clarissa, who died at the age of fourteen years. The parents were born and raised in Upper Canada, and were active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church there.
John M. was educated in Wentworth County, and remained there until nearly grown. When fourteen years of age he visited Cleveland, Ohio, where he was employed as clerk in a store of general merchandise. Later he returned to Canada, and from there proceeded to Lansing and engaged in the grocery trade, as stated. There he was married to Miss Minnie Potter, who died after the birth of her first child. The child, Grace B., only survived its mother nine months. Mrs. Minnie Willson was born and reared in Michigan, and was a lady greatly beloved by her husband and friends for her amiable and excellent character.
Mr. Willson was the second time married, at Detroit, Mich., on the 29th of March, 1879, to Mrs. Josie (Bainbridge) Gally, the daughter of Prof. E. D. and Sarah (Pickett) Bainbridge, natives of New York. The father was a professor of music, a skillful musician, and was called one of the sweetest singers in the East. He graduated at Hamilton, N. Y., when eighteen years of age, and two years later began teaching and followed this profession until he rested from his earthly labors. Late in life he went to Detroit, Mich., and died there on the 29th of May, 1879. For many years he had been a resident of Rochester, N. Y. All his time and talents were devoted to the calling which he greatly loved, and while his musical talent drew around him a large circle of admiring friends, he was likewise valued for his kindly and courteous disposition and personal worth.
Mrs. Josie Willson was born in Seneca County, N. Y., Aug. 22, 1850. She inherited, in a large degree, the musical genius of her father, and when a child of five years old could readily play upon the several instruments which he possessed. She still plays skillfully, but without notes or after technical rules. She lived at home until her first marriage in Rochester to Mr. W. A. Gally, who died in about the year 1875. Our subject and wife are members in good standing of the Congregational Church, of which the former is a Trustee, and in politics he affiliates with the Republican party. Socially he belongs to the Masonic fraternity.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill.: containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 121. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards