Stark County IL Biographies - W

George S. Walker

George S. Walker, member of the firm of Walker Brothers, of Toulon, is one of the active business men of the city to whom opportunity has ever been the open door to success. Early in life he recognized the fact that industry wins and he has therefore lived a most industrious life, determined that success should be his if it could be won through earnest, persistent and honorable effort. He was born in Toulon, May 2, 1868, a son of D. J. Walker, a native of Philadelphia, born in 1840. The paternal grandfather came to the new world from Ireland after his marriage and settled in Phildadelphia, where some of his children were born. He removed westward to Illinois and afterward to Iowa, where his death occurred.

D. J. Walker was brought to the middle west during his childhood days and afterward settled in Toulon, where he became identified with the banking business as a cashier. Subsequently he was elected county clerk and after serving for one term was reelected and again was chosen for the office until he had occupied that position for sixteen consecutive years. He was still the incumbent in the position when death claimed him on the 18th of December, 1889. He was one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of the county, enjoying the entire confidence and esteem of all with whom he came in contact, for his life measured up to the highest standards of manhood and of citizenship. He belonged to the Congregational church and was one of its most active and helpful workers and liberal supporters. He was also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and worked his way upward through its various offices until he became a past grand. In Toulon he married Estella Rhodes, a native of Ohio, where she was reared and who still survives her husband.

The youthful days of George S. Walker were spent in the usual manner of the town-bred boy and when he had completed his education with a course in the Toulon high school he took up the work of clerking in 1884, entering the establishment in which he and his brother now carry on business. He was employed as a salesman until 1893 and in the meantime thoroughly acquainted himself with every phase of the business. He then purchased a half interest, becoming a partner of Mr. Swank, with whom he was associated until 1907, at which time his brother, H. W. Walker, purchased the interest of Mr. Swank. The first of Walker Brothers now have a large general mercantile store, carrying an attractive line of goods, which includes groceries, dry goods and many other commodities. Their trade is very extensive and their patronage is growing year by year.

On the 26th of November, 1890, Mr. Walker was married in Toulon to Miss Mary L. Morrison, a native of this city, her birth having occurred on the property adjacent to the Walker home. Her father, John W. Morrison, was one of the early settlers of the county and for some years served as superintendent of the county farm. To Mr. and Mrs. Walker have been born five children who are yet living: Harry Leroy and John M., who are clerking in their father's store; Mary; Donovan G.; and Dorothy.

The family are all members of the Congregational church, and for many years Mr. Walker has been connected with the choir, while in other departments of church work he takes an active and helpful interest. He belongs to the Odd Fellows lodge, in which he has filled all of the offices and is now past grand. He is likewise identified with the Modern Woodmen of America and the Court of Honor. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and he has served in various positions of honor and trust in the city and has also been a delegate to county and state conventions. His life has been well spent. Industry, close application and honesty have brought him success in business and many sterling traits have gained him the high regard of those among whom his entire life has been passed. Almost every one in Toulon knows George S. Walker and all speak of him in terms of warm regard.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 71-73 – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Harry W. Walker

Harry W. Walker, a son of D. J. Walker, the junior partner of the general mercantile firm of Walker Brothers in Toulon, was born June 12, 1871, in the city in which he still makes his home, and in the acquirement of his education he passed through consecutive grades in the public schools and supplemented his high school training by further study in an academy. His initial step in business was made as a clerk in the employ of C. M. Swank, with whom he remained for fifteen years. In the meantime his brother had become a partner in the business and at length H. W. Walker purchased Mr. Swank's interest and the present firm of Walker Brothers was thus established in 1907. They carry a large line of dry goods, clothing, men's furnishings, groceries, boots and shoes and have built up a trade of very gratifying proportions, their business exceeding in volume and importance that of any other store in the county. Their establishment is neat and tastefully arranged and the business is conducted with the strictest regard to a high standard of commercial ethics.

On the 24th of July, 1901, in Toulon, Mr. Walker wedded Miss Lora Fuller, a daughter of W. W. Fuller, of Toulon. She was born and reared in Elmira, this county, and received her education in the Toulon Academy, graduating in the class of 1897. This marriage has been blessed with two sons, Philip F. and Paul H.

Mr. Walker served as school treasurer for a number of years and the cause of education has always found in him a stalwart champion. He has likewise been alderman of his ward and he stands for all those things which are a matter of civic virtue and of civic pride. In politics he is a stanch republican. He is prominently known in the Odd Fellows lodge, in which he has three times passed all of the chairs, being the present treasurer, and he is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. He has been a delegate to the Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows, and his wife is connected with the Rebekahs. Both are members of the Congregational church, in which he and his brother have been choir members for years. Both are deeply interested in all those forces which work for the uplift of the individual and the betterment of the community, and their lives have conformed to high standards of manhood and citizenship, winning for them the confidence and goodwill of all with whom they have been brought in contact.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 73-74 – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


John W. Walters

John W. Walters, who since 1895 has been a partner in the banking house now conducted under the name of Scott, Walters & Rakestraw at Wyoming, was born July 26, 1854, at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England. His father, the Rev. William Walters, was born at Mayfield, Staffordshire, England, and wedded Sarah Neal, whose birth occurred in Derby, England. Following the birth of their five children they came to the new world, making their way to Wyoming, Illinois, in November, 1870. The father became the first pastor of the Congregational church of Wyoming, which he aided in founding in 1873. He continued to fill that pastorate for a decade and then again from 1893 until 1900. Between those two periods he was pastor of the Congregational churches at Lacon, Illinois, and at Hastings and Long Pine, Nebraska. He passed away in Wyoming in 1900, greatly esteemed and beloved by all. His life had been of marked influence for good in the community, his teachings being of far-reaching and beneficial effect and leaving their impress upon the lives of many with whom he came in contact. His wife died in 1872.

John W. Walters pursued his education in St. John’s Academy in his native city to the age of sixteen years, when he came with is parents to the new world. He embarked in the mercantile business in Wyoming in 1878 as a partner of A. G. Hammond and was thus actively identified with commercial affairs of the city until 1895, when he became a factor in financial circles, entering into partnership with the baking firm of Scott, Wrigley & Hammond, which is now Scott, Walters & Rakestraw. In this connection he is bending his efforts to administrative direction and executive control, and during the past twenty-one years he has contributed in no small measure to the success of the institution. He is also a director of the Stark County Telephone Company and owns considerable real estate in Illinois and other sections of the country.

On the 13th of June, 1877, at Wyoming, Mr. Walters was married to Miss Alice B. Wrigley, a daughter of John Wrigley, who was born at Haywood, Lancashire, England, and was associated with George W. Scott in founding the bank of Scott & Wrigley at Wyoming in 1870. Mr. and Mrs. Walters have become the parents of seven children: Arthur John; Sarah Anne, now the wife of Herbert L. Miller, of Danville, Illinois; Florence Louise, the wife of John R. Dexter, of Ardmore, Oklahoma; William Alfred, of Leroy, Illinois, who married Miss Hilda White, of St. Joseph, Missouri; and Edith Alice, Helen Mary and Harold Wrigley Scott, all at home.

Mr. Walters has adhered to the religious faith of his father and has long been a very active and prominent member of the Congregational church, in which he has served as trustee and treasurer for many years. That he is interested in the intellectual progress of the community is shown by the fact that he has served for nineteen years as a member of the board of education of Wyoming. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, and fraternally he is connected with the Masons, belonging to the lodge, chapter and Eastern Star. A resident of Wyoming from the age of sixteen years, he is well known here as one of the prominent, representative and honored citizens, his life having ever measured up to the highest standards of manhood and citizenship.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 262-263. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


George A. Wasson

George A. Wasson owns the Sylvan View Farm on section 25, West Jersey township, which consists of two hundred and forty acres and is there successfully engaged in raising both grain and stock. He was born in Peoria county, Illinois, on the 20th of November, 1856, and is a son of John Wasson and a grandson of George Wasson, both natives of the state of New York. The last named met death by an accident. John Wasson grew to manhood in Cayuga county, New York, but in 1850 located in Peoria, Illinois, then a small village. After devoting some time to getting out ties for the railroad and to working as a farm hand he rented land for three years and also did some teaming. Subsequently he purchased forty acres of land for twelve hundred dollars, buying the property on time as he had no capital. The first year was so rainy that crops were poor and he was unable to make any payment upon the farm and wished to give up the place. However, the people from whom he had purchased it told him to continue to cultivate it and to pay when he could. He eventually discharged all his indebtedness upon the farm, which he operated for a number of years. At length he disposed of it and bought a one hundred and sixty acre tract of land which he broke and fenced and improved with a good house and a substantial barn. He also set out an orchard and in time the place became one of the most highly developed farm properties of the locality. He also purchased an adjoining eighty acres and an additional sixty acre tract and likewise owned property in the city of Peoria. His last years were spent in that city, where he lived retired. He suffered a stroke of paralysis on Thanksgiving Day and died on Sunday, and his wife died on Sunday of the following week from the same cause, she being stricken on the day of his funeral. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he served on the official board. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters.

George A. Wasson was reared upon the home farm in Peoria county and is indebted for his education to the district schools. He remained with his father until he reached mature years and through assisting with the work gained valuable training in agricultural pursuits. Subsequently he purchased eighty acres of land in Princeville township, Peoria county, and for five years engaged in farming that place, his sister Ella keeping house for him. At the end of that time he sold the farm at a good profit and bought his present place, the Sylvan View Farm, which comprises two hundred and forty acres on section 25, West Jersey township, Stark county. In order to purchase it he went into debt seven thousand dollars. He took up his residence upon the place in 1903 and has since engaged in its operation. He raises good crops annually and also derives a gratifying profit from the sale of his high grade stock. He has paid off the indebtedness upon the farm and ranks among the substantial residents of West Jersey township. He has erected a large and modern residence provided with acetylene light, furnace heat, hot and cold water and the barns and other farm buildings are all substantial and well designed. The value of the farm is also increased by a fine orchard which Mr. Wasson set out. In addition to the Sylvan View Farm he owns three hundred and twenty acres in Traverse county, Minnesota, which is improved and is rented.

Mr. Wasson was married on the 6th of April, 1903, to Miss Emma White, a daughter of James E. White, a resident of Toulon and a veteran of the Civil war. Mrs. Wasson was born and reared in Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Wasson have one son, Orville J. who is his father’s partner in the operation of the home farm. He received a high school education in Toulon and his wife, who bore the maiden name of Ruth Lyon, also attended high school there. They have one daughter, Flora Emily. He has a great deal of mechanical ability and is an expert blacksmith and machinist although he never served an apprenticeship. He has a well equipped shop and works in both steel and wood. He understands thoroughly the construction of an automobile and is able to make needed repairs upon his car.

Mr. Wasson, of this review, was formerly a member of the Patrons of Husbandry or the Grange and took an active part in that organization, serving for several years in the office of lecturer. In politics he is independent, but although he manifests a commendable interest in public affairs he has never sought office. He has gained a wide circle of friends in Stark county and is recognized as one of its most up-to-date and successful farmers and stock raisers.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 302-304. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


David Webster

David Webster is one of the few remaining soldiers of the Civil war. He has the right to wear the little bronze button that proclaims him one of the defenders of the Union during the darkest hour of our country’s history. He enjoys meeting his old army comrades and recalling the incidents and events which occurred in southern camps and on southern battlefields. He is now numbered among the substantial farmers of West Jersey township, his home being on section 22, where he owns three hundred and eighty acres of valuable farm land in two adjoining and well improved farms.

Few residents of Stark county have so long remained within its borders, for Mr. Webster is one of its native sons, his birth having occurred in West Jersey township, June 25, 1842. His father, W. W. Webster, was born in Wales and was of English descent. When a youth of sixteen years he came to the United States, joining a sister in Wellington, Ohio, where he resided for a time. Subsequently he was married in Ashland, Ohio, to Miss Fanny Cupp, who was a native of Pennsylvania but was reared at Hackettstown, New Jersey, by Dr. Platt, having been left an orphan at an early age. Following his marriage Mr. Webster engaged in farming in Ohio for a few years and for a time also devoted his attention to the manufacture of potash. In 1832 he arrived in Illinois at a period when the work of progress and improvement seemed scarcely begun. Indeed, this was one of the pioneer districts of the country and civilization had penetrated but little farther west. He settled in Stark county, preempting three hundred and twenty acres of land on section 32, and 33, West Jersey township. Of this one hundred and sixty acres was prairie and brush land, while the remaining quarter section was covered with timber. He cleared away the brush and turned the first furrows upon the place. He harrowed his land, sowed the seed and with the coming of autumn harvested his first crops. He also fenced the farm and erected the necessary buildings upon the place, including a good residence and substantial barns. He likewise set out an orchard and did everything in his power to develop this into a good farm property. Success rewarded his efforts and his industry made him in time a prosperous citizen. For twenty-four years he continued to develop his land and then passed away on the old homestead July 8, 1856. His wife survived him for a number of years, her death occurring in 1871.

David Webster was reared upon the old home farm in West Jersey township and had reached the age of twenty years when, on the 13th of August, 1862, he placed his name on the roll of Stark county volunteers, joining Company F, One hundred and Twelfth Illinois Infantry, under Colonel Henderson. The regiment went south into Kentucky and participated in a number of hotly contested engagements. Mr. Webster was in the battle of Resaca, in the campaign against and the capture of Atlanta and with his command was afterward sent back to Nashville, following which he participated in the battles of Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee, and Greensboro, North Carolina. At the last named place he was mustered out and upon returning to the north was honorably discharged in Chicago, July 6, 1865, after serving for almost three years as a private. He sustained three slight wounds but was not disabled for duty. He then returned to the old home farm, which he operated for his mother, caring for her until her demise.

It was on the 16th of March, 1876, that David Webster married Miss Margaret Craig, who was born in Maryland but was reared in Knox county, Illinois. Her parents emigrated to America from Scotland and became early settlers of Knox county. Mr. and Mrs. Webster have continuously resided upon the home farm on section 22, West Jersey township, and the visible evidence of his life of thrift and industry is seen in the substantial dwelling and the good barns and outbuildings which he has erected. He also put up fences which divide the farm into fields of convenient size, has set out an orchard and planted ornamental trees and as the years have gone on he has increased his farm from time to time until the eighty acre tract has been expanded into a farm of three hundred and eighty acres. Annually he gathers golden harvests as a reward for the care and labor which he bestows upon the fields and he raises a good grade of shorthorn cattle and also good horses and he likewise feeds and fattens cattle and hogs for the market, the various branches of his business returning him a substantial financial income.

[History of Stark County, Illinois; M.A. Leeson, Chicago, M.A. Leeson & Co., 1887– Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Rollin E. Wheeler

Toulon gained a substantial citizen when in 1906 Rollin E. Wheeler became a resident of Stark county. For the past six years he has been engaged in the hardware and automobile business and the progressive spirit which actuates him in all that he undertakes is bringing him to the goal of success. He was born in Ontario county, New York, June 24, 1880, and had good school opportunities there while spending his youthful days in the home of his parents. His father, Sylvester H. Wheeler, was a native of the same county, born in 1829, and was a son of Sylvester Wheeler., Sr., who served in the War of 1812. Sylvester H. Wheeler, Jr., was a merchant and farmer of Ontario county, New York, for a long period but ultimately was appointed superintendent of a division of the overland mail service operating across Texas to the California gold fields, where he remained for several years or until the outbreak of the Civil war, when he returned to Empire state and there spent his remaining days. His death occurred in 1902, and he is survived by his last wife, who resides in Bristol, New York.

Rollin E. Wheeler was a resident of the Empire state until he reached the age of twenty-six, when in 1906 he determined to try his fortune in the west and made his way to Toulon, where he assumed the management of a hardware business owned by W. W. Wheeler. He was unacquainted with the trade but soon became familiar with the business and he also won popularity among the people. Under his guidance the enterprise proved profitable, and feeling that he could win success in that line, R. E. Wheeler in 1908 purchased the business and also bought the hardware store of David & Fell. He admitted C. D. Fowler to a partnership and they conducted their interests together for three years, at the end of which time Mr. Wheeler bought Mr. Fowler's interest and became sole proprietor but soon afterward took J. P. Williams into partnership, that relation being maintained until the death of Mr. Williams in November, 1914. Mr. Wheeler has since been alone in the ownership and conduct of the store. He carries a large stock of shelf and heavy hardware and in addition to retailing goods of that character he conducts a plumbing business, installs furnaces, handles gasoline engines, also installs electric light plants and is engaged in selling automobiles, largely handling the Chalmers car since 1909. This is a fine, well built, serviceable car, popular in Toulon. The various branches of his business are proving a source of success to Mr. Wheeler, who is a very energetic man, placing his dependence upon industry, close application and honorable dealing.

On the 2d of October, 1912, Mr. Wheeler was united in marriage to Miss Ethel Williams, a daughter of J. P. Williams, of Toulon, now deceased. He erected an attractive modern residence on West Main street and he also purchased and still owns a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in the Red River valley of North Dakota, all under cultivation. His activities are reaching out along many lines, and it is characteristic of him that he carries forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes.

[History of Stark County, Illinois; M.A. Leeson, Chicago, M.A. Leeson & Co., 1887, p. 544 – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


D. Harry Whisker

That Stark county offers excellent advantages to its citizens is indicated by the fact that many of its native sons have remained within its borders, never feeling the necessity of seeking opportunity elsewhere. Such is the record of D. Harry Whisker, whose home is on section 7, Osceola township. It was upon the farm where he now resides that he was born on the 31st of July, 1888, a son of Daniel Richardson Whisker, Sr., who was the first progenitor of the family in Stark county, arriving here in pioneer times. The father followed farming throughout the entire period of his active business career but is now living retired at No. 733 Morton avenue in Kewanee, Illinois. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Isabelle Brock, died four years ago.

D. Harry Whisker attended the public schools of this county and has spent his entire life here save one year which he passed in Minnesota. He was reared to the occupation of farming, early becoming familiar with the best methods of tilling the soil and caring for the crops. He worked in the fields through the summer months and attended school in the winter seasons and since his textbooks have been put aside he has concentrated his entire attention upon his farming interests. He now operates one hundred and eighty acres of rich and productive land and he has a well equipped farm supplied with all the latest improved machinery and farm implements, including a tractor. He is making a specialty of the feeding of hogs.

On the 11th of September, 1909, Mr. Whisker was married to Miss Lillian Swearingen, a daughter of Thomas Swearingen and a native of Bureau county, Illinois. They have become parents of four children: James Earl, Ina Octavia and Helen Loran, all at home; and Dorothy, who has passed away.

Mr. Whisker exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the republican party. He does not seek nor desire office but concentrates his efforts upon his business affairs and is a progressive and enterprising young farmer who is meeting with excellent and well deserved success in his undertakings.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 145-146. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


W. C. Williams

W. C. Williams is successfully engaged in business in Wady Petra, Stark county and also has ten acres of land there planted to fruit. He was born in Chicago on the 9th of April, 1872, and is a son of William and Elizabeth (Roberts) Williams, both natives of Wales, although their marriage occurred in Chicago. The father was a pattern maker and carpenter and passed away in 1899. The mother died in 1907.

After completing his public school course in Chicago W. C. Williams attended the Kansas Normal University at Salina for some time. On beginning his independent career he engaged in farming and stock raising in Osage county, Kansas, where he remained until 1910, when he located in Wady Petra, Stark county, Illinois. He bought the grain and lumber business here formerly conducted by Virginius Chase and at the present time also deals in heavy hardware and farm implements. He owns the elevator and warehouse and has built up a large and profitable trade. He also owns ten acres of land which was devoted to pasture when it came into his possession seven years ago but is now set out in fruit, including grapes, strawberries, raspberries, apples and pears. All of his business interests are capably managed and he has gained a gratifying measure of financial success.

In 1903 Mr. Williams was united in marriage to Miss Ethel Booth, and they have three children, namely, Ruth, Walter and Helen. Mr. Williams casts his ballot in support of the candidates and measures of the democratic party. In religious faith Mrs. Williams is a Methodist and he is identified with the Masonic blue lodge and chapter at Wyoming. He has gained a high place in the estimation of his fellow citizens since coming to Stark county and is recognized as a man of much business ability.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 238-239. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Mrs. Harriet E. Winans

Mrs. Harriet E. Winans is the widow of W. H. Winans and a representative of one of the old families of Stark county. It was in the year 1872 that the Winans home was established in Goshen township. W. H. Winans was born in New Jersey, January 20, 1853, and was a son of J. H. Winans, also a native of the same state. After spending the days of his boyhood and youth in New Jersey, during which period he obtained a public school education, W. H. Winans was married there on the 10th of May, 1871 to Miss Harriet E. Clemens, who was born and educated in the city of Newark, New Jersey.

At length the Winans family determined to try their fortunes in the middle west and J. H. Winans and family, together with Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Winans, came to Illinois, establishing their home in Stark county. They purchased an improved farm of two hundred and forty acres in Goshen township, near La Fayette, in 1872, and settling upon that property, J. H. Winans and son in partnership began its further development and improvement. Their labors were both practical and progressive and resulted in the production of substantial crops. They also gave considerable attention to raising and selling pure-blooded stock, making a specialty of Hereford cattle, and they became well-known breeders and dealers in pure-blooded Herefords. Their business affairs were ever carefully and wisely managed and a spirit of energy and determination actuated them at every point in their business career.

Whatever W. H. Winans undertook he accomplished, allowing no obstacles to bar his path that could be overcome by persistent and honorable effort. He continued to carry on the farm for a number of years, after which he removed to Toulon, where he purchased a residence and then lived retired. His rest had been well earned and he merited the enjoyment that came to him in his later years. He passed away in Toulon in June, 1902, when in the prime of life, being then but forty-nine years of age. He was a loyal member of the Odd Fellows lodge at Toulon and also a helpful and consistent member of the Baptist church. In fact his life was an expression of Christian manhood characterized by a recognition of the rights of others and his obligations to his fellowmen.

To Mr. and Mrs. Winans were born six sons and three daughters. Henry C., who is married and has a family of five children, is now a resident farmer of Goshen township, living on the old homestead. Lida H. is the wife of Frank Price and has a family of three children. Robert S. makes his home in Galva, Iowa. Emma C. is the wife of J. W. Rist, a farmer living near Burt, Iowa, and they have two children. Clifford W., who carries on general farming at Elkton, South Dakota, is married and has two children. John D., a farmer of Essex township, Stark county, is married and has one child. Bessie D. is at home. Leslie H. is now a junior in Denison University at Granville, Ohio, and Elbar J., a young man at home, completes the family.

Mrs. Winans is a lady of excellent business ability, capably managing her interests and investments. Since the death of her husband she has purchased a lot on South Henderson street in Toulon and thereon has erected an attractive residence built in modern style of architecture and tastefully furnished. She is one of the active workers and earnest members of the Baptist church, and all who know her esteem her for her kindly spirit and her many good deeds. For forty-five years she has now lived in Stark county and is therefore familiar with many of the events which have figured most prominently in shaping the history of this part of the state.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 203-205.– Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Thomas Winn

from "Stark County and Its Pioneers" by Mrs. E. H. Shallenberger – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Mr. Thomas Winn is another man who made his home here as early as the spring of 1834, being then a married man, and the father of four sons, all of whom lived to be citizens of Stark county, one of them, Jefferson, serving the county acceptably for a term of years in the capacity of circuit clerk.

Mr. Winn was born in Virginia in 1801; his wife whose maiden name was Mary Anne Johnson, in 1798.

They were married in Switzerland county, Indiana, 1823. The winter of 1831 they spent at Fort Clark, now Peoria, and during the two following years, farmed land near Mossville, on the Illinois river. His removal to Putnam county was brought about in the following manner:

While residing at Mossville he made the acquaintance of a Captain Jack, and eccentric English soldier, who after distinguishing himself to some extent in the campaigns against Napoleon, concluded to bring his family to this new country, and betake himself to more peaceful pursuits. This man hired Mr. Winn and his two yoke of oxen, and another man by the name of Canon, with a four-horse team, to take his family and effects from Mossville to Knoxville. The went by the way of Farmington, were three days making the journey, and had to camp out at night. At Knoxville they found William P. Smith, from the Essex settlement, then a young man, but well taught in the lore of the woods and prairies; he was on horseback, and said he could pilot the teamsters back by a shorter route; said "he could strike a bee line to Spoon river," which he did -- they fording that stream near the present site of Rochester, reaching the Essex settlement in good time on the second day. Here they were kindly entertained by the Smiths, and Mr. Winn was so pleased with the locality, as to decide upon making it his future home. So in April, 1834, he purchased sixty or seventy acres of land near the farm of Mr. Josiah Moffitt, which included the site of the "old log fort," built it would seem but to commemorate the "Indian scare" of 1832. For a short time his family lived within the "picketed" enclosure, but he subsequently put the logs to better use by splitting them into rails. Mr. and Mrs. Winn are now growing feeble with age, but their memory of past events is good; they corroborate, in every particular, Mr. Clifford's account of the building of our first school house, and say they think Adam Perry suggested and planned the enterprise. Mr. Winn was at its "raising;" says the neighbors came together early on the 4th of July, 1834, with their ox teams and axes, cut and hauled the logs from the woods around them, and some engaged in splitting clapboards. By two o'clock P.M. they had it waist high, and a very heavy rain coming up, the arranged their clapboards the best they could for shelter, and crawled in and "ate their fourth of July dinner, without toasts," but had a jolly good time, never to be forgotten by any of them.

Mr. Winn remembers the time when the Indians cultivated their corn fields on the Spoon river, just above Cox's mill, near the mouth of Camping creek; also has seen the remains of their "council house" in their old village near Mr. Moffitt's farm; the outlines could be distinctly traced and the centre pole was still standing; has also found the wooden troughs in which they enclosed their dead, sometimes hanging in trees.


Rev. Samuel G. Wright

from "Stark County and Its Pioneers" by Mrs. E. H. Shallenberger – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Rev. S. G. Wright was emphatically a pioneer preacher, and seems to have been eminently fitted both by nature and education for the arduous work he had undertaken; and as many of the best years of his life were given to Stark county in the various roles of preacher, pastor, lecturer, school commissioner, and citizen, in all of which he was conspicuous, a few pages of this volume are justly his due.

He sprung from a family remarkable for their unswerving faith in Christianity, therefore was by nature religious; was one of five brothers, all of whom had at one time devoted themselves to preparation for the ministry. Two finally concluded duty pointed them to other fields of labor.

Mr. John Wright took charge of the home farm and his aged parents, in Fulton county, while a younger brother became our neighbor, Captain William Wright, and fell mortally wounded while leading his men upon the battle field of Resaca. Of the three others, B. N. died many years since while pastor of the Congregational church at Belvidere. Ashur more recently passed away, having spent most of his life as a missionary to the Indians of the reservations in New York. Thus the subject of this sketch remains the sole survivor, and is still with unabated zeal pursuing his calling in the frontier state of Kansas.

Four sisters still remain -- Mrs. George W. Dewey, and Mrs. Dianthia Shinn, of Toulon; Mrs. Dr Curtis of Canton, Illinois, and Mrs. Otis Curtis, of Wisconsin.

As their father, Mr. Royal Wright, emigrated to Canton, Fulton county, as early as 1832, they have all been fully initiated into the mysteries of pioneer life.

Samuel G. was born at Hanover, New Hampshire, December, 1809; married in 1832, to Miss Eliza M. Page, a relative of Harlan Page, so well known throughout the New England churches. Soon after this marriage the young couple emigrated to Fulton county, Illinois, where Mr. Wright proposed to commence farming, but changing his mind, resolved to go to Lane's theological seminary, in order to prepare himself for the ministry. Thither his young wife accompanied him, aiding his exertions by her cheering presence, until failing health compelled her return to the friends in Fulton county, where she died of consumption in 1839, leaving two children, but one of whom now survives, Mr. Edward P. Wright, of Osceola. After this sad bereavement, Mr. Wright again returned to Cincinnati to complete his course of study, which he seems to have done in 1840, as in that year he was married to Miss Minerva Hart of Farmington.

He was commissioned by the Home Missionary Society and commenced labor in Stark county in 1841. His first home among us was in West Jersey township, in those days familiarly known as the Webster settlement or "Nigger Point." But he seems to have had the whole county for his parish, besides many outlying districts where he occasionally labored. From his journal it may be gathered that for the first few years he had regular appointments at the following named places: Walnut creek (at different points), Victoria, Henderson, Wethersfield, Lafayette, Wyoming, Osceola, Wall's school house, Moulton, and later at Toulon, and contiguous points, many meetings being held at private houses; prominent among those mentioned in this vicinity are Mr. Hugh Rhodes' and Mr. Nicholson's, and this was all beside the home work.

In 1842, he preached one hundred and seventy sermons, and traveled 2166 miles. In 1843, he preached two hundred sermons and rode 2,353 miles, administered the sacrament nine times, received seventeen into fellowship with the church. In 1844, he preached one hundred and eighty-one sermons, and traveled 3,103 miles.

This he characterizes as "a barren, barren year, frought with many discouragements." Still he continued to labor even more abundantly, and outside of this strictly ministerial work, he lectured frequently upon reforms and scientific subjects, giving temperance and anti-slavery addresses without number, also astromical lectures, broaching among other things the then new "Nebular theory" of creation, hoping thus as he says, "to open the eyes of the understanding, that men might be induced to listen to God's word by a consideration of his works." Who can measure the influence of such a man in moulding public sentiment in the then new and plastic condition of our community? And this work was performed at the cost of personal discomfort and self-denial, both to himself and family, that would appal people now-a-days. As to salaries, he says: "The Home Missionary Society helped in some cases to raise them to $400 per annum, but this was only for a favored few. My salary for the first twelve years of my missionary life averaged about $300 per year." No wonder his wife writes, "we did not live but only endured in those days."

"Mr. Wright bore a great deal of what we may now call persecution and unmerited obloquy for his devotion to anti-slavery principles, being rather the standard bearer of the old "liberty party" in this county. He never shrank from the odium incurred, for his own sake, but rather rejoiced that he was deemed worthy to suffer for the oppressed; but when it interfered with his usefulness as a minister of Christ, and thinned his congregations, then came many a painful struggle, as to where lay the path of duty, and many a heartfelt prayer for Divine direction. Then his interest for the temperance reformation and against the prevalent practice of "timber hooking" made him some enemies. Men did not brook reproof then, any better than now and he could not let wrong doing go unreproved; so there was a time when many railed at him, but he swerved not, remembering probably, "woe unto thee when all men speak well of thee."

"But in no way can we so well bring before our readers a correct idea of this life of labor and self-sacrifice as a series of extracts from his diary, entitled, "A journal of missionary work in Stark county," commencing December, 1841, and running forward over the next seven or eight years.

"First entry, December 24th, 1841. "Started for Walnut creek, there had been a great rain, the creek was swimming; Richard and William Dunn were with me; had much difficulty in crossing the branch above Trickle's mill; had to break ice for near an hour, and to go round by Fraker's grove, in order to get to the bridge below Centreville; preached at Mr. Foster's Friday evening, &c., &c.

"January 17th, 1842 -- Last Tuesday gave another astronomical lecture at Rochester; it was very muddy, yet the house was well filled, mostly with men, who gave close attention. Thursday, went to Princeville; very few came out to hear the temperance lecture, and only four signed the pledge; on my way back, found Spoon river over its banks for a quarter of a miles or more, and the ice to thick to break; went back to Rochester and there made out to cross the river. Saturday evening, gave an astronomical lecture to a full house at Lafayette; Sunday morning preached, and in the evening lectured on temperance; twenty-four signed the pledge, in all sixty-two at this place.

"January 31st, 1842 -- Find I have attended evening meetings for ten successive nights; feel the need of rest to keep health; can't bear everything, though I should love to hold meetings seven times a week, while I live. February 7th; came into collision with Mormons on Walnut creek.

"April 18th -- Went to Knoxville to attend the debate between Kinney and Frazer, also to obtain a teacher, which I effected.

"May 2nd -- Went to Lafayette to hear Mr. Harris expose Mormonism; rehearsed his lecture to my people at Mr. Webster's. Last week preached but twice; ploughed the rest of my field, and sowed four and a half bushels of oats.

"May 9th -- Went for the first time to Osceola; preached in the morning to a large and attentive audience; in the evening delivered a temperance lecture, following Captain Butler.

"May 23rd -- Preached at James McClennahan's, in the heart of the Mormon settlement; hope good was done.

"June 6th -- Formed a sabbath school; borrowed forty-nine volumes from the Osceola school.

"August 1st -- Meeting of the association; circumstances rather disheartening; hurry of harvest, heavy rains, &c.; cold and damp in the barn where we met, as it was not all enclosed.

"August 22nd -- Worked at getting stone for a well, and harvesting my oats; preached twice on Sabbath.

"There is a great effort to destroy the influence of this church by reporting that we are abolitionists, and have formed lines for helping runaways, hence are as bad as horse thieves.

"Many are highly prejudiced against us, and what the end will be, the Lord only knows. We are conscientiously engaged in doing to others as we would that they should do unto us; and if this will injure the cause of Christ in the long run, we are deceived. True, it is very unpopular, and many that would otherwise attend the preached word and sabbath school, stay away. Lord give us the wisdom of serpents and the harmlessness of doves. Some of the church are also offended; Lord restore them.

"September 14th -- Went to Henderson and Galesburg; made arrangements for a meeting at Lafayette; at Knoxville was hindered all the next day endeavoring to get relief for five colored persons who were that day imprisoned because they could not produce full evidence that they were free.

"October 3rd -- Went to Walnut creek; found very many sick, bilious fever prevailing; many also are sick in our neighborhood with whom I have spent much time last week.

"November 18th -- Last week I went to Galesburg to attend the association; no minister present but myself. Preached four successive days, and was detained two days longer by the severity of the weather. How soon I can return I know not, as the snow is badly drifted and the wind yet high and cold.

"November 30th -- Went to Farmington to attend the sitting of presbytery; detained there two days; then went to Ellisville and preached to a few hearers, twenty-five or thirty, from a population of one hundred and fifty. How has the gold become dross? Two years ago it was said all Ellisville was converted. From Ellisville went to Swan creek. The country is fast filling up; where six years ago everything was in a state of nature as far as the eye could see, now farms are seen in all directions, and many little towns are springing up. Preached five times at Swan creek.

"December 24th -- Attended the first meeting for mutual improvement at Knoxville; also the other association, indeed had a prominent part in it, but was compelled to tear myself away as my house and family needed my attention, for it is very cold and our house has neither doors nor floors.

"I have spent all the week at hard work, and we have just got the lower floor laid, the doors in, and the upper floor battened a little.

"January 4th, 1843 -- Early on Monday morning a daughter was born to us, and, as it was the day of fasting and prayer for the conversion of the world, in the afternoon I preached a sermon.

"January 23d -- Preached at Toulon on the Sabbath, in the court house which had just been received from the builders by the county commissioners. There was no fire in the house and it was a chilly day; still there were perhaps sixty in attendance, and I left another appointment in four weeks.

"February 6th -- Last week had much severe cold weather; had to be at home most of the week; read "Horne's Introduction," &c. On Friday another fugitive from slavery came along, making twenty-one that have passed through this settlement on their way to Canada. To-day it is extremely cold, the ink freezes in my pen as I try to write beside the stove.

"February 20th -- Did not go to Toulon, am almost sick from cold, my horse is lame and it is too cold to hold meeting in the court house without fire.

"May 22d, 1843 -- Last week was at home most of the time; planted potatoes, corn, &c., visited families, hope some good was done. Saturday, went to the Emery settlement, but found so strong an antipathy against abolitionists that but few wuld hear me preach, so I went on, and on Sabbath morning preached at Toulon to a large congregation; most of the seats filled. Report said the Mormons meant to encounter me here and draw me into a debate, but all passed off quietly.

"May 20th -- The grand jury found a bill against me, and my Elder, W. W. Webster, for harboring runaway slaves! Some excitement exists, but hope good will result. Many sympathize with us and with the oppressed, who had seldom thought on the subjecct before; and these wicked laws "to be hated need but to be seen." Rev. Owen Lovejoy, of Princeton is also indicted. We have to yet been taken by the sheriff, but probably shall be soon.

"October 23rd, 1843 -- Sabbath at Toulon; many Mormons came expecting a champion to attack me; there were a number of their elders present; I fully expected an attack, but they did not see fit to make one, probably waiting to get a big gun for the assault.

"August 14th -- Last week worked three days at harvesting. Much sickness around. Our election took place, and I believe there were eleven liberty votes cast in the county; last year there were but two!

"November 20th, 1843 -- Last week had the house plastered; had to attend mason myself, &c., &c. For five weeks have been to work almost constantly about home, trying if possible to get the house comfortable to winter in. It has been almost insupportable, especially for the children. Never, since I began to labor in the ministry have I had, until now, a house with more than one room in it, which has had to answer for kitchen, parlor, bed-room, closet, &c. My sermons have all been prepared in the midst of the confusion of cooking, care of children, and company! Now by the blessing of God, I have a room for retirement and study.

"December 13th -- Last week worked at getting wood; got a good supply for the winter; preached five times; rode seventy-five miles, went to Knoxville to give information to the committee on home missions; got horse shod and wagon repaired.

"May 20th 1844 -- Heard there was to be an informal meeting of presbytery at Knoxville, and went, returning the next day in the rain. Sabbath rainy, but preached twice; we have more rain than ever before; creeks are all full, bridges gone, the earth perfectly saturated with water, sickness beginning to prevail, lung fevers especially.

"May 24th -- Last week court sat; no complaints against "Nigger stealers" this time; court held but one day. Tuesday went to Mr. Rhodes' and to Lafayette to make arrangements for a convention and debate on Friday. Friday, went to Toulon to attend the convention; W. J. Fraser and Esq. Kinney debated with James H. Dickey and O. P. Lovejoy, upon the principles and practices of the liberty party. The debate held from 2 P.M., till 5, and from 7 till 3 A.M. No decision was taken either by judges or vote; but we think the negative established nothing. It rained hard all night and in the morning creeks were almost impassabe. In crossing a little branch between Mr. Silliman's and Hugh Rhodes' the water was so deep that my wagon uncoupled, and the hind parts floated off, and I went out with the fore wheels, well wet.

"June 10th, 1844 -- Last week started with wife and two daughters for Knoxville, Galesburg, Victoria, &c. Wednesday evening at Knoxville, a most dreadful storm of wind, hail, rain and lightning, broke over us; several houses were unroofed and one new two story house was upset and dashed to fragments. In it were a mother and three children; one child dangerously hurt. The storm raged from Galesburg to Spoon river, how much farther we know not. It seemed for many minutes impossible that the house in which we were could withstand its force. Mr. Cole was absent and no man present but myself. There seemed but a step between us all and death. God alone could understand our feelings. The lighning was almost constant, and in many places seemed to be running all over the ground; persons riding in wagons saw the wheels apparently encircled with fire. This occurred on the 5th of June, 1844. Streams are all swimming, bridges gone, roads dreadful, still raining.

"June 24th -- Went to Knoxville as a witness for Rev. Mr. Cross, in the case of the People vs. Cross for harboring slaves; at length a nolle prosequi was entered and I returned home. On Friday, went to Farmington to attend a convention for organizing a general association for the state. The constitution was changed in divers places, and the confession of faith slightly altered; strong resolutions passed on the subject of slavery.

"July 2nd, 1844 -- Last week went to Lafayette and Toulon to hear the candidates for congress speak. After Mr. Cross, the liberty candidate had spoken, Colonel W. H. Henderson delivered himself a speech against abolitionists in general, and ministers in particular. At Toulon also, he expressed the same sentiments, only was more personal. He warned the people against all sorts of abolitionists, said 'they would destroy the country; slavery was a great curse, but God would remove it without human instrumentality. Warned all not to hear abolition preachers; he would not hear one preach, sing or pray! neither should his children go to our sabbath school; warned the children not to believe what such preachers said; he would say to the gentleman whom he had in his eye, we don't want him, he can go back to the east where he came from; I never heard him, and never will. If he comes here let him talk to empty seats, ' &c.

"August 12th -- Last week went to election; brought down the bibles from Lafayette; stacked my oats; went to see Mrs. Nicholson, (who is dying of cancer); marked the bibles; prepared two sermons; on Sabbath preached twice, and rode sixty-five miles during the week.

"September 23rd -- Last week worked at home most of the time; threshed my oats, dug my potatoes, waited on the sick; my wife has fever and ague.

"September 30th -- Was at home the former part of the week reading, &c. Thursday went to visit Mrs. McClennahan and Mr. Rhodes. Friday attended to business for the bible society at Toulon; got medicine for my wife of Dr. Hall; went home and administered it. Saturday went to Lafayette and preached preparatory lecture.

"July 8th, 1845 -- Monday, attended an adjourned discussion of anti-slavery principles at Toulon. I regret to be obliged to enter this field, others ought to do it; but if they will not, shall I be silent? Would it please God? Would conscience leave me at ease? I pray God to guide me in this matter, and if I misapprehend my duty, may I know it.

"January 24th, 1846 -- Last week made arrangements for a preaching field, which will be Stark county only. Gave a lecture on capital punishment at Toulon; went to Walnut grove and preached on Wednesday evening, and on Monday evening a temperance lecture; thence to Galesburg to attend examinations.

"February 2d, 1846 -- Went to Lafayette; found a Methodist meeting which had continued for nineteen days with good success; a spirit of union seemed to prevail. I was invited to preach, which I did; then went to Toulon and Wyoming to arrange appointments; I am met by a good degree of cordiality, that shows prejudice has greatly abated. Sabbath at Toulon; the prospect is flattering as compared with former times.

"February 9th, 1846 -- Last week went to Galesburg to attend the installation of brother Kellogg; was unexpectedly called to give the charge to the people. After preaching we had a conference of brethren in reference to uniting our presbytery and central association in a sort of convention, so there should be one and not two bodies.

"June 26th -- Left the association contrary to their vote, to fill appointments on the Sabbath. Preached at Toulon to a full house, from the text, "no weapon formed against thee shall prosper." At Wyoming from the same. Next day spent with Dr. Castle reading "Spooner's work."

"Tuesday, went to Galesburg to attend the commencement exercises of Knox College. They were quite flattering to the institution. Mr. Blanchard, however, so far forgot the spirit of the age, and of the west, as to appear in a "toga," and to wear his hat, &c., &c., while giving his inaugural address.

"August 25th -- Had a long interview with Captain Butler. The captain is something of a Unitarian, but likes Walker's book on the philosophy of the plan of salvation pretty well, but thinks Walker fails to recognize one fact, viz: "penalty precedes protection." If he could see the fallacy of this, his theory would be sapped.

"August 31 -- Last week wrote a letter covering two sheets, to Captain Butler, trying to expose the fallacy of his dogma, "penalty precedes protection;" also attended upon sick neighbors considerably.

"On Saturday, preached another funeral sermon. Sunday morning preached from 1st Corinthians, xv, 24-28, showing that the mediatorial key is given up at the resurrection, and that afterwards there can be no restoration to happines or favor. P.M., found the sickness still increasing about Moulton; but few out in consequence. Just at the close of services, word came that wife was sick, so I returned immediately; shall visit here again as soon as wife's health permits; she has a fever but hope nothing serious.

"Wednesday, September 15th -- Was called to attend a funeral at the residence of Mr. Buswell, of a little boy who had suffered greatly from stricture of the bowels. The family are deeply afflicted. Saturday I had an attack of fever myself; was better on Sunday, so I preached twice, but have been very weak ever since.

"September 26th -- Tried to gain a little strength by cutting corn; am some better, went to Victoria. Came home on Monday; found Edward had been taken sick all alone at home; wife and daughters were with me; wife hardly able to sit up; thought riding might benefit her; Edward had a high fever which held him till Wednesday morning; came on again on Thursday morning with great violence. The girls too have both suffered similar attacks, though not so severe. We have had work hands all week finishing off the chambers, so all week, could do no more than wait on the sick and help wife about the house.

"Saturday expected to deliver a preparatory lecture at the court house in Toulon, but found sickness had been so severe there, that hardly any of the brethren could attend; postponed it for four weeks. The health of my family is improving. The amount of sickness in unparalleled, although not very fatal.

"October 17th, 1846 -- Started for synod at Belvidere; took wife and daughters to Henry, to stay with brother Pendleton's wife, while he and I go to synod in company. As we went north, found sicness even more severe than at home. Absent 12 days; family still suffering from intermittent fever; Edward on his bed, and the little girls unable to ride.

"Saturday, October 24th -- Still find much to do at home on account of sickness in my family and among the neighbors. Have been all this morning feeding and picking corn for Mr. A. A. Dunn, who is confined to his bed. This is the third time I have been to help him this week.

"I have studied none and spent but little time in private devotions of late, but trust I have been in the path of duty, nevertheless.

"November 6th, 1846 -- Had a good meeting at brother Hugh Rhodes', persons from different parts of the county. They agreed it was best that I should remain and proceed to organize a Congregational church in Toulon the last Sabbath of the month.

"December 1st -- On Sabbath Bro. Parker was with me at Toulon and we organized a church of nine members. It was a solelmn time. The house was full and I hope a good impression was made.

"January 5th, 1847 -- Went to attend the ordination of brother Blanchard at Knoxville; very muddy bad roads. Arriving at home on Friday evening, found two fugitives from slavery had been along, with only "Christmas papers." Messrs. Smith and Gordon of Farmington pursued, got out a search warrant for two stolen horses and two colored men who were supposed to have stolen them. Neither horses or men were described except that one man called himself "Major." They searched our premises in vain, however, for the birds had flown, having got a wink from friends at Farmington that they were pursued. Several constables and others followed them to Osceola, but before they reached there, the fugitives were safely out of the county.

"October 13th, 1847 -- Last week attended the meeting of the association at Groveland; it was a pleasant and profitable time; we have now 11 ministers and 18 churches -- more than Knox Presbytery ever had.

"October 28th, 1847 -- Monday, returned to Toulon, bought 6 1/2 acres of land. Had my horse shod by Ford, who said he would take nothing but preaching for his work. He is doubtless a wicked man, but I must visit in his family and try to do them good.

"November 25th, 1847 -- Visited Mr. McWilliams and was invited to preach at his house. Same evening married Miss Eliza Rhodes and C. M. S. Lyons.

"December 6th -- Came round by Toulon, and found a letter and box of goods for us from Sharon friends, &c.

"March 27th, 1848 -- This week occupied pretty much in removing to Toulon and fixing things there."

Hereafter for ten years Mr. Wright's life was more closely identified with the interests of the Congregational church at Toulon, which he built up from the little handful that met in Mr. Rhodes' cabin in November, 1846, into a large and flourishing church, with a comfortable building of their own which continues unto this day.

Shall we ask pardon of the Stark county reader for introducing so many extracts from this journal; or rather express regret that we can given no more? Not on account of their intrinsic worth, of themselves considered, but on account of the memories they awaken and the light thrown on the "long ago." Such simple allusions to matters then current, come to us now, with their far off dates, like echoes from a land we shall see no more.

From the same source we could draw pictures of funerals and weddings, death bed scenes or joyous gatherings, at the very mention of which, to the aged among us, recollections would come trooping up, like an unnumbered host. But in a work like this, we dare not enter on such a field. The extracts we have made are such as relate principally to the material or "outer life" of the writer, or show something of the spirit and temper of the times and men of which he writes. They show, too, very nearly what the lives of other earnest pioneer preachers were 30 or 40 years ago.

Of his "inner life," of thought and emotion, and more properly professional duties, where he had made record, we have quoted nothing. For this, perhaps we owe him an apology, as it may seem to place him unfairly before our readers.

Since leaving us, Mr. Wright has ministered to many churches; for a time he was pastor of the Congregational church at Lyndon, in this state; afterwards he held the same relation toward the churches of Galva and Neponset; but he has now for several years been residing at Burlington, Kansas -- still a missionary, still a worker, and will be while his life lasts.

Surely his denomination has few, if any, more capable or faithful servants than the subject of our sketch.


W. W. Wright, Jr.

The history of W. W. Wright, Sr., appears elsewhere in this volume and W. W. Wright, Jr., is certainly “a chip off the old block.” He was born in Toulon and his entire life has been spent here except the few years he attended the University of Illinois and the Law School of Boston. He will be thirty-eight years of age on the 12th of August, 1916. His wife was Miss Phoebe Robbins of Emmettsburg, Iowa. This happy union has been blessed with two bright-eyed boys, William Wilburforce, who will be six years of age in July, 1916, and John, who is three years of age. William Wilburforce is the fourth in a direct line to be honored by this name.

W. W. Wright is an attorney at law and also a farmer. While caring for his full share of legal business he also cultivates many acres of the best farm land in the state and his fine stock is never neglected. He resides in a beautiful home in the suburbs of our little city and is one of Toulon’s best boosters. His public spirit knows no bounds and his pocketbook always opens when anything is needed that will benefit his town.

The historian regrets that he is unable to get a better biography of Mr. Wright, but the history is published just at the time when farm work and professional duties are both crowding him and the above items were collected from his friends and without his knowledge. But a history of Stark county without mention of the Wright family would be unworthy of the name of a history. Mr. Wright’s great-uncle, Samuel G. Wright, was the pioneer minister to locate here, and his father and grandfather were men whose moral influence is still at work. He springs from a family remarkable for unswerving faith in Christianity. Captain William Wright, grandfather of W. W. Wright, gave his life for his country and received his death wound upon the battlefield or Resaca.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 343-344. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Judge William Wilberforce Wright

Modern philosophical reasoning has evolved the thought the “Not the good that comes to us, but the good that comes to the world through us is the measure of our success.” Judged by this standard the life of Judge William Wilberforce Wright was a most successful one. He did much to uphold the legal and political status of his community and to advance its intellectual and moral growth. Never was his position upon any vital question an equivocal one and the high regard entertained for his opinions resulted in a large following for any cause which he advocated. The second son of Captain William Wilberforce and Anne Matilda (Creighton) Wright, he was born in Canton, Illinois, September 10, 1842. His father was a native of Hanover, New Hampshire, and belonged to a family which settled in New England in 1665, and some of whose members participated in the struggle for independence. The mother of our subject was of Scotch-Irish descent and came to this country from the county of Cavan, Ireland.

William Wilberforce Wright finished his education in the Galva high school and then farmed with his father near Toulon until of age. In 1862 he began the study of law in the office of Hon. Miles A. Fuller, in Toulon. In 1864 he enlisted for service in the Civil war, becoming a member of the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, a one hundred day regiment, in which he served as sergeant nearly six months, voluntarily remaining until the end of the war was assured.

On his return to Illinois Mr. Wright finished his legal studies and was admitted to the bar at a term of the supreme court, held at Mount Vernon in November, 1866, and was in practice in Toulon from that date until his death, September 30, 1912. He was considered to be one of the most honest, upright and just attorneys that ever practiced law in this county. He was not only faithful to his clients, but also just to his opponents. It was his custom, whenever possible, to effect a settlement of differences outside rather than to bring his clients into court. In politics he was a republican, an ardent admirer of Lincoln and a contemporary of Robert G. Ingersoll.

Mr. Wright served Stark county, Illinois, six years as master in chancery and twenty-five years as county judge, while continuing practice in the higher courts. He was a delegate from the Peoria district to the national republican convention at Chicago in 1884; at the district convention in 1886 he was within one vote of the nomination for representative to congress, and lacked that only because of his well known temperance sentiments. He was a man who was much interested in the welfare of the community, taking a great interest in educational matters. He was a member of the Toulon Debating Society, an organization which brought many noted men to this town, such as Wendell Phillips and Theodore Tilden. He served as president of the high school board of education and also as a member of the board of trustees of Toulon Academy.

He united with the Toulon Congregational church of November 13, 1853, seven years after the church was organized. A brother of his father, Samuel G. Wright, was pastor of the church at the time. On November 29, 1896, the fiftieth anniversary of the church was held and Judge Wright delivered the historical address. He held successively the offices of trustee, clerk, treasurer, was elected deacon December 1, 1883, and continued in that office up to the time of his death. During his relationship with the church he became very much interested in the Sabbath school work and served as superintendent for a considerable time. His interest in the Sabbath school work was not confined to the church alone but to the town and surrounding country. While he was superintendent Dwight L. Moody was brought here and delivered some inspiring addresses.

Judge Wright was married May 19, 1875, to Mary Harrison Hopkins, a daughter of Hon. Joel W. Hopkins, of Granville, Putnam county, Illinois, and to them were born the following named: Eleanor Matilda, William Wilberforce and Helen Gertrude, who survive him; and Mary, who died in infancy.

No man was more modest in his behavior, unassuming in his aspirations; always a thorough gentleman, sincere and courageous, yielding to no temptation of temporary expediences in defense of his conduct, he was ever keenly alive to the best and highest interests of his fellowmen. In his church relations he was faithful to the service of the church and the doctrines of the Bible, and had a religious experience that shed over his life a halo of hope whose effulgence made light the gloom in the lives of others. He lived a life that may well become the aim of every man; it was one of the strong and abiding faith in the eternal verities of religion, and he could say with Paul, the old soldier of the cross, “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; henceforth there is left for me a crown of righteousness.”

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 300-302. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]


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