Winnebago County, Illinois
"Aunt Hazel" Wetherell, with two of her church nursery wards, Karen Higgins and Colleen Higgins.
She's known as "Aunt Hazel" to the hundreds of babies who have slept and played in the nursery of Centennial United Methodist Church, though her formal name is Mrs. Hazel Wetherell. "In fact", she says, "sometimes adults in the church, when they want to introduce me, can't think of my last name. I'm Aunt Hazel to them."
Since 1914 Aunt Hazel has worked with the children of Centennial, sometimes teaching Sunday School, others times being a counselor to the youth group, and most devotedly operating the nursery. Two and even three generations have been comforted by her understanding and warm personality.
"I'm still helping in the cradle roll,' she says, but I'm getting so I'm not too sure on my feet." She's going to be 79 in August, and she's been active at Centennial for 60 years. Her years in the nursery total about 45.
Mrs. Wetherell is testimony to the fact that the retirement years can be fun and rewarding. She worked, first for Security and then for American Insurance Co., for 50 years. She learned the claims business thoroughly, and after about 25 years she became, with five other women, the first women insurance underwriters in the country.
"They always said that was a man's job," she recalls.
And since retiring she's been knee-deep in community groups and maintained a lively correspondence with many people.
"I've had fun after I retired," she says, speaking with enthusiasm about the Senior Citizens Activity Center on N. Main St., where she's taken and conducted classes. She's been an officer in the American Association of Retired Persons, taking particular delight in meeting new people and renewing acquaintances with former friends. Some people she attended grade school with have returned to Rockford, and seeing them again is a special thrill to Aunt Hazel. She and a sister, Mrs. Myrna Bixby, occupy the family home at 438 Oakely Ave., where all eight Wilcox sisters and brothers grew up and graduated from Rockford High School.
"Folks have always been so kind to me; people have been so kind and so thoughtful through the years," she says. And the reason, of course, is that Aunt Hazel has been so kind and thoughtful, too. [--Rockford Morning Star, 06-22-1974]
WILCOX, Rev. John
One of the prominent and wealthy agriculturists of Burritt Township, Winnebago County, was born in the parish of Lanreath, Cornwall, England, December 7, 1825. John Wilcox's father was a native of the same parish, as was also his grandfather, Samuel Wilcox. The great-grandfather of our subject, Henry Wilcox, was the proprietor of a boarding-school in England and spent his entire life in the above-named parish. Samuel Wilcox acquired a thorough education and for a time taught school in the parish of Lanreath. He was a surveyor by profession, and served in the position of Town Clerk for half a century, passing away when eighty-four years of age. His son, the father of our subject, on attaining manhood was placed in charge of a gentleman's farm in Lanreath, having the entire management of the estate for thirty years. In 1850, resigning the position, he came to America and located in Winnebago County, where he, in partnership with his son John, purchased one hundred acres of land in the town of Burritt. He was accompanied hither by his son, our subject, and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Walter Searl, in his eighty-third year. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Stevens, a native of Looe, Cornwall County, and a daughter of William and Mary Stevens; she departed this life, after having attained the age of seventy-three years.
The seven children in the parental family were named, respectively: Samuel, William, Mary, Susan, Hannah, John and Maria, all of whom came to America, and one of whom, William, is at present residing in New Zealand. The original of this sketch attended school regularly from the age of seven to sixteen years, when he assisted his father on the home farm for three years and then received an appointment to a responsible position in the postoffice in London, the Rev. Richard Buller, the owner of a farm which his father superintended, signing his bonds. While in the post-office, John Wilcox had use of the books in the British Museum and other libraries, and, making the best of the opportunity thus given him, improved his mind by good reading. He became a member of the Congregational Church when nineteen years of age, and soon after going to London acted as a teacher in the Hoxton Academy Sabbath-school, which had a membership of one thousand scholars. He also joined two different lyceums, and thus participating in their debates and addressing the Sunday-school, accustomed himself to public speaking. Our subject remained in the post-office for five years, when he resigned, his superior officers, however, remonstrating against him taking such a course, promising to promote him if he would remain. Having determined upon coming to America, he was firm in his first decision, and set sail from Fowey, Cornwall, April 18, 1850, in the vessel "Adelaide," which landed in Quebec on the 24th of May.
Spending four weeks in Canada, Mr. Wilcox, looking for a permanent location for himself and parents, came to Winnebago County purchasing, as before stated, a tract of land in company with his father, for which they paid $4 per acre. Fifty acres of the property were broken and fenced, and a small frame house was erected on the place. His father, mother and sister Maria later joined him in this county, when they began the work of cultivating and improving a farm. The first winter our subject taught school in Pecatonica Township, but later devoting his entire time and attention to agricultural pursuits, added to his acreage until his estate contained three hundred and forty-five acres, besides a farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Laona Township.
Mr. Wilcox has been prominently connected with the Congregational Church since his settlement in Winnebago County. The first Sunday after locating here, he attended church, and the minister failing to put in an appearance, at the urgent request of the people assembled he preached. Two years later he attended an association of Congregational ministers at Roscoe and was licensed to preach for three years, but prior to the expiration of that time he was ordained in Pecatonica Township by three preachers and has been actively engaged in spreading the Gospel since that time.
In 1857, our subject went to Iowa Falls, Hardin County, Iowa, to accept the pastorate of the Congregational Church at that place. His parents, however, needing his presence at home, he resigned the charge after one year and, with that exception, has been a resident of Burritt Township since first locating here in 1851. The farm upon which he makes his home is one of the finest in the township, it being improved with all the necessary buildings and farm machinery which go to make a first-class estate.
March 3, 1855, John Wilcox and Margaret Webber, who was born in the Parish of Combe, St. Nicholas, Somerset County, England, on the 4th of February, 1833, were united in marriage. The parents of Mrs. Wilcox, William and Mary Webber, were wealthy farmers. The whole family emigrated from England in August, 1849, and arrived in Rockton, this county, in October. They traveled by water from Bristol, England, to Milwaukee by means of sailing-vessels, canal boats and steamers, and from the Cream City came overland with teams to Winnebago County, where Mr. and Mrs. Webber purchased three improved farms of about six hundred acres, on one of which they made their home for forty years.
Mrs. Wilcox received a good education in both select and boarding schools in England, and also in the Beloit High School. She has two sisters and five brothers, all of whom are married and have families of their own, namely: Catherine, Mary Jane, William, John, Henry A., Herman J. F. and Thomas H. The father of Mrs. Wilcox was born in Hamcock, Devon, March 26, 1804, and died at the home of our subject in Burritt Township, July 19, 1889. He was a son of William Webber, who was a large land-owner and was also a native of Devon, England. William Webber's mother, Margaret Brome, was born in Collumpton, Devon, England, where also Mary Webber was born, April 2, 1802. She bore the maiden name of Mary Hake, and departed this life April 6, 1886, in Rockton; she was a worthy, intelligent and refined lady, a faithful wife, a loving mother, and neighborly to all. Being a devout Episcopalian in England, she became identified with the Congregational Church in Rockton.
The father of Mrs. Wilcox was a man of sterling worth, untiring industry, strict economy, good judgment, and one truly honest and reliable in all the relations of life. He was a devout Christian and, desiring to spend his declining years in Burritt Township, there died in peace. Mrs. Wilcox was a member of the Congregational Sunday school in Chard, England, and on coming to Rockford united with that denomination in 1865, and has ever filled the relations of a wife, mother and neighbor in a kind. Christian spirit, aiding her husband in every way in family, business, and religious duties. They have had family worship during the thirty-seven years of their married life. The two eldest brothers of Mrs. Wilcox invented,patented and manufactured the celebrated reaping machine which was distributed in this and adjoining counties. Three of her sons are the most rapid and the best shearers of sheep in Illinois, and perhaps in the United States, each of them having sheared from one hundred to one hundred and twenty animals in ten hours. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Wilcox were John and Mary (Kenwood) Hale, the former a native of Ottery, St. Mary, Devonshire, England, where he was an active business man. The mother was also a native of that place, dying in middle life. They reared an excellent family of children, two sons, John and Thomas, becoming prominent wholesale merchants. One sister, with her husband, came to this county, and died in Rockton. The seven children born to Mr. and Mrs. John Wilcox are, John Webber, William H., Mary S., Herbert H., Clarence L., George L. and Lillian M. In his political relations, our subject is a Republican. [Portrait and Biographical Record of Winnebago and Boone Counties, IL. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892]
WYMAN, LORENZO D.
HON. LORENZO D. WYMAN, pioneer and prominent farmer and public-spirited citizen of Grand Forks county, (ND) has his home on section 18, Union township, of which township he is the first resident settler. Mr. Wyman was born in Onondaga county. New York, on a farm near Syracuse, January 3, 1842. His parents were Pazzi L. and Susan P. (Woolsey) Wyman. the former a native of Dutchess county, New York, and the latter of Delaware county. New York. They were the parents of a family of eleven children, of wliom our subject was the sixth in order of birth. When Lorenzo D. Wyman was eight years of age he accompanied the family to Winnebago county, Illinois, where they located on a farm twelve miles north of Rockford. Here our subject was reared to manhood and educated in the common schools. When he was sixteen years of age he went to Sauk county, Wisconsin, and resided there until the spring of 1862, when he returned to Illinois, this time going to Henry county and engaging in farm work there until the' spring of 1881. He then came to Grand Forks county, North Dakota, and filed a homestead claim to one hundred and sixty acres of land, and also a pre-emption claim to an additional one hundred and sixty acres, all in Union township, He began at once to improve his farm and has resided there since. He raised the first crop of wheat grown in the township. He has added to his possessions, and now owns four hundred and eighty acres of excellent land, all improved and under a high state of cultivation, with good buildings and equipments for farm work. Mr. Wyman has been prominent in public afifairs of the county, and was elected on the Republican ticket to the state legislature in 1886. He has held many local offices, among them being township treasurer, chairman of the board of supervisors and township assessor. He has always taken a commendable interest in all enterprises which he beheved to be for the interest and welfare of his community and county. Mr. Wyman was married in Henry county, Illinois, to Miss Sarah Clark, a native of Ohio, and daughter of Wilson T. and Deborah (Butler) Clark. Air. and Mrs.. Wyman are the parents of four children, named as follows : Lucy M., the wife of William S. Dean ; Harry E., Clark I. and Henry D. [Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Publ. 1900. Transcribed by BZ]
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