Ann Lewis and Ellis Wilcox

This is the 100th birthday celebration of Ellis Wilcox, who was married to Ann Lewis,
daughter of Neriah Lewis and Mary Moss.

This is copied from the Springfield Monitor, August 15, 1889. Celebration for Wllis Wilcox of Island Grove, Sangamon County, Illinois, who has reached 100 years of life. How the event was celebrated: By a Grand Picnic on the old farm. The friends and relatives of Ellis Wilcox were invited. The Centenarians joined in a special petition to the clerk of the weather, to give them a day just suited to celebrate the centennial anniversary of his advent into the world. It could not have been more auspicious in every respect. It was truly a delightful day not too warm, not too cool, no rain to dampen or wet the lovely dresses of the ladies, or the "bib and tucker" of the men-folks, no wind to fill the eyes with dust, no annoyance of any kind, and not an accident to mar the pleasure of young and old, engaged in celebrating the rare event of a fellow mortal having reached the hundredth milestone of human life.

(The Grounds) The spot selected was on the farm upon which Ellis Wilcox settled when first coming to Illinois, to make his home. It was a grove that skirted the meandering stream which runs through the farm, and the stand and the seats were located in the grove, a natural amphitheatre where the crowd could readily overlook the stand, and the speakers be heard while they talked to the audience, or the choir or brass band on the spacious stand could both be seen and heard. In the center of the stand at the back was an old-time wooden clock, an heirloom, which had been in the family many years. On either side of the clock, was the crayon portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox, the venerable Centenarian, to the left and his deceased companion in life to the right On center stage, sat an old-time center table with a lovely bank of cut flowers. In an old-fashioned armchair sat the Patriarch, and on either side of him, his old friends and the presiding officer. To the right the choir, to the left was an organ and a bank of sweet singers, composed of Miss Laura Yates, a lovely soprano; Miss Nellie and Sue Douglas of Galesburg, Mrs. G. M. Bristow, Messieurs: Joseph Mitchel, Ed Rhea, and Thomas Taylor with Mrs. H. Smith as organist.

The Talluia Band occupied the left of the speaker and was composed of many musicians: (did not include names). Both the choir and band, lest us say, acquitted them selves elegantly, performed in such splendid style as to deserve the praise meted out to them. The decorations of the stage were very tastefully done by a good display of the flag under which the grand old citizen had always trained and for which he had always taught his family to have the highest respect. The old teapot that belonged to the mother of the centenarian occupied a conspicuous place and was much admired, on the front of this spacious stand.

The "Grandpa’s Welcome" cut from silver sheeting divided by a steel plate picture "Crossing Life’s River," and beneath these in cut letter were the words, "Along the River of Time We Glide". On either side of the fastened bunting which surrounded this were sheaf oats and evergreens with floral figures 1789-1889 in white flowers. The whole stand presented a beautiful picture and was admired by all who beheld it. About 10 o’clock witnessed a goodly crowd of perhaps 5-7 hundred gathered on the ground in front of the stand. The meeting was organized, by calling John Lowsy Esq., of Loraine, to the chair, and the following program was adhered to for the morning hours. Music by the band; the President opened the meeting with some well-timed remarks as to the occasion of this glorious assemblage; Prayer by Rev. M. M. Davidson, of the Methodist Church; Music by the choir; Mr. Nicholas of the Jacksonville Journal read a history of Mr. Wilcox and family as follows:

Mr. Ellis Wilcox was born August 12, 1789, at Alexander Creek, Davidson Co., Tenn. His parents were John Wilcox and Lucinda Oglesby, a relative of Ex-Governor Oglsby, of this state, and they were married in Oldham Co., Ky. Ellis was the 3rd of 11 children, and the home of his parents at the time of his birth was within two miles of the famous "Hermitage" the house of General Andrew Jackson. Mr. Wilcox remained with his parents until he was nearly grown, when with Josiah Lambert he made an excursion to central Illinois. They built a cabin on the edge of Round Prairie, and Mr. Lambert went to the southern part of the state leaving Mr. Wilcox alone. Two English men came and remained with Mr. Wilcox until the return of his companions. In the spring following Mr. Wilcox returned to Kentucky and remained several years. During this period he made several trips to Illinois for short visits and on February 14, 1823, he was married to Miss Ann Lewis. They lived five years in Kentucky and had three children born to them: Lucy, Lewis, and Mary. The latter died and was buried there.

Then, Mr. Wilcox moved with his wife and two children in 1828 to the western part of Sangamon County, where he located a claim in the winter after the arrival of the family. Malinda was three months old at this time, the other children were Thomas M., Josiah L., John F., Charles H., Samuel M., and William: the latter dieing in infancy. Mr. Wilcox’s grandfather, William Wilcox, was a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War. Mr. And Mrs. John Wilcox moved to St. Clair Co., Ill. in the year 1818, and to Sangamon County in 1819, and located in Sugar Creek on the south fork of the Sangamon River.

Their son Stephen married Miss Harriet Newell, and they had 8 children, he died March 22, 1858, at Blue Mound. Mahalah married Thomas Moore and died August 18, 1855. Her husband survived her until April 28, 1866. Joshua, who resided near New Berlin, died in 1876. Martha died in her 14th year. Edith married Andrew Stice and left her husband and 4 children, when she died in Jacksonville, August in 1871. Fannie died unmarried in 1874, at Jacksonville. Elizabeth died at the age of 22 years. William was a soldier in the Blackhawk War, and he married Miss Nancy Ellis, and they had 5 children. John Wilcox died about 1823 and his widow died in 1842, leaving the son, Ellis Wilcox, the sole survivor. Lucy married Thomas Rhea, and died December 7, 1877. Neriah L. died at the age of 7 years. Samuel M. died January 29, 1863. Thomas M. married Miss Catherine Ruble, and located on Island Grove Township. Charles H. married Miss Caroline Caruthers, and his father lived with him on the Island Grove farmstead. John F. married Miss Mary A. Rhea, who died May 16, 1865 and he married Miss Fannie Scott.

His home is in Glenarm. Doctor Joseph L. was married in May 1861 to Miss Alice V. Parker, who died in 1862. He was married again, November 9, 1865 to Miss Jean F. Patterson, who with three children, were on the grounds to join in the 100 anniversary of the venerable Sires Birthday. The old gentleman is in a remarkable good state of preservation in health and retention of his faculties, except in hearing and seeing as well as of yore. He seems to stand the fatigue of the day very well and was on his feet much of the time going around and talking first with one and the other of the old friends as he would meet them. His memory of events is very acute, and his fund of stories upon his neighbors is most refreshing. He rides horseback as well as a man at 50, and goes about as nimble footed as he did at 70 years. He has a great repugnance to tobacco, and it is said of him, that his sense of smelling is so sensitive that he could smell a cob pipe through a stone wall and is just as much disgusted with it as he was at 50 years of age. He was noted as a great woodsman in his younger years, and could knock out a card of wood or 100 rails as quick as the quickest.

He was always a fine shot and a good rider, and he prizes nothing more than he does a gold-headed cane he won when he was 85 years old, at the Sangamon County fair. He attended the recent "Old Settlers Association", and complained of less fatigue than anyone present. The President then announced an adjournment for dinner, when such a spread or a series of spreads has seldom been seen unless at an old settler’s picnic, and even then not in more sumptuous supply. The Monitor Man had the pleasure of satisfying his inner man at the same table with the Venerable Centenarian, and can testify that his appetite is not in the least impaired and none upon the grounds ate more heartily or seemed to enjoy what he ate with a greater relish than did grandpa Wilcox. After the dinner had been "Got" away with as the old Gentleman remarked, the Monitor man took a stroll around the grounds to see who was there.

AFTER DINNER: The afternoon was spent in a variety at the stand. The children sang, the band played, and speeches were made by Samuel O. Maxey, who was most decidedly happy in his remarks and his reference to the early life of himself and his own acquaintance with the venerable pioneer.

The choir and band again performed, and then a short speech, from Mr. Green, of Tallula. Alexander B. Irwin of Pleasant Plains. The choir and band rendered more music, and then Judge James E. Matberry made one of his pathetic speeches so apropo of an occasion of this character. More music and then came "I am Growing Old." T.W. S. Kidd, of the Monitor, read one of the Saxes’ beautiful poems. Short speeches were made and some choice music and band and choir followed in lively succession until the close of one of the most delightful events which has taken place for many years, and never before for a similar occasion in this country.

Who we saw there: The venerable "Old One Hundred" the enthusiastic Centenarian, and the generations that follow him as follows: Mrs. Ann Caruthers and her sons, George and Thomas, and daughters Luthie and Kate; Mrs. Kate Langston and daughter, Lucy; Mrs. Richard Maxwell, and children Daisy and George. These are the three children and seven grandchildren of Mrs. Lucy Shea, his deceased daughter. Thomas Wilcox, and wife, and their son, Charles L. and wife and children, May, Harry, Edith, and Benjamin F. were there.

Others attending: Albert Wilcox and wife and children: Hattie, Bertha, and Dora. Thomas Wilcox and his children: Mary, Ruth, Kate, Wallace and Clarence. Dr. J. L. Wilcox and wife and their children: Joe, Dwight, Augustus, and Annie. Mr. J, F. Wilcox and wife and children: Gale, Ellis, Nellie, and Sallie. Charles H. Wilcox, and wife; son, Warren and daughter, Mrs. Lou Foutch, and daughter, Grace. Many more friends were there with them but are not listed.

Scella Ware and wife. Peter Van Doren and James Wilcox, of Blue Mound. (personal) Uncle Ellis Wilcox doesn’t like the "Flub-Dub". When pictures are to be taken. N. B. Hammon made a number of Virginia people happy, by digging up old familiar names. We had the pleasure of meeting Miss Mary Howard, one of high School’s most popular teachers.

There were safely 1500 people on the grounds, during the day; it was really a picnic and a daisy. Horace Morgan can just lay it all over all others in being clever to his passengers, and his engineer is not far behind him. Miss Tenie Hendrickson is a most agreeable young lady, and understands the lay of the land in Political matters in Morgan County like an old person. Banker Green of Menard was quite an object of curiosity on account of his having been the Flat Boat Man and Friend and companion of Abraham Lincoln.

The Monitor man is under obligation to the manly Brownie Hitt for a lift to Berlin behind "Peanuts" and also to Uncle Charles for attention paid. Miss Laura Yates has a voice as lovely in expression as her bright face, and the beauty of it all is that she has splendid good sense to manage both, ladylike and musical.

The boys took advantage of the festive scene to have a game of baseball, both nines being directly or indirectly connected with Grandpa Wilcox, Dwight Wilcox of the Monitor being the umpire.

Talk about eating you should have been there and seen how a Jacksonville man got away with a chicken pie, the poor yellow-legged martyr to his veracious appetite fairly turned over at the sight.

This concludes a 13-page description of this, wonderful and historic, event of genealogical History, which might become valuable to someone doing genealogical research. There are a great many interesting things in the life of Ellis Wilcox and his sons of Illinois, which are not here recorded. For instance, for many years he ran a supply boat from New Orleans up the Mississippi River, Illinois River, thence up the Fox River for Chicago marketing, picking up a load of settlers and marketers and trapping districts. Mr. Ellis Wilcox was known as the "Snow Bird." This being a term applied to all who settled in Sangamon County, before the year of the deep snow.

The possessor of this document is Miss Nell Wilcox, a granddaughter of Ellis Wilcox, now living at the Pioneer Home in Prescott, Arizona. (Copied by Mr. Arthur C. Mathewson, Pioneer Home, Prescott, Arizona)

Return to Lewis Family Stories HomePage