Lee County Biography

Benjamin F. Ellsworth
Willow Creek Twp.





Benjamin F. Ellsworth is the son of an early settler of this county, and is himself one of its pioneers who has done no small share of the work of development that has made this one of the best improved agri­cultural regions of Northern Illinois. His farming interests are located in Willow Creek Township, and his farm, with its well tilled fields and substantial buildings, is comparable with the best in this section.

Our subject comes of good old New England stock, and is a native of that part of the country, Pownal, Bennington County, VT, his birthplace, and Jauuary 2, 1826, the date of his birth. His father, Isaac C. ElIsworth, is supposed to have been born in the same town, and he was a son of one of the early settlers of that county, James Ellsworth, who was a farmer. He spent the latter part of his life in the State of New York.

Isaac Ellsworth learned the trade of a hatter when he was young, and followed thnt occupation in Powna1. In 1842 he removed to Ohio, taking with him his wife and six children, traveling by team to Troy, by Erie Canal to Buffalo, by Lake Erie to Cleveland, and thence by team to Parkman, in Geauga County. He bought a farm near Parkman, and carried it on until 1846, when he sold it, and again started out into the world, having decided to establish a new home in the Praine St and take advantage of its wondrously fertile soil. He came to his destination by the way of the lakes to Chicago, and from that city with a team to Paw Paw. He invested in a tract of Government land two miles north of Paw Paw, and resided thereon many years, devoting himself to agricult­ure. When the infirmities of age came upon him he went to live with his daughter, Mrs. Butler, at Malugin's Grove, and she called for him until he closed his eyes in death. The maiden name of his wife was Theodosia Billings. She was born in Bennington County, Vt., and died on the home farm near Paw Paw in 1850. She was the mother of seven children.

Our subject passed his early life amid the pleasant scenes of his birth, and when his parents moved to Ohio he accompanied them, and continued with them until the fall of 1845. In the month of September of that year, he started with an ox-team to perform the tiresome journey to Illinois, where he had determined to try life. He was a month on the way from the time or his setting forth until his arrival at Sugar Grove, in Kane County, where he spent the winter. In the the following spring he came to Lee County, which he found to be little more than a wilderness, with but a few white inhabitants the most of the land owned by the Government and for sale at $1.25 an acre; deer and other wild animals roaming where are now fruitful farms, and there were no railways or other means of communication with the outside world, except the timber, and Chicago, many miles distant, was for some years the nearest market and depot for supplies.

Mr. Ellsworth farmed with his father until his marriage, and then bought a farm joining the old homestead. In the fall of 1859 he sold his property in this county, and went to Kansas, making an overland journey. He bought land in Miami County, but as it was at the time of the border troubles, and as he was a well-known sympathizer with the anti-slavery element, that territory was a very unsafe abiding place for him, and in 1861 he wisely returned to Illinois. After coming back to Lee County he worked his father-in-law's farm for a year, and at the end of that time bought a farm in Viola Township. He lived upon it until 1866, and then renting it came to Willow Creek Township, and purchased a home on section 17. He was soon appointed Postmaster of the Willow Creek Postoffice, and acted in that capacity the ensuing eight years, giving general satisfaction to all concerned, and managing the affairs of the office promptly, methodically and carefully. In 1874 he bought another farm in Viola Township, and spent a few months in its cultivation. Selling that place be again took up his abode in Willow Creek, but only for a short time, as in the spring of 1875 he returned once more to Viola Township, and again purchased a farm within its precincts, which he re­tained in his possession until 1878, when he sold it and from that time has been a continuous resident of Willow Creek. In 1879 he bougbt his present farm, which comprises one hundred and thirty-five acres of land, neatly fenced into fields of convenient size, amply supplied with buildings of a good class, and everything about the place in good order, betokening excellent management.

In 1857 Mr. Ellsworth and Miss Maria Holton were united in marriage. Mrs. Ellsworth is, like her husband, a native of Vermont, and she is a daughter of Wesson and Hepsnbeth (Durin) Holton. Her pleasant wedded life with our subject has brougbt them two sons, Earl W., who died at the age of six years and Edmund H. He married Miss Carrie Wagner, and they have two children, Angie Leona and Gladys. Mr. Ellsworth has honorably discharged the duties of citizenship, and in politics has been an unfailing supporter of the Repuglican party from its very beginning. He is held in genuine consideration by the entire community, as in his career he has shown himself to be a straightforward, right-thinking man, always ready to do another a kindness and to extend his help and sympathy to all in trouble.

Mrs. Ellsworth tells of the time during her younger days when she, together with the youngsters of the neighborhood used to attend singing school with a wagon and ox-team.

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