Lee County IL Biography


Stephen Wiltse, who was one of the pioneers of Wisconsin, has done important pioneer work in Lee County since he took up his residence here, as his valuable farm on section 13, Reynolds Township, was a tract of wild, unbroken prairie land when it came into his possession, nearly twenty years ago, but now ranks with the best in point of cultivation and improvement.

Mr. Wiltse was born in Duanesburgh, Schenectady County, N. Y., November 8,1817. His father, Henry Wiltse, who was a native of Vermont, went to the State of New York when a young man. He learned the trade of clothier and dyer, but after his marriage he engaged in farming, buying a farm in Duanesburgh. In 1847 he sold his property there, and moving to Wisconsin cast in his lot with the early settlers of Racine County, where he died the following year. The maiden name of his wife was Susan Ladd. She was a native of Duanesburgh, N. Y., and spent her entire life there. Her father, William Ladd, a farmer, was a resident of that town many years, passing the latter part of his life there. The parents of our subject reared fifteen children, of whom he was the eighth in order of birth. He spent his boyhood on the home farm on which he was born, and obtained his education in the local schools. He remained an inmate of the parental home until he was twenty-one and then began his independent career as a farmer on rented land in Duanesburgh. In 1847 he determined to take advantage of the cheap lands of Wisconsin, and with his wife and two children started for that State. They journeyed by the Eric Canal to Buffalo, and by the lakes to Racine. At that time Racine County was scarcely more than a wilderness, in which deer, wolves, bears, wild turkeys and other game roamed at will, while there were but very few settlements throughout its length and breadth.

Mr. Wiltse bought a tract of heavily-timbered land in the forests, five miles north of Racine, and building a log house for a dwelling, he at once set about the hard task of clearing his land. Timber then had but little value, and large logs that would now command a great price were rolled together and burned. He felled the greater part of the trees on his land and in time had an excellent farm, upon which he lived for the space of seventeen years. In 1864 he disposed of his property in Wisconsin, and, coming to Illinois, bought a farm on section 6, Malta Township, DeKalb County. In 1870 he sold that at an advance on the original cost, but did not immediately buy another, as he thought that perhaps the value of the land would depreciate from war prices. He rented instead until 1872, when he came to Lee County, and purchased the land on section 13, Reynolds Township, that forms his present farm. He has placed the entire tract of two hundred and forty acres under a high state of cultivation, has planted fruit and shade trees, erected a substantial house, stables and other buildings, and as an active, capable, wide-awake farmer, has proved to be a valuable addition to the fanning population of this section of the county.

Mr. Wiltse and Miss Sylvia Sisson united their lives and fortunes in the sacred tie of wedlock, July 3, 1841, and in the half-century that they have been together they have been devoted to each other and have been faithful to all the obligations of a true marriage, of which theirs is an example. They have lived in amicable relations with their neighbors, who have always found them open-hearted, responsive to appeals for sympathy or help, and genuine friends at all times. Their hospitality is well known, and strangers have often been the recipients of their bounty. They have five children: Susanna, Willard, Amelia, George and William, to whom they been wise and tender parents, and who may well "rise up and call them blessed."

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892
I believe he died 28 Jun 1899 and buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Ogle County IL

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