JEFFERSON COUNTY ILLINOIS
JOSEPH T. WILLBANKS
I accidentally stumbled on this bio for Joseph T. Willbanks from a book
about Logan County, IL published in 1901. Look at the wealth of
information it contains about families in Jefferson County. Note, I've
separated the children's names to help it be more easily read:
JOSEPH T. WILLBANKS
One of the leading self-made men of Logan county is Joseph T. Willbanks,
who has for a number of years been a leading representative of the
agricultural interests of Hurlbut township. Although he started out
upon his business career without capital, dependent entirely upon his
own resources, he has worked his way steadily upward, brooking no
obstacles that could be overcome by persistent and honest purpose, and
to-day he is the owner of five hundred and seventy acres of valuable
Mr. Willbanks was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, February 10, 1829,
a son of William and Ann (McCann) Willbanks.
His paternal grandparents were Daniel and Jane (Thomas) Willbanks, who
were married July 31, 1794. The former was born June 15, 1770, and the
latter July 16, 1773. They had a large family of children, of whom the
following record is preserved:
John, born October 22, 1796, was shot at Union Court House, South
Carolina, July 28, 1835.
Thomas, born December 11, 1798, was drowned at St. Louis, Missouri,
April 11, 1830.
James was born March 19, 1801.
William, the father of our subject, was the next of the family.
David was born April 6, 1805.
Peggy, born October 27, 1808, was married, August 18, 1824, to James
Black, and after his death was married, in November, 1837, to Uriah
Compton, her death occurring in August, 1842, when she was thirty-six
years of age.
Judith, born August 8, 1813, became the wife of I.S. Robinson, November
19, 1839, and died June 18, 1848.
Daniel, born May 13, 1817, was married, about March 7, 1841, to Margaret
E. Campbell, and died at Memphis, about 1851.
The father, Daniel Willbanks, Sr., died August 27, 1844, and his wife,
Mrs. Jane Willbanks, died May 7, 1851, at the age of seventy-eight
years. He conducted a tavern and postoffice on the stage route between
Mt. Vernon and Shawneetown, was also the magistrate and county surveyor
and the leading man of that section. The post office ws conducted by
members of the Willbanks family until President Lincoln's administration.
William Willbanks, the father of our subject, was born near Sparksburg,
North Carolina, March 19, 1803, and after arriving at years of maturity
married Ann McCann in March, 1823. She was a native of Sinclair county,
Illinois, born within eleven miles of Lebanon. For many years the
father engaged in farming in Jefferson county, Illinois, making his home
there until his death, which occurred in 1851. In his political
affiliations he was a stanch Democrat. His wife survived him until
1873. They were the parents of nine children:
Martha, the eldest, died at the age of eight years;
Margaret Jane became the wife of William Bartholomew and lived in the
Indian Territory, but died in Iowa;
Joseph is the next younger;
Sarah A. became the wife of Riley Knowles and died in Menard county, and
he is also deceased;
James B. is married and resides on the Indian Territory;
Hannah I., is the wife of William Knowles, of Dakota;
Rachel, who died in Alton, Illinois, was three times married, to Martin
Hale, Abraham Deck and Christopher Lehr, successively;
Marian became the wife of Daniel Wagoner and died in Petersburg,
Illinois, while his death occurred in Montgomery county, this state; and
Judith A. is the widow of William Lehr and resides near Sequin, Texas.
Joseph T. Willbanks pursued his education in a little log schoolhouse
which stood on the bank of a tiny stream of water in Jefferson county.
The seats were split logs, placed upon wooden pins, and similar pins
driven into the wall served to uphold a split-lot which served as a
writing desk. Later he attended school in a log house which was also
used as a Presbyterian church. Rattlesnakes were quite numerous in the
forests and all was wild and primitive. At the age of twenty years he
put aside his text-books, and for a year and a half he engaged in
driving a team for his uncle, after which he returned to the homestead
farm. He took up a claim of one hundred and sixty acres in Jefferson
county, and as a companion and helpmate for the journey of life chose
Miss Menesa Knowles, who was born in Gibson county, Indiana, March 24,
1833, a daughter of Wiley and Minerva (Scott) Knowles. On the paternal
side her ancestry can be traced back to the early part of the
seventeenth century, when two men of the name of Knowles, probably
brothers, came from England to America, settling first in Virginia, and
later removing to Delaware. One of these, Eddy Knowles, was the
ancestor of Mrs. Willbanks,. His son, Richard Knowles, was born, lived
and died in Delaware. He was twice married, and by his first union had
a son Eddy, who left Delaware in 1795 and settled in Greene county,
Georiga, where he reared his family of ten children, including James
Knowles, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Willbanks. He was born in
Delaware and was married there in 1778 to Patience Marvel. They
afterward removed to Greene county, Georgia, but not until after the
birth of five of their children, the eldest being Prettyman Knowles, the
grandfather. He married Patsy Greer, who was brought to America from
Ireland when only a year old. They had ten children, the fourth being
Wiley Knowles, who was born April 23, 1809, and married Minerva Scott, a
native of Kentucky, by whom he had six sons and five daughters, among
the number being the wife of our subject. She was born March 24, 1833,
in Gibson county, Indiana. Her parents had been married in that state,
July 28, 1830, and in 1845 they removed to Jefferson county, Illinois,
where they spent their remaining days, the father dying March 4, 1893,
in his eighty-fourth year, the mother February 10, 1899, at the age of
Their children were as follows:
William married Hannah Willbanks and resides in Dakota;
Mrs. Willbanks, of this review, is the next younger;
Patsy is the wife of George Parish, of Oregon
Martin, of Jefferson county, married Alvira Kirk, and after her death
wedded Ellen Jones
Asa married Margaret Garner, now deceased, and resides in Utah;
Susannah died at the age of seventeen years
Annanias married Harriet Smith and resides in Jefferson county;
Francis, who is living on the old homestead ten miles south of Mount
Vernon, Jefferson county, married Florence Smith, and after her death
wedded Miss Pace;
Leander, who married for his second wife Amanda Morgan, also lives in
Sarah is the wife of Richard Davis, who is living near Spring Garden,
Malissa Caroline, now living in Wyoming, has been married successively
to J. Gambrel, James Bascom and Dr. S. Miller, the physician of the
state penitentiary of Wyoming, having lost her first two husbands.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Willbanks, which occurred February 16,
1851, has been blessed with eleven children:
Mary Evaline, born May 2, 1852, became the wife of James Ash and died
November 14, 1877. There were two children, the living one being Amy
M., who resides with her grandparents.
William R. born December 11, 1853, died March 13, 1855.
John M. born December 13, 1855, married Grace Ellis, by whom he has
four children, and resides in Springfield, Illinois.
Robert L., born January 17, 1858, is with his parents.
Stephen A., born February 10, 1860, resides on a farm in Menard county
and married Ada Council, by whom he has four children.
Francis A., born September 6, 1862, is at home.
Charles B., born February 8, 1865, married Maggie Hammond, by whom he
has three children, and resides at Lake Fork, Logan county.
Cornelia C., born July 8, 1867, is the wife of John Ferguson, by whom
she has two children, and their home is southeast of Elkhart, Illinois.
Joseph H., born January 2, 1870, and living southeast of Mount Pulaski,
married Merches Dean Gillespie, by whom he has two children.
Wiley T., born March 27, 1872, died at the age of ten years.
Alexander D., born December 27, 1875, is now in the State University of
Mr. and Mrs. Willbanks celebrated their golden wedding February 16,
1901, at which was present their eight children.
For five years after his marriage Mr. Willbanks carried on farming in
Jefferson county and then removed to Menard county, where he remained
for four years, when he came to Hurlbut township, Logan county, March
10, 1860. Here he has since made his home, his time and attention
beingn given to farming until of recent years, when he has turned over
the operation and management of his farm to his sons. He has prospered
in his undertakings and as his financial resources have increased he has
added to his property until h now owns five hundred and seventy acres of
valuable land. He has refused to hold office, but is a stanch Democrat
in politics and always exercises his right of franchise in support of
the men and measures of the party. He and his family attend the
Presbyterian church. He is genial, jovial, kind-hearted and liberal,
and has many warm friends. For more than seventy years he has traveled
life's journey and has always enjoyed and merited the respect and
confidence of those with whom he is associate, and can number his
friends in Logan county by the scores.
Source: The Biological Record of Logan County, IL by S.J. Clarke
Publishing Company, 1901
Submitted by Sandy Bauer