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Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1879

Transcribed by: Mary Ann Kaylor

Page 141


Is a native born citizen of Macoupin county. He first saw the light of day in Palmyra township, July 31st, 1839. Elijah Wills, his father, was a native of North Carolina. His father emigrated to Kentucky when Elijah was yet young. The father, John W., married Decilla Solomon, a member of the Solomon family of this county. She was also born in North Carolina, but grew to womanhood in Kentucky. Twelve children were born to them, seven of whom survived the parents.

Elijah Wills emigrated to Illinois in 1829, and settled in Morgan county. He made one or two improvements there, and then sold out and came to Macoupin county, where he made also some improvements. He afterward removed to and entered land in Sec. 6, South Palmyra township, where he remained for an number of years, and then went to Texas, and after a short time returned to Macoupin county; purchased land, remaining on it two years. Sold out and returned to Texas; stayed there three or four months. Came to Macoupin again and remained until 1867, when he again disposed of his property and removed to Southwest Missouri, where he died about two years later. His wife survived him; she was born in 1801. She died in California in 1875 at the residence of her eldest son, Thomas Wills. John W's. boyhood days were spent in working upon the farm, and a small portion of the time in common schools of his native county. He also spent considerable time in hunting. In his younger years game was very plentiful, and John, like his father, was very fond of hunting, nor has he forgotten it now in his mature years. He takes his annual hunt regularly, but is forced, from the scarcity of game in his old favorite resorts, to make trips to the swamps of Arkansas, where game of kind that delights the enthusiastic hunter abounds.

He was married on the 25th of November, 1858, to Sarah, daughter of Uriah and Sally Smith. The Smiths are native of North Carolina. They are among the oldest settlers of Macoupin county. They came here in 1828. After his marriage, John W., went to work upon land that he had leased. On the 10th of March, 1864, he moved to Sec. 19, T. 10, R. 8, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, and to which he has added considerable more. He attended strictly to the business of farming until he was elected treasurer of the county. In politics, Mr. Wills is most soundly indoctrinated in the tenets and principles of the democratic party. He is a believer in its principles as enunciated by Jefferson, Jackson, Douglas and the leaders of today. He cast his first vote for Stephen A. Douglas and since that time has been a strong adherent of the party. His intelligence and constancy has received at different times suitable and honorable recognition from his party. In 1871 he was elected the first township collector under the township organization. In 18873 he was nominated for the office of county treasurer by the democratic party, in convention assembled, and in November following, was elected, although there was a determined effort made by the opposition to defeat him. In 1875 he again received the nomination at the hands of his party, but was defeated owing to the union of the regular republican independents, or greenbackers, who united upon L. B. Corbin, who was elected by a small majority. While in the capacity of treasurer, he conducted the financial affairs of the county in the most satisfactory manner, and his accounts were always square. It can be truthfully said that no man ever occupied the office who give it more attention, or who was prompted more by a desire to use the county finances in the interests of the whole people, and for the good of whole county, than John W. Wills. He is the happy father of four interesting children, all of whom are yet beneath the paternal roof.

He is a live, energetic man, full of western push and enterprise, and keenly alive to any enterprise that has for its object the increase of the material wealth of old Macoupin.

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