PAST AND PRESENT
OF
MENARD COUNTY, ILLINOIS - 1905

Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company

Transcribed by: Ellen Booth.

Page 307

WILLIAM ENSLEY, whose farming interests are represented by a good tract of land in the vicinity of Atterberry, was born June 12, 1828, in Pickaway county, Ohio, his parents being Christopher and Elizabeth (Gold) Ensley, both natives of Pennsylvania, the father being of Dutch lineage, while the mother was of English descent. Removing to Ohio, they settled in Pickaway county in 1828, their home being along the canal between Circleville and Columbus. The father secured a tract of land on the Scioto river bottom and there began the development of a farm. The work of improvement and progress had been carried on for so brief a time that many primitive conditions yet existed. He afterward came to Illinois, settling in Babylon, Fulton county, where his death occurred in 1845. His wife, long surviving him, died at the home of her son William, about a half a mile east of Atterberry, in 1872.

William Ensley, on pursuing his education, was a student in a little log schoolhouse, but his opportunity even there was limited as his services were needed upon the home farm. At the age of twelve, he began work for others, being employed as a farm hand for five years at eight dollars per month. The last summer which he spent in Ohio he dropped broom corn by hand over a tract of one hundred and fifty acres. Subsequently he came to Fulton county, Illinois, and established his home near the dam across the Spoon river, the town being called Babylon. There he worked for one man for five years at eight dollars per month.

On the 25th of January, 1855, Mr. Ensley was married to Miss Chloe Helen Aylesworth, a daughter Philip and Chloe (Goodell) Aylesworth, the former a native of Providence, Rhode Island, born April 20, 1797, and the latter of New York. The mother died during the infancy of her daughter. There were two sons and two daughters in the family: Philip S., who died in 1849 at Petersburg, Illinois; Charles, whose death occurred in 1835 at Meredosia, Illinois, when he was two years of age; Annie M.; and Chloe H. The former married John H. Rolland, who resided at Grand Island, Nebraska, and died in March, 1904. They had three children, two sons and a daughter, and the sons are married, one now living at Hastings, Nebraska, and the other at Lincoln, that state. Mr. Aylesworth, the father of Mrs. Ensley, removed from Rhode Island to Pennsylvania when sixteen years of age and had come to Illinois in 1822 and here he formed the acquaintance of Chloe Goodell, who had been brought to this state during her childhood by her parents. They were married in Sangamon county and Mr. Aylesworth operated a ferry at Meredosia, Illinois, for seven years, while subsequent to his marriage he removed to Menard county. He was old time surveyor and in this connection he assisted materially in the early development of the state, laying out the towns of Beardstown and Meredosia. He also surveyed and laid out the state road from Meredosia to Quincy by way of Camp Point. At the last named place he camped out and called it Camp Point and this name has been retained down to the present. In 1835 he established his home in Fulton county, being the first white settler in Lee township, living on an old Indian farm called Potato Hollow. He there entered ten quarter sections of land and was at one time the wealthiest man in the county. He not only carried on farming pursuits on an extensive scale, but also owned a mill which he rented. He entered most of the land east of Atterberry and in course of time became the owner of thousands of acres. At one time he was the owner of the land on which the city of Jacksonville now stands. He was also prominent and influential in public affairs, held the office of justice of the peace for a time, was sheriff of Morgan county, and he named the town of Babylon in Fulton county. His efforts were of marked benefit to the state in its development and substantial improvement. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and was familiarly known as Uncle Phil. His death occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Aylesworth, near Ellisville, December 22, 1883. It was largely through his personal influence that congress passed the pre-emption laws.

William Ensley purchased his first land of his wife's father and afterward bought his present farm from John Stitch. As his financial resources have increased he has added to his property from time to time until he is now the owner of six hundred acres, which he has acquired entirely through by his own efforts, save a tract of eighty acres that was inherited by his wife. He has lived upon his present farm since 1856 and has wrought a great change in its appearance because of the improvements he has made and of the high state of cultivation under which he has placed his fields.

Mrs. Ensley, who was born July 8, 1837, in Fulton county, has become the mother of eight children, but the eldest, Luella, died in infancy. Those still living are Henry Elmer, born August 8, 1864; Harvey Lee, born December 11, 1870; and Nettie Alice, born March 17, 1884. The elder son married Hartie Barr and they resided at Waverly, Morgan county, Illinois, where he is engaged in business as a grain dealer. They have three children, one son and two daughters and they are members of the Methodist church. Harvey Lee, residing on a farm near Atterberry, married Jesse Thorne and they have one child-- a daughter.

Mr. Ensley gives his political allegiance to the Democracy and has served as roadmaster, but has never been very active as a politician, preferring to devote his time and energies to his business affairs, which he has capably conducted. He is seldom at fault in matters of business judgment and his energy has proven a very effective factor in winning success. His life has indeed been a busy and useful one and at all times it has been characterized by honorable purpose, so that he receives the good will and respect of those with whom he has been associated.


1905 Bio. Index

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