Mr. Ebey comes of sturdy Revolutionary stock. His paternal grandfather, a German by birth and descent, emigrating to America in the seventeenth century, cast in his lot with the Colonists, and bravely fought with them for freedom from British rule, and yielded up his life in the cause at the storming of Stony Point. The parents of our subject, George and Mary (Ellebarger) Ebey, were born in Pennsylvania, and married and settled in their native State. The father was a man of good ability, full of ambition and enterprise. He was a millwright, and owned a flour-mill in Pennsylvania, and used to ship his flour on his own boats from his manufactory on the Juniata River to Baltimore. Desirous of making money still faster, he built two vessels, and loading one with flour and the others with castings bought from a foundry on credit, he dispatched them to the Baltimore market. But while going down the Susquehanna River the vessels were run upon a rock near its mouth and wrecked, the pilot having been bribed to do the act, and both vessels with their entire cargo and three of the crew were lost. Mr. Ebey was on board of one of the vessels, and not being able to swim, he lay upon the bow of the sinking boat during that entire March night, and when rescued in the morning was entirely helpless from west, cold, and exposure. This accident was a serious interruption in his hitherto prosperous career, and caused him to sell his property in Pennsylvania, and in 1804 to remove with his family to Ohio. He bought a tract of heavily timbered land in the primeval forests of that State, twelve miles north of Columbus, on the Sciota River, and there entered upon the pioneer task of hewing out a farm. He also engaged in his business as a miller, erecting a saw and grist mill in partnership with Mr. John Sells. He there reared his family until after the sad death of his wife (in 1815) broke up his home - misfortune having once more set its seal upon his financial affairs, as the title to his land was found to be defective and he had to give it up. The mill, however, had been built on his partner's land, so that he did not lose his share of that. He rented a mill near Columbus, and lived there five years, and then, some of his children having married, he broke up housekeeping and lived among them, his death occurring in 1848, at the venerable age of eighty-four years. He and his wife were the parents of eleven children, of whom our subject was the tenth in order of birth. He was born in Ohio Jan. 18, 1811. He received his education in various places, as his brother-in-law, with whom he lived, moved frequently. His father came to Illinois in 1828, and he came with him, and they settled first in Sangamon County, whence our subject made several trips back to Ohio. He had learned the potter's trade from his brother-in-law, and when nineteen years old established himself at that calling, and not having money enough to carry on the business alone, was obliged to work on shares for about three years.
May 3, 1832, our subject was married, in Ohio, to Miss Matilda, daughter of Robert and Jane Kilpatrick, natives, respectively, of County Antrim, Ireland, and of Washington County, Pa. The father was a weaver by trade, and migrated to this country and settled in Pennsylvania. He married there, and in 1815 removed with his family to Ohio, becoming a pioneer of that State. He died in 1824, and the mother in 1855. They had eleven children, of whom Mrs. Ebey, the fifth in order of birth, is now the only living representative. She was born in Crawford County, Pa., March 31, 1812. To her and her husband ten children have been born, seven sons and three daughters, all of whom have lived to maturity, but four have since died. In the hour of their country's greatest need, they loyally sent forth three of their beloved sons to do battler in her honor, and two of them were sacrificed to preserve the Union in its entirety. Their son, Fletcher, enlisted in Company C, 28th Illinois Infantry, was badly wounded at Shiloh, came home, after lingering in ill-health some years, and died from the effects of his wound, Oct. 18, 1876. Their eldest son now living, Thomas, served three years as a member of Company K, 14th Illinois Infantry, and was spared to return to his parents and friends. He was born Nov. 24, 1835, and is now happily established in a home of his own near his father's. He married Emma Alder, and they have three children. The record of the other three children of our subject and his wife is as follows: Mary Jane, born May 12, 1840, married William Garland, of Wyoming, and they have three children; Eliza, born Jan. 29, 1843, married Henry Stahl, of Elkhart, Ill., and they have five children living; Minnie, born Nov. 29, 1845, lives at home with her parents; Olive, born Dec. 17, 1848, lives in Custer, Dak.; Orville, born Dec. 27, 1851, lives on his father's place, married Mary Bulmer, and they have five children; David, born April 27, 1854, married Lucy Summers, and had two children, Katie and a younger one, who having been born just after her father's death, was named Davie in memory of him. This son died June 22, 1882, in the very prime of early manhood, and thus, shortly after the golden anniversary of their wedding day a half-century before, these worthy people lost their "baby" in his twenty-eighth year.
After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Ebey lived in Ohio until the following year, 1833, and then removed to Manchester, Ill., and the next year came to Winchester, and thus became numbered among the pioneers of this place. Two years later mr. Ebey bought this place and here they have lived for over half a century. He erected a pottery, and has been actively engaged in that business to this day. He has also gradually worked into farming, and now has a fine farm of 200 acres of land, of exceeding fertility, one mile northeast of Winchester.
Mr. Ebey is a thoroughly patriotic citizen, and during the late war contributed his quota toward carrying it to a successful issue. Thirteen volunteers went out from the shelter of his home to join the Union Army. Three of them were his sons, one a son-in-law, and the others were men in his employ. He constituted himself a committee of one, to look after the boys, and made eight trips to the seat of war; visiting the battlefield of Shiloh, and bringing home his three sons who had fought nobly there; one was dead and another severely wounded, as heretofore mentioned. Mr. Ebey was a personal friend of President Lincoln, Richard Yates (the War Governor of Illinois), Peter Cartwright, and other notable men of this State. The famous preacher (Peter Cartwright) used to make his home his abiding-place for the night when he was holding quarterly meetings in this neighborhood. Mr. Ebey raised a company for the Mexican War, was elected its captain, but was not called upon to serve, as the quota was filled. In early times he was a Whig in politics, and was one of the first of the Abolitionists, and until 1884 was a supporter of the Republican party, but in that year he joined the ranks of the Prohibitionists, and has stood by that party ever since. He and his wife are both active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and they let their light so shine as to be seen of others who recognize in them, happy, sincere Christians.
The life-record of our subject shows him to be a man pure and spotless in the eyes of the world, one who has always aimed to do good. Sound discretion, promptitude and method in his business transactions, have been important factors in bringing about his success in his undertakings. At this writing he possesses good mental powers and a fine physique, so that he has passed the milestone that marks seventy-nine years of a busy life, and yet does not bear the marks of such a venerable age, but is still hale and vigorous, and it is the hope of his many friends that his kindly presence may be spared to them many years before he is called to pass over the river.