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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


BENJAMIN WILDAY, an Illinois pioneer of 1842, came to Logan County, this State, with his wife and two children during that year and taking up a piece of wild land labored upon it until 1848. That year he changed his residence to Morgan County, of which he has since been a resident. He farmed on rented land a number of years and finally settled on section 25, township 6, range 13, where he resided until 1887. He then removed to his present homestead on section 36, township 16, range 13.

A native of Pike County, Ohio, Mr. Wilday was born in Feb. 1815, and is the son of Thomas and Ella Wilday, the father a native of Maryland and the mother of Delaware. They settled in Ohio at an early day and became the parents of nine children, five of whom survive. Nancy, Mrs. Cline, is a resident of Logan County, this State; Jeriel; Rebecca married John Gilliland of Morgan County; Betsey, Mrs. Corwine, is a widow and resides in Lincoln; Charles, Alexander and Benjamin.

Our subject was reared to man's estate in his native county and pursued his studies in the log cabin school house principally during the winter season. The temple of learning was a rude structure in keeping with the time, destitute of patent seats or desks and with greased paper for window panes. The floor was made of puncheons and the chimney was built outside of earth and sticks. The system of education was in keeping with the building and its appointments, but the youth of that day grew up strong and healthy in mind and morals, and almost uniformly made good and reliable citizens.

Young Wilday remained a member of his father's household until ready to establish domestic ties of his own. He was married in his native county May 20, 1837, to Miss Sarah Hults, and they sojourned there for a period of five years. Their subsequent movements we have already indicated. Of the nine children born to them six are living, namely: William H., Charles A., Elizabeth, Arethusa J., James M. and Benjamin R. At the time Mr. Wilday came to Morgan County a large proportion of the land was in its primitive condition, only a comparatively few men having yet ventured on to the Western frontier. He endured his full share of hardship and privation, laboring early and late in obtaining a foothold and making a comfortable living for his family. He has a fine farm, part of which lies in the fertile Meredosia bottoms. He commenced the battle of life for himself without means or resources other than the good health and stout muscles with which nature had endowed him.

Mr. Wilday suffered an irreparable loss in the death of his estimable wife, which took place Dec. 16, 1861. She was a lady possessing all the Christian virtues and her death was not only deeply mourned by her own family but regretted throughout the community. Mr. Wilday is a time-worn veteran of seventy-four years and while reflecting upon the changes of a long life, may feel that his time has been reasonably well spent and that he has learned much from experience and observation. He has had very little to do with public affairs and has never been confined within any party lines, availing himself of the privilege to support for office those men whom he considers most likely to serve the interests of the people. In religious matters he is identified with the Baptist Church.

1889 Index
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