For almost thirty years Joel W. Ellis has been known as one of the most public-spirited citizens of Seneca, LaSalle county, and unquestionably ranks with the leading business men of this flourishing town. He is deservedly popular with all classes, rich and poor, farmer, mechanic or business man, and in the transaction of his affairs he maintains the utmost fairness and justice toward everyone.
His father, Joel C. Ellis, was a native of Vermont, born in 1814, and at the time of his death he was in his prime, being but forty years of age. His wife, our subject's mother, a Miss Mary Hunt in her girlhood, was born in Connecticut, a daughter of J. Hunt. She is still living, now in her eighty-fifth year, and makes her home with her younger son, William H., of Rathbun, Iowa. Her only daughter, Ella, is married and is a resident of Kansas City, Kansas.
The birth of Joel W. Ellis occurred in Waterford, Pennsylvania, January 19, 1844, and he was but ten years of age at the time of his father's death, which event took place at Morris, Illinois, where the family had been living for several years. But six months old when he was brought to this state, Mr. Ellis has been thoroughly identified with its progress from his earliest recollections, and is proud of the rapid strides it has made toward everything which is desirable in a commonwealth, within the half-century just ending. After he had left school he took a position as a clerk in the post-office, his superior being George Fisher, and later he was employed in the post-office at Morris, under Postmaster Edward Hanna.
In August, 1861, when but seventeen and a half years old, J. W. Ellis enlisted as a private in Company G, Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, his captain being I. W. Parkhurst, and his colonel N. Greusel. The regiment was at first encamped at Aurora, and our subject was detailed as a mail messenger. Soon ordered to the front, he participated in numerous engagements and battles with the Confederates, including Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus and Nashville. Serving faithfully at his post of duty until the close of the war, four years and two months from the date of his enlistment, he was mustered out and honorably discharged, in October, 1865.
fter having given to his country some of the best years of his early manhood, Mr. Ellis took up the burden of life again on his own account. In 1869 he removed to Hennepin, Illinois. In 1872 he came to Seneca, and for sixteen years conducted a lumber business. Ten years after his arrival here he bought a stock of hardware and farm machinery and implements, and his business in this line increased so rapidly and gratifyingly that he disposed of his lumber yard in 1888, and since that time has given liis entire attention to the other trade. He keeps a large and finely selected stock of goods, and controls the greater portion of the business in his line in this locality.
In 1890 he was appointed as post-master of Seneca, to fill the vacancy, – occasioned by the death of D. H. Underhill, and served for eighteen months; and in November, 1897, President McKinley appointed him to the postmastership here. On New Year's day, 1898, he entered upon his new duties, and is still officiating with the promptness and fidelity and the unfailing courtesy which have made many friends for him. He is a Republican, "true blue," and fraternally belongs to Seneca Post, No. 324, G. A. R.; Manlius Lodge, No. 491, I. O. O. F., and to Logan Camp, No. 1212, Modern Woodmen of America.
In October, 1868, Mr. Ellis married Miss T, E. Strong, of Morris, Illinois, and their union is blessed with five children, namely: Estelle, Edna M., Elmer, Tracy W., and Hilda. Mrs. Ellis is a daughter of S. S. and Temperance Strong, in their day well known citizens of Morris, Illinois.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 327-328.