LaSalle County


Urbin S. Ellsworth, of Vermilionville, Illinois, has for years been a prominent factor in the affairs of township, county and state, and is too well known to need introduction here. A work of this character, however, would be incomplete did it not include some biographical mention of him. The history of his life, in brief, is as follows:

Urbin S. Ellsworth was born on his father's farm on section 31, South Ottawa township, LaSalle county, April 19, 1851, and is a son of the venerable pioneer citizen, William A. Ellsworth, of this county.

William A. Ellsworth is a native of Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, born January 8, 1818, a son of Eliphalet Ellsworth, who was the son of a Revolutionary soldier. The Ellsworths figured among the prominent early settlers of this country. From the Connecticut branch of the family is our subject descended. One member of this family, Oliver Ellsworth, was the chief justice under President Washington, and this chief justice had a son, William Ellsworth, who was at one time the governor of the state of Connecticut. Eliphalet Ellsworth's grandfather was an ardent patriot during the American Revolution and fought the battles for independence along with his son. Eliphalet Ellsworth served a short time as a soldier in the war of 1812; after that war he settled in Pennsylvania and was for a number of years engaged in agricultural pursuits. His last years were passed in LaSalle county, and he is buried in the Vermilionville cemetery. His son, William A. Ellsworth, before he was of age came to this county, stopping first on Hopkins' Hill in South Ottawa township, where Philip Watts now resides. Here he went to work by the month, and when the canal grant came into market he claimed an eighty-acre tract of land on section 31, which he still owns. This land he improved, building thereon the first brick house erected in the county, making the brick himself. That was in the year 1844. He continued his residence here until 1856, when he removed to Deer Park. In boyhood his opportunities for obtaining an education were not of the best and he was practically thrown upon his own resources at the age of twelve years. That he has made a success of life is due wholly to his own efforts. He has amassed a competency ample for his family needs. When a young man be joined the Congregational church, and for more than sixty years has lived consistently with the tenets of that religious body. December 18, 1845, be married Miss Lydia, a daughter of John Clark, who came into LaSalle county from Holderness, New Hampshire, she being a native of the village of Campton, that state. Mr. Clark was a Scotch-Irishman, who removed with his family to Illinois and settled in LaSalle county in 1839, the year succeeding the advent of Mr. Ellsworth. To Mr. and Mrs. John Clark the following named children were born: John, a resident of Henry county, Illinois; Charles, who died in Missouri, leaving a family there; Moody, deceased; Sarah, deceased, was the wife of John Elliott, and Lydia. The children of William A. Ellsworth are: Ada L., the wife of Ransom Bullock, of Tonica, Illinois; Urbin S.; Orin W., a druggist of Keokuk, Iowa; and Sarah, wife of James D. Selah, of Ewing, Nebraska.

Urbin S. Ellsworth remained a member of his father's household until his twenty-fifth year. He attended Jennings Seminary at Aurora, where he graduated in the classical course at the age of twenty-three, and afterward for a few years taught school in winter and farmed during the summer months. He has been identified with the farming interests of Deer Park and South Ottawa townships for more than a quarter of a century. Early be became recognized as one of the reliable men of the township and during his residence here has been connected with every movement having its welfare in view. His safe and conservative views upon public affairs brought him into notice and his services in various official capacities were required. He is a Republican. In his early political experience he filled the offices of township assessor and clerk. In 1875 he was elected a trustee of the schools of the township, and is still serving as such, now rounding out twenty-five years of service in this office. He was elected the supervisor of the township in 1888, and filled the office five years. He was on the committees on equalization, roads and bridges, to settle with the circuit clerk, and on fees and salaries. As the chairman of the committee on drainage and waterways he much to do with shaping legislation connected with the Chicago drainage channel and always fought strenuously for the rights of the people of the Illinois valley. At this time Mr. Ellsworth was also a member of the committees on contingent expenses of the house, education, corporations, agriculture, fish and game laws and military affairs. In the fall of 1890 he was elected a minority member of the state legislature and succeeded himself as such in 1892, being the only Republican elected in the county that year. In the fall of 1894 he was elected a majority candidate by a majority of two thousand and five hundred votes. During the session referred to he was the chairman of the drainage and waterways committee. He had in mind a measure for the improvement of the condition of the insane of the state, during his whole service, out of which the sentiment for the establishment of the Hospital for the Insane was developed. The Hospital for the Incurable Insane was also established as a result of the movement thus put under way. 'Mr. Ellsworth also worked for the revision of the revenue laws of the state, and for the adoption of the Australian ballot law. He was in the fight of the joint session which elected General John M. Palmer to the United States senate and helped disrupt the F. M. B. A. organization by supporting their state president for senator, which the F. M. B. A. members would not do. In the spring of 1899 Mr. Ellsworth was again elected to be the supervisor of his town and is serving on the committees on asylum, rules and settlement with the county treasurer.

Mr. Ellsworth was married December 18, 1876, to Victoria B. Gibbs. Mrs. Ellsworth's father, William T. Gibbs, was born in Chittenango, New York. He was superintendent of a reformatory at Lenox, Massachusetts, in his early life, and in 1855 moved to Aurora. Illinois, where he was for a time engaged in the milk business. In 1862 he enlisted in the Union army as a member of Company H, Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry, and was made the captain of his company. He served through the war as a gallant soldier, and at its close entered the service of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, in their shops at Aurora, where he remained until his retirement from active life in 1877. He died July 5, 1899, at the age of eighty-four years. His wife, before marriage Miss Harriet Dickerson, was born in Ulysses, New York, and their only child is Mrs. Ellsworth. Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth's children are: William B., born October 21, 1877; Ada A., September 9, 1883; and Dorothy R., May 31, 1890. Their son was educated in the State University of Illinois.

Mr. Ellsworth has held the position of consul in the camp of the M. W. A. in his township for the past four years.

Extracted 13 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 656-658.

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