Ellison Family >
W. S. Ellison
W. S. Ellison
Riverside Cemetery - Prophetstown, IL
Contributed by David Ellison
OBITUARY, Willard Sylvester Ellison, d. Oct 19, 1907
DEATH OF PROF. W. S. ELLISON
PROMINENT CITIZEN AND EDUCATOR PASSES AWAY LAST SATURDAY EVENING
Prof. W. S. Ellison died last Saturday evening at nine thirty o'clock.
He was conscious until a very few minutes before the final summons
came. The news of his death spread quickly and many a home in
Prophetstown was saddened that night with the knowledge that Prof.
Ellison had passed away. The announcements of his death in the curches
the following morning cast a gloom over the entire town and community.
Scarcely a home in Prophetstown but contains some member of the family
who had been directly connected with Prof. Ellison in the relation of
pupil to teacher. While every one was his friend and all admired and
respected him as a man, yet his pupils of the years gone by and all
those closely connected with him in his life work of teaching, are
probably best able, outside the members of his family, to fix the
truest estimate of his real worth as an educator, a co-worker, a helper
and a friend. Prof. Ellison had those qualities which at once
commanded the respect, the good will and the confidence of those with
whom he came in contact; in no better way could this be illustrated
than by the cordial relations, and the feelings of mutual respect and
confidence existing between himself and pupils while associated
together in the school room and during the years since those pleasant
school ties were severed. For nearly eighteen years the teacher and friend for whom today so many of us mourn, was a citizen of Prophetstown. Prof. Ellison's teaching did not cease in the school room. In his every action and word in his business dealings, in his sterling integrity and pure Christian character, he taught the younger generation by precept and example, the true elements of good
citizenship. For years to come Prophetstown will feel and realize the
good influences of this man's life. His faithfulness to every trust
and his conscientiousness almost to a fault were typically exemplified
in the care and concern he felt for the welfare of the school that the
pupils might be retarded only in the least possible manner by his being
taken from them at this time.
For the past two years Prof. Ellison had not been a well man. He
suffered a breakdown from overwork and never quite regained what he
lost physically at that time. Heart trouble was gradually weakening
his vitality but he remained steadfastly at his post of duty. Several
weeks ago he was compelled to leave his work as the result of a severe
cold taken shortly after the beginning of school. Pneumonia was
threatened but warded off, only to leave the patient an easy prey to
his old trouble, aggravated by a complication of other organic
disorders. A week ago Monday, after again spending several days at his
desk in the school building, he was taken so ill that he notified the
School Board of his inability to longer accept the responsibilities of
Principal in his then present state of health. On Thursday he realized
that the end was not far off and he made every thoughtful preparation
for the future welfare of his family, planning, wisely, as was ever his
custom, to the last minute detail.
Willard Sylvester Ellison was born in Springfield, Ill., January 28,
1857 to Gilbert S. and Elvira Bannister Ellison and died in
Prophetstown, Ill., October 19, 1907, aged 50 years, 8 months and 21
days. The father died in 1862 and the mother and young son moved to
the vicinity of Morrison, Ill. As a boy and youth he attended the
common schools of his vicinity, finally finishing his preparation for
teaching at Valparaiso, Ind. Prof. Ellison has taught school
successively at Gridley, Ustick Twp., this county, Thompson, Carroll
County, Miles, Ia., Garden Plain, Unionville and Prophetstown. He
taught in all twenty-eight years, the last eighteen in Prophetstown.
In the meantime he had further fitted himself for his work by attending
summer sessions in the Universities of Illinois and Iowa and various
Normal schools. At Miles, Ia., he was married July 8, 1886 to Alice
Heberling; into the home thus established have been born four
children, Dwight, Ruth, Ada and Donald. These children, with the
sorrowing wife, his aged mother, Mrs. Elvira Stowe, of Morrison, and a
half-brother, M. M. Stowe, of his immediate relatives are left to mourn
his death. He was affiliated with the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Eastern
Star and Mystic Workers. Several years ago he united with the local
Congregational church and since his public profession of faith made at
that time, he has been a faithful and active member. He met the
expected great change bravely and calmly as he had lived, supremely
confident in the full and complete realization of all his Christian
hopes and belief. Prof. Ellison was a standard for the highest ideals
of citizenship. His position or opinion on any public question when
once demonstrated or given, was certain to be on a high moral plane
merged with consistency and good judgement.
The funeral services were held Monday afternoon in the Congregational
church, conducted by his pastor, Rev. C. H. Burdick, assisted by Rev.
W. B. Doble, of the Methodist church, and Rev. A. Edgren of the
Lutheran church. Long before the arrival of the funeral party the
church was filled to the entry ways with citizens and pupils of the
town and surrounding country who had come to pay the last tribute of
love and esteem to the memory of the departed friend and instructor.
The pall bearers escorting the flower laden casket were Messrs. N. W.
Paddock, R.C. Forkey, M. P. Brewer, B. E. Hurd, Simon Keiser and S. D.
Gostelow. The short opening service was in charge of Rev. Doble who
concluded with a fervent prayer. Rev. Burdick delivered a sermon, the
text of which was a portion of Paul's letter to Timothy. The lesson
was a beautiful tribute to the life of Prof. Ellison who had fought the
good fight and won the victory. The old church choir composed of Mr.
and Mrs Fenn, Mr. and Mrs. Daggett, Mr. Case and Mrs. Paddock rendered
several excellent and appropriate selections, Rev. Edgren pronounced
the benediction,. There was scarcely a dry eye in the vast
congregation which slowly wended it's way out of the church at the
conclusion of the services. The public schools of this and adjoining
towns and country districts, the banks and many of the stores of
Prophetstown closed during the funeral services. This was the most
eloquent testimonial of the love, the esteem and high regard in which
Professor Ellison was held by those who knew him as an educator and
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