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Obits > Willard S. Ellison 1907

Contributed by David Ellison



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 exemplary citizen.

Related Links:
Ellison Family Photo Album
Alice Ellison


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