25 Jul 2005
Transcribed from the 1885 Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County pages 590-593
WINFIELD SCOTT WILKINSON, of Morrison, became a resident of Whiteside County in 1839, and had been in the State two years previous to that date. He has been prominently connected with the municpal affairs of that county during the entire period ofhis active life. He is widely known in his public and official relations and as a staunch friend and promoter of the general welfare.
The genealogical record of the Wilkinsons in America is complete. Lawrence Wilkinson was the founder of the race, and Mr. Wilkinson belongs to the sixth generation. Lawrence was born in Lanchester, in the shire of Durban, England. His father was named William, and his grandfather bore the same name as himself. He settled at Providence, R.I., in 1645, as nearly as can be estimated, and he died in 1692, nine years after the death of Roger Williams. From William Wilkinson, who married Mary CONYERS, the succession is traced as follows: Lawrence married Susannah SMITH; John, their third child, married Deborah WHIPPLE; Daniel, fifth child of John and Deborah, married Abigail INMAN. John, who was the seventh child of the latter, married Betsey TOWER, and they became the parents of four children - Alpha, Alfred, John and Diana - all now deceased. Alfred was born in Cumberland, R.I., July 6, 1786. His parents went thence to Troy, and from there to Skaneateles, N.Y., where he died, July 19, 1859, on the farm where the family settled, and on which he was buried. He was distinguished for his learning, conscientiousness, public spirit and religous fervor. He married Susan SMITH, by whom he had six children: Joab, Winfield Scott, Harry, Morton Smith, Elizabeth and Sarah. After the death of his first wife he married Laura EDWARDS, who survived him. Two children, Harry and Elizabeth, are deceased. Joab is a farmer in Macon Co., Ill. Morton is an attorney at Welles, Minn. He studied for his profession at Skaneateles, began his practice at Eaton Rapids, Mich., and removed, in 1847, to Minnesota. Sarah resides on the homestead which was the pioneer home of her grandfather. The generations that have descended from Lawrence Wilkinson have included some of the most distinguished names in the history of the country. Ruth Wilkinson, daughter of Samuel, eldest son of Lawrence, was the mother of Stephen Hopkins, Governor of Rhode Island, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Jemima Wilkinson, the Prophetess, belonged to the fourth generation. The roll of those who attained distinction in learning, law, theology and mechanics is too extensive for the scope of this sketch.
Mr. Wilkinson was born Sept. 11, 1812, in Skaneateles, N.Y. He was under the parental authority during his minority, and obtained a good education. He first engaged in teaching on reaching the period of his legal freedom, and afterward acquired a thorough and practical knowledge of the business of civil engineering. In 1837 he came to Jacksonville, Ill., and was employed by the State in the capacity of civil engeineer until the fall of 1839, when he located in Whiteside County.
In October of that year he bought a farm on section 25, near Como, in Hopkins Township, which contained 70 acres. Como flourished, and became the leading settlement in the eastern part of Whiteside County. The Government land sales took place in 1843, and Mr. Wilkinson was one of three selected by the claimants of Como to bid them in. He was chosen to perform the same service for the settlers in Hopkins Township. During the entire period of his residence in Hopkins, his peculiar fitness for the transaction of business in the interests of a pioneer community were recognized and kept in active use. In 1842 he was elected County Surveyor, and discharged the duties of the position five years. In 1844, he was elected Representative, and served two years in the General Assembly, fulfilling the obligations of his trust in a manner that reflected credit upon himself and upon the judgment of his constituents.
The business of Whiteside County was transacted by a Commissioners' Court, until the institution of the County Court. Mr. Wilkinson was named for the chief official, but declined, and accepted an appointment as Associate Justice. The first meeting of the Court was held in March, 1850, In 1853 he was again elected County Surveyor, and held the position until 1857, when he was elected County Clerk, the event being made conspicuous by his being the nominee of the Independent Democratic element of the county. He was twice re-elected, and served an aggregate of 12 years, or until 1869, when he declined a further incumbency. The ability and public spirit he had manifested in his official relations won for him the appreciation of the community, and the commendation of the officials of the county with whom he was connected ex officio. He was elected Senator in 1870, when the adoption of the new Constitiution of Ilinois demanded that the people should be represented by the soundest judgment and most disinterested integrity. His district included the counties of Whiteside and Lee, and the service rendered by Mr. Wilkinson in the Legislature justified the discretion of his constituents. In September, 1856, he removed to Sterling, then the county seat. On the removal of the county government to Morrison, in 1858, he changed his residence to the latter place, of which he has since been a resident. At the termination of his Senatorial term, in 1872, he retired from public and active life.
Mr. Wilkinson owns a farm on section 34, Hopkins Township, which is conducted by a tenant, and also his residence at Morrison, and 16 acres of land.
His marriage to Frances E. SAMPSON, occurred at Como, Nov. 10, 1841, and they have had four children. Mary, born April 14, 1843, married Dr. C. H. COGSWELL, and resides at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Alfred E, born Dec. 6, 1846, is an attorney at Dennison, Texas. He studied at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and was graduated in 1869, reading the class poem. Henry B., born April 8, 1849 is in company with his uncle, Hon. H.R. Sampson, and is doing business as a real-estate and loan agent. They are the owners of the only complete set of abstracts in Whiteside Sounty. Frank, born March 11, 1857, died Nov. 21, 1860. Mrs. Wilkinson is the daughter of Capt. H.B and Nancy (TURNER) SAMPSON, ppioneers of Hopkins Township. She was born Jan 8, 1814. On her mother's side, she is descended from Governor CARVER, of Massachusetts, and her grandfather, Colonel TURNER, was a graduate from Harvard in 1767 and joined the Colonial army at Boston with a company of volunteers. (See sketch of Hon. H.R. Sampson.)