Names Index
Portrait Index

   DE FOREST A. WILLCOX, an enterprising business man, and a member of the County Board of Supervisors, representing the town of Lebanon, was born in Smyrna, Chenengo County, December 4, 1837. His father, Alfred Willcox, a natural mechanic, working at saw and grist mills, came, when young, to New York from Massachusetts, his native State, with other members of his family, going first to Lebanon, then to Smyrna, afterward moving to Earlville, where he died at fifty-eight years of age. He married Louisa Brown, daughter of Peleg Brown, who died at the home of the subject of this sketch at the advanced age of seventy-eight years, having reared to maturity seven of her eight children--A. Devalson, A. Delina, De Forest A., Delora, Derius, Delphurna, and Delano.
   De Forest A. Willcox received his early education, his instruction in book learning, in the public schools of Smyrna. At fourteen years of age he adopted the calling of a miller. Thoroughly mastering the trade, he followed it--a first-class miller--for many years, the latter part of the time being proprietor of a mill at Earlville. In 1887 he became associated with J. R. Parsons in the manufacture of the now famous low-down milk and general delivery wagon. The firm began business in a small way, erecting a building twenty by twenty-four feet, three stories in height, and employing three men. Success did not immediately follow the new enterprise. The wagon, not being perfected, proved less serviceable than it had promised to be, and failed to find favor with the public; and the business was run at a loss for two years. It was then that Mr. Willcox set his wits at work to improve upon Mr. Parsons's invention. As a result, the wagon which the company is now turning out is in large and constantly increasing demand. Additions have been made to the original building, which is now forty by one hundred and four feet, three stories in height, with a two-storied wing, twenty by thirty feet. Besides this, the old mill has been turned into a workshop; and the company have in their employ from eighty to one hundred men. In 1891 an electric dynamo was put in, to light the buildings by electricity, Mr. Willcox's son, Walter D., taking full charge of this department. In the fall of 1892, it being found that increased facilities for lighting were needed, the plant then in use was sold to St. Johnsville parties, and the present plant put in its place. Walter Willcox continues its successful manager, supplying with light many of the citizens of the village as well as the corporation.
   Mr. Willcox married in 1860 Sylvia T. Scarrett, daughter of James and Polly (Woolbridge) Scarrett, who was born in Smyrna, Chenango County. They have one child living. Walter D., who was born June 23, 1869, and married January 1, 1890, to Nellie A. Booth. She was born in South Hamilton, N. Y., daughter of J. F. and Hannah F. Booth. The only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Willcox, Mattie D., died at the age of thirteen years. Mr. Willcox is Republican in politics. He was chosen Supervisor in 1888, and has been elected his own successor every year since. He has served on various committees, and has been the efficient chairman of some of the most important of them. He is a member of Earlville Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
   The excellent portrait of Mr. Willcox which accompanies this biographical sketch is especially noteworthy from the fact that it presents the features of a representative business man, who is, in addition, a practical and skilled mechanic of inventive ingenuity, and who by his past record has won the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens, as manifested by his repeated election to the public offices above mentioned. That he may long enjoy the high position he holds in his community will be the sincere wish of his many friends and admirers.

1999- All rights reserved.