WELLINGTON J. LILLYBRIDGE.
The subject of this biography, now
a retired farmer of ample means, having began life in his residence in Earlville, is a descendant of
of a prominent pioneer family of Madison
County, who settled here in the early days of
its history, when the cabins of the homesteaders were few and far between. He was born in Lebanon, May 27, 1825. Tradition says that his ancestors were from England and it is probable that they emigrated to New England in Colonial times, as his grandfather, Champlin Lillybridge, was a native of Rhode Island. There he was reared and married, finally coming to Madison County, where he lived a number of years before going to Greece, Monroe County, to spend the last years of his life at the home of one of his sons. The maiden name of his wife was Hannah Wilcox; and she also, was a native of Rhode Island.
Jarah Lillybridge, father of our subject, was born
February 6, 1794, in Richmond, R.I, where he spent the earlier years of his life. When seventeen years of age, he started out in search of a fortune, his total assets consisting of a three-year-old colt and three dollars in money. With the latter in his pocket, and astride the colt, he turned his face toward the Empire State. After a few hours' travel he overtook Mr. David, the keeper of a hotel in Sherburne, who was making the journey with a pair of horses and a wagon. So he finished the trip in company with him, riding in the wagon and leading the colt most of the way. Arriving in Lebanon, Mr. Lillybridge joined his brother-in-law, Deacon Stephen James, and soon after began life in this State, working by the month. Being active and energetic, and prudent in his habits, before many years he had saved enough of his earnings to buy sixty acres of land in Lebanon, paying nine dollars per acre for it. Three acres were partly cleared, and the remainder was covered with timber. A log-house had been built on the clearing, and in it he and his wife began housekeeping. He labored early and late, and in the course of a few years had not only eliminated a fine farm from the wilderness, but had accumulated a surplus capital, which he wisely invested in additional land. In 1825 the log cabin was superseded by a frame house, thus completing a substantial set of farm buildings. He became closely identified with the interests and progress of this section of the county; and his death, which occurred May 1, 1874, was a great loss to the community. The maiden name of his wife, mother of our subject, was Olive Wilcox. She was also a native of Richmond, R.I., born April 5, 1797, and was but seven years
old when she came with her parents to Madison County. She died July 28, 1876. She was the mother of four children: John, who died in Delaware County, Iowa, November 2, 1892; Varnum W.; Wellington J.; and Clarissa C. Her grandparents were Peleg and Dinah Wilcox; and her parents were Peleg Wilcox (Jr.) and Thankful Wilcox, both natives of New England, her father having been born in Rhode Island in 1776. He grew to manhood in the place of his nativity, learning when young to do all kinds of work incident to an agricultural life. In 1804, deciding that he could farm to a better advantage in the fresh and unbroken soil of some Western State, he emigrated to New York, bringing with him his family and all household effects. He secured a tract of timber land in the town of Lebanon, and at once began the erection of a log house. He had no sawed lumber, but hewed out the boards to cover the roof and floor, and, having no doors, hung a quilt in the doorway. At that time wolves roamed the woods, making frequent depredations on the flocks; and on one occasion, when they had been unusually aggressive, Mr. Lillybridge and the neighbors, joining forces, gave chase to the invader, and he, riding a small mare, caught and killed the wolf. This was but a single incident in the experiences which followed during the many years of toil and hardships required to overcome the difficulties besetting the pathway of the early pioneer. With characteristic energy Mr. Wilcox continued the work of converting the wilderness into a beautiful garden spot, covered with
waving grass and growing grain, and at the time of his death, in 1846, had an excellent farm under good cultivation, amply supplied with substantial frame buildings.
The subject of this personal history was reared in his native town, receiving his elementary education in its district schools, and subsequently attending the schools of Smyrna and Earlville. When at home, he assisted his
father in the management of the farm, becoming familiar with the details pertaining to it, and finally succeeded his father in its ownership, which he still retains, and, in addition, has become the possessor of the land formerly belonging to his grandfather Wilcox, so that he has now an extensive farm, containing six hundred and fifty-six acres. In 1885 Mr. Lillybridge gave up the active cares of farm life, and moved to Earlville, where he has since resided. In 1850 he was united in marriage with Miss Sarah A. Allen, a native of Madison County, and born in Brookfield, of New England ancestry, her grandfather, Samuel Allen, son of Christopher Allen, having been born in Hopkinton, R.I. He married Sarah Kinyon, and emigrated from Rhode Island to Oneida County, New York, in 1806. Soon after they came to Madison County, and located in Brookfield, where they cleared a farm, and spent the remainder of their lives. They reared two children, Steadman and Edward D. The latter, born in Brookfield in 1808, was the father of Mrs. Lillybridge. He was reared, educated, and spent his entire life in his native county. Becoming early initiated into the mysteries of farming, he followed that occupation as long as able, and spent his declining years, tenderly cared for, in the pleasant home of his daughter, the wife of our subject. His death took place July 29, 1893.
The maiden name of his wife, to whom he was married in 1827, was Caroline Button. She was born in Brookfield, May 5, 18o5, a daughter of John P. and Betsey (Palmenter) Button, both natives of Hopkinton, R.I. Leaving New England, they came to Madison County, and, purchasing a tract of land which was still in its primitive condition, erected a log house, which the family occupied for some years, and at once began to prepare the
land for tillage. The town was then sparsely populated, the markets very distant, and the nearest mill thirty-six miles away. This Mr. Button had to visit occasionally; and, as there was no road, a part of the distance he
had to follow a trail. It took three days to accomplish the round trip, the family being left alone in the mean while; and, as the wilderness was inhabited by wolves, bears, and other wild animals, and Indians were in the habit of making frequent calls at the cabin, it was an anxious period for him as well as for his family. After a while he erected a mill at Brookfield, the first in the vicinity, which he successfully operated. Being a natural mechanic, and carpenters much needed in the new and growing town. Mr. Button worked for a number of years at
that trade, being quite successful. His death occurred in 1839, and Mrs. Button's in 1852. The mother of Mrs. Lillybridge died in
Smyrna in 1876. She reared six children--David, Hannah, Erotus. Robert, Sarah, and Freeman.
To our subject and his wife were born four children. Emma Oliva died at the age of ten years. John W. died when eight years old. Olive died at the age of six years. Mary, who was born August 1, 1856, married Delos Finch; and they have a family of four children--John W., Jay, Raymond. and Clarissa. Mr. and Mrs. Lillybridge are members of the Baptist church, and are ever zealous in all good and charitable works.
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