|ELIAS C. WEST.
Elias C. West, a representative of a pioneer family of De Kalb county, within whose borders he has made his home from the age of four years, is now living retired in Sycamore but for a long period was closely associated with the agricultural development of the county. He was born November 25, 1839, in Evans, Erie county, New York. His paternal grandfather, Asa West, was born in Williamstown, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in 1769, and after arriving at years of maturity wedded Sarah Parker, whose birth occurred in Deerfield, Franklin county, Massachusetts, April 25, 1773. In 1808 Asa West removed with his family to Madison county, New York, casting in his lot among its pioneer settlers. He purchased a tract of timber land, upon which he built a log house that remained the home of the family for a number of years. He was a clothier by trade and a man of natural mechanical ability. Later in life he turned his attention to the coopering business, which he followed during the winter seasons after his removal to the Empire state. While the second struggle of the colonies with Great Britain was in progress he made wooden canteens for the enemy. In 1815 his health failed and after an illness of six years' duration he died in January, 1821. His widow and her children remained residents of Madison county, New York, for a number of years, and in 1826 removed to Erie county, that state, where Mrs. West passed away December 2, 1828, at the age of forty-eight years. By her marriage she had become the mother of nine children.
This number included David West, father of our subject, who was born in Waterville, Oneida county, New York, July 16, 1806, which was the year of his parents' removal from Massachusetts to the Empire state. After the death of his father he became a member of the family of his brother-in-law, Daniel Hurd, of Georgetown, New York, with whom he lived until twenty years of age. He then located at Evans, Erie county, where he operated as a contractor in the forests, clearing land and lumbering. As a companion and helpmate for life's journey he chose Sarah Chapin, of Georgetown, whom he wedded April 29, 1829. Her parents, Elias and Dimis (Chapman) Chapin, had removed from Stamford, Connecticut, to Madison county, New York. Her father was born February 15, 1751, and when the colonies attempted to throw off the yoke of British oppression, joined the American army. He was with Washington at the time of the evacuation of the city of New York by the British. His last days were spent in Evans, Erie county, New York, where he passed away February 4, 1839. His wife, whose birth occurred on the 15th of October, 1774, died in Woodstock, New York, October 12, 1860.
Following his marriage David West bought a tract of land which was included in the Holland purchase in Evans. He there built a house and barn and cleared forty-five acres, maintaining his residence at that place until 1843. He also continued the work of clearing land and farming for others and thus brought under cultivation about three hundred and fifty acres of land. Disposing of his farm in the Empire state he started for Illinois, accompanied by his family, making the journey with a team of horses and a wagon, bringing also a portion of their household goods. The family traveled across the country after the slow and primitive manner of the times, resting on Sundays, and when twenty-three days had elapsed they reached Sycamore. The succeeding winter was spent in the home of Aaron C. West, a brother of David West, on section 34, Sycamore township. The latter purchased a tract of land adjoining his brother's farm, and in the winter of 1844-43 built a small frame house for the accommodation of his family. During the same winter he entered his claim from the government. His first crop was raised on rented land in 1844, in which year he also broke twenty acres of his own farm and the following year he raised a crop thereon. At that time grain was marketed in Chicago, which was also the base of supplies for the people of this locality, and the nearest mill was at St. Charles, in Kane county. As the years passed Mr. West added modern and substantial farm buildings to his place and set out an orchard, which included some trees that he himself brought from the state of New York. He owned one hundred and seven acres of land and as the years advanced he prospered in his undertakings, developing an excellent property, which returned to him a good annual income as the result of the care and labor which he bestowed upon the fields.
The first wife of David West was born January 8, 1804, in Stafford, Connecticut, and by this marriage eight children were born, Elias C. being the fourth. The mother died January 23, 1849, and on the 28th of May following Mr. West married Mrs. Lucinda (Rose) Wells, the widow of Israel wells, who died in March, 1845, leaving two children, George M. and Ruth. Mrs. Wells was born in August, 1804, in Sherburne, Chenango county, New York, and was a daughter of Joseph and Ruth (Whitney) Rose, who were natives of Windhall, Vermont. On leaving the Green Mountain state they took up their abode at Sherburne, New York. Mr. Rose was born on Christmas day of 1760, while his wife's birth occurred on the 28th of July, 1772. Their daughter, Mrs. West, died April 10, 1884.
David West was a typical frontiersman, for most of his life was passed amid pioneer surroundings. When he removed to Georgetown, in 1826, he found a little hamlet in the midst of an almost unbroken wilderness and there was every evidence of frontier life in Erie county when he took up his abode there, Buffalo being at that time little more than a village. Again he met the hardships and experiences of life on the frontier in De Kalb county and aided in reclaiming the wild land for the purposes of civilization. He was interested in everything pertaining to public progress and his co-operation proved an element in the substantial development of this part of the state. As a commissioner he assisted in the construction of the public roads and he also did effective work in the organization of school districts. He served for eighteen consecutive years as assessor and in all public relations was found faithful and reliable. When twenty-five years of age, in the town of Collins, Erie county, New York, he joined the Congregational church, of which he remained a member until 1879, when he severed his relations therewith from conscientious scruples. In the days when Georgetown was a small town his home was always open for the entertainment of traveling ministers and the humanitarian spirit which ever existed was also manifested in the fact that it became a station on the underground railroad, Mr. West aiding many a poor refugee to make his way from slavery in the south to freedom in Canada. He also advocated the cause of temperance by precept and example and was so abstemious that he never used tobacco. No man was ever more loyal to a cause which he believed to be right and no man ever questioned his honesty of purpose. He voted for James G. Birney for president at the time when the anti-slavery candidate of the district for representative received but forty votes. He lived to see the abolition of slavery and the country enjoying the fruits of liberty, while in his home locality he witnessed with pride the advancement and progress which were made, ever bearing his full share in the work of development, so that his history became an integral chapter in the annals of this part of the state. He died in February, 1891, respected by all who knew him.
Elias C. West was only five years of age when brought by his parents to Illinois, and the district schools of Sycamore township afforded him his educational privileges. He was twenty-three years of age when he offered his services to the government in defense of the Union, enlisting on the 7th of September, 1862, as a member of Company A, One Hundred and Fifth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. This command was attached to the Twentieth Army Corps and he met the usual experiences which fall to the lot of the soldier on active duty. He participated in the Atlanta campaign, the march through Georgia and the Carolinas and in the grand review at Washington, D. C., which has the most celebrated military pageant ever seen on the western hemisphere. The streets were lined with people eager to welcome the victorious army, and across Pennsylvania avenue was a banner bearing the inscription "The only debt which the country cannot pay is the debt which she owes her soldiers." Mr. West was three times slightly wounded, sustaining injuries at Kenesaw Mountain and at Atlanta. He served for three years and was mustered out in 1865, returning home with a most creditable military record.
Resuming agricultural pursuits, Mr. West for many years thereafter engaged in the tilling of the soil and the raising of fine stock and in the dairy business, being associated for sometime with his father. He continued in active life until 1901, when he retired and removed to Sycamore, where he now occupies a fine home on West Exchange street that he built. His farm is located a mile and a half east of Sycamore on section 34, Sycamore township, and comprises one hundred and sixty-seven acres of well improved land, equipped with all the accessories and conveniences of a model farm. From the property he derives a good income and this with his other financial resources enables him to live in comfortable circumstances without recourse to further labor.
On the 17th of June, 1872, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. West and Miss Ella Reese, who was born in Wisconsin and came to Sycamore in 1869, with her parents, Andrew and Mary (Bass) Reese. Her father was a pioneer of Dodge county, Wisconsin, and in 1869 arrived in De Kalb county, Illinois, where he followed farming for some time, while later he conducted a cheese factory in Sycamore for several years. Mr. and Mrs. West have become the parents of four children: May B., who died at the age of nine years; Roy C., who married Ada Sanford and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, being employed as an engineer on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad; Gertie May, who is librarian at the Sycamore public library; and Herbert, at home.
Mr. West has figured prominently in agricultural circles, having been elected president of the De Kalb County Farmers Institute upon its organization and filling the position for five years. He also represented the northern district of Illinois at the Farmers National Congress at Rock Island. He belongs to the Grand Army post, and he and his wife are identified with the Congregational church at Sycamore, in the work of which they have taken an active and helpful part. For fifteen years he served as one of its deacons and has been a member of various church committees. More than six decades have passed since he came to the county and its progress and improvement are to him matters of pride. He has given cooperation to many movements for the public good and in citizenship, in business life and in fact in all relations has commanded the esteem and good will of those with whom he has been associated.
Source: Gross, Lewis M. Past and present of DeKalb County, Illinois. Chicago: Pioneer Pub. Co., 1907, Vol. 2, pp. 175-178.
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