William Phillips


The fine farming property owned by the subject of this record is pleasantly situated in Scales Mound Township, and embraces 222 acres of finely cultivated land, with good improvements, lying on different sections, the residence being on section 23. He is one of the most prominent and influential citizens of his township, a thorough and skillful agriculturist, a man having had a long experience in mining, and one who has been uniformly prosperous, energetic, and possessed of more than ordinary ability. He is looked up to in his community as one of its most useful men. He has first-class improvements on his farm, a neat and substantial residence, together with the out-buildings and machinery necessary for the successful prosecution of general agriculture.

Scales Mound Township has been largely settled up by the substantial English element, and of this nationality our subject is one of the most worthy representatives. His father, John Phillips, a native of County Cornwall, was born in Wendron Parish, where he grew to man's estate and married Miss Ann Mitchell, who was born in the same county, and in Gwenap Parish. The paternal grandfather, Mathusala Phillips, was a farmer and miner combined, and spent his entire life in his native England, although he did not live to be aged. His death was the result of hemorrhage of the lungs, and occurred in 1845, when he was forty-six years old. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he officiated as Class-Leader, and otherwise labored for its advancement and prosperity. On the mother's side Grandfather John Mitchell carried on mining in Gwenap Parish, and died there. He also belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The father of our subject began mining in his youth, on the Menherion estate, and died there in 1834, likewise at the age of forty-eight years. He, too, was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he officiated as Class-Leader. His wife survived him many years, and died in Falmouth in 1882, aged eighty-four. Their four children are living: John came to the United States, and is a resident of Lamar, Iowa, where he conducts a butcher shop; William, our subject, was the second born; Mary A. and Sibilla continue to reside in their native England.

William Phillips, of this sketch, was born on the Menherion estate, in Cornwall County, England, Sept. 28, 1823. He remained under the home roof until a lad of thirteen years, having limited advantages for education. He then started out for himself, and began working in the mines of Gwenap Parish, first dressing copper ore, and later going down under the earth to the depth of 1,800 feet and laboring in that manner until 1846. In the meantime he was greatly dissatisfied with his condition, and determined upon a change. Resolving to emigrate to America he left Falmouth, on the 3d of April, 1846, going via Dublin by steamer to Liverpool, and there embarked on the sailing-vessel "Severn," which, after a voyage of six weeks and four days, landed him in the city of New Orleans. Thence he proceeded northward up the Mississippi to Galena, arriving June 20. He began prospecting for himself in the lead regions, working in the Black Diggings, and later purchased the claim in the Magoon Diggings. In the spring of 1850 he started overland with an ox-team for thc Pacific Slope, with a large company. After a long journey of four months they arrived at Placerville, or Hangtown, where Mr. Phillips engaged in mining, and remained a little over a year. This proved a rather unfortunate experience, as he suffered most of the time from ague. He finally concluded to return to Illinois, and made the trip via the Isthmus and New Orleans. In the fall of 1851 he began operating his own claim, and purchased a farm of 142 acres in Scales Mound Township. He prosecuted agriculture until 1863, in the meantime steadily making improvements. He then sold out and purchased the property which he now owns and occupies. This was comparatively unimproved, and the fine buildings with their surroundings which we behold to-day, are mainly the result of the perseverance and energy of the present proprietor. He has one of the best residences in the county, and the land is watered by a never-failing stream - the head waters of the Upper East Fork. He has planted evergreens, set. out fruit trees, and effected other improvements and conveniences which have so much to do with the happiness and comfort of a household. There are sixty acres of native timber on the farm. Mr. Phillips keeps excellent breeds of graded cattle and Norman horses, having three teams of the latter to operate the farm.

n Galena, on the 30th of August, 1849, occurred the marriage of William Phillips with Miss Caroline Martin. Mrs. Phillips, like her husband, was born in Cornwall County, England, in 1826, and came to America with her father in 1848. Of this union there have been born four children: John 0.; Sibilla, the wife of James Allan, a merchant, and the Postmaster of Scales Mound; Elizabeth C. died when twenty-two years old; John died in infancy. Mr. Phillips cast his first Presidential vote for Taylor, and in politics is a straight Democrat. He has frequently served as a delegate to the various conventions of his party in this district, and has served on the Grand and Petit Juries. He has held about all the local offices; was Road Supervisor three years; Commissioner of Highways nine years; Township Collector two years; Township Supervisor three years; School Trustee six years - and has been School Director for fifteen years; the latter office he still holds. He assisted in the organization of the school districts, and in all respects has been a public-spirited and liberal citizen, uniformily (sic) giving his encouragement to the projects best calculated for the advancement of his community. Both he and his estimable wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to the support of which they assist liberally. Mr. Phillips gave a generous sum at the time the church edifice was erected.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)