Biography - William W. Wiley

WILLIAM W. WILEY. The life of William W. Wiley of Anna, Illinois, carries a lesson for the youth of today who feels that he has been handicapped in his struggle to win success in the business field or a place of prominence among his fellows. Mr. Wiley, at the very outset of life, before he had left boyhood, sustained a misfortune under which one of less sterner makeup would have given up, totally discouraged, but his has been the nature to overcome his affliction and to fight his way steadily forward, until today he holds a prominent place in the city's business life and no man in his community enjoys to a greater extent the respect and esteem of his fellow-townsmen. Mr. Wiley was born at Jonesboro, Illinois, October 22, 1851, and is a descendant on his mother's side, of Winstead Davie, the founder of the city of Anna, and a grandson of the well-remembered and much-beloved lady in whose honor the city was named.

Abel Wiley, the paternal grandfather of William W., was born in the state of Maryland, and was there married to Rebecca Richardson. He died near the city of Anna in 1867.

Ben L. Wiley, son of Abel, was born in 1821, in Jefferson county, Ohio and as a youth was engaged in carpentry and the grist milling business with his father, subsequently engaging in school-teaching. At the outbreak of the Mexican war he became a soldier in the United States army, but the war was nearly ended when he reached Santa Pe, and his principal service was with the commissary department. In 1845 he located in Vienna, Johnson county, Illinois, and subsequently settled in Jonesboro, from whence he enlisted in the Civil war in 1861, and served as lieutenant-colonel of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry until 1863, when he was transferred to the provost-marshal's office at Cairo, remaining there until the close of the war. His death occurred in Jackson county, Illinois, in March, 1890. In 1850, Mr. Wiley was married to Miss Emily Davie, who was born in Jonesboro in 1830, the daughter of Winstead and Anna (Willard) Davie. Winstead Davie was born in 1797, in Rowland county, North Carolina, from whence he removed in his youth to Tennessee, and came from the latter state to Jonesboro, Illinois, in 1818 or 1819. Winstead Davie had the misfortune to be a cripple from birth and was compelled to use crutches, but in spite of this became a very successful business man and was well known to the milling trade of this section, having moved his business from Jonesboro to Anna in 1858. A merchant by occupation Winstead Davie brought a stock of bankrupt goods from Tennessee, disposed of them here and returned the money to the creditors. He rose to a place of prominence in Union county and was elected to all the county offices with the exception of that of sheriff, and for some years taught school in a room in the Court House. He followed the general merchandise business in Jonesboro and Anna until six or seven years prior to his death, which occurred in the former city, in July, 1885. The city of Anna, which was named after his wife and was formerly known as Jonesboro Station, was laid out in lots by Mr. Davie. Anna (Willard) Davie was born in Vermont in 1809, and died in December, 1880, at Jonesboro, and was the mother of these children: Daniel, who is eighty-five years of age and a resident of Jonesboro; Emily, who married Mr. Wiley; Mrs. Mary Perrine, who lives at Anna and is seventy-three years of age; Mrs. Nannie Brown, sixty-seven years old, who also lives at Anna; and Mrs. Walton, who met her death in a railroad accident in 1907.

William W. Wiley attended the public schools until he was eleven years of age, at which time he lost his eyesight. During the next five years he attended the Jacksonville Institution for the Blind, where he learned the trade of broommaking. He then returned to a farm near Makanda, where for ten years he continued making brooms, and eventually came to Anna where he established himself in a little business, keeping candy, tobacco and cigars to sell while he still occupied himself with broommaking. His business gradually grew to include school supplies, and after ten years he was able .to give up broommaking and give his whole attention to his store, which has subsequently become one of the largest bookstores here and does a large business. During the thirty years that Mr. Wiley has been a merchant here he has gained the esteem and respect of all who know him. A cheerful, industrious worker, he has never allowed himself to be discouraged, and the success that has attended his efforts is but a just reward for his years of faithful endeavor.

Mr. Wiley was married (first) in 1881, to Mrs. Mary Greer Glascow, who was born in Jonesboro in 1852 and died in 1895, having been the mother of these children: W. Davie, who married Floy Halstead, is engaged in business with his father, and has one child, Helen; and Bertha, who lives at home with her father. Mr. Wiley's second marriage was to Miss Helen Short, a native of Kansas, who was born in 1858, and died at Anna in 1907, there being no issue. Mr. Wiley is a consistent member of the Presbyterian church and takes a great interest in its work. His kindly and genial manners have made him very popular with the people of his community, and he has hosts of friends throughout the city.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 771-772.

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