WILLARD JOHN F. Deceased; one of the pioneers of Henry Co; was a resident of Wethersfield for 38 years; he was the eldest son of \Vm. and Hannah Willard, of Wethers field, Conn, and was born in that place June 18, 1805; converted under the labors of the Rev. Dr. Nettleton at the age of 14, he devoted several years of study with a view to the ministry; this he was obliged to relinquish, too close application to his studies impairing his health; Feb. 17, 1836 he married Mary A., daughter of Dea. Origen Wells, of Newington, Conn., and in Oct. of the same year he came to the West, being one of the first three of the " Old Wethersfield Colony," to make a home on this (then) desert prairie; during the month of Nov. he cut the first set of cabin logs, solitary and alone, on the premises now occupied by Mr. C. C. Blish; this, as far as the colony was concerned, was the first work done; two others of the colonists soon joined him, and these three spent a long and dreary winter in their cabin, making preparations for the coming season. There are few who have experi enced more of the vicissitudes and hardships of pioneer life than did Mr. WiJlard during a number of years following. Possessed of great energy and perseverance, and having the wel fare of the colony at heart, he was one of the leading spirits among them, and did much to make its establishment a success. In September of thj; next year Mr. Willard and some others of the colonists were gladdened by the arrival of their families from the East. Me soon after selected as his future home the place occupied by him during his life. In 1846 he established there what was known as the " Henry County Nurseries," and devoted himself to the cultivation of the useful and beautiful trees, plants and flowers -with which this section is now so abundantly supplied; and during his later life one of his greatest pleasures was in the fact that his hand had done so much in making this dreary wilderness "bud and blossom as the rose." During his early pioneer life he devoted much of his time to the establishment of religious services in the colony, and by a long life devoted to that work, he aided much in the development of that moral and religious sentiment which has at this day so amply pro vided for the educational wants, and still more abundantly supplied with religious organizations the wants of all. In politics he was a Republican from the earliest formation of that party. A member, and Deacon for many years, of the old Wethersfield Church, by his energy and wise counsel he was instrumental in doing much for the cause he so much loved. Having lived a useful and honored life, he died, respected and loved and lamented by all who knew him. Sept. 23, 1874.
From Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County Illinois
Submitted by Wini Caudell
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