James Wilson gravestone
(Photo by Vernon B. Paddock)

B. about 1855 in Illinois
D. December 28, 1860
Find A Grave memorial (click here)

  • Father: Christopher Wilson born about 1822 in Ireland; married Sylvania Garwood on January 22, 1859 (possibly 1849?) in Lake County; Christopher died June 27, 1888 in Libertyville, Lake County, IL (See section pertaining to Christopher Wilson buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery)
  • Mother: Sylvania (Garwood) Wilson born about 1830 in Crawford County, PA, daughter of Samuel (1796-1880) and Nancy Garwood (1799-1880); married (1) Christopher Wilson on January 22, 1859 (NOTE: possibly 1849 since they were recorded in the 1850 U.S. Census) in Lake County, IL; Sylvania (2) Robert Hesselgrave (1812-1897) on July 24, 1870 as his 3rd wife and resided in Richmond, McHenry County, IL; Sylvania died May 8, 1894 in Solon Mills, McHenry County, IL; buried in Avon Centre Cemetery, Grayslake, Lake County, IL along with her parents.

According to the History of McHenry County, Illinois. 1885. Chicago, page 904:

“Robert Hesselgrave was born in Yorkshire, England, May 22, 1812, a son of Thomas and Mary Hesselgrave.  His parents came to America in 1845 and located in St. Lawrence County, N. Y., where the father died in 1857, aged seventy-seven years, and the mother in 1864, aged eighty-two years.  Thomas Hesselgrave was a farmer and a Free-Will Baptist preacher.  He at one time went to England to preach a funeral sermon.  His family consisted of thirteen children – William, born in 1800, died in 1882; Mary, born in 1802; James, in 1804; Nancy, in 1806; Thomas, in 1808; John, in 1810; Robert, in 1812; George, in 1814; Edward, in 1816; Sarah, in 1818; Martha, in 1820; David, in 1822, and Abram in 1824.  Robert was married in May, 1839, to Jane, daughter of Robert Dixon, who died July 4, 1846, leaving two children – George N., born July 4, 1842, and Mary A., born February, 1840, now Mrs. Robert Todd.  In January, 1854, Mr. Hesselgrave married Margaret, daughter of Joseph Handen, who died Feb. 10, 1870, leaving six children – Edward P., born Oct. 20, 1855; William F., born in 1857; Phoebe E., in 1859; May M., in 1861; Robert A. L. in 1863, and Lillie I., in 1865.  July 24, 1870, Mr. Hesselgrave married Sylvania, widow of Chris. Wilson.  Mr. Hesselgrave has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church twenty-three years, and has filled the offices of Trustee, Steward and Class-Leader.  Politically he is a Republican.  He has a fine farm of 160 acres all well improved.”

  • Siblings:
    • Lucinda (Wilson) Smith born November 20, 1850 in Illinois; married Frank Smith (1844-1919); 1880 U.S. Census Lucinda was living with her husband, Frank Smith and her three children in Avon Township, Lake County, IL; Lucinda died December 20, 1907; Lucinda and Frank are buried in Dorchester Cemetery, Dorchester, Saline County, NE

According to the Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln NE) Saturday, December 21, 1907, page 1:

Mrs. Frank Smith Died Last
Night From the Effects of
Assassin’s Blow


Coroner Wertman Left for
Scene of Murder to Hold
Inquest This Afternoon

   Mrs. Frank Smith, who was assaulted last Monday noon at her home seven miles from Milford, died last night at 11 o’clock.  Through most of the two days preceding her death Mrs. Smith was unconscious and she could not reveal the identity of her assailant, who Has now by her death become a murdered (sic).  Previous to sinking in this last stage of helplessness the wounded woman refused to define her assailant and now only circumstantial evidence remains upon which the officials may base their possible charges against anyone.
   Coroner Wertman left Milford late this forenoon for the Smith home where an inquest was held this afternoon.  The coroner’s jury had not completed its deliberations at the last reports.

Evidence is Flimsy

   No arrests have been made.  Strong suspicions were at first entertained but it is said that these suspicions have weakened no small agency in this matter being the assertion that Mrs. Smith had always been treated with the utmost care by those with whom she constantly came in contact.  Sheriff Gillan, of Seward county is thought to have something up his sleeve in the case; some circumstance which has not been revealed for he stated Wednesday that no arrests would be made until after an inquest had been held.  From the evidence secured at that time by the interested persons in Dorchester, Milford and Seward it was deemed improbable that anyone would be arrested, however.
   Mrs. Frank Smith was 58 years old.  She had one son Eugene, 24 years of age, who lived with his parents.  The murdered woman’s husband, Frank Smith, is about 64 years old and wealthy farmer.
   The assault, which has now become murder, was committed Monday noon.  The weapon used was a single-tree.  The tug-hook and a nail in the end of the hickory stick cut deep gashes in the woman’s scalp and the wood crushed the side of the skull caused Mrs. Smith to be unconscious most of the time and so disordered the nervous centers that she was a no time able to speak.

Son Found the Victim

   The injured woman was found by her son late in the afternoon.  The husband was away on a business deal at the time and was summoned to the house by telephone.  Sheriff Gilian, of Seward, was immediately notified, and Detective Malone sent his dogs, in charge of ‘Jack” Fouts, to the farm, where they rendered excellent service but developed clues that puzzled the officials.
   With Mrs. Smith’s death, the murderous assault takes on a deeper shade of mystery.  With the determination of the officials to make no arrest until after the inquest, it is thought that some facts have been had that will produce an entirely different appearance in the case.  The officials have not, so far as know, changed their ideas in regard to the identity of the person committing the assault.”

    • Mathew Wilson born about 1853 in Illinois; died December 23, 1860 (See section pertaining to Mathew Wilson buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery)
    • Orpha J. (Wilson) Wilcox born July 24, 1861 in Antioch, Lake County, IL; married John H. Wilcox (1854-1943) on June 28, 1899 in Lake County, IL; Orpha died December 5, 1943 in Villa Park, DuPage County, IL; Orpha and John are buried in Hillside Cemetery, Antioch, Lake County, IL

According to the Antioch News (Antioch IL) Thursday, December 9, 1943, page 1:

“Mrs. Orpha  Wilcox
Ill Since Nov. 27,
Dies at Age Of 82
Life-long Antioch Resident
Succumbs to Heart Ail-
ment, at Villa Park

   Services for Mrs. Orpha Wilcox, 82, life-long resident of Antioch, were held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock from the Strang Funeral home, with burial in Hillside cemetery, The Rev. W. C. Henslee officiated.
   Mrs. Wilcox, who had been ill with a heart ailment since Nov. 27, passed away Sunday at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Walter (Alida) Douglas, Villa Park, Ill.
   In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her husband, John”

According to the Antioch News (Antioch IL) Thursday, December 23, 1943, page 1:

“John Wilcox
Follows Wife
In Death Wed.
Survives Orpha Wilcox by
Only 17 Days: Life-long
Township Resident

   Surviving his wife, Mrs. Orpha Wilcox by only 17 days, John Wilcox, 89, passed away at 1:30 a. m. Wednesday, at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Walter (Alida) Douglas, villa Park, with whom they had resided.  Mrs. Wilcox died Dec. 5, at the age of 82.
   Funeral services are to be held Friday at 1 p. m. in the Strang Funeral home, Antioch, with the interment in Hillside cemetery.  The Rev. W. C. Henslee will officiate.

Was Retired Farmer

The decease, who was a retired farmer, had been a life-long resident of Antioch township.
   He was born here Oct. 8, 1854 and was the son of Eliza and Levi Peter Wilcox, who were pioneer settlers.”

According to the Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947:

“Name: Orpha Wilcox [Orpha Wilson]; Birth Date: 24 Jul 1861; Birth Place: Antioch, Illinois; Death Date: 5 Dec 1943; Death Place: 8 Dec 1943; Burial Place: Antioch, Lake, Illinois; Cemetery Name: Antioch; Death Age: 82; Occupation: Housewife; Race: White; Marital Status: M; Gender: Female; Residence: Antioch, Lake, Illinois; Father Name: John Wilson; Mother Name: Garwood; Mother Birth Place: Illinois; Spouse Name: John Wilcox; FHL Film Number: 1983542”  (NOTE: Father is listed as John Wilson.  It’s possible it was listed in error instead of Christopher Wilson)

    • Nancy Wilson born about 1860 in Illinois  (NOTE: Nancy was listed with her mother, Sylvania Garwood and her two sisters, Orphea and Lucinda Wilson in the 1870 U.S. Census.  Unable to determine her status after the 1870.  Only Orpha and Lucinda are listed in their father’s probate records and not Nancy.)

Addition Information:

According to the 1860 U.S. Census for the Town of Avon, Lake county, IL with a Fox Lake Post Office, the household members were:

“C. Wilson, age 35, occupation: farmer, born in Ireland; Sylvania Wilson, age 30, born in Pennsylvania; Lucinda Wilson, age 10, born in Illinois; Mathew Wilson, age 6, born in Illinois; James Wilson, age 4, born in Illinois”