Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

P. D. TILSON. - P. D. Tilson is an extensive landowner whose valuable interests comprise fourteen hundred acres, much of which is rich prairie land of Illinois. The business career of Mr. Tilson is one which will bear the closest scrutiny. His has been an honorable record and his integrity stands as an unquestioned fact in his career. He was born in Washington county, Tennessee, October 14, 1822, and is a son of William Tilson, whose birth occurred in Virginia on the 185h of February, 1799. The grandfather, Peleg Tilson, was a native of England, and his wife, Mrs. Jane Tilson, was born in Virginia. When quite young he was brought to America and located in the Old Dominion, where he was married. He afterward removed to Washington county, Tennessee, and unto him and his wife were born three sons and three daughters. The original spelling of the family name was Tillson.

William Tilson was reared under the parental roof and after arriving at years of maturity he wedded Rhoda Taylor, who was born in Carter county, Tennessee, May 29, 1786. He had little opportunities to acquire an education, but he lived the life of an honest, industrious farmer. Unto him and his wife were born four children, the eldest being Isaac T., who was born March 23, 1821, and became a cabinet maker. He married Tryfosa McNabb, but both are now deceased. P. D., of this review, is the second of the family. Rachael J., who is called Mary J., was born in Tennessee December 11, 1824, and married Isaac Humphries. After his death she became the wife of John Saffarman, who is also deceased, and the widow now resides in Texas. Nathaniel J., born August 27, 1827, has been married twice and is now deceased while his wives have also passed away. The parents were members of the Christian church and Mr. Tilson was a Whig in his political affiliations until after the dissolution of the party, when he joined the Republican party. He died June 27, 1882, and his wife passed away on the 16th of January, 1848. They were buried in Carter and Washington counties, Tennessee, respectively.

P. D. Tilson obtained his education in the common schools and in Washington College, where he was a student for a short time. He assisted his father on the home farm, remaining there until twenty-one years of age. At the age of nineteen he began teaching in the winter seasons while during the summer months he continued his labors in the fields. He was thus employed until twenty-six years of age, when he bought one hundred and thirty-five acres in Tennessee. He was married October 3, 1848, to Nancy A. Tipton, a daughter of James I. and Johanna (Gourly) Tipton, who were natives of Carter county, Tennessee. The young couple began their domestic life upon the farm and for a time all went well, but before attaining his majority Mr. Tilson had gone security upon a note and after purchasing his farm and getting a good start he had to sell this in order to meet the security debt. Everything was sacrificed in order to do this. A neighbor purchased his last horse and then sold it back to him on time. With the assistance of his uncle he farmed for a short time in Tennessee and in the fall of 1853 he left for Illinois with less than one thousand dollars in cash, three horses and a wagon. He spent the winter in Athens, Menard county, Illinois, and then purchased eighty acres of land in Sangamon county, of which forty-three acres had been broken. He went in debt for this and upon it he built a story and a half log cabin. He has since added to his property from time to time until he is today the owner of extensive landed possessions, comprising sixteen hundred acres, all in Sangamon and Menard counties, with the exception of two hundred acres which is in Boone County, Iowa. This certainly indicates a life of marked industry. He has been a busy man carrying on the work of the farm with untiring energy from early morning until late at night. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Tilson have been born eleven children, as follows: Rhoda J., who was born July 14, 1849, and died May 22, 1888, was the wife of William Hurt, a farmer in the northern part of Sangamon county; James Tipton born March 23, 1851, died on the 29th of November of the same year; the next child was also called James Tipton and was born August 30, 1852, and is at home with his father; Alfred L., born June 30, 1854, died September 14, 1855; Edmond Whitfield, born May 25, 1856, married Sarah Radsucker and resides in Menard county; Mary Johanna, born March 21, 1858, became the wife of James B. Langston and after his death she married David Bunch, of Menard county; Caswell T., born February 13, 1860, was married to Flora M. Council and died June 13, 1896, while his widow is living in Williamsville; Margaret Caroline, born February 11, 1862, died March 10, 1863; Eliza Ellen, born May 4, 1864, is the wife of H. L. Ganoe, county attorney of Boone, Iowa; Samuel Albert, born November 25, 1867, is a farmer of Boone county, Iowa; Charles Alvin, born December 5, 1869, died August 2, 1871.

Mr. Tilson was made a Mason at Williamsville, Illinois, in 1860, and has since been identified with that fraternity. His wife was a consistent and faithful member of the Christian church and died in that faith January 27, 1903, at the age of seventy0three years and eleven months, respected by all who knew her. In his political affiliations Mr. Tilson is a Democrat, but has never been an office seeker. The characteristic of his life has been honesty, which has colored his business relations and every act of his existence. His word is as good as any bond that was ever solemnized by signature or seal and he has never taken advantage of the necessities of his fellow men in any business transaction. His career is therefore most creditable and worthy of emulation and all who know him rejoice in what he has accomplished and in his good fortune. He is now an octogenarian, having passed the eighty-first mile stone on life's journey, a venerable man who receives the respect and good will of all with whom he is associated.

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