WILKINSON, REUBEN (deceased), a half brother of Mrs. James L. McKee, of Cotton Hill Township, and for many years one of the prominent representatives of the old pioneers of Sangamon County, was born in Kentucky, December 11, 1821, and died in Taylorville, Ill., Saturday, November 12, 1910, aged nearly eighty-nine years. During his long and necessarily eventful life, Mr. Wilkinson witnessed many changes, participating in many of them. For eighty years, Illinois was his home State, for he was but little over seven years old when his parents made their exodus from the Blue Grass State to this. Settlement was first made in Christian County, but in 1843, Mr. Wilkinson settled in Sangamon County, never to leave until he went to his last home.
Coming to Taylorville at a time when it needed the wise action of a born financier, Mr. Wilkinson was an important factor in building up the place, being identified with all of the leading enterprises, giving a whole souled and public spirited support to improvements and advanced ideas with regard to civic affairs. Among other enterprises, he established a flouring mill, extending this industry until he was one of the leaders in his line up to the time of his demise. He did much to develop the coal interests of Taylorville; built houses suitable for laboring men, selling them on monthly payments suited to the means of the purchaser, and never taking undue advantage of anyone who transacted business with him. One of his policies was to retain his old employees in preference to younger ones, even if they were not so active as the latter.
One of the most devout Christians, Mr. Wilkinson was not content until the Presbyterian denomination, of which he was a member, had secured a fine brick structure in which to worship. He was also liberal in his donations to other churches and to all charitable institutions and movements, and probably his private benevolence were much larger than any of which the public had knowledge. A Republican in politics, Mr. Wilkinson was also an enthusiastic advocate of Prohibition, and exerted a powerful influence for good in this as well as other directions.
In June, 1846, Mr. Wilkinson enlisted in Company A, Fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, for service during the Mexican War, under Col. E. D. Baker, and participated in the battles of Cerro Gordo and Vera Cruz. In addition to the seven dollars per month paid him while in service, Mr. Wilkinson received a land warrant for 100 acres of land which he patented in Sangamon County.
The marriage of Mr. Wilkinson took place at Terre Haute, Ind., September 26, 1848, to Miss Hester Pratt, born in England, who survived him.
Pre-eminently a leader of men, and a builder up of destinies, Mr. Wilkinson possessed the ability to judge accurately of character, and was seldom mistaken in his estimates. Having once bestowed his friendship upon a man he seldom found it necessary to withdraw it, and attached many to him because of his many kindly deeds and real ability as a business man.