Biography of Harlow A. Williamson

Harlow A. Williamson, a retired farmer in Ashton and son of Samuel B. and Sybil (Delong) Williamson, was born in Vermont in 1830. He moved to Illinois at 20, initially working on farms before buying his own land. He married Emeline Starks in 1857, a native of Pennsylvania, whose parents were early settlers in Illinois. The couple settled in Bradford Township until 1889, then moved to Ashton, raising three children, Nellie, Harry, and Katie. Williamson, a steadfast Republican, held local offices including Collector, Constable, and School Director. He and his wife were active in the Presbyterian Church, enjoyed a culturally rich life in their new, elegant home.

Harlow A. Williamson. The gentleman whose portrait is presented on the opposite page and whose biography is here given in outline, is a retired farmer residing in Ashton. He is the son of Samuel B. and Sybil (Delong) Williamson, natives respectively of Cornwall and Shoreham, Vt. The father died in his native place, and the mother passed from this life in Cook County, this State.

Harlow A. Williamson was one of a family of seven children and was born in Cornwall, Vt., January 8, 1830. He was reared on a farm in his native place and received a good education, but appreciating the value of knowledge he has been a constant reader and today is a man of intelligence and culture. In 1850, when twenty years of age, he started out in life for himself and came to Illinois, choosing Lee County as his abiding-place. He had nothing with which to begin the battle of life but his strong hands and a determination to win, and on locating here worked out by the month on a farm for four years. At the expiration of that time, he was enabled to purchase a farm of his own, having been very economical and industrious and saving his earnings. His tract of land was located in Bradford Township, and upon this, he settled and continued its improvement until when ready to dispose of it, he had brought it to a fine state of cultivation.

January 1, 1857, was the date of our subject’s marriage to Miss Emeline, daughter of Charles and Sarah (Pratt) Starks, the father a native of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and the mother born in Bradford County, Pa. They were among the very earliest settlers of Illinois, having made Lee County their home as early as 1838. Thus, pioneer life in this State is a familiar tale to Mrs. Williamson, as its hardships as well as its adventures have made a lasting impression upon her. Her parents remained in Lee Center Township for a few years and later went to Bradford Township, where they lived honored and useful lives and died after having reared a large family of children, eleven in number. Mrs. Williamson was the seventh child and was born, February 14, 1835, in Bradford County, Pa.

After his marriage, our subject located in Bradford Township, and there he worked industriously, cultivating the soil until the fall of 1889 when he and his wife came to Ashton, where they now reside. Having no children of their own, they have acted the part of parents to three little ones — Nellie, Harry, and Katie, on whom they have bestowed a wealth of affection and have trained to become useful in whatever position in life they may be placed.

Mr. Williamson was elected to the positions of Collector of his township, Constable, and School Director and gave perfect satisfaction to his fellow-townsmen while the incumbent of those positions. He is a true-blue Republican and has always been since the organization of the party. With his estimable wife, he is active in all good works and is a member of the Presbyterian Church. They are now living retired from the active duties of life and entertain their host of friends in their beautiful new home which has just been completed and which in elegance of appointments is in keeping with its cultured inmates. Mrs. Williamson is an excellent lady and presides with grace and dignity over their new home, beloved and respected by all who have the honor to know her, and indeed that is saying a great deal, for they are pioneers of this section, hence have an extended acquaintance.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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