Biographies of Elliott Residents

Elliott Centennial History, 1879 - 1979

Elliott Centennial Committee

Page 113 - 114




    William Lowe DeWitt was born 26 Aug. 1865 near Colesburg, Iowa, the son of George Seabury DeWitt, M. D. and Sarah Eliza Stanclift. He died 19 Feb. 1832 on their farm near Elliott. On 26 Aug. 1888 he married Minnie Almeda Tyler, born 22 Sept. 1866, oldest daughter of T. D. Tyler and Sarah Ann Wall. Minnie died 2 May 1924 at Omaha, Nebr. following surgery. Living 1 1/2 miles apart 1885-1888, they both attended Elliott High School and Normal School at Red Oak; and both taught school – Minnie at the DeWitt and Till at the Plowman school. He continued teaching and farming for his father, until they bought the Tyler farm 1 mile east and 1 mile north of Elliott in 1895.

    Till came in 1868 to what became the Elliott community in a covered wagon with his parents, two brothers and two sisters; to the farm now owned by Jessie Smith and farmed by her son, Bud. 80 acres of the original farm are now a part of the Till DeWitt Century farm owned by Dorothy. Their first home was built of logs. The log house had a loft; the boys climbed a ladder to go to bed. They could see the stars through the cracks in the roof. Snow sifted down through those cracks onto their beds. The farm was chosen because of a school on it, it is said that school was made of brick. The second DeWitt school was built across the road and the third on the Till DeWitt farm, near what is now Highway 48 and the highway to Grant.

    After their marriage, he with the help of a skilled carpenter, built a small house just west of his parents home. This house was later moved to Elliott, remodeled, and is still occupied. There, daughter Maude was born 11 June 1891. She remained in her parents home; later managed the farm until she, no longer able to live alone, went to Highland Acres to live in 1961, later moving to the Griswold Care Center where she died 13 Nov. 1977. Maude graduated from Elliott High School in 1908 and attended Simpson College 4 years, where she majored in piano. She preferred the sheltered home of her parents, to a career in music, as a piano teacher.

    Their daughter Dorothy Helen, born on the home farm 7 March 1905, chose a teaching career after graduation from Elliott High School in 1922. She married Jim Wilkinson. (see Wilkinson).

    Minnie was a graduate in the first class from Elliott High School. She was awarded a diploma as a teacher on 29 Aug. 1887 at Red Oak. She became a member after marriage, and played the organ at the Congregational Church which Till’s mother helped organize. (The Tylers were members of the Elliott Methodist Church). After the Congregational Church was bought by the Methodists, the Till DeWitts always attended and supported the M. E. Church but never became members. Both Minnie and Maude were early members of the Elliott’s Research Club.

    No historical summary of this family can be complete without reference to Lucy Rosencrans (Mrs. Frank H. Mercer) who came to live with the DeWitts in 1905 as a teen-ager and remained there as a mutually beloved and devoted, “our other girl” until she married Frank 11 years later.

    Till was a charter member and stockholder in Elliott’s First National Bank, never an officer; but his feeling for the Bank’s responsibility to its smaller debtors in the depression and with no more resources to mortgage to help keep the bank open for his beloved Elliott, grief caused his death, the tragic circumstances of which are recorded in the ELLIOTT GRAPHIC, January 14, 1932.

    His accomplishments were many. He lived by the Golden Rule and many of his donations were anonymous. Teacher, farmer, stockman, Sunday School Superintendent, Director of the Elliott Telephone Co., Corn and Poultry shows, Pilot Grove Liberty Loan Drives for World War I; member of the County Board of Education, County Farm Bureau, 12 years on the Elliott Board of Education with 9 years as President, the Elliott Booster Club, exhibitor of his farm products at town, county and State Fairs, active in helping with Elliott’s paving to get the “wagons out of the mud” and bond investments to help with perpetual care of the Elliott Hillside Cemetery, where Till and Minnie are buried.

~ Dorothy DeWitt Wilkinson