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STILSON, Ernest L.


Posted By: Gordon Felland (email)
Date: 5/27/2007 at 16:25:11

Ernest L. Stilson, of Hancock county, clerk of the district court, was born in McHenry county, Illinois, January 15, 184:5, a son of Leonard and Arabelle (Powers) Stilson, the former a native of New York and the latter of Michigan. They were married, however, in Illinois. The mother died in Michigan and in 1866 the father removed to Iowa, settling at Clear Lake, where he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits, although by trade he was a carpenter and builder and had previously been active along that line. He returned to Michigan after living for a time at Clear Lake, but in 1867 again came to Iowa, settling at Lake Mills, where he once more embarked in merchandising, remaining there until 1869. He afterward made his home in Forest City with his son Ernest, there residing until his demise.

In the public schools of Michigan, Ernest L. Stilson largely acquired his education. Prior to the Civil war, however, he returned to Illinois and there in August, 1862, in response to the country's call for aid, he enlisted as a member of Company H, Ninety-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being mustered out in 1865 after almost three years of active service in defense of the Union. He was often in the thickest of the fight. He participated in the engagements at Guntown and Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the Red River campaign, in the battle of Nashville and the siege of Fort Blakely. In fact he was on active duty throughout the entire period of his connection with the army and made a most creditable military record.

After the war Mr. Stilson returned to Illinois and thence went to Michigan, where his father was then living. In the fall of 1866 he removed to Clear Lake, Iowa, but later returned to Michigan and was there married. In October, 1867, he established his home at Lake Mills, where he engaged in general merchandising in partnership with his father for a time. Later, however, he sold out and opened a hardware store in Forest City in 1869, there continuing actively and successfully in business until 1885. In that year he removed to Corwith, Iowa, where he opened the first bank of the town under the name of E. L. Stilson & Company. Subsequently the private bank was reorganized as a state bank, at which time Mr. Stilson became the president. In 1907 the bank cashier absconded, causing the institution to close its doors. His fellow citizens, appreciative of his worth and ability, elected him to the office of clerk of the district court in 1914 and in 1916 attested their approval of his capable service in office by reelecting him to that position, which he is now filling.

On the 16th of October, 1867, Mr. Stilson was married to Miss Sarah E. Cooper, of Michigan, who passed away at Forest City, Iowa, in 1886. In 1888 he was joined in wedlock to Miss Celia Munson, of Forest City, and they still make their home at Corwith. By his first marriage he had one son, Roy C., living in Corwith, and by the second marriage there is a daughter, Bernice W., at home.

The family attend the Baptist church, although Mr. Stilson is a member of the Methodist church. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and for two terms he filled the office of county recorder in the '70s, making a creditable record in this position as in the other offices to which he has been called. He is an earnest party worker because of his firm belief in republican principles. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has filled all of the chairs in the local lodge. In Masonry he has taken the degrees of lodge, chapter, council and commandery. He is likewise a valued member of the Grand Army of the Republic and he has ever manifested the same loyalty in matters of citizenship that he displayed when upon southern battlefields he followed the stars and stripes.

Source: History of Winnebago and Hancock Counties, Iowa, 1917, Vol. II, page 77.


Hancock Biographies maintained by LaVern Velau.
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