Susan Clara (Dillow) West was born on March 11, 1866 in Madison County, OH, the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Houser) Dillow. Her husband was considered a "pioneer resident" of Weldon, Illinois, as was she.
As a girl, sometime prior to 1881, Susan and her parents and siblings migrated westward from Ohio to Central Illinois. They settled in the town of Weldon near Clinton, DeWitt County.
On Oct. 28, 1885, when Susan was age 19, she married 25-year-old David Monroe West (1860-1938). The ceremony was performed by justice of the peace John J. McGraw in Clinton. The marriage certificate, still on file today at the DeWitt County Courthouse, shows that Susan mistakenly listed her mother's maiden name as "Houten."
At the time of their marriage, David was a farmer, residing in Harp Township, DeWitt County. He had been born in Hilliard, Franklin County, OH, the son of Alpheus (or "Alpina") and Elizabeth (Young) West.
They together produced a brood of six children -- Anna Bell Ayers, Grace Viola Ayers, Ethel Emma Green Crum, Ira Alfred West, Harry Elmer West and Walter Elwood West.
The Wests moved to Gibson City, Ford County, IL (circa 1891) and thence to Solomon, near Weldon, Nixon Township, DeWitt County, where they were farmers for many years.
Susan was a member of the Weldon Methodist Church and the Weldon Rebekah Lodge. When the federal censuses of 1900, 1910 and 1920 were taken, David was listed as working as a farmer. By 1930, he was employed as a house plasterer.
David's health began to decline in the late 1930s, and he had a stroke in late April 1938. After just one day of suffering, he died at home at age 77. After funeral services at the Methodist Episcopal Church of Weldon, he was laid to rest in the Weldon (Nixon Township) Cemetery. Pallbearers were Elray Ayers, Wilbur Ayers, Don West, Robert West, Raymond West and Wendell Ayers. At the time of his passing, he and Susan were survived by 26 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
In 1937, Susan's brother in law, William A. West, married her widowed sister Sylvia (Dillow) Delamere.
Susan outlived her first husband by two decades. During that time, she resided with her adult children. In 1956, she wrote to friends that she was living in Sycamore, IL and that she was "confined to a wheel chair most of the time," said the Clinton Daily Journal and Public.
She died at the age of 92 in John Warner Hospital in 1958. She was laid to rest beside her husband. By that time, her progeny had swelled to 26 grandchildren, 71 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren.
The graves of the Wests and their offspring were photographed in 2007 by the founder of this website.
~ Daughter Grace Viola (West) Ayers ~
Daughter Grace Viola West (1886-1964) was born in 1886.
At the age of 21, on March 12, 1908, she wedded 22-year-old farmer Arthur Ayers (Jan. 22, 1887-1960), a native of Weldon, IL, and the son of Seymour and Johanna (Twist) Ayers. The West and Ayers clans were close, and Grace's sister Anna Belle married Arthur's brother Willis.
Together, the pair became the parents of seven children, among them two sets of twins. They included twins Mary "Lucille" Larkin and Mary "Louise" Winans, Elray "Walt" Ayers, Leota M. "Sally" Behler, Arthur "Dale" Ayers and twins Richard Ayers and Robert Ayers. Sadly, the twin sons died at birth on March 23, 1926 and are buried in Weldon.
The couple made their home on a farm circa 1920-1930 in Clinton, DeWitt County, IL. Their address in 1930 was on East Washington Street, and that year, Arthur was employed as a salesman in a hardware store.
The Ayerses relocated to Iowa by 1939 and settled in the town of Waterloo. Grace's widowed brother Walter is known to have visited in June 1939, with the news printed in the gossip columns of the Clinton Daily Journal and Public.
Later, circa 1947, they moved to Sycamore, DeKalb County, IL. Their address there was 440 South California Street. Arthur became employed in about 1957 as a local police magistrate.
Arthur died of a heart attack in Sycamore on April 11, 1960, at the age of 74. Burial was in Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, with Methodist pastor Rev. Dr. Allen Regan officiating the service.
Grace passed away at the age of 78 on Dec. 22, 1964.
Daughter Mary "Lucille" Ayers (1908-1999) was born on Dec. 15, 1908 in Weldon, a twin with her sister Mary "Louise" Winans. At the age of 21, in 1930, she lived at home and worked as a bookkeeper in the local 5 and 10 cent store. On June 14, 1941, in Hudson, IA, she wed Edward Harmon Larkin ( ? -1979). The Larkins lived in Sycamore, IL and DeKalb, IL. They were the parents of Sandra Larkin. Lucille earned a living for 26 years with the advertising department of DeKalb County Agricultural Association, known for short as "DeKalb Ag." The association was well known for its "flying corn" logo, featuring an ear of hybrid corn bearing wings, symbolizing to farmers a way to add a new crop which would help them reduce debt and pay down mortgages. She belonged to the Church of St. Mary in Sycamore. Sadly, Edward surrendered to death in 1979. Mary Lucille survived as a widow for another two decades. At the age of 90, she passed away on Aug. 14, 1999 as a patient in DeKalb's Kishwaukee Community Hospital. Her funeral mass was sung in the family church, and an obituary appeared in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. Interment of the remains was in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Sycamore.
Daughter Mary "Louise" Ayers (1908-1992) was born on Dec. 15, 1908 in Weldon, a twin with her sister Mary "Lucille" Larkin. She devoted much of her life to her nursing career. When she was about 36 years of age, circa 1944, she was joined in wedlock with widower William Claude Winans (July 24, 1877-1950), the son of Clark and Almira (Campbell) Winans of Mayfield Township. Their nuptials were held in Geneva, IL. William was more than 30 years older than his wife and was widowed from his first wife, Alice Henigan. He thus brought a stepson to the second union, Harold Winans. Mary Louise and William did not reproduce. Tragically, while walking down the steps of his front porch in February 1950, William fell and was critically injured. He was rushed to St. Mary's Hospital in DeKalb, where he passed away three days later at age 72 on Feb. 20, 1950. The DeKalb Daily Chronicle printed an obituary. The widowed Mary Louise lived in Oak Park in 1960 and later in DeKalb, IL. In her work, Mary Louise provided practical nursing services for West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park and Sycamore Municipal Hospital. She then turned to private-duty nursing for DeKalb residents. Mary Louise enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels and her activity in the DeKalb Hi-Rise Clubs. She died in DeKalb County Nursing Home at the age of 83 on June 23, 1992. Her funeral was led by Rev. David Carlisle. Burial was in Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, IL, reunited with her spouse after a separation of more than four decades. Her obituary was published in the Sycamore True Republican.
Son Elray "Walt" Ayers (1910-1994) was born on Dec. 14, 1910 in Weldon, IL. Still a bachelor in 1930, he was employed as a railroad brakeman in Clinton. Evidence suggests that he was married twice. His first spouse was Wava Louise Sprague (Feb. 25, 1916-1944). The couple bore three sons -- Alvin Ayers, Col. Richard Lee Ayers and Lenard Philip Ayers. They appear to have divorced shortly after the birth of their third son in 1938. Then on Feb. 11, 1940, Elray was united in holy matrimony with his second wife Demaris Stedry ( ? - ? ), daughter of Joseph Stedry. Their nuptials were held in the parsonage of the United Methodist Church in New Hampton. After the outbreak of World War II, Elray joined the Civil Air Patrol as a pilot. His postwar years were spent working as a local painting contractor in Waterloo. He later was employed with Coburn Sport Shop. In 1956, their home was at 3230 Lafayette Street and in 1978 at 1309 West Donald Street. Their final residence was at 311 Archer Avenue in Waterloo. The family worried when sons Richard and Lenard served as pilots during the Vietnam War, a feeling which turned to grief when son Richard was shot down in 1970 and never recovered. The family again was plunged into mourning when son Lenard was killed in an airplane crash in 1980. As of 1980, the family dwelled near or with their son Alvin in Pendergrass, GA. Elray and Demaris marked their golden wedding anniversary in February 1990 and were pictured in a related story in the Waterloo Courier. The family did not accept that the military pronounced his son Richard dead, and in news stories referenced him only as "missing in action." Elray told a Courier reporter in 1978 that the believed the North Vietnamese were "still holding people over there." He also remarked to the reporter that the war wad gone on too long, and that "If LBJ had put a scorched earth policy into effect, it would have been over two or three years earlier." Elray was admitted to Cedar Falls Health Care Center as his health declined, and he died there at age 83 on June 29, 1994. He was pictured in his obituary in the Courier. Burial was in the Garden of Memories Cemetery. Ex-wife Wava died sadly at the age of 27 on Feb. 21, 1944, with interment in Clinton's Memorial Park Cemetery.
Great-grandson Mark Ayers married Susan.
Great-granddaughter Christy Ayers wed Douglas Daum.
Great-grandson Andrew "Butch" Ayers was united in marriage with Leisa.
Great-grandson Ayers was joined in matrimony with Sunny.
Daughter Leota M. "Sally" Ayers (1914-2001) was born on Oct. 10, 1914 in Weldon. On Oct. 10, 1932, in nuptials held in Clinton, IL, she married Raymond Luther Behler (Jan. 2, 1913-1980), son of Charles James and Myra (Wallingford) Behler. They stayed together for nearly 50 years. Together, the couple bore four offspring -- Charles James Behler II, Susan Spicer, Phyllis Lawrence and Gene Raymond Behler. The Behlers dwelled in Sycamore, IL and were members of Sycamore United Methodist Church, with Raymond belonging to the Sycamore lodge of the Masons. He earned a living as a tool and died maker for General Electric and retired in 1977. Sadly, Raymond died at home at the age of 67 on May 16, 1980. Rev. C. Alfred Patten and the Rev. F. Gates Vrooman co-officiated the funeral, held in the family church. The widowed Sally lived in DeKalb and transferred her membership to the First United Methodist Church. She moved to Florida in 1994, making a home in Fort Myers, FL and in Cape Coral, FL in 2000. The spectre of death enveloped her at age 86, in Fort Myers' Hope Hospice House, on March 21, 2001. The remains were returned to Illinois for burial in Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, with Rev. Kitty Ganzel leading the service.
Son Arthur "Dale" Ayers (1921-2000) was born on July 2, 1921 in Clinton. At the age of 20, on Nov. 29, 1941, in a ceremony held in Waterloo, IA, he entered into marriage with Helen M. Bulmer ( ? -1993). Their union endured for 51 years. The pair produced a family of three -- Larry Ayers, Carol Taylor and Judy Hughes. Dale earned a living as a painter with the Michael Paint Company. He "was the first town marshal of Evansdale," reported the Waterloo Courier, and belonged to the Masons. Sadly, Helen died on Aug. 11, 1993. Dale outlived his wife by seven years, making a residence in 1994 in Waterloo, IA. Toward the end he resided in Parkview Nursing and Rehab Center. Death carried him away into eternity at age 78, on St. Patrick's Day 2000, as a patient in Covenant Medical Center. he was pictured in his obituary in the Courier, which counted his survivors as nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held in the First United Methodist Church.
~ Son Ira Alfred West ~
Son Ira Alfred West (1888-1983) was born in 1888 in Weldon.
On the Fourth of July in 1910, at the age of 21 or 22, he married Lula M. Pearl ( ? - ? ).
Together, they produced a family of six -- Raymond West, Robert L. West, James D. West, Harold Edward West, Eugene "Gene" West and Pearl Gale.
Ira was a farmer and carpenter. The family lived in Bloomington and Clinton, IL. Their address in 1945 was 106 North Lee.
He died at the age of 95 on Dec. 6, 1983 as a resident of DeWitt County Nursing Home. An obituary appeared in the Decatur Herald and Review, which said he was survived by an astonishing 25 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and nine great-great grandchildren. The remains were lowered into eternal slumber in Weldon Cemetery.
Son Raymond West (1911-2001) was born on Feb. 22, 1911 in Weldon. When he was 23 years of age, on June 15, 1934, he married Nellie Koons ( ? - ? ). The wedding was held in Fairbury, IL. They made a home for decades in Clinton and together produced three sons -- Larry West, Norman West and Ronald West. Later in life, Raymond went to live in Lincoln, IL. He died at the age of 90 on Oct. 23, 2001 in the Christian Village Nursing Home. Fred Keim led the funeral, with burial in Memorial Park Cemetery, Clinton. An obituary in the Bloomington Pantagraph said he was survived by seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Son Robert L. West (1912-2005) was born on July 24, 1912 in Weldon. On Dec. 14, 1932, at the age of 20, he entered into the bonds of holy marriage with Carabel Hendren ( ? -1992). The brood of children they bore together included Donnabelle West, Ted West, Richard West and Michael West. He spent his working years as a painter and farmer. They belonged to the LeRoy Christian Church, and he belonged to the LeRoy lodge of the Odd Fellows. At one time, Robert served on the Arrowsmith School Board. The couple was renowned for catering parties and weddings, and Robert enjoyed mowing grass lawns for others. Sadly, Carabel died on July 28, 1992. Robert outlived his wife by a baker's dozen years. When he reached his 90th birthday, he was pictured in a feature story in the Bloomington Pantagraph. He passed into the arms of the angels in LeRoy Manor at age 92 on May 1, 2005. His funeral service was led by Rev. Tim Vollstedt in the LeRoy Christian Church. Burial was in Dawson Cemetery in Ellsworth, IL. His photograph accompanied his obituary in the Pantagraph. He was survived by 13 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.
Son James D. West ( ? -2004) resided over the years in New Virginia and Marshalltown, IA. He was married and the father of John West, Philip J. West, James "Jim" West, Betsy Haas-Reineck and Lynn Carico, and stepfather of Karen Johnston. During World War II, he joined the U.S. Navy and shipped to the South Pacific Theatre of war. His final place of residence was the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. At the age of 85, he died on Feb. 6, 2004. The Gibson City (IL) Courier printed an obituary, which counted his survivors as a dozen grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Burial was in Sunset Cemetery in Des Moines, IA.
Son Harold Edward West (1920-2004) was born on July 9, 1920 in DeWitt County. He stood 6 feet tall in adulthood and weighed 156 lbs., with grey eyes and red hair. On Sept. 30, 1939, he married Edna D. Wellenreiter ( ? -2004), with their wedding ceremony held in St. Louis. The couple begat four children -- Sharlyn Golden, Janet Gelsthorpe, Charles West and Jerry West. The couple first lived in Old Town Township near Bloomington, where at age 21 Harold was employed by Williams Oil-O-Matic. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 21, 1944 and trained in Florida at Camp Blanding. He was deployed to Belgium in the European Theatre. While away, Edna and their two children went to live with her parents. Within a month of his arrival, Harold went missing in action during the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 30, 1944. Several weeks later, word was telegraphed to Edna back home. In actuality he had been captured and was held in Germany as a prisoner of war. After his release and return home, the Wests dwelled in Bloomington, IL. Their address of 8522 North 1900 East Road. He earned a living as a timekeeper with the Eureka Company in Bloomington. In the community, he was a 4-H Club leader, softball coach and , Community Club member. They belonged to the Trinity Lutheran Church, where he was a youth counselor. Sadly, Edna died on March 11, 2004, ending their union which had survived the ups and downs of an extraordinary 64 years. Harold only outlived his bride by seven-and-a-half months. As a patient in OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, he surrendered to the spectre of death on Oct. 31, 2004. Rev. Thomas Wirsing led the funeral, with interment of the remains taking place in Park Hill Cemetery, Bloomington. He was pictured in his obituary in the Bloomington Pantagraph.
Son Eugene "Gene" West ( ? - ? ) lived in 1983 in Staunton, IL and in 2011 in Lecanto, Citrus County, FL.
Daughter Pearl West (1917-2011) was born on Jan. 25, 1917 in Weldon. At the age of 19, on the Fourth of July 1936 -- her father's birthday -- she was united in matrimony with Willard H. Gale ( ? -1988). Their home for years was in Gibson City, IL. Four offspring born in this family were William Gale, Gary Gale, Ann Bode and Peggy Lu Telfer. Among her life's pleasures were cooking and playing cards. Sadly, Willard died on Aug. 20, 1988, bringing to a close their union which had endured for 52 years. As her health failed, she was admitted to the Illinois Knights Templar Home in Paxton, IL, where she died at age 94 on Oct. 14, 2011. Her obituary appeared in the Gibson City Courier. Here funeral mass was sung in Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, co-officiated by Fr. Dennis Kollross and Fr. John Phan. Interment of the remains was in Drummer Township Cemetery. The headcount of her survivors was 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and nine great-great grandchildren.
Great-grandson Gregory Telfer lived in Mokena, IL.
Great-granddaughter Theresa Telfer wed Ivan McEvoy. They were in Kingsville, MO in 2009.
Great-granddaughter Teresa Telfer was united in matrimony with (?) Noffsinger. She was deceased by 200.
Great-granddaughter Carol Telfer married Michael Briggs. They established a home in New Lenox, IL.
Great-granddaughter Cindy Telfer entered into marriage with John Adler. In 2009, the couple dwelled in Morris, IL.
Great-granddaughter Mary Telfer was joined in wedlock with Daniel Whalen. They have resided in Joliet, IL.
~ Daughter Anna Belle (West) Ayers ~
Daughter Anna Belle West (1891-1972) was born on Feb. 9, 1891 in DeWitt County, IL.
She was united in the bonds of holy wedlock with Willis Ayers (March 15, 1888-1949), the son of Seymour and Johanna (Twist) Ayers, and a native of Weldon. The wedding took place on Dec. 16, 1908, when she was age 17 and he 20.
The West and Ayers clans were close, and Anna Belle's sister Grace married Willis' brother Arthur.
The 11 children the couple produced together included Bonnie Gawthorp, Wilbur Elmore Ayers, Dorothy Armstrong, Eva Ruth "Eve" Pipher Crooker, Wendell Ayers, Walter Kenneth Ayers, Norma "Jean" Lemmel, Donald Wayne Ayers, Marjorie Massey, Dean "Poppie" Ayers and Wiley Phillip Ayers Sr.
They were farmers who resided in the village of Weldon in Nixon Township for decades, as shown in the federal census enumerations of 1910-1930.
During the late 1930s, the couple moved into the town of Clinton, making their home on South Isabelle Street. Circa 1940, Willis earned a living as a laborer with a state highway maintenance crew, and Anna worked as a cook in a local restaurant.
Willis held a memberhip in the Weldon lodge of the Masons.
He died at the age of 61 on Jan. 24, 1949, after an illness of three years' duration.
Anna outlived him by 23 years. She often traveled to be with her adult children, including several months in Newfoundland in 1959 with her son Donald.
She passed away at age 81 on May 25, 1972. They rest for eternity in Nixon Township Cemetery, as do many of their offspring.
Daughter Bonnie I. Ayers (1910-1984) was born on Feb. 28, 1910 in Weldon, DeWitt County. On Christmas Eve 1933, in a ceremony held in Newton, IL, she married Henry H. Gawthorp (Sept. 12, 1904-1973). Their marriage endured for 39 years until cleaved apart by death. Two offspring born to this union were Allan H. Gawthorp Sr. and Sheray Joy Gawthorp. The family was plunged into grief at the daughter's death in infancy in 1936. They resided in Leroy, McLean County, IL. Bonnie generated income for the family through her work as a cook in many restaurants in the Leroy area. They belonged to the Wesley United Methodist Church. The Bloomington Pantagraph once reported that she was a a founding member of REACT citizens band radio emergency group as well as a member of Eastern Illinois Monitors, Corn Belt CB radio club and the Tri-Lakes Fishing Club. Sadly, Henry died on Feb. 27, 1973. Bonnie outlived him by more than 11 years. Death swept her away into eternity on Sept. 21, 1984, in Bloomington, IL. The couple repose in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington.
Son Wilbur Elmore Ayers (1911-1983) was born on Sept. 7, 1911 in Weldon, IL. As a young man of 18, in 1930, he helped his father with labor on the home farm. He stood 5 feet, 10½ inches tall and weighed 175 lbs., sporting brown hair and brown eyes. During the 1930s, he moved to Pontiac, Livingston County, IL, where he obtained work with W.H. Daniels, the local fire department and an oil station. Despite having a crippled finger, Wilbur enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, on April 10, 1943. He received his discharge on Nov. 25, 1945. Afterward, he moved to Wisconsin, where he made a home in Lake Mills/Iola, WI. His final years were spent in Oxford, Marquette County, WI. Death enveloped him at age 72 on Nov. 28, 1983. Burial of the remains was in Oak Hill Cemetery in Packwaukee, WI.
Daughter Dorothy Ayers (1914-2007) was born on May 16, 1914 in Weldon, IL. When she was 22 years old, on Sept. 5, 1936, she wed Lyle F. Armstrong (Oct. 8, 1912-2007), a native of Clinton and the son of Robert S. and Rose Ella (Bailey) Armstrong. Together, they produced two sons -- F. Lee Armstrong and Larry D. Armstrong. Lyle was a World War II veteran. The Armstrongs relocated to Peoria, IL. Dorothy worked in Peoria for Avery Company, a business making heavy equipment which later was sold to Westinghouse Air Brake Company. They belonged to the Forrest Hill United Methodist Church. Dorothy and Lyle were active blood drive volunteers over the years for the Peoria Red Cross. In their free time they liked to camp and travel. The pair relocated to Indianapolis, IN in 2001. Late in life, as her health ebbed, she was admitted to Miller's Senior Living Center in Indianapolis. As fate would have it, the pair died within just a few weeks of each other. He succumbed first, at age 95, on Oct. 27, 2007. She passed away at the age of 93 on Nov. 10, 2007. Her remains were transported back to Clinton for burial in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Daughter Eva Ruth "Eve" Ayers (1918- ? ) was born in about 1918. Her arm was badly cut in an automobile accident in August 1939 when she and friends were traveling to Springfield to attend the Illinois State Fair. In January 1940, she married Earl Pipher/Pifer ( ? - ? ) who was living at the time in Sandemus, CA. Eva Ruth moved to Sandemus just before the new year's holiday after receiving a shower at her parents' residence. The pair bore at least one son, Dennis Earl Pipher. The couple first lived at Eagle Rock/South Gate, Los Angeles County, CA, at an address of 8663 Cypress Avenue. Later she dwelled in Linwood, CA. By 1987, she had married again to (?) Crooker ( ? - ? ) and made a home in Dallas, OR.
Great-granddaughter Dawnelle LeAnn Pipher was adopted by her stepfather Donald. She was in Missouri circa 2005.
Great-grandson Richard D. Pipher married Cindy Lee Powell. He dwelled in Downey, CA. Sadly, Richard passed away at age 47 on Oct. 29, 2009.
Great-granddaughter Tamara Rosen established a residence in Los Angeles.
Great-granddaughter Brandy Dibble resided in Dover, NH in 2005.
Son Walter Kenneth Ayers (1922-1963) was born on Sept. 9, 1922 in Weldon, IL. As a teenager, in August 1938, he is known to have badly lacerated his hip when falling on a broken soda pop bottle. Evidence hints that he was twice-married. He and his first spouse were the parents of two children -- Kenneth Ayers and Elizabeth Fandel Adams. Then on Nov. 23, 1947, when he was 25 years of age, Walter was united in the bonds of holy matrimony with Mollie Catherine Scroggins (1930-1975), daughter of David D. and Pearl Ada Scroggins. Their wedding ceremony was held in Mollie's hometown of Decatur, IL. The Ayerses established their home in the village of Argenta in Macon County, IL. They together produced a family of five -- Caroline Joy Lourash, Lela L. Fletcher, Nancy Scribner, Rebecca Dodrill and Walter Ayers. Sadly, their son Walter died on the day of his birth, in Decatur and Macon County Hospital, on April 5, 1948. Further tragedy rocked the family on the dark day of Aug. 3, 1963, when the 40-year-old Walter he lost his life in a drowning accident in a lake near Jerseyville, IL. Reported the Clinton Daily Journal and Public, he "was in a boat when it struck a log and capsized. His body was recovered four hours later." Interment was in Weldon Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Decatur Herald and Review. Mollie Catherine outlived him as a widow for a dozen years. She was employed in Warrensburg by McGraw-Edison Company, was a member of the Rebekah Lodge in Argenta and attended the Maroa Christian Church. As her health failed, she was admitted to the Illini House n Decatur. She passed into the hereafter at age 45 on Aug. 22, 1975. Her obituary was printed in the Decatur Daily Review, which noted that she was survived by nine grandchildren. Their remains are together in the sleep of the ages in the Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery.
Daughter Norma "Jean" Ayers (1925-2008) was born on Feb. 19, 1925 in Weldon. In young womanhood she worked at the Sangamon Ordnance plant in Illiopolis, IL. She was married twice. She first entered into wedlock in March 1943, at the age of 18, with 18-year-old Alvin Dean Johnson (Nov. 12, 1924-1944), son of Albert Dean Johnson of Kenney, IL. At the time of marriage, he was employed in Clinton by E. Kent & Co. Together, they bore a daughter, Barbara Ann Jackson. Their marriage, however, tragically only lasted for 19 months. As World War II was aflame, Alvin enlisted in the U.S. Army on Sept. 17, 1943. He was assigned to the 17th Infantry, 7th Infantry Division and trained at Camp Wolters in Texas and then at Fort Ord in California. While he was in Texas, Norma Jean came for an extended visit. From there he was deployed to the Pacific Theatre, arriving in Oahu, Hawaii on April 11, 1944. While he was away, Norma Jean resided with her parents in Clinton. In the fall of 1944, General Douglas MacArthur made a very famous and well-photographed walk ashore on Leyte, proclaiming "I have returned." In the ensuing fight, considered the largest battle in World War II history, the Japanese fought back ferociously. Tragically, on the fateful day of Oct. 30, 1944, the 19-year-old Alvin took part in the battle of Leyte in the Philippine Islands, and was kllled in action. His distant cousin Robert E. Holdsworth -- of the family of James Clinton and Alice Jane (Minerd) Holdsworth Sr. -- also lost his life at Leyte as a member of the 269th Replacement Company of the 1st Cavalry Division. The anxious Norma Jean received word of her husband's death from the War Department, with the news printed in the Clinton Daily Journal and Public.
She received his Purple Heart medal in February 1945 and then the Victory/American Defense medals in November 1947. Norma Jean joined the Hall-Evey Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary and held the position of banner bearer. To keep her husband's memory alive, she also published "In Memoriam" notices in the local newspaper on the anniversary of his death. Alvin's body were not brought back to the United States for five years. In January 1949, Alvin's was among 4,504 sets of remains shipped back to the mainland aboard the Army transport Sgt. Jack Pendleton. After arriving, they were further transported to Clinton, with a funeral held Feb. 6, 1949 and rites provided by Rev. H.B. Wheaton and Rev. Henry Dibrell in the Kenney Christian Church. Burial followed in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. Alvin was pictured in a related story in the Daily Journal and Public. After five years of grieving, Norma Jean was ready to move on with her life. So on May 1, 1948, she was joined in matrimony with local farmer Frank "Junior" Lemmel Jr. (1919-2007), son of Frank and Allie (Barnes) Lemmel Sr. Rev. Harvey Dibrell officiated. The couple put down roots on Frank's farm southwest of Kenney, IL. They became the parents of Jerry Lemmel and Terri Lemmel. Norma Jean was very active over the years with the Kenney Methodist Church. Frank surrendered to the spectre of death at age 88, in Clinton, on Aug. 17, 2007. Jean lived for another year. She died at age 83 in El Paso, IL on Oct. 14, 2008. Their remains are interred in the sacred soil of Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Kenney.
Son Donald Wayne Ayers (1928-2010) was born on March 25, 1928 in Weldon. He was a career member of the U.S. Air Force, serving during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On Aug. 6, 1947, he tied the knot with Patricia Smith ( ? - ? ), daughter of Norris Smith. The Ayerses' two children -- both adopted in Newfoundland -- were Pamela Sue Venell and Rodney Norris Ayers. Donald worked for the Air Force for 20 years as a mechanic. He was stationed at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, CA circa 1953, and in Newfoundland in 1959 and Las Vegas in 1963. His final post was at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada with the rank of master sergeant. After his retirement in 1971, the family migrated to the Pacific Northwest and settled in the town of Philomath, OR. There, he was employed in wastewater management for the City of Corvallis. He liked to spend his spare time working with wood and in his garden, as well as camping. He passed away at home in Philomath at age 82 on Nov. 2, 2010. Interment was in the local Mount Union Cemetery.
Daughter Marjorie "Margie" Ayers (1931- ? ) was born in about 1931. She was a 1949 alumna of Clinton Community High School. In young womanhood she was employed in the business office of the Illinois Central Telephone Company. She was united in wedlock with Virgil I. Massey ( ? - ? ), son of Arthur "Art" Massey. Virgil was a 1947 graduate of Weldon High School and farmed with his father at the time of marriage. At least two children born to the couple were Linda Sue Massey and Dana Irvin Massey. Virgil joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was assigned to the 45th Infantry. For about a year, he "served on the front lines in Korea," said the Clinton Daily Journal and Public. While he was away, Marjorie lived at 309 West Main Street in Clinton. Circa 1954-1957, the Masseys dwelled in Decatur, IL, where he worked for the local plant of General Electric Company. Later, they relocated to California and established a residence in Riverside/San Bernardino, CA.
Son W. Dean "Poppie" Ayers (1933-1987) was born on Aug. 13, 1933 in Clinton, IL. During the Korean War, when he would have been a teenager, he joined the U.S. Air Force and trained at Pincastle Air Force Base in Orlando, FL. Dean married Shirley ( ? - ? ). They were the parents of six children -- Gary Lee Ayers, W. Dean Ayers Jr., Darrell Ayers, Susan Bailey and Richard Ayers and Dwane Ayers. The family grieved when sons Richard and Dwane died in infancy. Dean made his residence in Weldon before moving to Fisher, IL and Rantoul, IL. Dean was employed for years as a contractor in the Rantoul community. He was a member of the Rantoul post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and AMVETS (American Veterans). In 1984, he relocated to West Jupiter/West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, FL, where he spent the final three years of his life. Dean died there at the age of 53 on May 4, 1987. The body was shipped back to DeWitt County for burial in Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery. Rev. Brent Anderson officiated the funeral service, held in Rantoul. On his grave marker are inscribed these words: "Beloved Dad and Poppie." His obituary was published in his hometown newspaper, the Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph, and did not name the mother of his children. In the obituary, the family asked that any memorial donations be made to the Shriners Crippled Children's Fund.
Son Wiley Phillip Ayers Sr. (1935-2002) was born on Nov. 17, 1935 in Weldon, IL. Circa December 1952, during the Korean War, Wiley joined the U.S. Air Force for a four-year term of duty. He was posted to Parks Air Force Base in California as of 1953. After the war's end, he returned home and secured a job with the Illinois Central Railroad Company. On April 28, 1954, he married 16-year-old Florine Marie "Florence" Foster (Jan. 13, 1938-2018), daughter of Harry Magill and Eva Mae (Rice) Foster. Rev. H. McDonough presided at the ceremony, held in the parsonage of the Church of God. The marriage was announced on the pages of the Clinton Daily Journal and Public. The children of this family were Wiley Phillip Ayers Jr., Richard Lee Ayers, Randall Dean "Randy" Ayers, Cynthia Rene "Cindy" Frye Bandeko, Bradley Wayne Ayers and Beverly Jean Suggs Mink Jackson. Four stepchildren in this group were Rodney (?), Michael (?), Phillip (?) and Gene (?). Wiley was employed for years as a millwright and belonged to the Millwright Local union. Florine and their son Randy were part of a four-generation celebration in the First Church of God on Mother's Day 1962, with her mother and grandmother Betty Lang attending, as cited in the Daily Journal and Public. The family mourned at the untimely drowning death of their son Richard, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, on May 17, 1977. The couple eventually divorced. Florine married again to (?) Doss and to Michael "Mike" Payne Sr. ( ? - ? ) and moved to Owaneco, IL. On Jan. 11, 1980, Wiley also remarried, to Delores "Dee" (Monkman) Finn ( ? - ? ). She brought three children to the second union -- Patrick Jay Finn, Dianne Renee Finn and Julia McCammon. The couple made a home in Apache Junction, AZ in 1982. Death enveloped Wiley at age 66, at home in Clinton, on June 3, 2002. Rev. Billy P. Bell led the funeral service. He is buried in the Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery. He was pictured in his obituary in the Bloomington Pantagraph. Ex-wife Florine enjoyed fishing and watching televison. She passed into eternity on April 23, 2018 as a patient in Clinton's Warner Hospital and Health Services. Pastor Dean Palmer preached the funeral.
~ Daughter Ethel Emma (West) Green Crum ~
Daughter Ethel Emma West (1893-1948) was born on March 6, 1893 in DeWitt County, IL. She grew to womanhood in DeWitt Township.
Her first husband was William Isham Green (June 4, 1894-1922), son of John T. and Emma (Bolin) Green of 203 South Jackson Avenue in Bloomington, IL. Their nuptials were held on April 30, 1914, in the parsonage of the local Methodist Church, officiated by Rev. E.K. Towie. In announcing the marriage, the Bloomington Pantagraph said that Ethel's parents were "prosperous farmers of DeWitt township" and that William was "well known in this city, having been for some time employed in the [Illinois Central Railroad] shops." He had only worked for the IC for a short time, having earlier been employed as a baker by Platt's Bakery.
The couple lived in Clinton and bore a daughter, Margaret Pauline Wingo.
The family were members of the Christian Church.
In the seventh year of their marriage, however, the angel of death plucked away William after a freak accident. While at work one day as a pipefitter at the IC yards, said the Clinton Daily Public, "he sustained a bruise to his left limbwhich resulted in an abscess two months ago. He submitted to medical treatment and the member seemed to have completely healed, but some weeks later it developed into tubercular complications of the interlining of the stomach which caused his death."
William was visiting Ethel's parents in Weldon when death enveloped him at age 27 on Jan. 19, 1922. Funeral services were led by Rev. R.L. Cartwright in the First Christian Church in Clinton, where there "was a large attendance," reported the Daily Public. The floral tributes "were beautiful and profuse." Interment was in Woodlawn Cemetery, with W.O. Hickman, James Luttrell, Frank Taylor, R.O. Randall, Aulder Watt and Fred Maxwell serving as pallbearers. A eulogy in the Daily Public said he "was everybody's friend who knew him, always having a smile and a word of greeting to all he knew. He will be greatly missed in the community."
Later, in 1927, she wed Ray Crum ( ? - ? ), a local deputy sheriff. He may have brought a daughter to the marriage, Cora Spaulding. They put down roots in Clinton and remained for many years. Ethel was a member of the local Rebekah lodge and the Women's Benefit Association.
Her final years were spent in Manito, IL. Sadly, she died at home on Nov. 1, 1948, at the age of 55. The remains were laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton, following a funeral service led by her pastor, Rev. H.B. Wheaton. The Clinton Daily Journal and Public and the Pantagraph both ran obituaries.
Daughter Margaret Pauline Green (1916- ? ) was born in about 1916. At five years of age she contracted typhoid fever but eventually recovered, only then to lose her father. On Nov. 24, 1934, she was joined in matrimony with L. Dale Wingo ( ? - ? ), a resident of Kenney, IL and the son of Fred Wingo. The ceremony was led by Rev. H.B. Wheaton in the parsonage of the Christian Church. Dale made news in May 1940 when, while working on the Henson horse farm near Kenney, was kicked in the foot by a rambunctious horse. He and Artie Kirby are known to have jointly opened a tavern and sandwich restaurant in Kenney's Jackson Building in October 1941, known as Wingo's Tavern. He ran afoul of the law and paid a hefty fine in January 1943 for illegally running gambling operations in the tavern. Dale joined the U.S. Army as World War II raged. He became missing in action on D-Day, June 6, 1944, with word telegraphed to Margaret back home in Manteno, IL. After the war's end, Dale returned home to Manteno. He purchased the Kenney Tavern in June 1953 from Grace Stoutenborough. He owned the establishment for two years and sold it in July 1955 to Carl Conn. Dale owned a palomino horse in 1953 named "Captain Kid" which won fourth prize in the Illinois State Fair. In October 1956, Margaret and Dale bought Buds Market in Kenney, located in the Odd Fellows Building, where they sold groceries, bottle gas, electrical appliances and televisions. Remaining in Kenney, he was elected to the village's board of trustees in April 1959, garnering 46 votes. He served as a trustee until April 1, 1961, when he was named acting postmaster of Kenney, and with Margaret appointed to take his place on the board. He then became postmaster upon U.S. Senate confirmation in April 1963. More about their lives will be added here once known.
Stepdaughter Cora (?) wed (?) Spaulding. She established a home in San Diego, CA.
~ Son Harry Elmer West ~
Son Harry Elmer West (1896-1965) was born on Sept. 13, 1896 in Weldon, IL.
On Sept. 18, 1918, he was joined in matrimony with Opal Fern Hand (1901-1973), daughter of Minnie Hand.
The one known son they bore together was Donn Montelle West.
They lived in Bloomington, IL in 1938 and in Weldon in the late 1950s.
The Wests divorced in 1936 after 18 years of marriage. Two years later, on Nov. 7, 1938, they remarried each other, but with the union again ending in divorce.
Suffering from hardening of the arteries, Harry was felled by an acute heart attack. He passed away in Welborn Memorial Hospital in Evansville, IN at the age of 61 on Jan. 19, 1958. The remains were interred in Weldon Cemetery.
Son Donn Montelle West (1920-2002) was born on Sept. 2, 1920 in Weldon. He grew up helping run errands and do chores for his grandmother Hand, who owned a local boarding house. He was an alumnus of Clinton Community High School. On July 15, 1937, Donn and Lois Annabelle Abner (April 28, 1921-2002) eloped to be married in Dana, IN, by the hand of Rev. G.S. Reedy. She was the daughter of James and Bernice (Bateman) Abner. The couple's marriage held together over the ups and downs of an extraordinary 65 years. They became the parents of Patricia J. Snyder and David Michael "Mike" West. During World War II, Donn joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to Company G of the 12th Regiment, 4th Division. He was deployed to Europe, where he was on duty in Gelgium, France and Luxembourg. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge and was briefly captured before making an escape. He also was woulded in action at the Hurtgen Forest. He received a Purple Heart for his service and also three major battle stars. After his return home, the family lived in Weldon, with him initially working as deputy sheriff for DeWitt County. He eventually became employed by Montgomery Ward & Co., working in its facilities in Baltimore, MD in 1950. Donn was transferred to the Ward store in Uniontown, PA, the county seat of Fayette County, near where his great-great-great grandfather Frederick Miner Sr. had dwelled 140 years earlier. It's possible that Donn worked in the Uniontown store alongside distant cousins still in the area. In 1952, the family moved to a new home in Belpre, Washington County, OH, where he had been hired by P&M Appliance. The Wests remained in Belpre for years, at an address in 1958 of 719 Third Street. Then trying their hand at self-employment Donn and Lois established their own business in Belpre, West Appliance, until 1964. He then joined Ruth Fence Company and finally, for three decades, sold advertising for Randy J. Broadcasting. Donn belonged to the local posts of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars as well as the Masons. They enjoyed spending summers at Douglas Lake in Michigan. Death swept away husband and wife in Belpre within less than four months of each other. She passed first, on June 30, 2002. Interment was in Rockland Cemetery. During that time, Donn was stricken with colon cancer and surrendered to death on Oct. 25, 2002.
~ Son Walter Elwood West ~
Son Walter Elwood West (1903-1964) was born in 1903.
He completed four years of high school and worked as a farm laborer in early adulthood.
On May 2, 1925, at the age of about 22, he was united in matrimony with 18-year-old Hester Marian Mire (Oct. 11, 1907-1934), daughter of Frederick C. and Ina (Oldfield) Mire and a native of Lane/Cisco, IL.
Together they bore a pair of offspring, Lyle Elwood West and Betty Lucille Vaughn.
In 1930, at the time of the federal census enumeration, the Wests dwelled in the village of Weldon in Nixon Township. At the time, Walter was proprietor of a restaurant, and Hester's widowed mother was under their roof. He apparently also earned a living as a carpenter.
The family was plunged into anxiety and grief when Hester was diagnosed with cancer in 1932 at the age of just 25. She endured her illness for two years, but surrendered to the spirit of death in Weldon on Dec. 1, 1934. An obituary in the Clinton Daily Journal and Public reported that funeral services were led by Rev. P.G. Batti and held in the Weldon Methodist Episcopal Church.
Walter outlived his wife by three decades. Little of his initial years as a widower is known. He underwent a scare in February 1935 when both children contracted the measles. And he is known to have traveled to Waterloo, IA in June 1939 to visit his married sister Grace Ayers.
During World War II, on Sept. 9, 1942, he enlisted as a private first class in the U.S. Army.
Walter's address in 1951 was at 251 Central Avenue. He was jailed in September 1951 after charges were leveled by Ethel Owen for disturbing the peace. Later that year, sharing his home with 38-year-old Bonnie L. Scoggin, both were arrested for disorderly conduct.
Walter's name was printed in the Decatur (IL) Daily Review in 1952 when, living at 328 South New Street, he was owed a refund from the Springfield office of the Internal Revenue Department. The story blamed an incorrect or incomplete address as the reason the check could not be delivered.
Walter relocated to Tulsa, OK by 1958. He was living in Tulsa in March 1958 when, on a visit to Decatur, was charged by William LeBeau with trespassing. He soonafter moved to Argenta, IL where he ran afoul of authorities over failure to pay a fine and then vagrancy along Merchant Street.
Again in March 1960, he and two other men were arrested and placed in the county jail "on charges of disorderly conduct," said the Decatur Herald and Review. They had been found drinking wine together in a stairway along the 100 block of Merchant Street.
Walter passed away on May 23, 1964, at the age of 61, and is buried at Nixon Township Cemetery.
Son Lyle Elwood West (1926-2011) was born on Oct. 13, 1926 in Weldon. During and after World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in San Diego in 1948 with the rank of boatswain mate, second class. At the age of 22, on Feb. 28, 1948, he entered into marriage with Wilma "Rosalie" Lutton (1924-1997), daughter of Ash Spencer. Their nuptials were held in the First Congregational Church, by the hand of Rev. R.W. Catton. Lyle passed away in San Diego on April 21, 2011. Interment was in Rosecrans Cemetery in San Diego.
Daughter Betty Lucille West (1929-1986) was born on April 11, 1929 in Weldon. On Jan. 29, 1946, in Decatur, IL, she was united in wedlock with Arthur J. Vaughn Jr. (1926-1975). Arthur passed into eternity in 1975 at about the age of 49. Sadly, Betty died in Solano County, CA on Dec. 17, 1986.
Copyright © 2000-2001, 2007, 2019, 2021 Mark A. Miner