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Susan Clara (Dillow) West


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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.


Bird's-eye view of Clinton, 19th century. Library of Congress



Obituary, 1938

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.


Obituary, 1958

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.


The Wests' grave on the Illinois prairie in Weldon, 2007


~ 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.


Grave of the twin sons

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.

  • Granddaughter Sandra L. Larkin ( ? - ? ) lived in Sycamore, IL in the early 1990s and in DeKalb in 1999.

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.


Railroad depot in Clinton, IL


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.

  • Richard Ayers' body was never recovered after being shot down in Laos. Iowa Veterans Remembrance Project
    Grandson Col. Richard Lee Ayers (1933-1970) was born on Feb. 18, 1933. He was a 1951 alumnus of East High School. Richard married Shirley A. ( ? - ? ). They were the parents of two daughters -- Shirley Lynn Ayers and Lisa Ann Ayers. He served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly two decades, with training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. Part of his work was to operate a jet stratotanker flying between a base in Mississippi and Frobisher Bay in Canada's Baffin Islands. Then from 1966 to 1969, he was posted in London to learn photographic reconnaisance. As the Vietnam War was escalating in 1969, he was deployed to Saigon as a member of the 12th Tactical Reconnaisance Squadron, 460th Tactical Reconnaisance Wing of the 7th Air Force. He and his brother Lenard, also an Air Force pilot, were based at Tong Sun Noot Air Force Base in Saigon. The two often met for visits at Richard's apartment. He received six decorations including the Silver Star. Circa 1970, Richard was assigned to monitor movements of enemy troops along the Ho Chi Minh train between Laos and Cambodia. His RF-4C supersonic aircraft was equipped with ultra-long-range oblique photography technology. Tragically, while over Laos on April 16, 1970, his aircraft bearing tail number 66-0409 was shot down near Ban Tang-Alai-Xoukoutoua in the A Shau Valley. He and his crewman Major Robert E. Rausch were not rescued and were declared missing in action. Air Force officials briefed his parents back in Waterloo, showing photographs of "a swath of trees knocked down in the jungle, and a second swath not far away," reported the Waterloo Courier. His remains never were recovered. His name adorned a POW-MIA bracelet worn by many over the years. In June 1978 he was declared dead, with the Air Force advising his parents that they had obtained "no information, from any source, including debriefing returned prisoners, which would indicate his survival." A marker in his memory was placed in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX, with Shirley and his parents attending, at which she received his Purple Heart decoration. His name also is inscribed in the Courts of the Missing in the National Memorial Cemetry of the Pacific in Oahu.
  • Grandson Alvin Arthur Ayers (1935-2021) was born on May 19, 1935 in Clinton, IL. He grew to manhood in Waterloo, IA. In about 1978, at the age of 43, he entered into wedlock with Vicki ( ? -living). Their union endured for 43 years. He was the father of Mark Ayers, Christy Daum, Andrew "Butch" Ayers and Allen Ayers. As of 1978, Alvin worked in Texas as a cattle breeder. Circa 1980, he made a home in Pendergrass, GA, in 1990 in Atlantic Beach, FL and in 1994 in Jacksonville, FL. His final home was in St. Petersburg, FL. He died at the age of 86 on Aug. 2, 2021. His obituary was printed in the Tampa Bay Times.

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.

  • Grandson Lenard Philip Ayers (1938-1980) was born on July 9, 1938 in Waterloo, IA. He was united in matrimony with Sally Berdine (Feb. 21, 1941-1987). The couple settled in rural Belton, TX and bore three daughters -- Julie Ayers, Cynthia Ayers and Stephanie Ayers. During the Vietnam War, he joined the U.S. Army Air Force. He trained at Parks Air Force Base in California and was sent to Vietnam. He and his brother Richard were based at Tong Sun Noot Air Force Base in Saigon and often met for visits at the brother's apartment. During his time in country, Lenard piloted gunboat helicopters and was shot down three times. When his brother Richard was lost in an air crash in Vietnam in 1970, their father contacted a local congressman to have Lenard returned to duty in the United States. Over time, he achieved the rank of chief warrant officer. He retired from the military in May 1976. Lenard then went on to a career with Thunderbird Airways of Houston, TX as a senior captain. He also was an instructor of midsize jet aircraft pilots with North American Sabreliner and Learjet Company. On the fateful day of April 11, 1980, while piloting a Lear jet aircraft, he was killed when the plane crashed near Dalhart, TX. Burial of the remains was in Bellwood Memorial Park in Temple, TX. Sally outlived her husband by seven years. Death cut her away in McLennan County, TX on Dec. 1, 1987 at age 46. Interment also was in Bellwood. Inscribed on the face of her bronze grave tablet are the words "Our Mother, Daughter, Sister."

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.

  • Grandson Charles James Behler II (1947-1971) was born on Jan. 31, 1947 in Sycamore, IL and named after his grandfather. Upon graduation from high school, he studied at Northern Illinois University and the University of Syracuse in New York. On April 26, 1967, he wedded Pamala Sue Collins ( ? - ? ), daughter of James Collins of Rockford, IL. Their wedding was held in the chapel of the local Methodist Church, by the hand of Rev. Harold M. Kelley. Pamala had studied at Northern Illinois University at the time of marriage. The couple bore one known son, Charles James "Chuck" Beehler III. Circa 1968, during the Vietnam War, he was an airman first class and office administrator with the U.S. Air Force and stationed at McClennan Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA. Then in June 1968, they were transferred to England, posted to Upper Heyford Royal Air Force Base, where he specialized as an administrator with the Air Force Communications Service. Charles enjoyed riding his motorcycle. But on the tragic evening of May 24, 1971, while on a ride in Rockford, IL, he was killed in an accident at age 24. The Rock Island (IL) Argus reported that he "was thrown from the vehicle while attempting to avoid a collision with an oncoming car." His remains sleep for all time in Elmwood Cemetery, Sycamore.
  • Granddaughter Susan Behler grew up in Sycamore, IL. She married Robert Hamm ( ? - ? ) and later (?) Spicer. She was in Wausau, WI in 2001.
  • Granddaughter Phyllis Behler married Beryl Lawrence. They established a residence in Phoenix, AZ as of 2980 and in Chattanooga, TN circa 2001.
  • Grandson Gene Raymond Behler (1938- ? ) was born in March 1938 in Sycamore Hospital. News of his birth was printed in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. In young manhood he studied at Northern Illinois University. Gene was united in wedlock with Jacqueline "Jackie" Rice ( ? - ? ). One of the three sons known to have been born to this couple was Christopher Behler. Gene spent his career in the U.S. Army. Circa 1961-1964, he was posted to Frankfurt, West Germany, with the 3rd Armored Division. Then in 1976, he was based in Wuerzburg, Germany and promoted to major. The family lived in Sparta, WI in 1980 and in Indianapolis in 2001.

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.

  • Grandson Larry Ayers was in Gilbertville, IA in 2000.
  • Granddaughter Carol Ayers wed (?) Taylor. She was in Cedar Falls, IA in 2000.
  • Granddaughter Judy Ayers married (?) Hughes. Circa 2000, she dwelled in Waterloo, IA.


~ 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.

  • Grandson Larry West married Elizabeth. The couple was in Toulon, IL in 2001.
  • Grandson Norman West wed Diane. They have lived for years in Greenup, IL.
  • Grandson Ronald R. West (1935-1975) was born on July 2, 1935 in McLean County, IL. He was joined in marriage on July 5, 1959 with Mary Jane Lindsey ( ? - ? ), daughter of Thomas and Ruby Ethel (Barnes) Lindsey. The Wests were the parents of Rosanne West, Suzanne West and Michael West. The family dwelled in Warrensburg, IL, where Ronald was employed by Caterpillar Tractor Company as a planning engineer. They belonged to the Warrensburg United Methodist Church. He held memberships in the Clinton and Warrensburg lodges of the Masons. At one time he served as auditor of Illini Township in Macon County, IL. Sadly, at the age of 39, Ronald passed away on May 20, 1975. Funeral services were officiated by Rev. James Poe in the Warrensburg United Methodist Church. Burial followed in the Clinton Memorial Park Cemetery, with an obituary in the Bloomington Pantagraph.

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.

  • Granddaughter Donnabelle West married Duane West and resided in LeRoy, IL.
  • Grandson Ted West was united in wedlock with Mary. They moved to Kalamazoo, MI.
  • Grandson Richard West wed Marcia. Their home in 2005 was in LeRoy.
  • Grandson Michael West was joined in matrimony with Linda. They relocated to Iowa City, IA.

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.

  • Grandson John West established his roots in Farmer City, IL.
  • Grandson Philip J. West lived in Farmer City.
  • Grandson James "Jim" West resided in 2004 in Colfax, IA.
  • Granddaughter Betsy West was twice-wed, first to (?) Hass and then to (?) Reineck. She was in New Virginia, IA in 2004.
  • Granddaughter Lynn West married (?) Carico. She dwelled in 2004 in New Virginia, IA.
  • Step-granddaughter Karen Johnston made her home circa 2004 in Marion, IA.


Battle of the Bulge, where Harold West and his cousin Donn Montelle West were captured by enemy forces.


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.

  • Granddaughter Sharlyn West wed Vernon Golden. They made a home in Bellflower, IL in 2004.
  • Granddaughter Janet West married Randy Gelsthorpe. The pair has lived in Bloomington.
  • Grandson Charles West was joined in matrimony with Kathy. The couple was in Downs, IL in 2004.
  • Grandson Jerry West was united in marriage with Linda. Their residence circa 2004 was in Morton, IL.

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.

  • Grandson William Gale married Cheryl. They relocated to Massachusetts. In 2009-2011, their home was in Easthampton, MA.
  • Grandson Gary Gale wed Lori. Their residence in 2011 was in Saybrook, IL.
  • Granddaughter Ann Gale was joined in wedlock with Wayne Bode. They planted roots in Gibson City.
  • Granddaughter Peggy Lu Gale ( ? -2009) was born on Aug. 28, 1939 in Clinton. She united in matrimony with Gene Telfer ( ? - ? ). They stayed together for 43 years until separated by death. The Telfers were te parents of Gregory Telfer, Theresa McEvoy, Teresa Noffsinger, Carol Briggs, Cindy Adler and Mary Whalen. They made a home in New Lenox, IL. Then in retirement in 1992, they relocated to Hernando, FL. Peggy liked to create needlework and read novels by the best-selling author Danielle Steele. She held a membership in the First Presbyterian Church of Invereness, FL. In about 2005, she was diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain. She endured her illness for four years until death carried her away at age 70 on Oct. 10, 2009. Her obituary was published in the Bloomington Pantagraph. A memorial service was held at First Presbyterian Church in Gibson City. Survivors included 16 grandchildren and 10 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 ~


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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.


Obituary, 1949

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.

  • Grandson Allan H. Gawthorp Sr. (1934-2004) was born on Nov. 3, 1934 in Albion, Edwards County, IL. He served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy during the Korean War. In 1965, Allan wed Linda Sue (Sallade) Kennel (1944-2005), daughter of William O. and Mildred M. (Rohde) Sallade. She brought a stepson into the marriage, Kevin Kennel. The couple went on to bear a son of their own, Allan H. Gawthorp Jr. The family lived in Bloomington, IL. Linda was employed as a housekeeper in several hotels in the Bloomington-Normal community. For eight years, she also ran a home-based daycare center. She loved to make arts and crafts, especially from bread dough, and to watch birds and tend her garden flowers. She "had a zest for life and a gift to converse with anyone," said the Bloomington Pantagraph. Sadly, Allan passed away at age 69 in Normal, McLean County on July 8, 2004. Linda Sue followed him to the grave on Jan. 3, 2005. They rest for all time in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington. Their son Allan Jr. died at age 48 in Bloomington on New Year's Eve 2014.

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.


Woodlawn Cemetery, Clinton, IL, final resting place for the Armstrongs and other branches of the West family


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.

  • Grandson F. Lee Armstrong wed Sue and lived in 2007 in Normal, IL.
  • Grandson Larry D. Armstrong married Lee Ann. Their home was in Noblesville, IN in 2007.

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.

  • Grandson Dennis Earl Pipher (1941-2005) was born on St. Patrick's Day 1941 in Eagle Rock/South Gate, Los Angeles County, CA. His birth was announced in his mother's hometown newspaper, the Clinton Daily Journal and Public. He was a 1960 graduate of South Gate High School. On Valentine's Day 1960, at age 18, he entered into matrimony with 17-year-old Barbara Ann Ostoupy ( ? - ? ), daughter of Charles Ostoupy. The nuptials held at the Christian Chapel, South Gate, CA Rev. Dr. Ray Charles Jarman officiated. The South Gate Press covered the event, saying that the bride was "clad in a gown of nylon lace net with an embroidered bodice and tapered sleeves... Her veil of fingertip length joined a train lightly salted with pearls and rhinestones, with jewels extending from a point on the forehead. The scalloped neckline of her gown was enhanced by a single strand of pearls, presented as a keepsake by the bridegroom at the time of presentation of the ring." One daughter born to this union was Dawnelle LeAnn Pipher. Dennis joined the U.S. Air Force soon after marriage and spent a year in service, where he worked on the X-15 Project, a hypersonic research program with rocket-powered aircraft setting speed and altitude records. The union quickly fell apart and ended in divorce. Dennis wed a second time on Aug. 4, 1961 to 19-year-old Indianapolis native Andela S. Bange (June 30, 1942-2002), also living at the time in South Gate. They went on to bear a son, Richard D. Pipher. The second marriage also appears to have ended via a divorce. On June 26, 1982, Dennis married a third time to Louise Matthews ( ? - ? ). Two other children involved with this family were Tamara Rosen and Brandy Dibble. Dennis and Louise relocated to New York State, where they settled in Ripley, Chautauqua County. In Ripley, Dennis was elected as town assessor and president of the Ripley Hose Company. In his free time he belonged to the Summit Lodge in Westfield and enjoyed artistic painting, collecting vintage automobiles, cooking and animals. Their address in 2005 was on Goodrich Street. He succumbed to death at the age of 64 on Aug. 24, 2005 as a patient in Westfield Memorial Hospital. An obituary was printed in the Erie Times-News. Ex-wife Barbara married again to Donald ( ? - ? ) and resided in the Santa Barbara area, with Donald adopting Dawnelle. There was no contact for years between Dennis and Dawnelle, although they may have spoken or reconciled toward the end of his life as he was pursuing it. Second former wife Andela died in South Gate on Dec. 8, 2002.

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.


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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.

  • Grandson Kenneth Ayers served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War circa 1963.
  • The Adams' and Lourashes' hometown
    Granddaughter Elizabeth Ayers was twice-wed. By 1963, she married (?) Fandel ( ? - ? ). Then by 1975, she had entered into matrimony with Anthony Adams and was residing in Decatur.
  • Granddaughter Caroline Joy Ayers was united in matrimony with Kerry Lourash. She lived in 1975 in Decatur.
  • Granddaughter Lela Ayers wed (?) Fletcher ( ? - ? ). Her home in 1975 was in Indianapolis.
  • Granddaughter Nancy Sue Ayers ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She was an alumna of Argenta-Oreana High School. In young womanhood she earned a living at Emdeko Products. On May 20, 1972, she was joined in wedlock with Steven Scribner ( ? - ? ), son of Charles W. Scribner. The nuptials were held in St. John's Lutheran Church. In announcing the marriage, the Decatur Daily Review said that the bride "wore an princess style gown of organza over taffeta featuring an empire waist and long, fitted sleeves ending in bridal points." Steven was a graduate of Eisenhower High School and worked at the time of marriage for Mueller Company. They dwelled in Decatur in 1975.
  • Granddaughter Rebecca Ayers married David Dodrill. They relocated to Delaware and in 1975 resided in Felton, DE.


Gen. Douglas MacArthur wading ashore at Leyte, the Philippines, several days before Alvin Dean Johnson's combat death there.



Alvin Dean Johnson
Courtesy Scott Bird

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.


Mt. Pulaski Cemetery (Courtesy Jeanne Bailey Schaub). Jean received her husband's Purple Heart in 1945.

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.

  • Granddaughter Barbara Ann Johnson (1943- ? ) was born in about February 1944. She was only 10 months old when her father was killed in action during World War II. Circa 1962, she enrolled in Illinois State Normal University. She went on to marry (?) Jackson ( ? - ? ).
  • Grandson Jerry Lemmel ( ? - ? ) overcame rheumatic fever as a boy. He belonged to the Future Farmers of America.
  • Granddaughter Terri Lemmel ( ? - ? )

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.

  • Grandson Rodney Norris Ayers (1957- ? ) was adopted by his parents in Newfoundland at the age of eight months in 1958. He dwelled in Philomath in 2010.
  • Granddaughter Pamela Sue Ayers (1959- ? ) was adopted by her parents in Newfoundland at the age of three months in 1959. She was joined in wedlock with Larry Venell. Their home in 2010 was in Corvallis.


Decatur, IL, home of Margie and Virgil Massey in the 1950s


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.

  • Granddaughter Linda Sue Massey (1954- ? ) was born in 1954 in Decatur and Macon County Hospital in Illinois. News of her birth was printed in the Clinton Daily Journal and Public.
  • Grandson Dana Irvin Massey (1957- ? ) was born in 1956. His birth was announced in the Clinton Daily Journal and Public.


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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.

  • Grandson Gary Lee Ayers lived in Champaign, IL in 1987,
  • Grandson W. Dean Ayers Jr. dwelled in the late 1980s in West Palm Beach, FL.
  • Grandson Darrell Ayers established a home in Champaign, IL.
  • Granddaughter Susan Ayers married (?) Bailey. The couple relocated to Greeley, CO.


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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.

  • Grandson Wiley Phillip Ayers Jr. joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Campbell, KY in 1977. He was joined in matrimony with Ruby. Their home circa 2002 was in Clinton and by 2018 in Lincoln, IL.
  • Richard, a drowning victim
    Grandson Richard Lee Ayers (1956-1977) was born on Feb. 19, 1956 in Clinton. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years during the Vietnam War. After his discharge, he returned home and was hired as a construction worker, Sadly, despite his background in the Navy, he came to his life's end in the water. At the age of 21, during the ill-fated evening of May 17, 1977, while drinking beer with friends, he drowned while swimming in the Rickgauer Sand and Gravel pit near the village of Kenney, IL. The Bloomington Pantagraph said he had not told anyone he was going into the water, and "knew how to swim and swam about 300 feet before going under." The story added that he came back up and then again descended, and was not visible for several minutes. His friends drove into Kenney to seek help from police. The pit was dredged by the Lincoln-Logan Rescue Squad. When that approach did not work, volunteer scuba divers affiliated with the Logan County Rescue Unit went in and located the body in 25 to 30 feet of water. Dredging again was tried to recover the body, unsuccessfully, and the divers had to resort to tying a rope around the corpse so it could be brought to the surface. Richard's father arrived at the scene and jumped into the water, swimming out about 60 feet before turning around, "about to go under when I got a hold of him," said one of the scuba divers. A separate story about the accident was published in the Decatur Daily Review. He was laid to rest in the Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery. He is not to be confused with his second cousin of the same name who was shot down and killed in Laos during the Vietnam War.
  • Grandson Randall Dean "Randy" Ayers moved to Florida and was there circa 1977. By 2002, he had married Katrena and returned to DeWitt. His home in 2018 was in Clinton.
  • Granddaughter Cynthia Rene "Cindy" Ayers was a graduate of Clinton Community High Schoool. She married (?) Frye and lived in Clinton in 1977. Later, she wed Rusty Meadors ( ? - ? ), son of Joseph and Sondra Meadors. They were the parents of Travis Meadors, Waylon Meadors and Brandy Jaye Meadors. In the early 1990s, Cynthia was employed by Bloomington PineCrest Associates in Normal, IL as a residential manager. On May 4, 1991, in a wedding held at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Normal, she was joined in marriage with Kirk Bandeko ( ? - ? ), son of Guy and Nancy Bandeko. They were pictured in a wedding article in the Bloomington Pantagraph. He too brought stepchildren to the union, Adam Bandeko, Patrick Bandeko and Elizabeth Bandeko. Kirk was a Normal Community High School graduate and self-employed as a contractor.
  • Grandson Bradley Wayne Ayers made a home in 1977 in DeWitt, IL. He was united in wedlock with Kathy. They dwelled in 2002-2018 in Clinton, IL.
  • Granddaughter Beverly Jean Ayers wed (?) Suggs. In 1977, she dwelled in Clinton, IL. She married a second time by 2002 to (?) Mink ( ? - ? ) and made her residence in Lincoln City, OR. Eventually she was joined in wedlock with (?) Jackson and migrated to Riddle, OR.


~ 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.

  • Granddaughter Patricia J. "Pat" West 1938-2008) was born on July 23, 1938 in Weldon, IL. She grew up in Belpre, OH and wed her high school boyfriend William Frederick "Pete" Snyder (1926-1991), a native of New England, Wood County, WV and the son of James R. and Hazel (Kelly) Snyder. Their only known child was Dena Jo Hughes. They settled in Belpre, where William was employed for 33 years by the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company. The family belonged to the Mullen Memorial Baptist Church. In his free time, William liked to fish and hunt and be out of doors. For many years, he suffered with diabetes and heart disease. Sadly, William died across the Ohio River in Camden Clark Hospital in Parkersburg, WV on Sept. 24, 1991. Patricia outlived him by 17 years. During that time, she endured the death of their daughter on Oct. 10, 1999, also due to heart and diabetes issues. Patricia succumbed to the spectre of death in Belpre's Willows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Oct. 15, 2008. They rest for all time in Rockland Cemetery in Belpre, with Rev. David Hubbard conducting her funeral service..
  • Grandson David Michael West ( ? - ? ) married Susan. They have dwelled in Coolville, OH.


~ Son Walter Elwood West ~


Weldon/Nixon Township Cemetery

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