Biography of Francis L. Wilcox

Francis Lazell Wilcox, a veteran of the civil war, is now engaged in agricultural pursuits in Oneida County, and is numbered among the pioneer settlers of Preston. A native of Pennsylvania, he was born in the town of Jackson, Susquehanna County, April i, 1840, his parents being Elan and Elvira (Bryant) Wilcox. The father was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, March 16. 1815, and in Jackson, Pennsylvania, married Miss Bryant, whose birth occurred April 13, 1821. He was an industrious, honest man, of good judgment and sterling worth, and for a number of years held the office of justice of the peace. He died March, 1889, at the age of seventy-four years, and his wife, who was a member of the Presbyterian church died February 9, 1889, in the sixty-eighth year of her age. They were the parents of eleven children.

Francis L. Wilcox, their eldest child, was educated in the public schools of Pennsylvania and remained at home with his father, working on the farm, until twenty-three years of age, when, in answer to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers to put down the rebellion and hold aloft the flag which the Confederates would fain have trailed in the dust, he enlisted in Company K, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, January 1, 1862. He served until June 25th of the same year, when, on account of illness, he was honorably discharged. Still the need for volunteers continued, and on the 6th of September 1864, he re-enlisted, becoming a member of Company G, One Hundred and Eighty-fifth New York Infantry. During both terms he was with the Army of the Potomac, and shortly before the surrender of General Lee he was in a hotly contested engagement in which his clothes were pierced by eleven bullets, and a Minnie ball entered his leg. At the same time he was taken prisoner, and seven days had passed before his wound was dressed. The ball was then removed by a Confederate lieutenant, who cut it out with an old razor, causing the greatest pain. At length the Union men were recaptured by General Sheridan’s cavalry and Mr. Wilcox was sent to the hospital in Washington, where he arrived on the day President Lincoln was buried. He was honorably discharged August 24, 1865, and with an honorable military record returned to his home. For two years thereafter he was forced to use a cane in walking, but he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had aided in the preservation of the Union and the perpetuation of the grandest republic the sun shines upon.

As soon as he had sufficiently recovered his health Mr. Wilcox resumed the peaceful pursuits of the farm, carrying on agricultural pursuits in his native state until 1877, at which time he sold his property there and came to the west. He assisted in building the railroad to Preston and located one hundred and sixty acres of choice land in the beautiful valley, three-fourths of a mile west of the now prosperous town. Nathan Porter was then the only settler in this part of the county, and from that time to the present Mr. Wilcox has been an important factor in the substantial development and progress of this section of the state.

On the 4th of April 1866, Mr. Wilcox married Miss Secor, a native of Pennsylvania, who came with him to the west and has been to him a faithful companion and helpmeet on life’s journey. Together they have improved a splendid farm and have planted a fine grove of trees about their home, affording a delightful shade in summer and protecting them from the chilling blasts of winter. A large barn and other excellent farm buildings stand as monuments to the thrift and enterprise of the owner, and his industry is attested by the well cultivated fields of wheat and other grains and alfalfa hay. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox have been born the following named children: Bryan D., a farmer; Cora L., who became the wife of James Maughan and died in 1897; Francis Elon, who died in Salt Lake City, February 7, 1879, in his sixth year; Herman Lazell, who died February 21, 1879, at the age of four years; Katie; Maggie Melvina; George; William Harvey and Carl. Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox were years ago converted to the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and they and their family are now faithful members of the same. In politics Mr. Wilcox has been a lifelong Republican. He is a man of the highest respectability, and as a citizen is as loyal and true to the old flag today as when he followed the starry banner upon the battlefields of the south.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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