Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton (1843-1926) was the daughter of Henry Youmans Sexton and Minerva Peat. Ellen was the half-sister of my great-great-grandmother Jane Ann Sexton Tillotson. Ellen was born on December 24, 1843 in Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio. She moved from Ohio to Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan with her parents in October of 1850. Ellen never married. She always lived with one or another of her relatives, acting as an extra housekeeper and babysitter. For many years she lived with her brother Charles Sexton. After his death she lived with her niece Eva Jane Bennett Tillotson. Ellen died in Elsie, Clinton County, Michigan on March 6, 1926 (see her obituary and death certificate).

Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton.

Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton.
Photo from Elsie, Michigan.

Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton.
Photo taken in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois.

Ellen Eliza Sexton

Ellen Eliza Sexton in old age.
Photo from Elsie, Michigan.

Ellen Eliza Sexton to Eva Tillotson

Handwritten note from Ellen Sexton to
my grandmother Eva Tillotson Burns

The note reads:

Dear Eva
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
Also -- Remember your Auntie.
Ellen E. Sexton
Elsie, Clinton Co., Mich
Aug 25th 1893

This note appears in an "autograph" book in which various friends and relatives of my grandmother left her personal notes over the years. Either my grandmother was visiting Ellen in Elsie or Ellen was visiting in Chicago or Crete. I expect the latter since the note was written just a couple of months after the death of Eva's father, my great-grandfather James Francis Tillotson. James was Ellen's nephew and Eva was Ellen's grand-niece.

Ellen was a poet. One of her poems entitled "Men" was printed by Edgar Guest in his poetry column under the title "Aunt Ellen Speaks." "Men" offered a poetic response to Guest's poem entitled "Women." Ellen also published a book of her poems. We have not yet located a copy. Here are a few of her poems as published in the local Elsie, Michigan newspaper.

Another Old and New Year

Old year of nineteen hundred nine
But a little while ago
It seems, since you "swung into line,"
And now to have to go
Into the ranks of "days gone by,"
Another year brand new
Is just at hand, and so good by
Old worn out year to you.

We know not what the year may bring
Or who may be in those
To greet the New Year entering
Who'll never see its close.

Long as the years thus come and go
More knowledge folks acquire
More wise? -- then then they should better
Toward perfection aspire.

E. E. S.
Elsie, December, 1909.

Reflections of "Aunt Ellen" On
Beginning The New Year

Today as I look back upon
The ten years of this century gone
What thoughts are borne to me
Of those who were so near and dear
Ten years ago were with us here --
Now but a memory!

Today an empty home I see
'Tis one that used to shelter me
On many (illegible)
Has, just within this past decade
The ruthless hand of death been laid
Bearing home props away.

Of brothers -- sisters -- none are left.
Within ten years of each bereft.
What life yet holds for me
In time to come, no one can know
Or good or ill on me bestow.
Shall I yet ten years see?

E. E. S.
Elsie, Jan. 1st, 1911.

The Old-Fashioned Wood Pile
Ellen E. Sexton. Elsie, Michigan. May, 1920.

Memory oft brings to me scenes of
my childhood,
In this town of Duplain when settlers
were few,
The clearings, the brush heaps, where
tree tops were piled good,
The stumps in the clearings, the shoe
shop beside it,
Where my father made shoes and
boots too galore.
He kept his shop warm with a box
stove inside it,
With wood which he took from a pile
near the door.
The old fashioned wood pile, the generous
wood pile,
the wood stacked up near the little
shop door.
The family woodpile indeed, was a
And ofttimes at night when from
school I returned
I filled up the wood box, not stinting
its measure,
(There was plenty of wood I found
to be burned.)
When sometimes there came a call
from my mother for wood
I remember the look that she wore,
As I picked up the sticks, one after
Which into the house by the armful
I bore
From the old fashioned wood pile,
The family wood pile,
The generous wood pile, stacked up
near the door.
But years now have passed and our
country is showing
It has grown very tame, where once
it was wild;
And during those years have our wood
piles been going
With perishable things, since I was
a child.
Now when breezes of winter blow
bitterly cold
And a real coal famine we have to
How our thoughts quickly turn back
to good days of old
And the old time wood pile we then
had in store.
And we sigh for the wood pile, the
old fashioned wood pile,
The wood we shall see stacked up
never more.

Ellen also wrote a poem for the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of her niece Eva Jane Bennett Tillotson and Marion Leonard Tillotson.

Photos courtesy Wayne L. Caswell, William Tompkins, Thomas Tompkins, and Mary Porubsky. The photo of Ellen taken in Chicago belonged to my grandmother Eva Tillotson Burns, Ellen's niece. Wayne Caswell provided the death certificate for Ellen. Poems extracted from various scrapbooks in the Elsie Historical Society.

Back to Henry Youmans Sexton.
Back to Ellen's obituary.
Back to index of my personal genealogy pages.

Last modified by pib on September 20, 2003.