Mary Elizabeth Wooll and William Thomas Tillotson

William Thomas Tillotson and Mary Elizabeth Wooll


William Thomas Tillotson, first cousin of my great-great-grandfather Franklin James Tillotson, was born on November 28, 1826 in Brunswick, Medina, County, Ohio. William was the son of Leonard Tillotson and Mary Cossitt Thomas and the grandson of Samuel Tillotson and Sarah Partridge. William moved to Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan in 1852 -- about the same time as his cousin Franklin James Tillotson. William's siblings also eventually moved to Michigan.

William Thomas Tillotson

William Thomas Tillotson.

William Thomas Tillotson

William Thomas Tillotson.

William married Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Wooll, daughter of Kingston Wooll and Hannah Oliver, on September 26, 1855 in Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan. Betsy's nickname often appears spelled as "Betsey," and the two spellings seem to have been interchangeable. William, however, spelled his wife's name "Betsy."

Betsy was born on October 10, 1835 in Columbia, Lorain County, Ohio. (See below for an article on the first Wooll family reunion for more information about Betsy's family.) George W. Lewis presided at the wedding ceremony while Albert C. Bennett and Betsy's brother Henry Wooll acted as witnesses.

Betsy Tillotson

Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Wooll Tillotson,
wife of William Thomas Tillotson.

Betsy Tillotson

Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Wooll Tillotson,
wife of William Thomas Tillotson.

William and Betsy lived in a home about a half mile north of Elsie. William had purchased eighty acres of land in Duplain Township for $3.00 an acre. He built the original log cabin on land directly across from the Francis Elevators. William and Betsy were Methodists. William's signature appears on the original 1864 deed of the Elsie Methodist Church.

William and Betsy Tillotson's home near Elsie, Michigan

William and Betsy Tillotson's home about a half-mile north of Elsie, Michigan.

The woman looks like Betsy. I can't quite make out the men.

William and Betsy Tillotson's home near Elsie, Michigan

Later photo of William and Betsy Tillotson's home.

Left to right:

Hattie, Marion, and Myra Tillotson

Children of William Thomas Tillotson and Betsy Wooll (April 13, 1888).

Top: Marion Leonard Tillotson.
Middle, left: Hattie Corlista Tillotson.
Middle, right: Myra Luella Tillotson.
Bottom: William Ira Tillotson.

Franklin Ellis's 1880 book History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties contains a brief sketch of William and Betsy which reads as follows:

Leonard Tillotson was born March 15, 1803, at Berkshire, Mass. The family removed to Medina Co., Ohio, in 1814. At twenty-three years of age he married Miss Mary Thomas, of New Haven, Conn., rearing a family of six children. He died at the age of sixty-two. Mrs. Tillotson, at the advsnced age of seventy-five, in good health and sound mind, resides with a son, William, the subject of this sketch, who was born Nov. 23, 1826. In 1852 he came to the town of Duplain, and purchasing eighty acres of wild land on section 11, immediately began improving it. Sought and found a companion in Miss Mary E. Wooll, whose family came, in 1854, to Duplain from Loraine, Ohio. They were married September 26th; pursued their improvements, which have resulted in a finely-improved farm, and surrounded them with many comforts of life, upon which they can look with pride as the results of their industry. Surrounded by a large circle of friends, life passes pleasantly. Their union has been blessed with four children, -- Marion, born Sept. 23, 1860; Myra, April 13, 1864; Hattie, May 6, 1868; Willie, May 6, 1876. Mr. and Mrs. Tillotson have long been consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Ellis's book is also the source of the hand-drawn portrait of William and Betsy at the top of this page.

A later biography of William appeared in Portrait and Biographical Album of Clinton and Shiawassee Counties. Mich. published by Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1891.

William T. Tillotson, an intelligent and prosperous citizen of Duplain Township, Clinton County, who has ever been helpful in forwarding the causes of education and church work, was born in Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio, November 28, 1826. He is a son of Leonard Tillotson, a pioneer of that county in Ohio, who made his home there in the year 1815 about eighteen miles from Cleveland in the days when it took him three days to make the trip from his home to and from that city.

The mother of our subject was Mary C. Thomas in her maidenhood, and she came from Connecticut where she was born and reared to make her home in Ohio when but sixteen years old. The father came from Massachusetts when a boy and was by occupation a farmer. This son received only a common-school education and was able to be in attendance upon school only during short and infrequent periods, but he made the best of his scanty advantages and so well did he succeed that he was enabled to become a teacher when quite young.

August 11, 1852, this young man came to Michigan, making his home in Elsie and working one year for his cousin. He carefully hoarded his wages and in 1853 bought eighty acres of land, paying $3 an acre for the tract. He made a clearing of five and a half acres during the first year and at once put in a crop of wheat. He continued with his clearing until he had finished it and built a log cabin preparatory to setting up his own home.

The marriage of our subject to Mary E. Wool (sic), of Elsie, took place September 26, 1855. Five children blessed this union, namely: Marvin L., born August 16, 1856, died August 25, 1859; Marion L., born September 23, 1860; Myra, April 13, 1864; Hattie, May 6, 1868; and Willie, May 6, 1876. Marion married Eva J. Bennett, of Duplain Township; Myra and Hattie are teaching school and Willie is still an attendant at school in Elsie. The father has continued his farming operations ever since he came to this place. The old log house formed the family home until 1874 when he built a large two-story frame residence. He built his first barn in 1860 and the others since that time. He now has a place of one hundred acres of fine farming land upon which he raises almost every kind of grain and keeps graded stock, sheep and cattle.

Mr. Tillotson is no partisan in politics but votes for principle rather than party and is a careful student of public movements. When he first came to this county he says there was no Ovid, no St. John's, no Owosso and very little Lansing. He and his faithful wife are members in the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which he has belonged ever since he came to the county. He was also Class Leader and Superintendent of the Sunday-school. He is deeply involved in educational movements and has given his children excellent advantages in this direction.

The cousin for whom William worked for a year was my great-great-grandfather Franklin James Tillotson.

William Thomas Tillotson and Betsy Wooll had five children:

William Thomas Tillotson died in Elsie on May 30, 1901 (see his obituary). His wife Betsy died in Elsie on March 5, 1921 (see her obituary). See William L. Kidder's Leonard Tillotson Family web page for more information about William, his parents, and his children.

Following William Thomas Tillotson's death, his property was divided up as follows, according to a notice provided by the Elsie Historical Society:

The estate of Wm. Tillotson has been divided among the heirs, Mrs. Myra Burwell getting the homestead and 18 acres of land adjoining, Wm. J. Tillotson getting seventeen acres and the son of Levi Maynard taking the remaining twenty acres. Mrs. Burwell has moved into the house with her mother.

Mary E. Tillotson of Elsie, administratix of the estate of William T. Tillitson (sic), rendered her final account and was discharged.

The following article describing the first annual reunion of the Wooll family reveals more about Betsy Wooll Tillotson's relatives.

The first annual reunion of the Wooll family was held at the I. O. O. F. temple in Elsie, November 17. Seventy members of the family were present.

After dinner had been served the company were called to order and following officers elected; President, L. W. Curtis; secretary and treasurer, Lexie Wooll.

After the business had been disposed of a program was enjoyed by all. One interesting feature was an original poem written by W. W. Wooll of Saginaw, in which he mentioned the names of all the children and grand children of Kingston Wooll. Equally interesting was the family history written by I. A. Wooll.

Seventy years ago Kingston Wooll and wife came from England to America with four children, three sons and one daughter. Two daughters and a son were born to them after they settled in Ohio. Today there are living three children, Henry Wooll, Mary E. Tillotson and Wm. Wooll, twenty seven grandchildren, fifty four great grand children and nine great great grandchildren. Henry, the eldest living, is the only one left who came from England. The next reunion will be held at the home of W. I. Tillotson June 14, 1905.

Those who attended from away were Mrs. H. I. Roosa, and Joseph Grover, wife and son Dale, of Ithaca, W.W. Wooll wife and son Harold of Saginaw, Mrs. Melissa Jones of Bay City, Wm. W. Wooll and son Gerald of Marine City, Elmer Wooll of Detroit, James Viets and wife of New Lethrop.

William Thomas Tillotson and Family

William Thomas Tillotson and family

This family group picture shows many of the children and grandchildren of William and Betsy Tillotson. Left-to-right in each row, they are:


Some of the photos courtesy Wayne L. Caswell, William Tompkins, William Kidder, Mary Porubsky, Leonard C. Tillotson, Franklin Ellis's book History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties (1880), and E. Ward Tillotson's manuscript The Tillotson Family in America.

Wedding notice for William Tillotson and Harriet Wilcox, notice of settlement of William Thomas Tillotson's estate, and article about Wooll family reunion were provided by Mrs. Elizabeth Hess of the Elsie Historical Society.

My thanks to Leonard C. Tillotson for help in identifying some of the pictured individuals.


Back to Leonard Tillotson and Mary Cossitt Thomas.
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Last modified by pib on February 6, 2010.