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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 21, 1932


Respected Soldier, Educator and Citizen
Passes to His Reward.

Prof. John W. WILKERSON died in the St. Joseph hospital Thursday, January 14th, 1932, after a severe illness.

Prof. WILKERSON was the son of John and Anna [(CONNER)] WILKERSON and was born in Warren county, Ohio, July 19th, 1843. In July [06], 1862, at the call of the country, he enlisted in the Union army [Private, Company C of the 79th Ohio Infantry] and served for three years. His first call to military duty was across the Ohio river in the driving of BRAGG'S army out of Kentucky. He did guard duty at Nashville and then went to Chattanooga. From there, on the 5th day of May, 1864, he entered on the Atlanta campaign and took part in SHERMAN'S March to the Sea, one of the most wonderful feats of the war. He had part in liberating many of those confined in the notorious prison at Andersonville and in the successful capture of Savannah, Georgia. From there he came back with the army to Richmond where he shared in the successful conclusion of the war. Marching on to Washington, he was in SHERMAN'S and GRANT'S revue which took place May 24th and 25th, in 1865. Returning to Camp Dennison he was mustered out about the 15th of June [9th], 1865, and returned home after a varied and hard experience during three years of service for his nation. Prof. WILKERSON often referred to these experiences and was most loyal and enthusiastic in his support of the government.

At the conclusion of the war, in October, 1865, he settled on his father's farm near Savannah, Missouri, but was soon invited to take up work as a teacher for which he had prepared himself through special study during his army life. He entered with special joy in his educational work and for 44 years was connected with school work in northern Missouri and southwestern Iowa. It was not long before he became principal of the high school at Savannah. After a few years in this position, he was made superintendent of the high school at Grant City [Missouri]. In 1886, he left this position to take up a still larger work as superintendent of the Mount Ayr school. It was here and as county superintendent that he did the greatest work of his educational life. His influence upon the young people of Ringgold county will be felt for a great many years for henot only served the school at Mount Ayr, but also in Blockton and Redding. He took pride in the fact that he had the privilege of serving for 44 years in the educational work of this neighborhood.

In 1909, due to failing health, he gave up his educational work and spent the winters in the south.

Prof WILKERSON was not only active in the school, but ws interested in every phase of community welfare. He took an active part in the meetings of the G.A.R. and so long as his health permitted, attended its annual gatherings. But his interest extended further than that of the army and the school. While he did not fail to realize the necessity of the intellectual life of those under his charge, his special interest was that his pupils might be strong in character and worthy citizens.

In 1873 he united with the Methodist church in which he was always a loyal and active member and a few years later received a license of local preacher. He frequently preached in the Protestant churches of Mount Ayr. He taught for more than seven years in the Methodist Sunday school and was superintendent for several years. He has left behind him a record for service that has not been surpassed.

On February the 26th, 1876, he was married to Lydia M. AUSTIN in Savannah [Missouri]. To this union three children were born: Judge James H. WILKERSON, now a federal judge in Chicago; Kate Olive WILKERSON, the wife of Rev. Van Dyke WIGHT of Middletown, N.Y.; the third child, Ernest WILKERSON, died in infancy. Mrs. WILKERSON passed away in 1883 [September 21] and two years later he was married to Miss Libbie M. SAVILLE, who survives him.

In the death of Mr. WILKERSON the community has suffered a severe loss. His familiar face will be greatly missed in the town in which he has lived so long. He did a great work in his service for the nation in the army, but his greatest work in the influence he has had in the community and especially in the lives of those who were under his charge. He has passed away but his work lives after him.

Funeral Held Sunday.

An audience which filled the auditorium and galleries of the Methodist church was in attendance at the funeral services held Sunday afternoon at two o'clock. The service was conducted by Prof. WILKERSON'S son-in-law, Dr. E. Van Dyke WIGHT, pastor of the Presbyterian church at Middletown, New York, who was assisted by Rev. E. S. MENOHER, pastor of the local Methodist church, and Dr. Jesse JOHNSON, pastor of the local United Presbyterian church. It was a beautiful and impressive service, a fitting tribute to the departed, whose life had blessed the community for nearly half a century. There was no music save only the organ processional and recessional, played by Mrs. Kenneth HOLLAND. Hymns of faith, favorites of the departed, were impressively read by Dr. WIGHT; prayer was offered by Rev. MENOHER and the scripture, excerpts from the Book of Revelation, was read by Dr. JOHNSON.

Dr. WIGHT chose as his text II Timothy 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have keptthe faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to give me only, but to all them also that have loved his appearing." The tribute paid the departed as a soldier, as an educator and citizen met with response in th ehearts of all those who had gathered to pay tribute of respect to the life that had gone out. At the close of the discourse Dr. WIGHT read, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and the solemn stillness which followed the reading was broken by the distant sounding of taps by the bugler of the American Legion.

Profuse and beautiful were the floral offerings, tributes of love and respect from relatives and friends.

At the close of the service at the church the funeral cortege formed and passed to Rose Hill cemetery, where the body was laid to rest. Members of the Ringgold Post of the American Legion participated in the services at the grave.

Paul bearers (sic) were Howard TEDFORD, Clint D. ALLYN, H. C. BEARD, W. T. TIMBY, J. O. HORNE and Geo. H. RAINS.

Relatives and friends from a distance who attended the funeral were: Judge James H. WILKERSON, Judge Garfield CHARLES, Judge H. A. PARKEN and Clerk of the Court C. M. BATES of Chicago, Ill.; Dr. and Mrs. E. Van Dyke WIGHT of Middletown, N. Y.; Sherm REX, of Creston; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas WILKERSON, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd WILKERSON, Mrs. Cora WILKERSON and daughter Alberta, Mr. GRAHAM, John FARRELL of Union Star, Mo.; Mr. and Mrs. T. W. DAWSON, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. PRUGH, Mr. and Mrs. Robert CLEMONS, Mr. and Mrs. Roy GOFF, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. HOTALING, Chas. SAVILLE of Grant City, Mo.; Miss Mayhew SAVILLE of St. Joseph, Mo.; Mrs. S. T. ROWE and son Donald of Macksburg.

Courtesy of Mike Avitt

  • WILKERSON Family Page

    Additional Source: Civil War Soldier database,

    Submission by Mike Avitt
    Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2010

    To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
    Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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