Biography of Warren P. Wilcox of Bellaire, Michigan

Warren P. Wilcox, of Bellaire, Antrim county, Michigan, was born in Genesee county, New York, February 5, 1833. His father, Noyes W., was also a native of the Empire state, the family having originally come from Rhode Island. The subject’s grandfather, Josiah E., was a Revolutionary soldier and took a prominent part in the struggle for independence. He was located at Buffalo during the war of 1812 and the son, Noyes, remembers having witnessed the burning of that city. The subject’s father died in Ingham county, Michigan, where he had settled in 1854.

W. P. Wilcox attended the public schools during his youth and in 1854 came to Michigan, accompanying his father’s family. He bought land in Ingham county, of which he improved one hundred and sixty acres, retaining possession of this land for twenty years, it still being owned by members of the family. He devoted these twenty years to the interest of this property and in 1874 came to Crawford county, locating seven miles from Roscommon, where he took up a homestead. Some two or three years later he engaged in preaching under the auspices of the Methodist Protestant church as a local preacher. He was often compelled to hold a number of services each Sunday and organized a good many societies. He was practically alone throughout the field he covered in this work and devoted several years to these efforts, receiving no income except that received from his farm. During this time he organized four societies and served them as pastor for four years, when he was made district chairman, having supervision over several other preachers, visiting a number of places needing assistance, namely, Crawford, Roscommon, Otsego and Kalkaska counties. Two years later he quit the farm and took the pastorate at the charge at Berryville, having two classes to serve during the following two years. About this time he severed his relations with the Methodist Protestant church and affiliated with the Congregational church, becoming the first pastor of the church at Bellaire in the fall of 1883. About the time Mr. Wilcox came here there also arrived a young Methodist preacher by the name of R. M. Middleton and they together ministered to the religiously inclined people of the locality, organizing both Congregational and Sunday school classes. Mr. Wilcox organized a Congregational church at Central Lake and erected a church without seats, costing one thousand dollars. At. the same time he built a church at Bellaire, the two being dedicated in January, 1885. The two societies had a membership of about forty persons, but they had the respect and support of the entire community. Three and one-half years later Mr. Wilcox went to Chippewa Lake, Mecosta county, where he spent one year. Following this he served three and one-half years at Ada, Kent county, having also during this time oversight of the churches at East Paris and Egypt. He then went to Allendale, Ottawa county, where he remained five years and established a new church five miles distant. known as the Bass River church. His health failing at this time, lie took a small country church north of Grand Rapids where he remained two years, organizing the Alpine Center church during that time. The following year he abstained from active work and then spent three years at Chase, west of Reed City. In the spring of 1902 lie retired to his home at Bellaire where lie has since remained in the quiet enjoyment of that rest so richly earned. During his ministry he married one hundred and ten couples. Mr. Wilcox is a man of deep thought and has taken advanced stand in theological matters, keeping abreast of the times, but in his pulpit utterances he has been wisely conservative. A strong temperance man, he was formerly an ardent Prohibitionist, though recently he has taken a moderate stand on the question. In politics he is independent. Reared a Democrat, he later affiliated with the Republican party, though he holds firmly to every man’s right to vote for whom he pleases regardless of party lines. He loves outdoor life and is particularly fond of good horses and thoroughly enjoys a horse race or base ball game, though criticizing foot ball as being brutal. He is an omnivorous reader, rather diversified in the character of his subjects, and keeps in touch with the trend of modern thought. Mr. Wilcox was made a Master Mason in 1866 and has since remained affiliated with this order, and is also an Odd Fellow.

In Ingham county, January 1, 1866, W. P. Wilcox was united in marriage to Miss Marion Winchell, a daughter of one of Michigans early pioneers, and to this union have been born the following children : William is a carpenter at Bellaire; Elbert F. is an architect at Kansas City, Missouri; Arvilla is the wife of M. F. Parker, of Standish, Michigan; Martha is the wife of Rev. O. B. Thruster, of Manhattan, Kansas; Charles S. operates a planing mill at Bellaire; Jean is now the wife of Rev. C. H. Corwin, of Detroit City, Minnesota; Edward H. is a teacher at Old Mission, Michigan; Edna who is now a teacher at Imlay City, was educated at Grand Rapids, and Olivet College.

Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.

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