ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
( 1850 - 1919 )
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born November 5, 1850, in the village of Johnstown, Rock County, Wisconsin. Her parents were Marcus H. Wheeler, and Sarah Pratt Wheeler, with three older children they had followed, "Grandsir Pratt" from Vermont in 1849.
In the spring of 1852 the Wheeler family settled in Dane County, Wisconsin in the town of Westport, where Ella grew up, in the home where she made her reputation as a writer of appealing poetry, until her marriage in 1884, when she went to Connecticut; from which state her Grandfather Wheeler had migrated to Vermont years before.
With a Great Grandfather Pratt seven years in the Revolutionary War, and his wife Elizabeth Currier of French blood; a Grandmother named Conner; a Mother, who, like most of her aunts and cousins, was addicted to the habit of composing verses, Ella had the inherited tendency; a regular family study of Shakespeare, Byron, Burns and modern poets all year round, 1849-50 doubtless added a prenatal influence, which formed the character of her ambition.
Her education was acquired in a district school, now named Ella Wheeler Wilcox School, except one short term at Wisconsin University, which was as she saw it a "waste of time."
In the years between 1865 and 1875, a strong prohibition wave was sweeping over Wisconsin. Good Tempar Lodges became numerous. Many of Ella Wheeler's earlier verses were in support of total abstinence and in opposition to booze, its makers, and its venders. Fifty-six of these were published in a volume entitled "Drops of Water." Her volume entitled "Shells" contained 119 poems--more than 175 poems and the author not 23 years old. It is doubtful if anyone knows the names of all her published poems. They were a great multitude and everyone found ardent admirers--and critics.
Her marriage in 1884 was a love match. The death of Mr. Wilcox overwhelmed her, until satisfied that she had received messages from him through her practice of Spiritualism. Then she resumed literary work, and other activities; including war work in France up to Armistice Day.
She wrote not only poetry; but did a great deal of prose writing as well. A number of her essays specifically on New Thought themes appeared in a volume entitled The Heart of New Thought. She died on October 30, 1919, at her home in Short Beach, Conn.