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William E. Fox, Henry County

William E. Fox was born in 1874 in New York to Robert and Elizabeth Wells Fox. Robert kept a cigar store in New York to support his wife and four children: James, William, Emma and Jessie. The Fox family were descended from English and Scottish immigrants.

William Fox was sent to Illinois in 1892, but there is no indication that his brother and sisters were also sent to Illinois. In fact, the 1900 census in New York shows that the remaining members of the Fox family were still living together. The obvious question is why did William leave the family sometime before age 18? He was too old to be a truant from school, and a young man his age could be an economic asset to the family. Did William have a criminal problem, or had he violated a rule his parents had set and afterward been left at the asylum?

William first lived with the John Minteer family, but in 1900 he was living with the Gus Grant family, tenant farmers, in Mercer County, working as a farm laborer. The Grant family also let out rooms to two coal miners who worked in Mercer County coal mines.

William married Minnie Rombold in 1906 and was living with her in Kewanee, Henry County in 1910. Minnie was a German immigrant. William was working as a steward in a club in Kewanee from 1910 to 1920, which was probably a rather low paying job. Their daughter Jessie was born in 1914 and a son in 1922, Robert. In 1930 William was working as a railroad crossing guard, a sometimes hazardous job. Jessie was working as a telephone operator (at age 16). William died September 15, 1932 (no obituary could be found). After his death, William's family remained together. Jessie continued to work as a telephone operator and when Robert was eighteen in 1940, he was working in a "leather room" and had completed only an 8th grade education. Jessie had completed her first year of high school.


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