Grigsby, William (Willis) H.

Born: 1838-10-28 Missouri

Died: 1923-02-12 Washington, DC

Flourished: 1846 to 1858 Pekin, Illinois

William (Willis) H. Grigsby was born near Springfield, Missouri and relocated with his parents to the area of Pekin, Illinois after his father purchased a farm there in 1846. Grigsby labored on his family’s farm through his teen years, then worked in a machine shop and in the engineer corps of the Illinois River Railroad Company while he prepared himself for college. He traveled as a book agent and was employed by a bookseller in Pekin in 1858, when he unsuccessfully petitioned to read law in the offices of Lincoln & Herndon, having studied previously in an unidentified law office. About this time Grigsby also pursued studies at the Illinois State Normal University. He worked as a newspaper editor and printer in the 1860s, working in the office of the Bloomington Pantagraph just prior to the election of 1860, and was in New York City the following year pursuing a career as a minister and a journalist. Grigsby registered for the draft in Lee County, Iowa in 1863 and reportedly served in the Union Army. By his own account, Grigsby was wounded and captured during the Civil War. Despite his early interest in a legal career, Grigsby did not complete his education until after the Civil War, when he earned a degree in theology at Saint Lawrence University. In politics, Grigsby was a Republican and a supporter of the Union.

[William H. Grigsby], Genealogy of the Grigsby Family, in Part Including a Brief Sketch of the Porter Family (n.p.: William H. Grigsby, 1878; repr., Chicago: Robert Hall McCormick, 1905), 5-6; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Pekin, Tazewell County, IL, 112; William H. Grigsby to Abraham Lincoln; William H. Grigsby to Lincoln & Herndon; William H. Grigsby to Abraham Lincoln; U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 (Lehi, UT: Operations, 2010); Quinquennial Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers and Graduates and of Students Not Graduates of the Saint Lawrence University 1856-1890 (Canton, NY: Saint Lawrence University, 1890), 19; The Evening Star (Washington, DC), 15 February 1923, 9:4; Washington, D.C., U.S., Glenwood Cemetery Records, 1854-2013 (Lehi, UT: Operations, 2020).