Ross, William

Born: 1792-04-24 Monson, Massachusetts

Died: 1873-05-31 Atlas, Illinois

Flourished: 1854-12-15 Pittsfield, Illinois

Ross and his family moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1805. When the War of 1812 broke out, he joined the 21st U.S. Regiment as an ensign-lieutenant. He also became heavily involved in recruiting and led troops at the Battle of Sackett's Harbor. In 1820, Ross set out for Illinois, where he founded Pike County. His first wife died during his first year in Illinois, and he soon married Edna Adams. Ross had four children. He settled in the town of Atlas, which he also founded, built a mill, and became fairly wealthy. He served in several local offices, including county probate judge, circuit court clerk, and colonel in the state militia. Ross raised and led a company during the Black Hawk War and won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1835 and then to the Illinois Senate in 1836, where he remained until 1842. He founded the first bank in Pike County, William Ross & Co., in 1855 and it remained active until the Panic of 1857. He also served as a trustee for the Illinois State Asylum and Hospital for the Insane. Ross knew Abraham Lincoln and visited him several times in Washington, D.C. Initially a Whig, Ross joined the Republican Party and served as vice president of the Bloomington Convention and as a delegate to the Chicago Convention. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Pittsfield.

M. D. Massie, Past and Present of Pike County, Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1906), 222-27; Reports of the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane, 1847-1862 (Chicago: F. Fulton, 1863), 234.