Mary E. Ellis
- Born: 25 Feb 1841, Yorkshire, England 2 3 5 6 7 8 9
- Marriage (1): Thomas G. Bowman on 22 Sep 1862 in IL 1 2
- Marriage (2): Robert Hitch Jr. on 22 Feb 1872 in Woodford Co., IL 2 3 4
- Died: 20 Apr 1931, El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 3 5 10
- Buried: Abt 23 Apr 1931, Evergreen Cemetery, El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 3
Obituary of Mary Ellis Hitch from the "El Paso Journal", Apr 23, 1931
Mrs. Robert Hitch Dies Death Comes to El Paso's Oldest Pioneer Lady Monday Evening - Funeral Today -- At 6:00 o'clock Monday evening Mrs. Robert Hitch answered the final summons, following an illness of many month's duration at her home on west Main Street. Mrs. Hitch had lived near and in El Paso city for nearly three-fourths of a century, coming with her parents from England to New Jersey when she was a girl 11 years old, and to Woodford county at the age of 15.
Mary E. Ellis was born to Mr. And Mrs. John Ellis in England, February 25, 1841. Early in 1852 Mr. Ellis came to America and in the summer of that year returned to England to bring his family here, landing in New York on the day that Franklin Pierce was elected president. The family first located in Somerset county, New Jersey and some four years later came west to make their home in Palestine township, Woodford county.
As a girl of 16 Mary Ellis was employed as an assistant at an inn operated by Mr. and Mrs. William M. Denman, at Bowling Green, Woodford county. Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer riding the old circuit on horseback on his way between the Metamora and the McClean county courts, always stopped at the Denman inn for dinner, and Mary Ellis waited on him at the table. In later years, she recalled her girlhood wonderment at the tall, lanky lawyer, "one of the most homely men" she had ever seen, but whose presence and storied always made him a most enjoyable and welcome guest indeed. Some of the dishes, excepting for a small blue flower design, and of good quality, fell to the ownership of Miss Ellis after the death of the Denmans and are still carefully preserved in the home where she, as an aged woman, passed away last Monday. First Marriage
Mary Ellis was united in marriage to Thomas Bowman on September 22, 1862, at her father's home southwest of El Paso, on the farm now occupied by S. H. Schwitters. Two children were born to this union, Mrs. William (Mary) Danner now residing in Dallas Center, Ia., and Mrs. John M. (Laura) DeBolt who died in February, ten years ago, Mr. Bowman died in July, 1870.
Married Robert Hitch
On February 22, 1872, Mrs. Bowman was united in marriage to Robert Hitch, the ceremony being performed by Rev. William North. Mr. Hitch is also a native of England, but the two had never met before coming to El Paso. Mr. Hitch was born February 5, 1840 and came to this country with his parents at the age of 20. Five children were born to this union, only two, Joseph and Roy both of El Paso, with their father and half-sister, Mrs. Danner, now surviving.
Those deceased are Harry T., Grace A. and Robert E. There are also thirteen grandchildren and on great-grandchild.
Some twenty-six years ago Mr. and Mrs. Hitch retired from the farm life and moved to the Major Wathen residence which they had purchased from the Wathen estate, and it was in this home where Mrs. Hitch passed away this week. The writer once heard Mrs. Hitch tell of the hardships of our pioneer life when she was a girl, and how her parents frequently had difficulty in providing even the necessities of life while they were endeavoring to acquire a home in the sparsely settled community. At that time there was no El Paso, and the family walked over the raw prairie land to Panola village in order to attend church and Sunday school. All the changes from those struggling days to the countless conveniences and privileges we enjoy today have come during the lifetime of Mrs. Hitch, who was a part of and had a part in the kaleidoscopic transition. Mrs. Hitch remembered when the first burial was made in Evergreen cemetery which had just been opened. A Mrs. Frost, traveling through this section, became ill at a rooming house, died and was buried here.
Funeral Today Funeral service swill be held from the home this afternoon at 2:00 o'clock and at 2:30 from the Methodist church of which congregation Mrs. Hitch had been a member for many years.
Mary married Thomas G. Bowman on 22 Sep 1862 in IL.1 2 (Thomas G. Bowman was born on 23 Dec 1838,3 died on 09 Jul 1870 in El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 2 3 and was buried about 12 Jul 1870 in Evergreen Cemetery, El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 3.)
Mary next married Robert Hitch Jr., son of Robert (E2) Hitch Sr. and Mary Denman, on 22 Feb 1872 in Woodford Co., IL.2 3 4 (Robert Hitch Jr. was born on 05 Feb 1840 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England,2 4 5 11 12 13 14 died on 31 Jul 1933 in El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 3 4 and was buried about 02 Aug 1933 in Evergreen Cemetery, El Paso, Woodford Co., IL 3.)
A copy of an article from a December (8, 9 or 10) 1928 newspaper from Illinois (near El Paso) was sent to me by William H. Hitch of Ben Hill Co., Georgia in December 1994. It goes as follows:
Lincoln Had Great Appetite, Says Mrs. Robert Hitch Who as Girl of 16 Prepared Meals for the Emancipator ----------------- Several Dishes Used by Civil War President Still Treasured in the Home ----------------- (By Staff Correspondent) El Paso, Dec. 7.--Abraham Lincoln had a big appetite according to Mrs. Robert Hitch of El Paso, who prepared many meals for the Emancipator when she was just a girl and when Lincoln traveled through Central Illinois while he was practicing law.
Mrs. Hitch recalls that Mr. Lincoln wasn't "finicky" about his food. The only thing was that there would be enough of it and he liked good food. Another outstanding characteristic was that he drank great quantities of coffee. It was quite a task for the host and hostess, Mrs. Hitch says, to set a table that would satisfy his great appetite.
While on his way from the Woodford county courthouse at Metamora to the McLean county courthouse at Bloomington, Mr. Lincoln often stopped at the hotel at Bowling Green. This hotel was operated by William M. Denman and Mrs. Hitch, then Mary E. Ellis, was employed at the hotel when a girl of 16.
Caused Hurry in Kitchen.
Thus she remembers clearly, how it required a hurry and scurry in the kitchen to gather up food in large quantities whenever Mr. Lincoln tossed his saddlebags off under the trees in front of the hotel and announced himself as a guest for dinner.
Mrs. Hitch has been bedfast for some weeks now. She is 87 years old. But she still recalls Lincoln and her memory drifts back often to those early days of hard work and hardship and to the thoughts of those whom she knew then.
Mr. Hitch also knew Mr. Lincoln. One of the keepsakes he treasures is the badge he wore to the Emancipator's funeral at Springfield. The badge is a heavy ribbon on which is pinned a button with Mr. Lincoln's picture. Under the picture, on the ribbon, is printed the words, "We mourn the nation's loss, Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1865."
Oldest Man in El Paso.
Mr. and Mrs. Hitch are two of the few persons who remain in Central Illinois who knew Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Hitch is 88 years old, the oldest man in El Paso. He is in good health and walks downtown nearly every day.
As a girl, Mrs. Hitch recalls wondering at the lanky, gawky Lincoln. He was, she said, one of the most "homely" men she had ever seen. She recalls that he enjoyed talking and telling stories and that he was a most welcome guest.
"A better man never lived that Abraham Lincoln," Mrs. Hitch says. She says that he would have give his last penny to the poor.
Dishes out of which Lincoln ate at the Denman hotel are still in the possession of Mrs. Hitch. When all the members of the Denman family had died, the dishes were passed on to Mrs. Hitch who has had them for some time. The dishes are of a rather plain design with a blue figure of a flower on the outside. The pieces appear to be of good quality and age seems to have had little effect on them.
Mr. and Mrs. Hitch were both born in England. They did not know each other then but met and married in El Paso. They have been married 56 years. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. William North in 1872. Mr. Hitch came to the vicinity in 1860 when he was 20 years old. An uncle and aunt here had encouraged him to come from England. For some years he worked on a farm and then farmed for himself.
The trying times of those early days still are fresh in the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Hitch. They worked hard and times were not easy. Mrs. Hitch recalls that often they went to bed hungry.
The story of their hardships seems almost impossible as one looks about the well furnished, large home in El Paso. In addition to this large residence, they own three farms, 178 acres near Wolcott, Ind., and 160 acres in two farms west of El Paso. And Mr. Hitch calls attention to the fact that he borrowed part of the money from an uncle to come from England here. For 23 years they have lived in El Paso after retiring from the farm.
Among the incidents recalled from those early days, was that they walked to Panola to Sunday school. There were no buildings in El Paso at that time.
Mrs. Hitch recalls the first burial in the El Paso cemetery. A Mrs. Frost who traveled, became ill while staying at the hotel. She died and was buried in the cemetery that had just been opened. Her grave was east of the entrance, Mrs. Hitch says, and for years its exact location was known. With no mark over the grave, however, in later years the exact location of the plot was forgotten.
In 1870, Mr. Hitch made and extended trip through the western part of the United States. At that time he remembers having seen thousands of buffalo in herds. One of the things he prizes now is a collection of pictures and cards that are illustrations of the country he has seen in travels some years ago. Mr. Hitch has two brothers, Stephen S. Hitch, 90, of Chatsworth and Charles Hitch, 86, of Fitzgerald, Ga.