Richard B Ellis


Born: County Devonshire, England – 28 Jul 1818

Died: Cable, IL – 9 May 1892

Father: Richard Ellis

Mother: Mary Ann Browning Ellis

Spouse: Drucilla Vilott Ellis


Great Great Grandfather Richard B Ellis

My 2nd great Grandfather Richard B Ellis was born in County Devonshire, England on July 28, 1818, the son of Richard Ellis and Mary Ann Browning Ellis. Richard and each of his 7 siblings had the middle initial B; in honor of their mother’s maiden name Browning.

He was educated in England and in 1832 boarded a ship with his parents and siblings and  in July 1832 arrived in Passamaquoddy, Maine.  Richard worked with his father learning the stonemason trade while building walls to protect the embankments of the first railroads in New York State.

Richard moved west and married Elizabeth Maple on Dec 3, 1844 in Laurel, Franklin County, Indiana. They had a child but Elizabeth and the baby both died before very long. The burial location of Elizabeth and their infant child is unknown but very likely is in a cemetery near or in the town of Laurel, Franklin County, Indiana as Richard Ellis remained in Laurel until 1851. Elizabeth’s parents were Stephen Maple, born in 1793 in Pennsylvania and died in 1873 near Rushville, Indiana and is buried in the East Hill Cemetery (7441635), and Sarah Elizabeth Cooper born in 1793 and died in 1843.

Richard married Drucilla Vilott on Sep 20, 1848 and the marriage license was registered in Franklin County Indiana. Their first daughter Elizabeth K ‘Lizzie’ Ellis was born March 4, 1849 in Franklin County, Indiana and was probably named in honor of Richards deceased first wife.  I venture a guess that Elizabeth was actually born March 4, 1850 as she is shown as 7 months old on the 1850 census dated Oct. 10, 1850. Or perhaps she was 1 year and 7 months in 1850.

Their second child, Flora M Ellis, was supposedly born on Feb. 23, 1850 and according to her death certificate was born in Rock Island County, Illinois. However, the 1850 Franklin County, Indiana census shows Richard, Drucilla, and Elizabeth at the age of 7 months and Flora is not yet listed as a family member. On the 1860 census Flora is listed as 8 years old and the 1870 census shows her as 18. I venture another guess that Flora was actually born on Feb. 23, 1852. The Rock Island County birth location would make more sense with an 1852 birth as the Ellis family remained in Indiana until 1851.

Richard Ellis was a stonemason and according to his obituary he was instrumental as the contractor of building two large stone churches in Davenport, Iowa in 1851, which were still standing when he died in 1892.

He moved to Rock Island County, Illinois in the year 1852, but did not remain long as he moved to Richland Grove Township in Mercer County Illinois in 1853 and bought a quarter section of land, one half of it from the government at $1.25 per acre, and occupied that land as a homestead until his death in 1892. A part of this property now forms the village of Cable, Illinois.

In 1854 Richard Ellis began a fruit raising business with some 3000 fruit trees including apples, pears, peaches and plums.

Richard Ellis opened coal mines in the Cable area in the year 1865, and out of this possession grew the long standing Ellis vs. Cable suit which for nearly 20 years occupied the attention of the courts, and which when it reached the supreme court of the United States had lost all semblance to the original proceedings, and which in the end was decided in Mr. Ellis’ favor on Feb 4, 1884.

Richard died on May 9, 1892 and was buried in the Cable Community Cemetery.


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Richard and Drucilla had a total of nine children. As previously mentioned, the first two children of Richard and Drucilla were:

--Elizabeth K ‘Lizzie’ Ellis born in 1849 or 1850 in Franklin County, Indiana. She married Milton Beers and they had 3 sons. Elizabeth died Nov. 27, 1929 in Sherrard, Mercer County, IL.

--Flora M Ellis was born Feb. 23, 1852 in Rock Island County, Illinois and married Oscar Tando. They had one daughter named Drucilla. Flora died in Chicago on May 24, 1927.

Richard and Drucilla had 7 more children while living in the Richland Grove Twp community in Illinois:

--Catherine May ‘Kate’ Ellis was born Nov. 3, 1854. She married Michael Grady and they had 4 children. Kate is buried in the Viola Cemetery in Viola, Mercer County, Illinois.

--Thomas Henry Ellis was born on Dec 6, 1856 and it is unclear when and where he died and whether he was married or had kids but he is believed to have lived into the twentieth century.

--Mary Noble Ellis was born on Jan. 9, 1859 and married Anthony Rode and they had six girls. Mary and Anthony were my great grandparents and their oldest daughter Lottie was my father’s mother.

--Elmer Ellis was born in 1861 and died in 1865 and is buried in the Cable Cemetery.

--Curtis Edgar Ellis Sr. was born on June 9, 1862. He married Cora Gitt and they had 5 children. Curtis was a coal miner and died at the age of 84 on Oct. 7, 1946.

--Lottie L. Ellis was born in July 1868 and died in Feb. 1891 at the age of 22 and is buried in the Cable Cemetery.

--Albert J. Ellis was born on Nov. 17, 1870 and married Sarah Lawson in 1892. They have 3 girls. Albert is buried in the Viola Cemetery in Mercer County, IL.

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Obituary – Rock Island, IL – The Argus dated 10 May 1892

The Last Sleep

R.B. Ellis, of Cable Passes to His Rest

Demise of One Who Was for Years a Prominent Citizen of Rock Island and Mercer Counties

Richard B Ellis died at his home at Cable at 4:30 yesterday afternoon from the effects of a stroke of paralysis, which he suffered April 14, his death having been momentarily expected for several days.

Mr. Ellis was one of the best-known citizens of Rock Island and Mercer counties. He was born near Devonshire, England, July 28, 1818, and graduated there at the age of 12 years, when he came to this country with his parents, landing in New York where he worked with his father at the stone mason trade, building many miles of wall to protect the embankment of their first railroads. When the western fever broke out he set out for the wilds of Indiana, where he was married at a place called Loral, but his married life was soon cut short by the death of his wife and child. He afterwards married Miss Drusilla Vilott and moved to Warsaw, Ill., about the year 1851. The mother’s sir name being Browning, all the children of that family were given the honors of her name, hence the initial B. He then moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he was instrumental as the contractor of two large stone churches which stand as monuments to this day. He moved to Rock Island in the year 1852, but did not remain long, but moved to Richland Grove township, Mercer county, and there bought a quarter section of land, one have of it from the government at $1.25 per acre, and has occupied that land as a homestead ever since, a part of which now forms the village of Cable.

He opened the coal mines there in the year 1865, and out of his possession grew the long standing Ellis vs. Cable suit which for 30 years occupied the attention of the courts, and which when it reached the supreme court of the United States had lost all semblance to the original proceedings, and which in the end was decided in Mr. Ellis’ favor.

Mr. Ellis was originally a member of the Church of England, later a Universalist, but for many years had been a staunch advocate of and believer in the theories of spiritualism.

He was a man of noble deeds, being of a kindly disposition toward all and died with the good will of those who best knew him.

He leaves a wife and seven children, namely, T. H. and C. B. of Rock Island; Albert J and Mrs. Elizabeth Beers, Mrs. Flora Tandy, Mrs. Kate Grady and Mrs. Mary Rode, of Cable, Ill.; also two brothers and one sister, T.B, of Cable, N. B. of Cairo, Ill., and Charlotte B. Hill of Warsaw, Ill, besides a number of other relatives and friends, many of whom live in this city. 

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