Music on this page is Overture from "Elijah" (oratorio) OP. 70 by Mendelssohn


Edward F. W. Ellis

The Man, The Mason and The War Hero

By: Stephen T. Aarli, P.M.


Star In The East Lodge #166 A. F. & A. M.

Rockford, Illinois

April 19, 1999

Revised July 8, 2002

Copyright 2002

By: Stephen T. Aarli

All Rights Reserved




Edward Fortescue Warrington Ellis, the son of Ebenezar and Hadassah (Craft) Ellis, was born on April 15, 1819 in the small town of Jay, Maine, a few miles south of Farmington. His parents, Ebenezer Ellis III and Hadassah Craft, who were early settlers in this part of Maine, were married on April 8, 1815 in Jay, Franklin County, Maine.

His mother was the daughter of Lt. Moses and Hadassah (Mills) Craft who were married on October 21, 1779 in Newton, Mass. After coming to Jay, Moses Craft became very active in town politics. Moses Craft was the son of Samuel and Rebeckah Craft.

The Ellis family came from a long line dating back to John Ellis Sr. born in England November 28, 1596 and was married to Blandina Masterson. They had a son named John Ellis Jr. born on April 2, 1623 in London England. He married Elizabeth Freeman of England August 20, 1645. One of their sons was Edmund Freeman Ellis born about 1661/2 in Rochester, Mass. Edmund married Mercy Winslow about 1686 in Sippican, Ma. One of their sons was Gideon Ellis born February 5, 1700 he married Anna Clark February 11,1719 in Sandwich, Ma. Their son, Ebenezer, was born May 27, 1729 in Sandwich, Ma. He and his wife Hannah were married about 1756. They also had a son named Ebenezer who was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia January 15, 1763. He and his wife Lydia Scott were married December 18, 1788. This Ebenezer was a ship Captain and died along with his crew in the winter of 1799 off Nantucket Shoals. In March of 1800 Lydia Ellis sold all of their property in Cheboque and with her five children returned to her fathers home in Minot, Maine. Their son Ebenezer, Edwards father, was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on September 19, 1789 and died on December 4, 1840.

There were eight children born to the marriage of Ebenezar and Hadassah Ellis. They were William Philander Ellis born January 24, 1816 and died on June 9, 1835; Mary Strickland Ellis who was born on October 23, 1817 (she would marry a John Elviny Stacey {born 12/2/1807} on July 19, 1837); Edward Fortescue Warrington Ellis born April 15, 1819 and died on April 6, 1862; Hadassah Mills Ellis born November 4, 1821 and died on March 26, 1838; Sarah Holland Ellis born August 8, 1824; Ebenezar Van Buren Ellis born January 17, 1830; Elizabeth Helen Ellis born August 8, 1832 and died on May 23, 1835 and Helen Elizabeth Ellis born February 20, 1838 and died on December 12, 1840. These children were born in Jay or Canton, Maine. When the county line separating Oxford and Franklin Counties was redrawn, the city of Jay was split, creating a new city of Canton, located in Oxford County with Jay staying in Franklin County. After the death of his father, Ebenezer, on Dec. 4, 1840, his mother remarried on June 16, 1846 to John Kelsey of Jay, Maine.

During the year of 1838 at the young age of nineteen, he moved west to the small but thriving town of Felicity, Clermont County, Ohio which is southeast of Cincinnati. At the time of his arrival, Felicity was since the early 1800's, a thriving center of industrial, commercial and agricultural activity due to its close proximity to Bullskin Creek which flows into the Ohio River about five miles to the south of town. Bullskin Creek was navigable by small boats which helped make Felicity the second most important population center in the county at that time.

On October 23, 1842 Edward Ellis and Miss Harriett N. Ortus were married by Mr. W. B. Utler a local Justice of the Peace. There were three children born to this marriage. They were Emma Ellis born Jan. 10, 1838 and died a few days later on Jan. 21, 1838; Ann Ellis born April 2, 1843 and passed away on June 11, 1849 and Mary S. Ellis who was born on May 16, 1844 but sadly died on Jan. 7, 1845. His wife Harriett passed away on Feb. 12, 1845, possibly due to complications from the birth of her last child.

Edward Ellis was busy in many fields of employment. He read law under a Mr. Alonzo Knowles who practiced law in Felicity between the years of 1828 and 1852. During the 1840'S Edward Ellis was a popular schoolteacher. While he was teaching, there was a young seventeen year old student of his named Lucy Ann Dobynes whom he took quite an interest in. Lucy was the daughter of John and Sally (Pepper) Dobynes. She was a native of Minerva, Kentucky and was born on December 7, 1828. Eventually, they fell in love and the story has it they eloped and were married on August 2, 1845 in Brown County, Ohio.

In 1844 and 1845 he served as clerk to the trustees of Franklin Township where Felicity was located. By 1846, he apparently began practicing law and in July of 1847 was appointed school examiner for Franklin Township by the Clermont County Common Pleas Court.

In 1849 gold fever was spreading throughout the country. "Go West Young Man" was the catch phrase going through the minds of both young and old. So it only seemed right that this was the next adventure for this young man to pursue. Leaving behind a secure livelihood as a teacher, clerk and promising lawyer, he left Felicity to seek fame and fortune in the gold mines of California. He arrived in California by way of Panama and the Chagrees River and settled in Nevada City, which is located in Nevada County, California. This county was formed in 1851 from a part of Yuba County, which is northeast of Sacramento. With little or no success in prospecting, he opened a mercantile business. Success eluded him again when a major fire destroyed his business and left him $5000.00 in debt as a result.

Prospecting and other forms of retail business brought thousands of people to the area. As can be expected during this time of rapid growth, disputes over mining claims and water rights were the abounding incentive for legal strife for many years. Not loosing his resolve, he began practicing law with much success. He was described as being tall, bold, clear headed, fearless, of powerful frame, yet well respected by all who knew him. It is said that had he stayed in California, he would have made his mark there even beyond his expectations.

One of the many personal exploits that have been preserved about Mr. Ellis the lawyer, is the time he was trying a case in the old court room on Broad Street opposite the present National Hotel, in which he commented with great severity on the testimony of a Dr. W. (?). The doctor was a Tennesseean, an airy man and very punctilious on the point of honor. As Ellis addressed the jury, a long bar table stood between him and the body of the courtroom. Looking around at some exclamation in the auditorium, he saw Dr. W.(?) draw a pistol and make towards him. Ellis at once drew from his breast pocket a knife about a foot long, leapt over the table at a bound and went for him. Dr. W (?) made a rush to escape and never stopped until he got into the street. When Ellis returned, he calmly concluded his speech to the jury. It is not surprising then that in 1851 Mr. Ellis was elected to serve in the third session of the California State House of Representatives as a member of the Whig Party representing Nevada County. During his short tenure, he sponsored eight Acts and nine Resolutions. One concerning divorce, two were in regards to the Nevada City charter and one bill, which subsequently passed, granting property rights to the women of California. He also vehemently opposed slavery and was highly lauded for his efforts. During his stay in California, he met two men from Rockford, Illinois named Charles Spafford and Dr. D. G. Clark and they became friends. Mr. Spafford and Dr. Clark tried to encourage Ellis to return to Rockford with them, but he declined. With about six months left in his term as State Representative, he was granted a leave of absence on April 2, 1852 and returned home to his wife in Felicity, Ohio. It is not certain what occupation he pursued on his return home.

Between the years of 1846 and 1848, there were three sons born to Edward and Lucy. Charles Henry was born on September 26, 1846 and died on August 9, 1850. Clifton and Warrington were born on September 6, 1848. Clifton died on Feb. 20,1849 but Warrington died at birth. On September 26, 1853 Edward and Lucy were blessed with the birth of their first daughter, named Clara Blanche Ellis. She would grow up to accomplish many great civic activities in the field of music. Towards the end of 1854 or beginning of 1855 at the age of 35, Edward decided to take up the offer of the two friends he met in California and moved his young family to Rockford, Illinois. Upon his arrival, he acquired five and one half acres of land on the northeast corner of West State and Tay Streets. This property was later transferred to the Dr. W. H. Fitch family. Eventually, he met up with his two California friends and they formed the Spafford, Clark and Ellis Banking and Exchange Company. Besides the banking business, he was also listed as a lawyer in Rockford.

In 1855, steps were taken to organize a fire department for the city of Rockford, Illinois. The City Council appointed a committee to purchase the necessary fire equipment. Edward Ellis was appointed the first Chief Engineers of the fire department, serving from November 26 to December 31, 1855.

On February 14, 1857, an act of the Legislature was approved to incorporate the Rockford Wesleyan Seminary. It was to be a co-educational school in Rockford under the control of the Methodist Episcopal Church with Edward Ellis, T. D. Robertson, D. W. Tickman and W. F. Stewart as the incorporators. On April 29, 1857, 216 acres of land was purchased on the northwest side of Rockford from a Mr. William M. Rowland. Ground breaking ceremonies took place on August 31, 1857. Unfortunately this project soon failed due to economic hard times and the property was reverted back to farm use.

As his business ventures grew so did his family. On Sept. 4, 1855 his wife gave birth to their second daughter Alma Hortense Ellis who would grow up and marry a local resident by the name of Dr. Henry C. Fisher on June 24, 1874. He was employed as a dentist as well as the Sexton, at what is now known as Greenwood Cemetery. They had three children named Pearl Blanche Fisher who was born in 1876 and died on September 6, 1963; Walter Charles Fisher who was born in 1879 and died on December 14, 1932 and Hazel May Fisher who was born on May 14, 1882 and died on April 15, 1885. They were living in St. Louis, Mo. when these children were born. Eventually, Alma and her husband moved to Pasadena, California, where Alma passed away on July 11, 1936. On August 1, 1893, while Alma and her two surviving children were on a pleasure trip in Europe, her husband passed away very suddenly while he was staying in Saint Louis, Missouri. His remains were returned to Rockford for burial in the Ellis family plot in Greenwood Cemetery.

On Nov. 22, 1857 a third daughter was born by the name of Minnie. Sadly she passed away on September 25, 1860. On June 22, 1859 the Ellis' first son was born. His name was Edward F. W. Ellis. In 1871 following the disbandment of the Forest City Baseball Club, he is listed as having played ball for a local ball club under the direction of a Mr. Spalding who became well known for producing quality baseballs. On December 17, 1881 Edward Jr. would marry a Miss Ada Bell Linderman. Sometime during 1886 he and his wife were separated and she and their child left Rockford for Waukegan, Illinois to live with her father. While in Rockford, Edward Junior lived and practiced dentistry in his home at 305 North Court Street. Eventually he moved to New York then to Philadelphia where he passed away on May 12, 1914.

The last Ellis child, Walter Clifton Ellis, was born on March 21, 1862. He passed away on February 18, 1875 of suffusion of the brain while attending Berthler Grammer School near Montreal.

Mrs. Ellis passed away on June 17, 1901, due to complications of pneumonia, at the age of 72, while staying with her daughter, Alma, in Pasadena, California. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, as well as five of their eight children, are buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. The first three are buried in Felicity, Ohio. Alma, Clara and Edward were baptized by Reverend John H. Vincent and Walter by Rev. Warrington on June 21, 1862 at Court Street Methodist Church in Rockford, Illinois. Both Edward and Lucy joined this church on Feb. 4, 1855. Lucy served as a Sunday school teacher there in the early 1860'S. They later withdrew their membership from this church.

A one line note to Postmaster General William Dennison dated March 3, 1865, from President Lincoln one month before his death stating: "Please see Mrs. Ellis and file her papers which are within." She was hoping to become the next Post Master of Rockford, Illinois. But the position was given to Anson S. Miller instead of Lucy.

Sometime after the death of her husband, Col. Ellis, Mrs. Ellis stayed with her son Edward in his home at 305 N. Court St., then lived in a nice home located at 505 N. Rockton. At this home on Jan. 1, 1874, her daughter, Clara Blanche Ellis, was married to Chandler Starr. He was a graduate of East Hampton College in Massachusetts. He then joined his father's bank, The Winnebago National Bank, which later merged with the Rockford National Bank in 1921. At the time of his death he was vice president and director of the Rockford Trust Company. His father was a pioneer settler and banker here in Rockford. Blanche, as she was commonly called, graduated from the music department of the Rockford Female Seminary, now known as Rockford College, at the age of sixteen. During her studies in college, she became so proficient on the pipe organ, that upon graduation she was hired as the organist and choir director at the Second Congregational Church here in Rockford, Illinois. On October 4, 1884 Blanche and twenty other local women organized The Mendelssohn Club, which she served as its first president for nearly forty years. Blanche and her husband, Chandler, Starr, eventually purchased several lots on Summer Street and about 1905 built a grand home, located at 405 Summer Street. This home was the site of many festive gatherings, as the Starr family hosted many important people in the music world and sponsored many musical programs. In the 1950's the home was purchased by The Most Reverend Loras T. Lane, Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford, for the Diocese to use as church related offices, only to be demolished on May 21, 2001 due to its declining condition and lack of funds to make the needed repairs. In 1891 Henry Nevins Starr, Chandler’s brother, was elected to a two year term as Mayor of Rockford, Ill. Chandler Starr passed away on October 9, 1930 after a fourteen month battle of complications, as a result of a stroke. Blanche survived him by several years, passing away on June 25, 1943. They blessed the community of Rockford with many musical legacies, which Rockford is still enjoying today. Blanche and Chandler had one daughter named Norma, who was born on Dec. 28, 1878 and would grow up and marry a local resident named William S. Miller, who was employed as a cashier at the Peoples Bank in Rockford. Norma (Starr) Miller was active in the Rockford Chapter of the Junior League of Red Cross in the early 1900's, as well as the Ragazza club and the Mendelssohn Club. They owned a home at 1911 Clinton Street, where they raised their two sons, named Chandler Starr Miller and William Forbes Miller. Chandler Starr Miller, who was born on July 29, 1908 would marry Francis Margaret Frisbie on June 15, 1940. They lived at 206 Franklin Place in Rockford and he was employed by Barber Colman Co. They had two children named Norma Starr Miller and Leigh Allen Frisbie Miller. William Forbes Miller was born on Dec. 12, 1910 and married Elizabeth Ann Kelley June 3, 1939. They had three children named William Forbes Miller Jr, James Trimble Miller and Charles Trimble Miller. They later moved to Orange, Va. where William died on Jan. 29, 1985.

On a side note Mr. John Howard, a past president of Rockford College, his great grand father, John Pells Manny, was married to Chandler Starr's sister, Florida Starr, and still resides in Rockford, Illinois. Leigh Allen Frisbie Miller of Omaha, Nebraska is the great grandson of Blanche and Chandler Starr.

Edward F. W. Ellis, The Mason

In 1839 a charter was granted to form Union Lodge #102 later renamed Felicity Lodge in Felicity, Ohio. Sometime between 1840 and 1842 Edward Ellis received the degrees of Freemasonry, presumably in Felicity Lodge. From 1842 to 1844 he served as secretary of Felicity Lodge #102 and was elected as its Worshipful Master in 1848. He is listed as one of the founding members of Orion Chapter #41 Royal Arch Masons, serving as its first High priest in 1849. Upon his return from California in 1852 he was initiated into Connell Council #18 Royal and Select Masons on June 8, 1852. This council was chartered in April of 1851. He sat in various chairs Pro Tempore during the next two years. On June 15, 1854 he made a motion to loan Council funds to Companions at an interest rate of at least six percent. His last visit to Connell Council #18 was on September 12, 1854 at which time he served on a committee.

During the time he was living in California from 1849 until 1852, a charter was granted from the Grand lodge of Wisconsin (the Grand lodge of California was not formed yet) to form Lafayette Lodge F. & A. M. in Nevada City with Worshipful Bro. Ellis as its Master. Unfortunately, in March of 1851 a fire destroyed the lodge hall and all of its records. On Tuesday May 6, 1851 the Grand Lodge of California was in session at Sacramento. There were seven lodges represented as well as fourteen Past Masters present. During the afternoon session a new charter was issued to the members of Lafayette Lodge changing the name to Nevada Lodge #13 F. & A. M. During this session of Grand Lodge he was appointed to the finance committee. He is listed in their proceedings as Senior Grand Warden as well as a Grand Lecturer for the Nevada District. In the May 1853 Grand Lodge Journal of Proceedings W. Bro. Ellis is listed as having been stricken from the roll for nonpayment of dues from Nevada Lodge Number 13.

In the late fall of 1854 or beginning of 1855, Brother Ellis and his young family moved to Rockford, Illinois. He is listed as receiving demits from Felicity Lodge #102 on December 29, 1854; from Orion Chapter #41 on January 1, 1855 and Connell Council #18 on December 12, 1854. Shortly after his arrival in Rockford, he and about a dozen local Masons petitioned the Grand Lodge of Illinois to from a new lodge in Rockford, Illinois. With the blessings and recommendations of Rockford Lodge #102 A. F. & A. M., a dispensation was granted to form Star In The East Lodge U.D. on February 12, 1855, with Worshipful Brother Edward F. W. Ellis, Master; Bro. Robert H. Cotton, Senior Warden, and Brother William M. Bowdoin, Junior Warden. By-law's for the Lodge were adopted and this new Lodge set to work. The Lodge met for several years on West State Street. The Charter constituting Star In The East Lodge #166, A. F. & A. M. was signed by Most Worshipful Brother James L. Anderson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, and was received and recorded in the lodge’s minutes on October 12, 1855. Worshipful Brother Ellis served as Master during the years of 1855, 56, 57, 59 and 1860.

On December 2, 1859 a petition was received and due, to an emergency that required the petitioner to leave the state soon, the committee reported and a ballot was spread and found clear. A dispensation was requested and received to confer the degrees in less than usual time. On December 9, 1859 the candidate was present and received his First and Second degrees on the same night! On December 12, 1859 he was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.

On June 3, 1859 there was a Masonic trial for a Brother Seth Chellis, who had served as Master in 1858 and was indefinitely suspended for unmasonic conduct for receiving money under false pretenses, he was later expelled.

On a happier occasion, a Brother William Hulin presented Worshipful Brother Ellis with a small jewel as a testimonial of the Lodge's appreciation for all that he had done for the Lodge. This was presented to Brother Ellis on Feb. 22, 1858. This jewel, a keystone, was returned to the Lodge in 1964 by Mr. Chandler Starr Miller and William Forbes Miller, great grandsons of Edward Ellis.

Edward F. W. Ellis, The War Hero

The strife that had been building for some months eventually evolved into this nation's civil war or great rebellion, which would divide families, cities and even the country, over loyalties as to what was good and what was bad for the nation and would eventually evolve into the issue of slavery.

On Tuesday April 23, 1861 the following announcement appeared in "The Democrat" a local newspaper in Rockford: "UNION MASS MEETING! Citizens of Winnebago, LET US MEET THE CRISIS LIKE MEN! The citizens of Winnebago County, without distinction of party, are requested to meet at the Court House in Rockford on Wednesday April 24, 1861 at 1 o'clock p. m. for the purpose of holding council together and adopting such measures as in their judgment the present alarming crisis demands, and properly responding to the President in his call for support to the General Government. A full attendance from all the Towns in the County is anxiously desired". Dated April 17, 1861. E. F. W. Ellis, S. M. Church and L. F. Warner, Committee.

The Fifteenth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry was raised under the "Ten Regiment Act" in the First Congressional District. This Regiment was organized at Camp Scott in Freeport, Illinois and sworn in on May 24, 1861 for a three-year enlistment. Company "C" of Winnebago County known as the "Ellis Rifles", was Edward Ellis' Company. Each company elected their own officers and Edward Ellis was elected as their Captain. When the Company arrived at Freeport, Illinois he was elected Lt. Colonel of the 15th Illinois Regiment. After organizing and drilling in Freeport, they proceeded to Alton, Illinois for six more weeks of training. In time, they left for various parts of Missouri and then moved by rail to Rolla, Missouri where they arrived in time to cover General Sigel's retreat from Wilson’s Creek and eventually marched to Otterville, Missouri and there went into winter quarters on December 26, 1861.

While the regiment was in camp at Jefferson Barracks, located about ten miles south of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the soldiers of the 15th Illinois wrote to a friend relating some of their recent activities. The letter was started on August 12, 1861 and went on to say, "According to the officers the regiment would not be divided again." On three occasions General Pope had ordered the regiment to leave and they would not go. "The orders first came to Col. Ellis who was lying in his tent asleep. They awakened him and read the orders to him. He turned over on his couch and remarked that they might go to hell with their orders he would not go with the men until they had Minnie rifles as had been promised them and their pay and the whole regiment were again together."

Before his Regiment left Missouri there appeared to have been a question concerning his leadership. He was in command of the First Brigade, First Division of the Army in Central Missouri. A charge of "Conduct Grossly Unmilitary and Dangerous to the safety and discipline of his Command" for calling off all of their guards and leaving the whole Brigade exposed to possible surprise by the enemy for several days. It seems that the weather was such that he had been trying to receive orders to move his troops to a more sheltered area. Not being able to get an answer to his request, he took it upon himself to order his troops to move to a more hospitable area. An Aide took exception to this and said he would be reported and could suffer serious trouble. This was reported as happening between the first and seventh of January 1862. What became of these charges is uncertain. On January 2, 1862 he was granted a twenty-five day leave to come home to take care of some financial and business problems. Trust and faith in his leadership must not have been too severely damaged as a result of these charges, as he returned to continue in the command of his Regiment. On February 1, 1862 the Regiment marched to Jefferson City, thence by rail to Saint Louis where they embarked on transports for Fort Donnellson in time to take part in its surrender.

The 15th Illinois Regiment was then assigned to Colonel James C. Veatch's Second Brigade of Brigadier General Stephen A. Hurlbut's "Fighting Fourth Division" which was part of Major General U. S. Grant's "Army of the Tennessee". After the surrender of Fort Donnellson, General Grant ordered General Hurlbuts 4th Division to proceed to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, arriving there on March 15, 1862, they being one of the first regiments to arrive at that historic battlefield where the battle of Shiloh would take place on Sunday and Monday April 6 and 7, 1862. Their campground was about a mile and a quarter west of the Landing and about a mile and a half north of the Shiloh meeting house near a place called the cavalry field.

On April 3, 1862 Lt. Col. Ellis wrote home to his family "At Corinth, eighteen miles from us, the enemy are entrenching a large force and propose to make a stand there. If we whip them at Corinth they will have no place to fall back. We shall do it of course. I send some peach and apple blossoms, but doubt if they go safe."

Lucius W. Barber of Company "D" 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in his Army memoirs, gave this recollection of Colonel Ellis on April 4th just before the battle. "Before Colonel Ellis dismissed us that night, he made us a speech. It always seemed to me as though that sounded the knell of his own doom. He went on to state his connection with the regiment, how pleasant it had been, how he loved it and how proud he was of it. He prophesied the coming battle, exhorted us to do our duty in every emergency. He closed with an affecting appeal, which brought tears to many eyes. Did he then have a presentment of his fate? Brave and good man! Illinois sent no better man to the field than Lt. Col. Edward F. W. Ellis."

Early in the morning of April 6, 1862 the Confederate forces led by Generals Polk, Hardee and Breckenridge attacked Union General Sherman’s camps at the Shiloh Meeting House. His right flank was eventually driven back to the north-west towards the Review Field while his left flank was pushed back to the northeast towards an area that later became known as the "Hornets Nest." At about 7:30 in the morning, General Sherman sent word to General Hurlbut that he needed reinforcements to help support his faltering right flank. General Hurlbut (from Belvidere, Ill.) ordered Colonel Veatch’s Second Brigade, which consisted of the 14th, 15th, 46th Illinois and 25th Indiana Regiments, to go to General Sherman’s aid. At about 9:00 A. M. Veatch’s Second Brigade fell in behind Colonel C. Carroll Marsh’s 11th, 20th, 45th and 48th Illinois Regiments and Colonel Julius Raith’s 43rd and 49th Illinois Regiments. These regiments were supported by Schwartz’s (Lt. Nispel) Battery E, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery, Behr’s (Norton) 6th Indiana Battery and Mc Allister’s Battery D, 1st Illinois Light Artillery. These troops were positioned at the southeast corner of the Corinth and Hamburg Purdy Roads.

When Veatch’s brigade arrived, he found the firestorm of battle raging in full force and confusion running rampant on all sides. The 15th Illinois commanded by Lt. Colonel Edward F. W. Ellis was placed on the far right flank supporting Col. Raith’s Command, located in the northwest corner of the Review field with the 46th Illinois in the center, and the 14th Illinois on the far left. As the Confederate troops of Colonel Robert Russell’s First Brigade, Brig. General Alexander Stewart’s Second Brigade of the First Corps and Brig. General Sterling Wood’s Third Brigade of the Third Corps attacked this position, troops from Capt. Behr’s 6th Indiana Battery, Lt. Nispel’s Battery E, 2nd Illinois Artillery and Colonel Raith’s regiments gave way sending horses and mules bolting through Veatch’s line creating disorder in all the ranks behind them. Much of the burden then fell on Veatch’s right flank, where the 15th Illinois had been uncovered by the rout. By this time, the Confederate forces were not only directly in front of Col. Ellis’ Regiment, but were also pressing onto their right flank. Lt. Col. Ellis, who was acting Colonel at the time was standing on a log, watching with eager eyes, the movements of the enemy. A minnie ball had passed through his wrist and while Lt. Smith tied a handkerchief around it, Colonel Ellis continued giving orders as though nothing had happened. He was shouting for his regiment to stand firm when an unerring shot pierced his noble heart and from this stormy battle his spirit burst its bonds and joined the martyred hosts of liberty in the light of heaven. His Major (Goddard) was shot through the head and all but two Captains were down when the Regiment went to the rear in disorder. Officer casualties were heavy during the battle, with Col. Ellis, Major Goddard (of Lena, Il.), Capt. Holden Brownell (a member of Star In The East Lodge #166 with Col. Ellis) of Company "C" were all killed at some point between 9:30 and 10:30 A.M. The bodies of Colonel Ellis and Major Goddard were buried together not far from their campgrounds and were later recovered along with Captain Brownell. The remains of Col. Ellis and Capt. Brownell were returned home to Rockford and Major Goddard to Lena, Illinois.

At the Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tennessee, there is a monument commemorating the 15th Illinois Regiment. A bronze tablet mounted on the monument has the following inscription:

Commanded By:

1. Lt. Col. E. F. W. Ellis, Killed
2. Major Wm. R. Goddard, Killed
3. Capt. Louis D. Kelley

This Regiment was attacked on this line about 9:30 A. M. April 6, 1862 and offered most stubborn resistance for more than one hour, the enemy attacking both front and flank. In this action both field officers and several line officers were lost. The Regiment retired in good order and formed a new line. Its loss in battle was 5 officers and 44 men killed; 8 officers and 109 men wounded; Total: 166.

In his Official Report for the Battle of Shiloh to Captain Smith D. Atkins, Assistant Adjutant General of the Fourth Division, dated April 10, 1862, Colonel Veatch commanding the 2nd Brigade, Fourth Division, included the following: "The Field Officers behaved with gallantry on every occasion. Lt. Colonel Ellis and Major Goddard, of the 15th Illinois, held that Regiment steady under the terrible shock of the first attack on this Brigade and yielded not an inch till they fell. They were gallant officers and worthy men, whose places it will be difficult to supply."

The United States Government had set up a soldiers' pension to aid the widows and orphans of soldiers who served or were killed during the civil war. In July of 1862, Mrs. Ellis petitioned the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington D. C. to receive the benefits of this pension and received $30.00 a month. In 1872 she again petitioned the pension office to receive an increase, which was granted.

The Sad Home Coming

On Sunday April 20, 1862, the remains of Colonel Ellis arrived by special train and conveyed to his home, whence on Monday they were removed to the Court House, where he lay in state and was visited by hundreds of local citizens until Tuesday. The metallic coffin was decorated with flowers and garlands and upon it rested his sword and belt, plus a most striking and life like portrait of the deceased, all underneath a canopy of American flags.

At one o'clock, a procession was formed at the Court House and the remains of Col. Ellis were conveyed to the Second Congregational Church, the largest edifice in the city, which was immediately crowded and many mourners were lined outside on both sides of the street. The funeral sermon was preached by Reverend Vincent of Court Street Methodist Church, a long time friend of the Ellis'.

At the end of the service the procession was again formed in the following order: 1. Band; 2. Catholic Benevolent Society; 3. Fire Companies; 4. Clergy; 5. Hearse and Pall Bearers; 6. Wounded Officers and Soldiers in carriages; 7. City Authorities; 8. Masonic Lodges and 9. Citizens in carriages. The route to Greenwood Cemetery was lined with draped Flags and varied regalia of the different Orders and Businesses that made for a solemn and imposing appearance, with the procession being nearly a mile long. At the cemetery, the Masonic Fraternity took charge of the body and the ceremonies at the grave were conducted by Worshipful Brother Lyman F. Warner Worshipful Master of Star In The East Lodge Number 166 A. F. & A. M. of Rockford, Illinois. At 4 o'clock P. M. the remains of the schoolteacher, lawyer, state representative, businessman, loving family man, Freemason and patriot soldier were laid to rest with the usual ceremonies of the Craft.

At a Stated Meeting of Star in the East Lodge #166 held on April 14, 1862, the following resolution was drafted:

Whereas, it has pleased an all wise Providence to call our highly esteemed and worthy Brother Edward F. W. Ellis, in the full vigor of his useful manhood from labor to refreshment to that lodge on high where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.

Resolved, that as a Brother he was ever an abiding friend and kind councilor, who won our love and reverence while sojourning among us, by his prompt charity, unselfish benevolence, high minded firmness, reasonable remonstrance, well timed advice, unwearied perseverance and lucid intellect.

Resolved, that in the death of our beloved Brother we deplore the loss of a valuable, active and prominent member, one of the brightest lights of our institution, a truly good and public spirited citizen.

Resolved, that our County has lost in Col. Edward F. W. Ellis a brave, efficient and patriotic officer, true patriotism alone actuated him to enlist in the glorious cause of our Union, to help fight her battles and sustain her constitution, was his high aim; for this purpose he made pecuniary sacrifices, left family, friends, an inviting home and the state to die the death of a hero in the late fearful battle near Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Resolved, that we, as Masons, tender to the widow and orphans of our departed Brother our heartfelt condolence, in this hour of their deep affliction, assuring them of our sincerest sympathies.

Dated at Rockford, Ill., April 14, 1862. J. Gerber; C. I. Horseman; D. E. W. Andrus Committee, A. Halstead, Secretary.

Brother Ellis has indeed made a great and important impact on our community and our lives in all that he accomplished during his short time among us. To him and his family we owe much for what we have today to hold and cherish as a loving gift of their labors. For this, we will not forget, but we can only begin by saying, Thank You!

Legacies of the Ellis Family

Ellis Street in San Francisco, California is named after Edward Ellis, as well as Ellis Arts Academy and E. F. W. Ellis Masonic Lodge #633 A. F. & A. M. both located in Rockford, Illinois.

The Mendelssohn Club in Rockford, Ill. Founded by Clara Blanche (Ellis) Starr, Daughter of Edward and Lucy Ellis.
{Webmasters note} ( Mendelssohn Club is the oldest continuous community music organization in the United States with membership open to everyone who enjoys music. ) Their Web site is:

The west side elementary school built in 1868 was named after Col. Ellis and was erected in the 1500 block of West State Street in Rockford, Ill. This school was later rebuilt on Elm Street and the old school on West State Street formed the nucleus for The Saint Thomas Catholic School later known as Bishop Muldoon Catholic High School.

In 1881 there was organized in Pecatonica, Illinois a Grand Army of the Republic Post called Ellis Post #320 which was named after Lt. Col Edward Ellis.


The Starr Science Building, which houses the major science facilities at Rockford College (formerly Rockford Female Seminary) located in Rockford, Ill. is named after Blanche (Ellis) and Chandler Starr.

The following tracing of the Shiloh Battlefield depicts the area known as the Review Field just North of the Shiloh Meeting House where Col. Veatch’s 2nd Brigade fell in to support General Sherman’s retreating forces. This field was north of the church and west of the Sunken Road and "Hornets Nest". The 15th Illinois camp ground was located just to the north of the Review Field.






R. W. Bro. Robert Kalb, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge Of Illinois A. F. & A. M.

M. W. Bro. David Dresser, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge Of Ohio F. & A. M.

W. Bro. Thomas Stuck, Secretary, Felicity Lodge #102 F. & A. M. Felicity, Ohio

W. Bro. Randy Clark, Master, Felicity Lodge #102 F. & A. M. Felicity, Ohio

Felicity Lodge #102 F. & A. M. Felicity, Ohio

Star In The East Lodge #166 A. F. & A. M. Rockford, Illinois

Clermont County Probate Court, Batavia, Ohio

Clermont County Genealogical Society, Batavia, Ohio

Rockford Public Library Historical Department, Rockford, Illinois

Greenwood Cemetery, Rockford, Illinois

Ginny Heisler, Secretary, 2nd Congregational Church, Rockford, Illinois

Honorable Douglas Scott, State Representative 67th District of Illinois

Ms. Dawn L. Rodrigues, Library Technical Assistant, Calf. State Library

Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine

Nevada County Historical Society, Nevada City, California

Searls Historical Library, Nevada City, California

Mendelson Club, Rockford, Illinois

Rockford Register Republic Newspaper, Rockford, Illinois

Rockford Daily Register Gazette, Rockford, Illinois

Rockford Register (Weekly) Rockford, Illinois

California State Archives, Sacramento, California

Court Street United Methodist Church, Rockford, Illinois

Rockford Public School District #205 Rockford, Illinois

Adjutant General's Report, Volume 1 1861 - 1866 Revised

Ms. Linda Jellison, Town Clerk, Wilton, Maine

Ms. Madge E. Ames, Genealogist, Augusta, Maine

"Shiloh – In Hell Before Night" By: James Lee Mc Donough

Published By: The University of Tennessee Press

Sources Continued:

E. F. W. Ellis By: Robert Rimby Published Vol. 1 No. 3, 1977 Transactions

Illinois Lodge of Research A. F. & A. M. Bloomington, Ill.

John C. Tippet, Local Researcher, Clermont County, Ohio

"Shiloh - The Battle That Changed The Civil War" By: Larry J. Daniel

Published By: Simon and Schuster (A Touchstone Book)

Army Memoirs Of Lucius W. Barber, Co. "D" 15th Ill. Volunteer Infantry

May 24, 1861 To Sept. 30, 1865. Published in 1894 By: The M. W. Jones

Stationary and Printing, Chicago, Ill.

Letters and Memoirs of Alexander Mc Eathron During The Civil War

U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Shiloh National

Military Park, Shiloh, Tennessee

Osprey Military Campaign Series #54: Shiloh 1862 " The Death of Innocence"

By: James Arnold, Published in 1998, By Osprey Publishing, Oxford, U.K.

Dept. of the Army; U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barricks,

Carlisle, Pa.

From Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County

The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. (1905)

National Archives Trust Fund, Washington D.C.

First Church Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Family History Center

Web Site.

Report of Col. James C. Veatch, 25th Indiana Infantry, Commanding 2nd Brigade,

4th Division. April 6-7, 1862. Battle of Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh, Tn.

O.R. - Series I - Volume X/1 (S#10) April 10, 1862.

A History of Jay, Maine From Its Settlement As Phips Canada, Compiled

By Virginia Plaisted Moulton, July 1995 Penobscot Press

Mrs. Jackie Conant, Town Clerk, Canton, Maine

Reverend Monsignor David D. Kagan, J.C.L. Vicar General/Moderator of the

Curia Judicial Vicar

Mr. Stacy D. Allen, Historian, Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tennessee

Article Published in Blue and Gray Magazine, Columbus, Ohio

History of Nevada County California,

Thompson & West, Oakland, Ca. 1880

Dan Mosier, Researcher with Mines Road Books, Fremont, Ca.

Blue and Gray Magazine, Columbis, Ohio David E. Roth, Editor

Albert Donnici, Executive Assistant to the Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of

California F. & A. M.

Sources Continued:

"Shiloh: Bloody April", by Wiley Sword, Published by Morningside

"Shiloh Harsh Training Ground" by Steven E. Woodworth, Published in Americas

Civil War May 2002 Magazine (Leesburg, Va.)

Map reference "Shiloh National Military Park, Tn. Civil War Battlefield

Series. Trailhead Graphics, Inc.

Rockford College Web Site (, Rockford, Ill.

Rockford Register Star, Rockford, Ill.

This website does not speak for the Grand Lodge of Illinois or Freemasonry in general

©David Warner, 2000

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