Belonging to a military strain active in the service of their country at different times and places, losing an uncle at the battle of Tippecanoe, and himself a valiant soldier in the Civil war, William H. Wilkinson, of Garfield county, now prosperously engaged in raising fruit and live stock on a fine ranch located some eight miles east of Parachute, has shown, as have other members of his family, the same patriotic spirit when the integrity of the land was threatened in war as he has exhibited by his useful and productive industry in times of peace. He was born February 28, 1837, in Illinois, not far from Peoria, where his parents, Aaron and Sarah (Harlan) Wilkinson, settled on arriving from their native Virginia and Ohio, respectively, in 1835. They were well-to-do farmers and ended their days there, the father dying in 1894, at the age of eighty-two, and the mother in 1901, aged eighty-seven. Her father, Moses Harlan, was a prominent man in his section and served at times in the Illinois legislature. William, the second of the eleven children in the family, was reared to manhood on the paternal homestead and at the breaking out of the Civil war was attending Lombard College at Galesburg, in his native state. After the riot in Baltimore on April 19, 1861, he promptly enlisted in Company A, Second Light Artillery of Illinois, under Captain Davidson, for a term of three years. He saw much hard and dangerous service and participated in a number of important engagements, among them the battles of Pea Ridge, Champion Hills, Black River Bridge, Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay, and the siege of Vicksburg. At the first he was overcome by the heat and suffered a severe sunstroke, from which, however, he seems to have suffered no serious permanent injury. Being mustered out of service on September 14, 1864, he turned his attention again to farming in Illinois, where he remained until 1867, when he came to Colorado and settled at Boulder. After a residence of three years there he moved to Summit county and followed prospecting and gulch mining for some time. He then formed a partnership with Edwin Carter for the purpose of making a collection of birds and animals. They succeeded in getting a valuable collection together, which is now one of the choice contributions to the study of natural history at Denver, but on account of the state of his health Mr. Wilkinson was obliged to abandon the enterprise and he sold his interest in the work and bought the ranch on the Grand river on which he now lives. This was in 1882, and since then he has made his home here and been actively engaged in raising live stock and fruit. He was married in 1890 to Mrs. Catharine (Willet) Robeson, of New Jersey, a widow with two children, Fannie and Charles. Mr. Wilkinson belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, holding his membership in Marion W. Reed Post, No. 108, at Rifle. When he came into this country the means of transportation were crude and primitive. All supplies and every kind of commodity had to be brought in from Grand Junction, a distance of fifty miles, on pack animals, and the conveniences of life in the neighborhood were equally crude and primitive, so that he and his early companions had their share of hardships and privations, and know how to appreciate at full value the better advantages and enjoyments now prevalent in this section under its rapid progress and development.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.