WALTER L. WYLIE, M. D.
Of one of the old, historic and honored families of Southern Illinois Randolph county has a consistent representative in Dr. Walter L. Wylie, of Sparta. The history of the Wylie fainily for three generations back is so closely interwoven with that ot Southern Illinois that it is impossible to write even briefly of the life of Dr. Walter L. Wylie without saying something of his ancestors who have done so much for the spiritual and material uplift of Illinois.
Dr. Walter L. Wylie was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1875, being the son of Rev. William T. Wylie, whose father was Rev. Dr. Samuel Wylie, the founder of the family in Randolph county, and the famous exponent of the Covenanter faith, which he established in Southern Illinois, and he is justly termed in these parts as the “Father of the Faith.” His labors in behalf of the cause were limited only by his strength, and the best years of his life were spent among his people in Southern Illinois, where he ministered to them in body and soul.
Dr. Samuel Wylie was born in Ballyeraigie, County Antrim, Ireland. He came to the United States alone when a young man, and thereafter made his home with an uncle, Dr. Wylie, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a preacher of the Covenanter faith, to which Samuel Wylie became an ardent adherent. Dr. Wylie saw that the young man was properly educated, recognizing in him the proper timber for a benefactor of the human race, and did all in his power to properly fit his nephew for the career in which he afterwards so distinguished himself. He began his active ministry in 1811, in Illinois, and was the first minister of the Church of the Covenanters west of the Alleghany mountains. He spent the first few years of his ministry in old Kaskaskia and along the Mississippi, where he labored valiantly to establish the faith in the hearts and minds of the people. No small task was his, considering that his efforts for
the most part devoted to a people who were bound by the tenets of the church of Rome, but that he succeeded beyond his fondest expectations is amply demonstrated by conditions existing there today. After having made a beginning and having established the church securely, he made entry to a tract of land upon which he founded the old town of Eden, early famed for its intense God fearing tendencies and for its record as a second “cradle of liberty.” The life of Reverend Dr. Wylie among his people was a never failing source of inspiration to all, and his labors of love will be remembered for all time. His education fitted him for his position most admirably, being somewhat similar to the training of the modern medical-missionary, and he was an indispensable factor at every important ceremony in the lives of his people. He brought them into the world; he baptized them; he performed their marriage ceremonials and, when life was finished for them, he finally buried them. Far and wide through Southern Illinois he was known as “Priest Wylie” and his high office was performed with the most tender love and sympathy for his ever growing flock. Early in his ministry Dr. Wylie married Mary Milligan, and three children were born to them: William Theodore, John and Mary. But one was spared to them, however, William Theodore, the father of Walter B. Wylie. Dr. Wylie died in 1873, after a beautiful life of' more than four score years, sixty of which were passed in a consuming devotion to the cause of his church and his people in Southern Illinois.
William Theodore Wylie was born in old Kaskaskia, on March 4, 1827. He was sent east to be educated, and his training was conducted under the able supervision of old Dr. Wylie, who had educated the father of William Theodore Wylie. On the completion of his regular college course he entered a theological seminary at Xenia, Ohio, the precept and example of the lives of both uncle and father having inculcated in him the ambition and desire to continue in his father's labors. He entered upon his ministry in Randolph county as a preacher of the Covenanter faith and spent his life in humble devotion to duty and service of his people, in worthy emulation of his revered father. He displayed some little interest in the development of that section of the country as a mine owner, but all matters of a business nature were but a secondary consideration to his earnest nature. He continued in active service in the ministry until the last few years of his life, when depleted health compelled him to seek some rest from his labors. He died December 9, 1910, at the fine old age of eighty-three years, leaving a gracious heritage of a well spent life, and rich in the memory of all who knew him. Rev. Wylie was thrice married. Of his first marriage two children were the result, Samuel Wylie, of Ballston Spa, New York, and Laura J. Wylie, now professor of English in Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. His third wife, who still survives him, was Miss Agnes Hays, daughter of James H. Hays, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Walter L. Wylie was her only child.
Walter L. Wylie was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1875. He was educated in the Sparta public schools and later in the Western Military Academy at Upper Alton, Illinois. Choosing medicine for a profession, he completed his medical course in Chicago, graduating therefrom in 1897. After some four years spent in the practice of that profession in Sparta, Dr. Wylie decided that he was unfitted by inclination for the work of a physician, and was sufficiently courageous to relinquish his practice and turn his attention to a business career, by which he was irresistibly attracted. Brokerage and real estate constitute his active business connections, and he conducts a thriving business along those lines, proving himself eminently fitted by nature for
a business career. Dr. Wylie is a Republican, politically speaking, and participates in the activities of his party only as an aid to correct national policies. He is in no wise ambitious for office or political preferment of whatever nature, and is well content to be merely a plain business man.
Dr. Wylie is a director in the Southern Illinois Improvement and Loan Association, and fraternally he is a member of the minor Masonic bodies at Sparta, as well as a member of the Peoria Consistory, having taken his thirty-second degree in masonry.
On August 10, 1903, Dr. Wylie was married to Miss Flora Hayes, a daughter of Monroe Hayes, formerly of Carbondale, Illinois, where Mrs. Wylie was educated in the Southern Illinois Normal and completed her musical studies under the personal supervision of Professor Sherwood, of Chicago.