Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    The history of a state as well as that of a nation is chiefly the chronicle of the lives and deeds of those who have conferred honor and dignity upon society. The world judges the character of a community by that of its representative citizens and yields its tributes of admiration and respect for the genius, learning or virtues of those whose works and actions constitute the record of a state's prosperity and pride; and it is their character, as exemplified in probity and benevolence, kindly virtues and integrity in the affairs of life, that are ever affording worthy examples for emulation and valuable lessons of incentive.

    To a student of biography there is nothing more interesting than to examine the life history of a self-made man and to detect the elements of character which have enabled him to pass on the highway of life many of the companions of his youth who at the outset of their careers were more advantageously equipped or endowed. The subject of this review has through his own exertions attained an honorable position and marked prestige among the representative men of the west, and with signal consistency it may be said that he is the architect of his own fortunes, and one whose success amply justifies the application of the somewhat hackneyed but most expressive title, "a self-made man." He is now living retired, having acquired a competence ample to supply all his needs and at the same time permit him to enjoy many of life's pleasures.

    Mr. Wilbee is a native of Elora, Ontario, born November 9, 1842, his parents being Henry and Mary (Wood) Wilbee. The father was born in Devizes, England, about the year 1800, and the mother was a native of Hull, England. They emigrated from their native country about 1818, becoming residents of Canada. The father was a builder and settled first in Flamboro, but afterward removed to a farm at Elora. His son, Edwin Milton, attended the public schools, and during his youth he learned the trade of carriage painting in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1861. Subsequently he worked in Rochester, and afterward in New Haven, and later he was in the employ of John Stevenson, a celebrated omnibus builder of New York city. At different times he was associated with other extensive concerns in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He had marked artistic taste and ability which enabled him to do excellent work in the line of his trade, so that his services were always in demand and he was able to command excellent wages. In 1865 he came to Sidney, Ohio, where he remained for six years with J. S. Crozier.

    On the 6th of January, 1870, he was united in marriage to Miss Fanny Crozier, a daughter of W. R. Crozier, the wedding ceremony being performed in the bride's home, in which Mr. and Mrs. Wilbee now reside. It is located in North Downing street, and has since been enlarged and modernized into a beautiful and tasteful residence. Mrs. Wilbee is of Irish lineage on the paternal side. Her grandfather, John Crozier, emigrated from the Emerald Isle to the new world, and in 1815 removed from Pennsylvania to Ross county, Ohio. About 1825 he became a resident of Auglaize county, Ohio, and in 1827 established a home in Piqua. Mr. Crozier had acquired a good education in the land of his nativity and through the greater part of his life engaged in teaching, being employed for many years in the schools of Piqua and vicinity. In his later life he purchased a farm about seven miles northwest of Piqua, where he lived in comfortable circumstances. William R. Crozier, the father of Mrs. Wilbee, was born in Pennsylvania in 1813, and remained at home with his parents until about seventeen years of age. He then learned the carriage making trade, and in time became the proprietor of the most extensive works in Piqua. In 1837 he married Miss Catherine Statler, daughter of Christopher and Fanny (Winans) Statler, who were married May 27, 1817. Her father was born in Pennsylvania about 1787, and was a son of Christopher Statler, who came to Miami county about 1801, when there was only one store on the present site of Piqua, and the county was much more thickly settled by Indians than white men. The family lived here through the troublous times of the war of 1812, when the Indians showed much hostility to the settlers. Mrs. Statler was a faithful member of the Methodist church for over eighty years, having joined that church in New Jersey, in 1808.

    After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Wilbee came to Piqua, where he entered into the carriage manufacturing business, in connection with his father-in-law. In 1880, however, Mr. Crozier, Sr., retired, after which the business was conducted by Mr. Wilbee and W. G. Crozier until 1890, when they sold out. The career of the firm had been one of enterprise and prosperity and their constantly increasing business had brought to them a handsome income. The block of land occupied by the works and residence and bounded by Downing, Green and North streets, was divided into lots and sold in 1892, some of the property bringing as high as sixty-five dollars per front foot. This block is now improved by beautiful homes and is the best residence portion of Piqua.

    Mr. Wilbee is a public-spirited and very enterprising man who since his arrival in Piqua has been actively identified with many public measures and movements which have contributed to the welfare and upbuilding of the city. He does all in his power to promote such enterprises as will advance the best interests of the general public and Piqua owes much to his labors. The extensive factory which he conducted for many years not only contributed to his individual success but also promoted the general prosperity by advancing commercial activity. He has made a close and earnest study of the questions affecting the general welfare and his conclusions are based on thorough knowledge, while his actions are directed by an intelligent understanding of the propositions under consideration. His fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, have frequently called him to public office, and he has ever exercised his official prerogatives to secure the upbuilding of material, educational and moral interests. He was for six years a member of the city council, was mayor from 1891 to 1893 and was county sheriff for two terms, embracing the years from 1893 to 1897. During that time he made his residence at the county seat. He discharged the duties of the office with marked faithfulness and loyalty. In 1898 he purchased the Piqua Dispatch, which he conducted as a Republican paper for one year, when he sold it to the present proprietors.

    Unto Mr. and Mrs. Wilbee were born four children: Eva, Frank, Carrie and Clifford, all of whom are yet with their parents. They have an ideal home in which cordial hospitality reigns supreme. Their beautiful residence is tastefully furnished with all the adornments that wealth can secure and refined culture approves. Miss Carrie has inherited her father's artistic ability, and displays marked talent in painting. It is intended that she shall receive instruction in the best art schools, thus becoming proficient in her chosen line. Mr. Wilbee and his family are members of the Green Street Methodist church. He is a thirty- second degree Mason, a member of the Mystic Shrine, has served as past master in the lodge and high priest in the chapter, and is also a member of the Knights of the Golden Eagle and the Knights of the Maccabees. Although he has retired from business cares, indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature, and he concerns himself with many of the large, loving interests which affect humanity, and also with the public affairs of his adopted town and county where his labors have proved of great benefit. Enterprising, genial, kindly and progressive, he ranks among the most prominent men of the community, and is a power for good in Miami county.

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