- Born: 28 Feb 1835, Rome, Oneida Co., NY
- Marriage (1): Harriet Lavinia Porter 30 Jun 1871 in Chittenango, Sullivan Township, Madison Co., NY 544
- Died: 24 Dec 1918, Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI at age 83
- Buried: Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI
FamilySearch ID: K2FH-F9T. Find a Grave ID: 104764399.
Extensive biography in MOTT written by his daughter Harriet Elizabeth Mott.
Also see 'Wisconsin Biography'. His biography is under that of his son, Wesley Mayhew. Small collection of his papers in the Manuscript section of the Wisconsin State Historical Society.
Wesley Mott was 18 years old when his father and mother decided to pick up stakes from Burnt Hills, New York and take the long trip down the Erie Canal, over the Great Lakes to join their former neighbors, Margaret and Peter Ham in Wisconsin. Two of his older siblings had died as youngsters, so this pioneer family consisted of 4, the fourth being his sister, Martha.
Arriving in Vinland, Wisconsin the Motts were able to purchase land and it was Wesley who did the backbreaking work of clearing land for crops. He also hired out to local farmers to supplement the family income. This work as a young man provided him with a strong and muscular stature, attested to by his son Mayhew when as a small boy he witnessed his father lift a 1300 pound horse off the ground, by kneeling on all fours under the horse and lifting it on his back.
Having attended school as a youth in Troy, New York, Wesley was of academic inclinations as well, and studied long into the night during this period to learn history, philosophy and literature, as well as mathematics and German, learning this language from his mother no doubt. His daughter, Harriet Elizabeth Mott, attested to his great command of the dictionary as well as his ability to recite from memory long poems and verses committed to memory as a young man.
In 1860, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Wesley remained on the farm, his father being 65 years of age and greatly dependent on him. Nevertheless, in February of 1865 he enlisted and served in the 49th Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers until his discharge in October.
He returned to the farm, his father died in 1869, and in the following year he met the neice of the family's good friend, Margaret Ham. Harriet Lavinia Porter was visiting her aunt, and married Wesley in 1871. Three children were of this marriage, the first of whom was born a year later.
Almost from his first arrival in Wisconsin, Wesley was a leader in his local community. He took the census of 1870 for his area as well as serving on the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors at various times during his career. He attended the second 'founding' convention of the Republican party at Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, even though he was not yet of voting age. He cast his first presidental vote for Fremont in 1856 and was proud his entire life that he had voted twice for Lincoln. In 1876 he moved his family to Oshkosh for two years to act as Deputy Clerk of Court. During this period he got the appellation around Oshkosh as 'honest Mott', having on one occasion challenged Senator Philetus Sawyer, the kingpin of local politics. Later, Wesley was an admirer of Robert La Follette, Sr., who 'broke the vicious hold of the Sawyer ring on Wisconsin politics." Becoming disenchanted with the politics of the Republicans in the 1878, he 'washed his hands' of politics for several years until he took up the banner of the Prohibition party several years later, becoming a regular candidate on the party ticket, usually for the office of Attorney General or State Senator. He voted the Prohibition Party ticket the rest of his life.
Always a religious man, his daughter stated that "During his early years, Wesley Mott came under the vitalizing influence of early Methodism. He, upon occasion, referred to a profound religious experience of his earlier years. He was, through the years, nostalic, as was his church, for those 'manifestations of grace' which characterized early Methodism in America and which were undeniably 'out of this world.'" This, no doubt, indicates a rather intense involvement in the Methodist Millerite excitement that affected Methodists in the middle decades of the 1800's. His cousin Amanda Jones, too, was affected by this movement in New York. Later in life, he, along with his wife, organize the Winchester Sunday School before their moving to Neenah in 1885. He abstained from harvesting on Sunday and took up the superintendency of the Neenah Methodist Sunday School not long after he moved to that town.
According to his daughter, Wesley was ever the student of law, and he became a Justice of the Peace upon his coming of age in 1856, an office he held until the family moved in 1885 from Winchester to Neenah. As we've seen, he was the Deputy Clerk of Court for two years and after passing the bar examinations, was admitted to practice in the Circuit Court of Winnebago County on April 23, 1881 and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin on June 3, 1889. He worked at his profession until his death in 1918, memorialized by the County Bar Association in 1919: "When Wesley Mott died, we lost a good lawyer, a good citizen, and a true friend." 339,340
• Census, 1850, Ballston Spa, Saratoga, New York, USA. 380 Age 15.
• Census, 1860, Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. 382
• Military: Subject to duty, Aug 1863, Wisconsin. 545 Listed as subject to do military duty in the 5th Congressional district.
• Military, 1865. 339 Military: Private of Captain John H. Hauser's Company D, 49th Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers. Enlisted Feb. 14, 1865. Discharged Oct 20,1865 at St. Louis by reason of Disablity. At the time of the Civil War, Wesley's parents were nearing their 70's, his father was in poor health, making it hardly possible for him to leave them alone on the farm. He finally enlisted and when he was mustered in, his company was entrained in open cattle cars in midwinter, a practice which caused much suffering and illness among the soldiers. He was stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, and one of his duties was to keep the company's books. While in service he became ill with swamp fever and was hospitalized. p4
• Census, 1870, Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. 386 Appears with his mother. He also signed the census sheet as the assistant Marshal for the Menasha census that Cornelius DuBois and family appears on.
• Occupation. Attorney And Politician
• Politics: County Supervisor - Winchester, 1871-1879, Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. Appears on the list of County Supervisors for 1871, 1873, and 1879. He was chairman of the town of Winchester in 1880 as well as the justice. ( Harney, Richard J. History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest (1880) - State of Wisconsin Digital collection.
• Politics: Town of Winchester Supervisor, 1880, Winchester, Winnebago Co., WI. History of Winnebago County, page 274.
• residence: east side 3rd 2 n. Lincoln, 1893, Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI. 341
• residence: 205 3rd Street, 1900, Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI. 342
• Cemetery: Oak Hill: Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI.
Wesley married Harriet Lavinia Porter, daughter of Medad Porter Jr. and Charity Dubois, 30 Jun 1871 in Chittenango, Sullivan Township, Madison Co., NY.544 (Harriet Lavinia Porter was born 30 Jun 1836 in Chittenango, Sullivan Township, Madison Co., NY and died 24 Dec 1912 in Neenah, Winnebago Co., WI.)