George L. Willyard was born in Knox County, Ohio, in 1818, son of Frederick Willyard, who was born in this country, of a German family--poor but an honest and industrious man.  He was for many years what would now be called a master of transportation--that is, he owned and drove a four-horse wagon from Danville (Ohio) to Pittsburgh. He would load up with rags, beeswax, butter, feathers, eggs, flaxseed and like products of the farm, brought in by the merchants of the village, and take them to Pittsburgh; then, with a return load, would bring cotton yarns, coffee, tea, salt and a general assortment of dry goods. In those early days this mode was the only commercial connection between that part of Ohio and Pittsburgh. He had a cover to the big wagon, carried his feedbox and feed with him for the trip, and always rode the near wheel-horse, to drive the team.  Being hard pressed to make a scanty living, he had no means whereby to give his son, George L., any educational advantages other than those obtained at the subscription school, then the only one for the winter season. George made the best of these meager advantages, and soon developed great capacity to learn. With hard study and great energy and industry, with private lessons, he became a good scholar for the time, and engaged in teaching until 1837, when he entered the law office of the late Hon. W.R. Sapp, as a student, and continued therein until he was admitted to the bar, in 1839, having then arrived at the age of twenty-one years. His father had removed to Holmes County some years before, and here he afterward died. Soon after his admisssion he located at Wooster, in partnership with William McMahon, Esq., a noted attorney of that place, and commenced an active practice of the law, with apparently a brilliant career at the bar before him. Possessed of very fine ability, ambition, untiring industry and perseverance, he would have made a very successful lawyer, and won for himself a leading place at the Ohio bar, but, in the early summer of 1840, he was taken sick of a severe fever, of which he died on the 22d of July, 1840.

The following extract from an obituary notice of his death, published in the Harrison Democrat, a campaign paper, published at Millersburgh, of date July 28, 1840, edited by Samuel G. Armor and Martin Welker, whose biographies appear in this volume, will evidence his standing among his acquaintances:

The deceased was about twenty-two years of age. Few young men ever enjoyed more the confidence and respect of their acquaintances. Affable, agreeable and unassuming in his manners; noble, disinterested and magnanimous in his conduct, he attached to himself the esteem and friendship of all, and excited the enmity of none. He has left a large circle of attached friends to deplore his early loss.

 

Biographical Record of Holmes County, 1889.