Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  William Earnest Gillespie  

Pen Name: William E. Gillespie

Genre: C:ADULT C:YA Non-Fiction

Born: 1981 in Olney, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Gillespie grew up on a farm in the southern part of Jasper County that raised beans, corn, wheat, and cattle. The farm house was essentially surrounded by cattle pasture. Naturally, he became very active in cattle farming. When he wasn't in school his time was spent on the farm doing a multitude of chores and tasks. With the cows nearby there was always the possibility that something interesting was happening. From birthing complications, to pinkeye, to calves that wouldn't nurse; by the time he went away to college he had a lot of experience with cows. At Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Gillespie met a diverse group of students with all kinds of backgrounds. Along the way something peculiar happened. Whenever he and his friends let loose a bit say on a Friday or Saturday night, he would start telling about some event that happened on the farm and thus, he earned a reputation for telling "cow stories. " Like all good things, Gillespie's college days came to an end when he finished his degree in civil engineering. He got a job and started grinding away at a career. First, he worked for an engineering consulting firm in Mount Carmel. Then the Great Recession hit, and he ended up working at the Illinois State Water Survey. While at the ISWS time just seemed to drag on. At the end of 2011 he found myself at a New Year's Party in Champaign. He was playing cards and having a few drinks when he naturally started to tell a story that involved the cows on his family's farm. That night he realized that he was starting to forget some key details. It was then that Gillespie decided that he couldn't let the stories slip away. The next day he started recording the events that eventually became the chapters in ''Cows I Have Known''. Currently, he works for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is still active in operations at Gillespie Farms.

Biographical and Professional Information

William Gillespie currently resides in southern Illinois and works for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a Land Reclamation Specialist. Storytelling has always come naturally to Gillespie. He was raised on a farm in Jasper County, Illinois and is still active in farm operations today. In 2006 he graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Master's Degree in civil and environmental engineering. Five years later in 2012, he felt compelled to write the book, ''Cows I Have Known.'' He realized that his memories of caring for cattle while growing up on the farm were fading. Writing became Gillespie's top priority and the result is a well-crafted book full of vivid stories and insights. ''Cows I Have Known'' was published through Amazon in March of 2017.

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