Jessie Martha Wilcox was born in Sandusky, Ohio in April of 1861, the same week that the Civil War broke out in the United States. Her parents were Rollin M. Wilcox and the former Martha Ellen Newton. For many years, Jessie’s father was a partner in the R.M. and C.B. Wilcox Company, a popular department store in downtown Sandusky.
When Jessie was just a toddler, her mother Martha passed away at age 28.
Jessie graduated from Sandusky High School on June 27, 1879; her niece, Esther Sloane Curtis, donated her aunt's high school diploma to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.
In 1884, she graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. After graduation, she taught school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, before moving back to her hometown of Sandusky, where she also taught school.
From 1904 to 1937, Miss Wilcox was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sandusky Library, serving for a time as President of the Board. She was also a member of the Nineteenth Century Club, the Martha Pitkin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Trinity United Methodist Church.
On August 12, 1937, Jessie Wilcox died suddenly at her home on Franklin Street in Sandusky. Funeral services were held at the home of Jessie’s niece, Mrs. Worth Curtis, with the Rev. Roy Smith of Trinity Methodist Church officiating. Burial was at Oakland Cemetery. An obituary in the August 12, 1937 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that Jessie had been one of the area’s most prominent women, and she had been a leader in the cultural life of Sandusky. The Sandusky Library closed from 2:30 to 3:30 on Saturday, August 14, 1937, during the funeral service, in honor of her many years of service to the Library.