Henry Colwell

Stark County, Illinois and its People:  A Record of Settlement,
Organization, Progress and Achievement, (1916)
Pages: 183-185
Submitted by Danni Hopkins

     Henry Colwell, who became one of the pioneer settlers of Essex township, Stark county, where he engaged in farming for many years, was born in Ross county, Ohio, on the 20th of April, 1813, and almost reached the age of Eighty-seven years, dying on the 4th of March, 1900. It was in the fall of 1836 that he and his brother, Presley Colwell, and their wives came to Illinois from the Buckeye state and settled in what is now Essex township, Stark county, though then a part of Putnam county. The following year their father, Thomas Colwell, and the rest of their brothers and sisters came from their home in Ohio and settled in the vicinity. Henry and Presley Colwell lived the first winter in a log cabin on section 15, Essex township, on land now owned by William Cornell, near the place where the first settlement was made in Stark county by Isaac B. Essex in 1829 and near where the first school was built in Stark county in 1834. In 1837 Presley Colwell moved to section 21, Essex township, where he had bought land and where he lived until the fall of 1868, when he sold out and removed to Nodaway county, Missouri. He died at his home there a few years later.
     In the fall of 1838 Henry Colwell removed to a farm which he had bought on section 30, Essex township, where he lived for a number of years, or until he traded farms with John Martindale, whereby he became the owner of the southwest quarter of section 29, Essex township. The farm is known as the old Henry Colwell homeste3ad and it is still owned by Henry Colwell’s heirs. He was closely connected with the growth and development of Stark county.
     He very early knew the need of education. Besides being greatly interested in the common schools of his township, with a number of others he contributed liberally to the building of Lombard University at Galesburg, Illinois. The Colwell family still hold a scholarship in that institution as a recompense for the money contributed by Mr. Colwell. His son George was one of the first enrolled as a student in the university. Henry Colwell had a very large acquaintance throughout the surrounding country, as he was one of the first auctioneers in Stark county and the only one for many miles around. He was one of the foremost farmers. He with others organized the Stark County Agricultural Society in 1853, which held successful fairs at Toulon for more than thirty years, doing much good in the advancement of agriculture in the county. He filled the office of president of the society for many years with credit to himself and benefit to the society. He also held several offices in the township and creditably performed his duties. He was supervisor of Essex township at the time the railroad was built in Stark county.
     Mr. Colwell was one of those early pioneers who had the experience of hauling grain to the Chicago market and it was almost impossible to get any money for their produce. They could only trade it for the actual needs of life, such as sugar, salt, sole leather, etc. Mr. Colwell was one of the leading stockmen of Stark county for a great many years, buying, selling and shipping stock of all kinds. Before the railroads came to Stark county he would buy stock, which he would drive to Kewanee or to Chillicothe and ship from there to Chicago. Like many of the pioneers he was able to meet disappointments and do all in his power to overcome them. He met with many misfortunes, the greatest of which was no doubt the death of his first wife, who passed away in 1847, at the age of thirty-three years, leaving him with six small children for whom to care. She was in her maidenhood Elizabeth Dawson and resided in Hocking county, Ohio. Afterward Mr. Colwell married Clarinda Eby, who died in 1880 at the age of fifty-one years. To them were born thirteen children. Of his large family of nineteen children all lived to manhood and womanhood except one who died in infancy, but several are now deceased. Those living are: Mrs. Mary Nicholson, a resident of Osborn, Missouri; Mrs. John McGregor, of Grand Junction, Iowa; Mrs. E. A. Trimmer, of Perry, that state; Marvin M.; Mrs. M. B. Trickle, Lillie and Ollie, all of Toulon; David, of West Jersey; P. B., of Wyoming; and Jennie, residing in Peoria.
     It is interesting to note the intermarriages of this with other early families of the south part of Stark county and of adjoining counties. Two of the sons, George and Miles, married Sarah and Amanda Barr, of Essex township. John married Almira Fast, of Essex township. Marvin married Mary Kendig, of Naperville, Illinois. David first married Addie De Lent, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and his second union was with Maggie Dryden, of West Jersey. P. B. wedded Cecilia Burns, of Princeville, and Douglas married Maggie Selby, of Princeville. Two of the daughters, Alcinda and Mary, married Jacob and Thomas Nicholas, respectively, of Essex township. Martha married John McGregor, of Monica. Anna married E. A. Trimmer, of Essex township. Sarah wedded M. B. Trickle, also of Essex township.

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