County, Illinois and its People: A Record of Settlement,
Organization, Progress and Achievement, (1916)
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.
Stark County Home
Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions would be deeply
Copyright © Janine Crandell & all contributors
All rights reserved
Updated June 4, 2007