PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF
MORGAN AND SCOTT COUNTIES, ILLINOIS.
Chicago, Chapman Brothers
Morgan County IL
(reprinted by the Jacksonville Area Genealogical and Historical Society, 1984)
DENNIS O'DONNELL. In the career of the subject of this sketch is illustrated that of a man who began life a penniless boy, and who through his own industry and perseverance has become wealthy. A plain, straight-forward, honorable and upright citizen, he cares very little for popularity or display, but there are few men in this community who enjoy in a greater degree the profound respect of their fellow-citizens. He is one of the leading farmers of township 13, range 12, and is the brother of Patrick O'Donnell who is represented elsewhere in this work.
The opening years of the life of our subject were spent on the other side of the ocean in County Tipperary, Ireland, where he was born in 1833. His father, Patrick O'Donnell, was a native of the same county, and spent his entire life there, dying many years ago. In 1848 most of the family came to the United States, but out subject and his two youngest sisters came in 1849. They lived in New Jersey until 1857, and in the spring of that year Dennis came to this county, of which he has since been a resident, and continuously engaged in farming pursuits.
The industry and perseverance of our subject met with their natural result, and in due time he considered himself justified in establishing a home of his own. He had become acquainted with one of the most estimable young ladies of his township, Miss Elizabeth O'Brien, who became his wife in November, 1856, and they commenced the journey of life together in a manner corresponding with their means and circumstances. A few years of mutual labor made them comparatively independent in the possession of a well-regulated farm, and all the other comforts of life.
Mrs. O'Donnell is the daughter of Patrick O'Brien, a native of Ireland, who spent his last years in Scott County. She was born in Ireland, and by her union with out subject has become the mother of eleven children, ten of whom are living, namely: Maria, James, William, Edward, Lizzie, Frank, Kate, Charlie, John and Thomas. William married Miss Alice Smothers, and remains a resident of this county; Frank is pursuing his studies in the Normal School at Valparaiso, Ind.; the others remain at home with their parents, assisting in the lighter labors of the farm, and attending school.
Mr. O'Donnell is the owner of 668 acres of land all in this county,
and divided up into four farms, all being supplied with the necessary buildings.
He makes a specialty of graded stock in which industry he has been very
successful. He has mixed very little in public affairs, and is no politician
or office-seeker. He has a natural affection for the land of his adoption,
and is thoroughly in sympathy with her institutions. He usually cases his
vote with the Democratic party, and with his family belongs to the Catholic
PATRICK O'DONNELL. In Township 13, Range 12, Scott County, there is no man more favorably known than the subject of this notice. He is self-made in the broadest sense of the term, having begun life with literally nothing and by his industry and perseverance has become wealthy. He owns and operates a fine farm and makes a specialty of thorough-bred horses, being able to exhibit in this line some of the best stock in Central Illinois. He is a man who has been prompt to meet his obligations, is upright and honorable in his dealings, and numbers his friends by the score among the people who have watched his career with admiring interest.
A native of County Tipperary, Ireland, Mr. O'Donnell was born March 17, 1836, and is the son of Patrick O'Donnell, Sr., a native of the same county as his son and who spent his entire life in Erin's Green Isle, dying when middle aged. Our subject, in 1848, after the death of his father, came with his widowed mother, to the United States, and the family settled in New Jersey where Patrick, Jr., commenced working on a farm at the munificent wages of $5 per month. Shortly afterward, however, he changed his occupation to that of clerk on the steamer "Ocean Wave," plying the Shrewsbury river. Later he officiated as fireman on the same boat and in due time, having made good use of his opportunities for learning the art, was promoted to assistant engineer.
Our subject was thus occupied three years, then changing his employment, engaged in gardening with his brother, Dennis, for the New York market. He followed this two years, then in 1856, set his face westward and coming to Winchester, this county, had charge of an engine in the Harlan Mill three years and the latter part of the time was both miller and overseer of the establishment. In the meantime he purchased 120 acres of land three miles south of Winchester upon which he placed his brother, Dennis, who worked it for him one year then Patrick took it in charge himself. He soon purchased additional land and the brothers farmed in partnership four years. Dennis subsequently began buying land for himself and is now the owner of 700 acres, while Patrick holds the warrantee deeds to 637 acres.
Mr. O'Donnell commenced his stock operations about 1861. His favorites are the Norman horses, both draft and roadsters, among them "Flying Dutchman,: who has attained to great popularity in this part of the county. Mr. O'Donnell has one pony which paces a mile in a little over three minutes. In the cattle line he operates mostly with Short-horns. Our subject while in New Jersey was the chief support of his mother and educated his sisters. The mother came to the West with her children and died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Stephen Moore, in Alsey in 1883.
The 31st of March, 1862, witnessed the marriage of our subject with Miss Mary, daughter of Jesse and Lizzie Young, who were among the earliest pioneers of this county and a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Young dug the first well upon the present site of Winchester. He was mostly engaged as a farmer and departed this life at his home in Scott county, April, 1889. The mother of Mrs. O'Donnell is still living. To Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell there were born eleven children, nine of whom are living. The eldest son, John, married Miss Emma Roberts, is the father of two children - Lena and an infant named Gracie - and lives on a farm near the old homestead. Lizzie B. became wife of Lincoln McLaughlin of Cerre Gordo, Piatt County, this State, and is the mother of one child, Jesse. Olive, Mrs. James Doyle, lives in township 14 and has no children; Charles, Mary Nannie, Nellie, Thomas, Lilly and Susie, remain under the home roof.
Our subject is regarded as one of the most extensive stock-raisers in Scott County. During the Civil War he purchased horses for the Union Army, his transactions in this line yielding him handsome profits. He also during those days accumulated a snug sum of money in buying cattle and selling to the farmers of this region. He is a democrat politically and has officiated as road supervisor and school director but prefers to be relieved from the responsibilities of office. He and his children are members of the Catholic Church.
In the fall of 1888 Mr. O'Donnell returned to the Atlantic coast,
visiting his old haunts in New Jersey and finding things greatly changed.
He also visited Long Branch and the National race course at Monmouth Park.
The farm whereon he first labored after coming to America is now a beautiful
park, upon which the owner spent $250,000 in beautifying of the ground
alone, before erecting any buildings. Mr. O'Donnell crossed the famous
Brooklyn bridge and saw the great St. Patrick's cathedral on Fifth Avenue,
opposite the mansion of William H. Vanderbilt in New York city. He also
looked upon the statue of "Liberty enlightening the World," on
Bedloe Island. He crossed the Suspension Bridge to Sandy Hook and other
points, which with all these other wonderful structures had been brought
into existence since he left there in 1856. He had a pleasant interview
with his old boat-captain, Henry Parker, formerly of the "Ocean Wave",
and who now commands the steamer "Sea Bird" plying between Shrewsbury
and New York city. He wisely considers the time and money employed on that
trip well spent. He also visited Niagara Falls and had a very fine time.
JOHN C. O'NEAL. The farm property of Mr. O'Neal, while in itself of great value, has a peculiar significance to him, as it comprises the old homestead of his father, which was purchased by the latter upon coming to this county during the period of its early settlement. It embraces 200 acres of choice land, which is under a thorough state of cultivation and improved with good buildings. Mr. O'Neal carried on general agriculture, but makes a specialty of graded Short-horn cattle, keeping usually in the neighborhood of 100 head. In this industry he has been remarkable successful, and takes pride in the fact that he is able to exhibit some of the finest animals of this description in Central Illinois. He also breeds horses and swine, but his chief pride is in his cattle, and it is probable that in this department of farming he takes the lead in the county.
Our subject was born in this county, Aug. 12, 1845, and grew up amid the peaceful pursuits of rural life. He remained a member of the parental household until marriage. When approaching the thirty-fifth year of his age he was married Oct. 19, 1880, at the brides' home in Clinton County, Mo., to Miss Kate Duval, of that county.
Mr. O'Neal and his bride commenced the journey of life together at the homestead where they now live and where they have since resided. Mrs. O'Neal is the daughter of William T. Duval and wife, who were natives of Kentucky and Missouri. Their family consisted of five children, four of whom are living. The eldest son, Edward, married a Chicago lady, and is the manager of the Electric Light system of Milwaukee, Wis.; Claude, a railroad man, is unmarried and makes his headquarters at St. Louis, Mo.; Maude married Fred O'Neal, a brother of our subject, who died in 1888, and she now lives in Clinton County, Mo.; she has three children - Ernest, William, and Maude.
The four children of our subject and his estimable wife were names respectively: Duval, Carlton, Fred, and Donald. The father of our subject was of Scotch ancestry, while the mother's people came from Ireland. Thomas O'Neal, the father of our subject, was born in Nelson County, Ky., in November, 1794, and lived there until reaching his majority. He served in the War of 1812 with the Kentucky Rangers under Capt. Wickliffe, and was a pensioner under the Act of March, 1873. He was first married in 1823, in his native county to Miss Langley, who died in 1837. Of their five children four are living: Oscar married a Miss Foster, and leaving his native State, was for a long time supposed to be dead, but it has since been learned that he is a resident of Arizona, the owner of a large ranch in the Territory. Melvina became the wife of James Clark , of this county, and they lived in San Francisco, Cal., where Mr. Clark operates extensively as an architect and contractor. Ruth is the wife of N. D. Graves, of this county, and the mother of three children - Thomas, William, and Charles. Bryant married Miss Mary Arrt, of this county, and is now farming in Decatur County, Iowa.
The second wife of Thomas O'Neal was Martha Ratcliff, of Fayette County, Ky., and they were married in 1840. Of this union there were born five children, only one of whom is living - John C., our subject; his mother makes her home with him. The father died in March, 1877.
Our subject, politically, votes the straight Republican ticket. He
enjoys a large acquaintance throughout the county, and is classed among
its representative men.
CALVIN ORE. A very pretty picture is formed by the homestead of the subject of this sketch, which is finely located on section 10, township 16, range 11, and comprises 160 acres of well developed land. It is adapted to both grain and stock-raising, especially the latter, and from its fertile soil its proprietor has for a number of years realized a handsome income. He struck the first blow toward its cultivation and improvement, and the structure which he then occupied is now a part of the pleasant domicile which forms the home of the family, and is one of the most attractive resorts in this part of the county.
Mr. Ore first came to Illinois in 1852, although he did not settle on his present farm until two years later, and he did not become sole owner until 1856. He was born in Jefferson County, Tenn., Nov. 8, 1834, and is the only son of Nelson and Anna (Smith) Ore, who were natives of East Tennessee, and came of excellent families. The paternal grandfather of our subject served as a soldier in the War of 1812, and died in East Tennessee at the advanced age of ninety years. His grandmother's name was Nancy Nance. The mother of our subject was the daughter of William Smith, who also carried a musket during the war above mentioned, and who, like his compeer, Grandfather Ore, also attained to the age of ninety years, and died in Tennessee. He was a farmer by occupation. Grandmother Smith also lived to be nearly ninety years old, as also did Grandmother Ore. Both families seem to have been noted for longevity.
Nelson Ore, after his marriage settled down on a farm in Jefferson County, Tenn., where he remained until after the birth of four children, three daughters and our subject. The father met his death by drowning in the Holsen River when middle aged, and when Calvin, of our sketch, was about five years of age. The mother was subsequently married to Thomas Dyer, and both she and Mr. Dyer spent the remainder of their lives in Jefferson County. The mother was fifty-eight years old at the time of her death, and Mr. Dyer was her senior by many years.
Our subject remained at home with his mother and step-father until eighteen years old, and then starting out for himself, made his way to this county on foot the whole distance. His first business after his arrival here was to secure employment, and he worked as a farm laborer until in a condition to establish a home of his own. He was married, in the township where he now lives, in October, 1855, to Miss Rhoda A. Dyer, who was born in Granger County, Tenn., Jan. 20, 1830. Her parents were William A. and Margaret (Bridgeman) Dyer, also natives of East Tennessee, and the father a general mechanic, working in both wood and iron. Both her maternal and paternal grandfathers were in the War of 1812 and aided in freeing their country from the despotic tyranny of England. Her grandmothers both lived to the advanced age of eighty-three years.
The parents of Mrs. Ore, after their marriage, lived in Tennessee until after the birth of three children, of which Mrs. Ore was the youngest. When she was about ten months old they all came to Illinois and finally settled on a farm in township 16, range 11, where the wife and mother died on the 12 of January, 1878, after having reached her threescore and ten years. Mr. Dyer is still living in this county, and is now eighty-three years old. Both he and his estimable wife united with the Old School Baptist Church many years ago.
Mrs. Ore was the third in a family of twelve children, and was reared
to womanhood under the parental roof. Of her union with our subject, there
have been born seven children, three of whom are deceased. One child died
unnamed, and Ann E. and Vilena died in early childhood. Margaret A., the
eldest daughter living, is the wife of William Gilmore, a resident of Cowley
County, Kan.; John C. also lives there with his sister; William Robert
remains at home and assists in operating the farm; T. Nelson is the youngest
of the family. Mr. Ore, politically, is a stanch Democrat, and both he
and his wife are members of the Baptist Church. They are widely and favorably
known in this county, and are numbered among its most substantial and praiseworthy
WILLIAM C. OWEN. In the spring of 1840, this gentleman, then in the prime of a vigorous young manhood, came to Morgan County, and marrying shortly after, he and his bride began life together in the humblest way and by their united thrift, financial ability, and judicious management, they have accumulated wealth. The little log cabin in which they once lived has given place to a commodious, beautiful home, replete with all the modern comforts and conveniences that go to make life worth living. The forty acres of land presented to them by Mrs. Owen's father was in their hands but the nucleus of one of the most extensive farms in the county, and today they own 1,600 acres of land of unsurpassed fertility, finely located in township 16 north, range 8 west.
Our subject was born in Tennessee, coming of good pioneer stock, that was among the earliest settlers of that State. His paternal ancestry was born in North Carolina, his grandfather, William Owen, being of Welsh descent, his father coming to America from Wales, before the Revolution and settling in Anson County, N.C. The grandfather was reared and married in the place of his nativity, Elizabeth Fare becoming his wife. In 1789, they removed to Hawkins County, Tenn., their son, James, father of our subject, being a babe of six months at that time. In that region they reared their family of four sons and three daughters, and there spent the last years of a busy, useful life. The grandfather became very prosperous and was a large land owner, having a tract on the Tennessee River four miles square.
The father of our subject was reared in the pleasant pioneer home of his parents, and after attaining man's estate was married to Miss Sarah, daughter of Mordecai Lanter. She was born in Virginia near the famous natural bridge over Cedar Creek. To her and her husband came the following children: Elizabeth, who married Abraham Rinehart; Nancy the wife of Archibald Houston; William C., of whom we write; and James L. Feb. 6, 1830, the parents with their family started for the wilderness of Floyd County, Ind., our subject then being eleven years old. The father took up land, thirty acres of which had been cleared in the heavy timber, and vigorously entered upon the pioneer task of improving a farm. The mother died in that home Aug. 8, 1835, before she had scarcely passed the meridian of life. The father died in Henderson County, Ill., Oct. 20, 1845, he having removed to that county a few years before.
In the spring of 1840, our subject came to Morgan County, and on the 28th day of the following June he took one of the most important steps of his life by his marriage on that date to Miss Mary J., a daughter of Z. W. and Elizabeth Flinn, whereby, he gained one of the most helpful of wives. In the fall of that year he and his wife went to McDonough County, where they lived eighteen months, and returning to this locality in 1842, have resided here ever since. Our subject has met with more than ordinary success in the prosecution of his calling, and owns a good deal of valuable property. He paid $50,000 for a farm in Sangamon County for his son, James, and also presented his daughter Almarinda, now Mrs. Andrew Harris, with a fine farm of 270 acres near Virginia, in Cass County. Sic children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Their daughter, Damaris, lives with her brother James, both being unmarried. Their son Josiah W., lives near Ashland, in Cass County. Anna E. is the widow of Charles Butler, who was drowned in a fish pond in this county, nearly fourteen years ago, and she with her two sons Robert and Leonard, live with our subject and his wife. Their daughter Mary, is now Mrs. Edward Goff, of this township. Mr. Owen makes a specialty of cattle feeding, shipping about 200 head a year, and his farm is well stocked with cattle, horses and hogs of good grades.
As pioneers, though not among the earliest settlers of Morgan County,
it has been the good fortune of our subject and his wife to contribute
largely to the development of its agricultural resources, and so to its
material advancement in other directions, and it gives us pleasure to represent
them in this Biographical Album. Mr. Owen is a man of broad public spirit,
and his hand is felt in all enterprises that will in any way benefit the
community. He and his wife have nearly reached the golden mile-stone that
marks a wedded life of half a century, and the most of that time has been
passed in this county and among these people who know them well and hold
them in true regard and veneration for the rectitude of their course and
for characters unblemished by acts unworthy of them as kind neighbors and
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