Biography - JAMES A. POWELL
One of the native sons of Illinois and for years an esteemed citizen of LaSalle county has ever been ready and willing to do his share as a patriot, whether in time of peace or in war. He stands deservedly high as a business man, neighbor and friend, and is very popular with all classes.
The paternal grandfather of our subject was Howell F. Powell, a native of Wales. He crossed the broad Atlantic about 1816 and made his home in or near Boston. He had mastered the gardener's business, and after settling in New England gave his attention for some years to supplying a summer resort. He lived to attain an advanced age. He was the father of four daughters and two sons, one of whom was William H., the father of our subject. He was likewise a native of Wales and in his early manhood he learned the trade of wood-carving and upholstering. In 1837 he came to Illinois and bought a tract of land from the government. He reared his children on that place and it was not until 1896 that he retired and located in Mendota, where he is now passing in quietude the remainder of his days. For thirty years he served in the capacity of justice of the peace, and for three-score years he occupied an influential place in his own community. His first wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Warner and was a native of Massachusetts, died in 1865. Her father, George Warner, was born in England, and upon his arrival in America took up his abode in the Bay state, where he worked at his trade as a weaver until he came to Illinois, some sixty years ago. He located near Northville, LaSalle county, and engaged in farming there for many years. Later he returned to Massachusetts, where he died at the age of eighty-iive years. Three sons and a daughter were born to William H. and Elizabeth Powell: James A., the subject of this sketch; Marshall F., now deceased; Mary, wife of H. C. Ballou; and William H., Jr. The second wife of William H. Powell was Sophronia McNett, and their two children were Frank B. and Mabel.
James A. Powell was born in Northville, LaSalle county, August 29, 1844, and passed his boyhood in the usual pursuits of farmers' lads, a portion of his time being devoted to the acquisition of an education in the district schools, after which he taught school several years during the winter seasons. When the civil war broke out he was too young to be enlisted in the ranks, but he was a stanch patriot and at length was permitted to enter the army, where he was ever found at his post of duty. He was a member of Company C, One Hundred and Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, for one year, and made an excellent record as a soldier. After the war he returned to Illinois and began farming in Kankakee county for the ensuing five years. Then, going to Harmon, Lee county, Illinois, he purchased a farm, which he carried on at that place successfully for a period of eleven years. A favorable opportunity for disposing of the farm then presenting itself, Mr. Powell sold the farm and returning to this, his native county, invested in an eightyacre farm situated conveniently near Mendota, only half a mile east of the town. This farm he sold at the end of five years, and, going to Nebraska, bought a larger farm, but did not locate there. Two years later he sold his western property at a good profit and invested some of his capital in the dairy business, which he has carried on with growing success for the past decade. His fertile farm, well adapted for pasturage, comprises eighty-six and a half acres, located in Mendota township, adjoining the city of Mendota, and is one of the pleasantest and most attractive locations in the vicinity of that city.
The marriage of Mr. Powell and Miss Eliza McNett took place on the 22d of July, 1870. She is a daughter of Daniel and Mary McNett, and by her marriage has two promising sons, - Charles D. and Claude A. Charles is engaged in the mercantile business, while Claude is helping to conduct the dairy business.
Fraternally Mr. Powell is connected with the Odd Fellows and the Court of Honor, and in politics he is a true-blue Republican. For nine years he served as a highway commissioner, w-as clerk of the town for two years and for one year served as a collector. Mrs. Powell is a member of the Methodist church, and they are both liberal contributors to all worthy local charities.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 397-399.