Stephen Douglas Elwell, one of the enterprising citizens of the town of
Serena, LaSalle county, was born in this place, November 4, 1859. The
circumstances of his birth caused him to become identified with the farm
from his infancy, and his early training was entirely rural. He spent two
years in the Sugar Grove Normal School, in addition to his elementary
training in the district school at home. This training furnished him with
the proper equipment for meeting the affairs of life intelligently and with
October 6, 1879, he was united in marriage to Minnie, the daughter of Adolph Mclnturf and wife, which latter couple was an early family in the settlement of Serena and came from Ohio. Mr. Elwell began life on the old homestead and his success the past twenty years has been such as to warrant him in feeling well satisfied with his efforts. His farm of more than two hundred acres is one of the prize farms on the west branch of the "Big Indian" and he keeps it in prime condition.
To acquaint the reader with something concerning the family history of the subject at hand, it should be stated that the Elwells came to LaSalle county in 1841. The father was Samuel B. Elwell, who was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, July 24, 1821. His father (our subject's grandfather) was Stillman Elwell, and he moved his family to Iowa the same year that Samuel B. settled in Northville town, LaSalle county, Illinois. He died in Wright county, Iowa. In 1843 Samuel B. settled and improved the farm upon which our subject now resides and is there spending his declining years. William Elwell, of Charles City, Iowa, is a brother of Samuel B. Elwell, and Mrs. Sophia Brooks, a sister, died there. Samuel B. Elwell married, in LaSalle county, January 1, 1846, Elizabeth Dolph, whose father, Orson Dolph, came from Crawford county, Pennsylvania, to LaSalle county. Three of the five children by this union are living, viz.: Dr. Mila B., who married Dr. Preston Sharp and with her husband resides and practices medicine in Madison, Wisconsin; Evaline, deceased, who married Elza Beardsley; Dr. Adaline, the wife of Arthur Portman, of Washington, D. C.; Jessie C., deceased, who married Joe Gregg, of Freedom, Illinois, and Stephen D., our subject. Stephen D.'s children are Jed F., Fred H., Grace, Maud, Delbert, Myra and Clair.
Early in life, Mr. Elwell demonstrated a fondness for music and was so infatuated with it that he took up its study, both vocal and instrumental. The violin possessed the greatest charm for him and he made himself master of the theory of correct execution and acquired a degree of excellence as a performer seldom found in the rural districts. He organized an orchestra of stringed instruments some years ago, which attained notoriety, and was in frequent demand in all the surrounding towns.
Politically, Mr. Elwell is a Republican. His ancestors were Democrats until the civil war, but then even the patriotism of Stephen A. Douglas was no longer a panacea for the ills of Democracy. Mr. Elwell has filled nearly the whole list of town offices, is a frequent and regular attendant upon county conventions of his party and is regarded as one of the influential men of his town.
Extracted 19 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 576-578.