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Biography - Joseph Donnell

JOSEPH M. DONNELL, a retired farmer and prominent citizen of Greenville, was born in Guilford County, N. C., June 16, 1816, and is of Irish descent. The great-grandfather of our subject, Thomas Donnell, was a native of the Emerald Isle, but was forced to leave the country on account of religious persecution, and in 1731, braving the dangers of an ocean voyage in that early day, came to America with seven brothers and three sisters. They settled near Philadelphia, Pa., where Thomas Donnell spent the remainder of his life, dying at a ripe old age. He came of Scotch ancestry, who were forced to leave their native country on account of religious trouble, and went to the North of Ireland. The grand parents, John and Elizabeth (Denny) Donnell, were natives of the Keystone State. The former became a Major during the Revolutionary War and valiantly aided the Colonies in their struggle for independence.

George Donnell, father of our subject, was born in Guilford County, N. C., July 1, 1793, and died April 16, 1877, at the age of eighty-three years, nine months and fifteen days. He established the first Sunday-school in Southern Illinois. This school was commenced on Saturday, when spelling, reading and writing were taught, and on Sunday the children were trained in Bible lessons. When a young man, Mr. Donnell joined the Presbyterian Church under the preaching of the Rev. Dr. Caldwell, who for sixty years was pastor of the Buffalo Church of Guilford County, N. C., and was ever a great church worker and a faithful Christian gentleman. He came to this county in 1819, and located on Big Shoal Creek, seven miles west of Greenville. His wife was also prominent in church work, and the children all became Presbyterians. The family numbered ten children, six of whom are now living: Joseph M., William N., James M., George W., Henry C. and Mrs. Emily McCoy.

Our subject was the eldest of the family and was three years old when his parents came to this county. He was educated in the subscription schools, where the children all studied aloud, each one seemingly trying to out drown the others. He remained under the parental roof until twenty-four years of age, when his father gave him one hundred and fifteen acres of land, the same amount that he gave to all of his sons except one, who received his portion in money. The farm thus given to Joseph is located partly in La Grange and partly in Central Township, but he first made his home in La Grange. He afterward purchased other land in Central Township, erected a fine house, barns and other outbuildings, and there made his home until 1877, when he came to Greenville, where he built a beautiful and commodious residence, on the corner of Sixth and Summer Streets, where he has since resided.

Mr. Donnell was first married in 1840 to Miss Mary J. Morrison, of Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Ill., and unto them were born five children. all of whom are yet living; Clarissa, the wife of A. C. Phelps, has the following children: Horace, Idell, Harlow and Enid, twins; Ada A. is the wife of Jacob Brown; Lenora is the wife of George N. Wheeler, and has a daughter, Edna; Chalmers married Juliet Hardin, and has two sons, Joseph and Chalmers; and Arthur M. The mother of this family died February 14, 1862, and Mr. Donnell was again married, August 26, 1869, his second union being with Mrs. Anna F. Catlin, of Hay worth, McLean County, Ill., a daughter of Amos A. and Minerva (Gary) Franklin, who were natives of Connecticut and came to Illinois in 1847. The father engaged in farming until his death, in 1858, at the age of seventy-three years. His wife died in 1859, at the age of seventy-two years. Mrs. Donnell was the sixth in their family of nine children, five of whom are yet living: Amos A., Hannah C., Sarah F., Anna F. and Mary B. By her first husband, Mrs. Donnell had one son, Franklin I. Catlin, now a resident of Kentucky.

While residing in La Grange Township, Mr. Donnell served as School Director for some seventeen years, and was also Town Supervisor. He is a Republican in politics, and both he and his wife are members of the Presbyterian Church, in which he serves as Elder. His life has been one of uprightness, well worthy of emulation, and by fair dealing, perseverance and enterprise he has acquired a handsome property.

Extracted 04 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 221-222.

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