BIOGRAPHY - Henry Atwood

HENRY ATWOOD has longer resided in Pella Township than any other of its citizens. He has here made his home for thirty-five years, and is now living on section 22. With the history of Ford County, he has been prominently identified and has ever borne his part in the work of upbuilding and advancement. As he is widely and favorably known throughout the community, we feel assured that this sketch will prove of interest to many of our readers.

Mr. Atwood was born in Chelsea, Mass., February 6, 1832. His grandfather, Stephen Atwood, was born at Cape Cod, spent his early life as a sailor and afterward became a farmer. His son, William H. Atwood, father of Henry, was born on Cape Cod, and when about eight years old went to Boston with his father, who bought a farm at Chelsea. William went into a store and was ever afterward connected with mercantile interests. He learned to read by poring over newspapers, and was entirely self-educated, but through his own efforts became a well-informed man. With his brother, he did a large business as a wholesale and retail dealer in oysters. He was married in Chelsea, to Miss Lenora Atkins, a native of Cape Cod, who died when our subject was about twelve years old. He then married Ruth Newcome, and, after her death, was a third time married. He served as Captain of a military company and throughout his life was a Democrat. He died in the old home at Chelsea, in 1878, at the age of seventy-four years.

The children of the Atwood family were Franklin, who died at the age of twenty-one; Henry, of this sketch; Lenora, who died at the age of twenty-one; Cordelia, who is living in Newton, Mass.; Daniel, who served in the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Regiment throughout the late war; Thomas H., who was in the Fourth Iowa Cavalry; and Otis, of Massachusetts. By the second marriage were born five children and of the fourteen, ten are now living.

Our subject spent the first twelve years of his life in Chelsea and then went to Boston, where he attended the public schools for two years. He afterward went to night school for two years and was a student in the Brocton School, but ill health forced him to abandon his studies. He was afterward engaged for nine years in the wholesale drug business. In 1857, he determined to try his fortune in the West. He spent a short time in Minnesota for his health, and was at Minneapolis when the first building was erected in that city. Later in the year, he came to Illinois and purchased eighty acres of wild land in Pella Township, where he has since made his home. It was not long before he had his entire farm under a high state of cultivation. A home was built, trees were planted and many other improvements made, which add both to the value and attractive appearance of the place. Mr. Atwood was one of the earliest settlers of the county and has been prominently identified with its growth and progress during all these years. He served on the first jury of Ford County, in Paxton, and has been called upon to fill many position of honor and trust, the duties of which he has ever discharged with promptness and fidelity.

On the 16th of November, 1859, in Onarga, Iroquois County, Mr. Atwood wedded Miss Mary Wyllie, who was born in Warren, Me., and is a daughter of William and Harriet Wyllie. She taught the first school in Pella Township in her own home. Three children have been born of their union: Lillie A., who was born and reared on the old home farm and educated in the public schools and Onarga Seminary, is the wife of David E. Tufts, a farmer of Steele County, N. Dak.; Wyllie is a successful teacher of North Dakota, and Flora B. is a teacher of recognized ability in Pella Township.

Mr. and Mrs. Atwood are charter members of the Presbyterian Church in Piper City, to which their children also belong, and he is now serving as one of its Elders. He cast his first Presidential vote for John C. Fremont and has since been a Republican, stanch and true. The cause of education has found in him a warm friend and he has done much for the advancement of the schools in this neighborhood. During the thirty-five years of his residence in Ford County, he has won the confidence and regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact and this work would be incomplete without the sketch of Henry Atwood.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 267-268.

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