Henry Atwood, well known as a prominent agriculturist of Pella township, now living retired with his son Wyllie, was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, February 6, 1832, his parents being William H. and Lenora (Atkins) Atwood. The father was born on Cape Cod and when but eight years of age went to Boston with his father, who soon afterward purchased a farm at Chelsea, Massachusetts. While still but a boy William H. Atwood began providing for his own support as clerk in a store, and throughout his entire life was connected with mercantile interests. He learned to read by poring over newspapers at every available opportunity. He was entirely self-educated, but through his efforts became a well informed man, using his leisure for reading, study and investigation. In the school of experience he learned, too, many valuable lessons, acquainting himself with the methods in vogue in the business world, and by well directed thrift and enterprise, established a large business as a wholesale and retail dealer in oysters. In this enterprise he was associated with his brother, and for a long period they enjoyed an extensive patronage.
William H. Atwood was married at Chelsea, Massachusetts, to Miss Lenora Atkins, a native of Cape Cod, who died when their son Henry was but twelve years of age. The father afterward wedded Ruth Newcome and subsequent to her death was a third time married. He served as a captain of a military company and throughout his entire life gave his political support to the democracy. He died at the old home in Chelsea in 1878, at the age of seventy-four years. His children were seven in number: Franklin, who died at the age of twenty-one years; Henry; Lenora, deceased; Cordelia, who is a widow and lives in Massachusetts; Daniel, who served in the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts regiment throughout the Civil war, and is now living in the Bay state; Thomas H., who was a member of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry in support of the Union; and Otis, who resides in Boston.
When thirteen years of age Henry Atwood secured a position in a wholesale drug store in Boston, and that he was trustworthy, reliable and diligent, is indicated by the fact that he remained there until he was twenty-one years of age. In 1857 he determined to try his fortune in the west, hoping to enjoy better business opportunities than he could secure in the east. He spent a short time in Minnesota for his health, and was in Minneapolis when the first building was erected in that city. Later in the year he came to Ford county, 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 brought his entire farm under cultivation. In its midst he erected a small house, twelve by twelve feet. Trees were planted and many other improvements made which indicated the progressive spirit and practical methods of the owner. His was the first house erected in Pella township, and indeed Mr. Atwood was one of the early settlers of the county, having now for more than a half century made his home within its borders. He 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 positions of honor and trust, the duties of which he has ever discharged with promptness and fidelity. He belongs to the band of faithful and courageous pioneers of Ford county who aided in extending the frontier and in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present development and progress of the county.
On the 16th of November, 1859, Mr. Atwood was married, in Onarga, Iroquois county, to Miss Mary Wyllie, who was born in Warren, Maine, and is a daughter of William and Harriet Wyllie. Mrs. Atwood taught the first school held in Pella township in her own home. By her marriage she has become the mother of three children: Lillie A., who was born and reared on the old homestead, is now the wife of David E. Tufts, of Steele county, North Dakota; Wyllie T. married Miss Loressa Wilson, who was born in Peoria county, Illinois, and was one of a family of six children. He is now operating his father's farm and owns two hundred and forty acres of land in Iowa; Flora B. is the wife of Hazel Carr, of Rensselaer, Indiana.
Mr. Atwood is a member of the Presbyterian church and his life has been actuated by high and honorable principles and worthy motives. 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 stalwart champion and he has done much toward the advancement of the schools of Ford county. During the long period of his residence here he has enjoyed in full measure the confidence and regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact. Men know him as an energetic, progressive and reliable business man and agriculturist and as a citizen always loyal to the public good. He has aided largely in the agricultural progress of this section of the state and at the same time has cooperated in many other measures which have been of great value to the county.
In 1907 Mr. Atwood was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who was born in Warren, Maine, May 27, 1831, and passed away at Piper City, March 12, 1907, after an illness of ten days. She was one of the charter members of the First Presbyterian church and had continued in constant affiliation therewith, exemplifying in her life its teachings and its principles. Her loss was most deeply mourned by many friends as well as her immediate family. Mr. Atwood is now living retired on the homestead with his son Wyllie and his rest is well merited, having been honorably won through years of former toil and activity.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 814-818.

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