genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
RICHARD McCLELLAN POWEL was born in Parkersburg, W. Va., September 2, 1846, and died November 1, 1892, respected by all who knew him. In his death the community lost one of its best citizens and one who will be long mourned by a large circle of friends. He came of a family of English origin, which was founded in America by his grandfather, Richard Powel, in Colonial days.

During the War for Independence the grandfather obtained letters of marque, and as Captain of a privateer sailed from these shores. It is supposed that all on board perished, for no news was ever received of them. Richard Powel left a little son of six months, who also bore the name of Richard, and became the father of our subject. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., December 9, 1801, and was a cabinet-maker by trade. He married Sarah Firth, and in 1841 removed to Parkersburg, W. Va., where he remained until September, 1851, when he emigrated to Springfield, Ill. In 1853 he came to Taylorville, and his death here occurred September 11, 1875.

Our subject was only about six years of age when the family came to this city, and with the history of Christian County he was identified until his death. When quite young he began the study of surveying, and mastered the profession almost entirely through his own efforts, being assisted to some extent by Charles Manners, who was then County Surveyor. For a time Mr. Powel followed surveying in Indiana, with headquarters at Indianapolis, locating railroad lines in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Missouri. In 1869 he was elected County Surveyor of Christian County for a term of two years, was re-elected in 1871, 1875 and 1879, his term of office expiring in 1884, after a period of fifteen years spent in that position.

Although the county is Democratic and life was a Republican in political faith, he was elected by very large majorities, a fact that indicates the confidence placed in him, his personal popularity and his excellent ability. He laid out several drainage systems, and that a large area of the country surrounding Taylorville is now fine farming land is due entirely to the labors of Mr. Powel.

On the 17th of December, 1885, our subject was united in marriage with Miss Emma Catherwood, daughter of James and Lydia (Tussey) Catherwood, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of Pennsylvania. For some years they made their home in Guernsey County, Ohio. The father died when Mrs. Powel was only two years old. Mrs. Catherwood removed to Shelby County, Ill., about 1857, and from there came to Taylorville. She is still living in this city, at the age of eighty-nine years. Of her family of ten children seven are now living. Mrs. Powel was only six years of age when she came to Christian County. By her marriage she has become the mother of two children: Ellen C. and Ruth Firth, aged six and three years respectively.

In addition to his other business interests, Mr. Powel was one of the incorporators and a Director of the First National Bank of Taylorville. He was also the owner of two farms, comprising four hundred and forty acres of land, which yielded to him a good income. An indefatigable worker, he possessed a robust constitution and spared himself not in the least when he thought his work demanded his attention. He worked up to within a few days of his death, being anxious to complete a drainage system before winter set in.

His advice and counsel were often sought by business men, who placed the utmost confidence in him. His word was as good as his bond, his integrity unquestioned. He was a firm, kind friend and a loving and tender husband and father. Honorable and upright in all things, he won the esteem of everybody with whom business or social relations brought him in contract.

Mrs. Powel is still living in Taylorville, where she has a pleasant home that she has recently erected on the old Powel homestead. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and through her many excellencies of character has gained a large circle of warm friends.


© Judy Edwards and Genealogy Trails