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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



WILLIAM A. ARROWSMITH, a well-known and highly esteemed resident of Padua Township, owns and occupies a fine farm estate comprising 110 acres on section 24.

His land is valuable and finely improved, the residence of modern style of architecture, and the barns and out-buildings shapely and substantial structures, in all respects adapted for the purpose for which they were intended. He has been a resident of this section since 1856, and held the office of Supervisor for a period of six years, and in all respects is a representative citizen, taking a genuine interest in the welfare of his county and community.

Mr. Arrowsmith came to this county a single man, being only eighteen years of age, locating first in Padua Township. He is a native of Ross County, Ohio, and was born in Green Township, July 6, 1838. His father, John Arrowsmith, also a native of Ross County, came of Kentucky parentage, and married a lady of that State, by name Miss Phebe [ed., Phoebe] Ritter.

After marriage they settled on a farm in Ross County, Ohio, and there passed the remainder of their days. John Arrowsmith was born in 1806, and departed this life in 1846. His wife, Phoebe, was born in 1801, and died two years before her husband, in 1844.

Of their six children, our subject was the eldest son and third child, and was quite young when his parents died. He afterward lived with an older sister, for whom the father had provided in his will on condition that she should take the place of mother to the children until they were able to care for themselves. This trust she nobly fulfilled.

Our subject received a good public-school education and made his home with his sister until he started for the West. After arriving here he lived with another relative until he reached his majority.

After coming to this county, Mr. Arrowsmith, being in possession of some means and desiring to still further perfect himself in his studies, entered Wesleyan College [ed., Illinois Wesleyan University], where he remained until the outbreak of the late war. On the 6th of August, 1862, he enlisted as a Union soldier in Co. D, 94th Illinois Regiment, which was then commanded by Col. W. W. Orme [ed., Brigadier General William W. Orme], of Bloomington. He is now deceased.

The first destination of the regiment after it left Illinois was Prairie Grove, Ark., and young Arrowsmith participated in all engagements thereafter, being at the siege of Vicksburg [ed., Battle for Vicksburg] and the battle at Ft. Morgan, Ala., besides minor engagements. He was afterward in the fight at Yazoo City, Miss., Brownsville, Tex., Ft. Morgan and Spanish Fort. He escaped injury, although his coat was at one time pierced by a ball from the enemy.

He has now in his possession a hickory cane which bears marks of the enemy's bullets and which indicates that they fired close to the ground. After a period of brave and faithful service, during which time he shared uncomplainingly the privations and hardships of a soldier's life, Mr. Arrowsmith received his honorable discharge at Galveston, Tex., July 17, 1865. After being mustered out he returned to this county and purchased the tract of land which constitutes his present homestead.

The marriage of our subject occurred Dec. 21, 1865, in Padua Township, the maiden of his choice being Miss Martha J. Martin, who was born on the farm where she now lives, July 22, 1840. Mrs. A. is the daughter of Archer and Jane (Lewallen) Martin, who were natives of Virginia, but while young removed to Ohio and were there married.

The mother was born in New Jersey. After marriage Mr. and Mrs. M. settled on a farm in Champaign County, Ohio, whence they removed West in 1834 and located upon the farm where our subject and his wife now live, and which Mr. Martin improved from its original condition. Here both parents died, the father, July 28, 1868, at the age of seventy-nine years, having been born Oct. 10, 1789. The mother, who was born May 30, 1802, died June 25, 1872. They were most excellent people and greatly respected wherever known.

Mrs. Arrowsmith was reared and educated in Padua Township and remained under the home roof until her marriage. Of her union with our subject there were born five children, two of whom, John and Mary, died when less than one year old.

Those surviving are Sarah J., the wife of Ennis Wheeler, a farmer of Empire Township; Laura and William M. at home. Mr. Arrowsmith is strongly Republican in politics, and takes an active interest in the establishment and maintenance of schools. He is an extensive reader and possesses a large fund of general information. Besides the home farm, he owns twenty-four acres of valuable land in Empire Township, and is in all respects a fine representative of the thrifty and intelligent citizen who is contributing his full share toward the prosperity of his county.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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