HON. J. H. ROWELL, Congressman from the Fourteenth District of Illinois, having his residence at Bloomington,
is a native of the Old Granite State, where he was born in 1833, and among the New England hills, in addition to
a natural inheritance, imbibed those strong and worthy principles of character which have contributed to his success
in life and to the building up of an honorable record. He is the son of J. B. and Cynthia (Abbott) Rowell, also
natives of New Hampshire. The grandparents on both sides were natives of Massachusetts, and after the Revolutionary
War, removed from their native State into New Hampshire. Both the great-grandfathers of our subject served on the
side of the colonies in their struggle for independence, and were among the early settlers of the Bay State. They
descended from a long line of honorable English ancestry, who were good citizens and straightforward business men,
and mostly engaged in agricultural pursuits.
The parents of our subject removed from New Hampshire in 1849, to McLean County, Ill., and settled in Danvers Township. The father lived only one year after coming here, and his eldest son, Ira, took up a tract of 160 acres of land, upon which he built a house, improved a farm, and established a comfortable home, where the family lived for a number of years.
The subject of this history remained with his mother and her family until he was twenty-one years old; at sixteen years of age he commenced teaching school winters while employed on the farm during the summer seasons. He had made the most of his advantages, and given good attention to his books while in school. After leaving the farm he entered Eureka College in Woodford County, Ill., as a student, and remained for the following six years. In 1860-61 he was Professor of Mathematics. The Civil War being now in progress he enlisted in Co. G, 17th Ill. Vol. Inf., being elected First Lieutenant, and after a year was given a Captain's commission, which he retained until his term of service expired. He was engaged with his regiment in the battles of Fts. Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Hatchie, the sieges of Corinth and Vicksburg, and also in Meridian campaign. Intermingled with these were various skirmishes, in all of which he performed his part as became a soldier and a leader.
After receiving his honorable discharge from the army Capt. Rowell commenced the study of law in Chicago University, in which he made such rapid progress that he was admitted to the bar that same year, 1865, and commenced the practice of his profession in Bloomington, Ill. His evident talent received ready recognition, and he was elected to the office of State's Attorney from 1868 to 1872. He was a member of the Board of Education for six years, and Master in Chancery of McLean County for three years, in the meanwhile occupying other positions of trust and responsibility as a citizen and valued member of society.
Capt. Rowell was elected to represent the Fourteenth District in the United States Senate, first in 1882, and is now serving his third term as a national legislator. During this time his course has been straightforward and upright, and his influence has been exerted for the best good of the greatest number. He is by no means a party politician, but in his high position strives to follow a line of strict integrity, which shall reflect not only honor upon himself, but upon the judgment of those who have placed him there.
The subject of our sketch was united in marriage with Miss Maria Woods at Bloomington, in 1866. Mrs. Rowell was born in Alton, Ill., and is the adopted daughter of J. C. and Maria Woods, of that place. She is an accomplished and educated lady, being a graduate of Denmark Academy. Their household circle has been completed by the birth of five children, as follows: Chester H. and Cora M. are attending the Michigan University at Ann Arbor; Lawrence W. is a student at the High School in Bloomington; Elmer and Laura are at home. The family residence is pleasantly located at the corner of Walnut and Evans streets, and its inmates are surrounded by all the refinements of modern life. They number among their friends the most cultivated people of the city.
Capt. Rowell is a member in good standing of the Christian Church, and socially belongs to the I. O. O. F., K. of P. and G. A. R. He has attained to his present high position solely by his own merits. He is social and genial in his disposition, a man who is faithful to his friends, strong in his sense of honor, and possesses hosts of friends, who rejoice in his prosperity as the just reward of his excellent qualities of mind and heart. Capt. Rowell has accumulated a comfortable property, is a stockholder in the National State Bank, and has an interest in the Home and Loan Association of Bloomington.
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), 125-126.