JOSEPH TOWNSEND, general foreman of the C. & A. R. R. shops at Bloomington, is a native of England, and
was born Nov. 14, 1825. He is the son of Henry and Mary (Fell) Townsend, of English ancestry and parentage. The
father, while in England, was engaged in the manufacture of carriages and other road vehicles, in which he carried
on an extensive business. He was a man of large liberality, and was ruined financially by signing notes for friends,
which he, as usual, was obliged to pay, and on account of which he was compelled to throw up his business. He then
came to America in 1829, settling at Utica, N. Y., where he worked as a carpenter, and died five years later, in
1834. The mother of our subject survived her husband over forty years and departed this life in 1875. Of the parental
family of twelve children only four are now living: Ann, Mrs. Jones, of Attica, N. Y.; Joseph, our subject; Eli,
of Hamilton, Mo., and Mary, Mrs. Shipman, of Chicago. The parents were members of the Church of England.
Joseph Townsend at the early age of ten years commenced to paddle his own canoe. After leaving home he engaged to work upon a farm, and remained in that vicinity for seven years, attending school in winter and working the balance of the year. In 1842 he returned to Utica and commenced learning the carpenter's trade, at which he served three years. He then went to Oneida Village and entered the employ of the Syracuse & Utica Railroad Co. as car repairer, where he remained five years, after which he accepted a position as foreman on the Lake Shore & Southern Railroad, at Adrian, Mich. In 1854 he visited Chicago, whence after a short time he went to Racine, Wis., where he was given a position as foreman of the Racine & Mississippi Railroad, which occupied eight years. From there he went to Kansas to take a similar position in the car department of the Union Pacific. After five and one-half years in that position he became master car-builder of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, with headquarters at Sedalia, Mo., where he remained six years. Mr. Townsend then engaged with the Hannibal & St. Joe as car-builder, and was with that company four years. From there he went to the Union Pacific Central Branch at Atchison, Kan., and the next year, 1880, accepted his present position, which he has since occupied. It is scarcely necessary to say, considering the positions which he has filled, that Mr. Townsend possesses more than ordinary skill and ability as a mechanic, and is well qualified for his present responsible duties. He is well posted in railroad matters, and has accumulated a fine property, much of it consisting of Kansas lands. He is Republican in politics, and as a citizen is highly respected for his excellent character and moral worth.
Mr. Townsend was united in marriage with Miss Amy Wralten, of Utica, N. Y., in 1848. She is the daughter of Jacob and Ann (Randall) Wralten, natives of England, and who emigrated to America in 1829. Mr. Wralten was a contractor and builder, and after coming to this country with his family, located at Utica, N. Y., where the parents remained until their death, the mother departing this life in 1832, and the father in 1879. Their family included nine children, of whom Mrs. T. was the youngest but one. By her marriage with our subject she became the mother of five children, four living, namely, James A.; Elizabeth J., Mrs. Barnard; Frankie F., Mrs. Dr. Harris; and Julia M., Mrs. McGrew, all living in Kansas. Nellie departed this life in 1864.
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), 209-10. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.