Lee County Biography

John M. and Leonora (Lazarus) Abell
Viola Township


Lee County was well represented at the front during the late war, and among the bravest of her citizens soldiers were Jabez and John M. Abell, father and son, the latter of whom is the subject of this brief biography. He is now one of the prosperous farmers of this county, and he owns and occupies the old homestead on section 36, Viola Township, where his boyhood days were passed, the farm being the one which his father purchased from the Government in the early years of the settlement of this section, when he came here as one of the first pioneers to locate in this region.

Our subject was born December 25, 1844, at St. Charles, Kane County, while his father was born near Aylmer, Province of Ontario, Canada. He was a son of Daniel Abell, who was, it is thought, born in the State of New York, and was one of the descendants of an old English family that settled in this country in early Colonial times. He removed from New York to the Province of Ontario, and was one of the pioneers of the country around Aylmer. The land that he bought was heavily timbered, and he spent his remaining days in clearing and tilling it. He and his wife were Quakers.

The father of our subject learned the trade of a carpenter in his native country, and continued to reside in Canada until 1840, and then, accompanied by his wife, he came to Illinois, making the long and tiresome journey through the intervening wilderness with a team. He located at St. Charles, Kane County, and was engaged in carpentering there for a time. He afterwards lived in Ogle County until his removal to this county in 1848. He was among the first to select what is now Viola Township, as a suitable location for a home, and he bought and entered a tract of Government land on section 36. He devoted his energies to its improvement until 1862, when he went forth to help fight the battles of his adopted country, enlisting in Company I, Eighty-ninth Illinois Infantry. lie served nearly a year, and was then honorably discharged on account of disability, from which he never fully recovered, and his death some time afterward on his farm was in a measure due to that. He sacrificed his life for the Government under whose banners he had fought just as much as though he had died on the battlefield, The mother of our subject, who now resides with her daughter, Mrs. Annis Craddoek, in Willow Creek Township, bore the maiden name of Susan Miller, and she was a native of Canada.

He of whom we write was very young when he was brought to this county, and his earliest recollections are of Viola Township, in the days of itstransition from a wilderness to a well-cultivated, rich, agricultural center. At the time the family settled here, and for some years afterward there were no railways in Illinois, and the farmers were obliged to haul their grain with teams to Chicago to market. Our subject can remember when deer and other kinds of game, that are now now seen here, were abundant. He attended school in his youth, and obtained a practical training in all that pertains to farming on the old homestead.

Fired with youthful patriotism, our subject left school in January, 1864, to take his place in the ranks with the brave boys in blue, his name being enrolled as a member of Battery C, Second Illinois Light Artillery. He went with his regiment to the South, and saw active service in time States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri. He was with his regiment in all its marches and campaigns, until after the war was brought to a close, and won a fine record as a gallant and fearless fighter. After his honorable discharge with his comrades in September, 1865, he returned to his old home and quietly resumed farming, taking charge of the homestead, which has since become his. The excellent conition of his farm, with its highly cultivated, neatly fenced fields, and its substantialimprovements, shows that he is a good farmer, and is well deserving of the prosperity he enjoys. He is a hard worker and a good manager, is prudent and thrifty, and at the same time is open-handed and uses his money freely, not only to advance his own interests, but to benefit others. His fellow-citizens have confidence in his honor and ability, and have called him to positions of trust in various capacities. He has been a member of the School Board, has been Assessor, and has represented Viola Township on the County Board of Supervisors, and in all cases has striven to promote the best interests of the community. In politics, he is as true to the Republican party as he was in the days when he was supporting its principles on Southern battlefields. His army record is commemorated by his connection with the Grand Army of the Republic, as a member of William Thompson Post.

Mr. Abell was married in February, 1862, to Miss Leonora Lazarus, a native of Brooklyn Township, Lee County, and a daughter of Silas and Mary (Pierce) Lazarus. Our subject and his wife are the parents of eight children, namely: Charles J., Philip S., Harrie H., Laura L., Cecil, Millie, Stella and Robert L.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

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Mrs. Leonora Abell is a representative of a well known pioneer family of Lee county and from her infancy has resided in this locality, having come here with her parents in 1852. She was born in Orangeville. Columbia county. Pennsylvania, and is a daughter of Silas and Mary (Pierce) Lazarus. The father settled on a farm in Lee county in 1852 and was numbered among the pioneers in this locality. He took up a tract of land which was yet a wilderness and for many years thereafter cultivated and improved this property, making it one of the model farms in Lee county. He enlisted in Battery G, Second Illinois Light Artillery on December 25, 1863, and served until the close of the war. He* died in November, 1899, at the age of seventy-four, having survived his wife since 1887. Both are buried in East Paw Paw. The paternal branch of this family is of German origin but its representatives have been in America for many generations.

Mrs. Leonora Abell was still a child when her parents came to Lee county and she acquired her education in the public schools of East Paw Paw, attending until she was fifteen years of age and afterward remaining at home until after her marriage. On the llth of March, 1869, she wedded John M. Abell, a native of St. Charles, Kane county, Illinois, and a son of Jabez and Susan (Miller) Abell. John M. Abell came to Lee county when he was still a child and acquired his education in the public schools. After laying aside his books he turned his attention to farming and carpentering, following both occupations until his death. He erected many of the fine residences in Lee county and also the United Brethren church and many public and private buildings in Comp- ton. He also gave a great deal of attention to the development of his farm in Viola township, erecting excellent buildings upon it and making it one of the finest and most productive properties in this section of the state. His interests extended also to the field of public affairs and he was honored by his fellow citizens by election to various positions of trust and responsibility, serving with credit and ability as supervisor, justice of the peace, tax collector and assessor of Viola township. He was a member of the United Brethren church and of the Masonic fraternity conforming his life to the principles of those organizations. His public and private records were alike exemplary and his death, which occurred February 13,1912, when he was sixty-seven years of age, deprived Lee county of one of its most valued and representative citizens.

Mr. and Mrs. Abell became the parents of ten children: Charles J., engaged in the restaurant business in Compton; Philip S., a resident of Shabbona; Harry H., a mail carrier in Compton; Laura L., the wife of Judson Beemer, a farmer in Brooklyn township ; Mary Cecil, who married Zene Johnston, a farmer in Viola township; Mildred I., the wife of W. C. Potter, foreman of the steel mills in Gary; Stella M, who married Lawrence Lutz, who resides upon the home farm; R. Leslie, a graduate of the Paw Paw high school and now a mail carrier in Sublette; Ruth, the wife of Herbert Carnahan, a meat cutter residing in Compton; and M. Hope, a graduate of the Compton high school. Mrs. Abell now makes her home in Compton, where her many excellent traits of mind and character have won her the esteem and confidence of an extensive circle of warm friends.

History of Lee County 1914 by Frank E. Stevens

Both John Miller and Leonora are buried at Fisk Cemetery

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