Lee County Biography


Justin L. Hartwell, proprietor of the Five Oaks Nursery and Fruit Farm, has developed a business of extensive and gratifying proportions and one which is interesting to all who study nature and are in sympathy with the improvement processes that are being developed in connection with the cultivation of flowers and fruits. Born in Greene county, Illinois, in 1848, Mr. Hartwell is a son of James C. and Mary (Corey) Hartwell, both of whom were natives of Boston, but came to this state in 1843. In early life the father had learned and followed the carpenter's trade and to some extent he continued building operations after his removal to the west, but in Illinois he also took up the occupation of farming.

Upon the home farm in his native county Justin L. Hartwell was reared and in practical experience received the early lessons which constituted the foundation upon which his later success has been built. He supplemented his public-school course by study in the State Normal school, from which he was graduated with the class of 1875. He afterward took up the profession of teaching, which he followed in Dixon for three years and later at various points in Illinois, being for five years superintendent of the schools at Washington, this state. In the meantime he started a fruit farm near Dixon and in 1889 took up his permanent abode thereon. The place is now called the Five Oaks Nursery and Fruit Farm and is one of the most valuable properties of the kind in this section of Illinois. In his yard stands a fine old elm that his mother brought as a seedling from Boston in the early '80s. There are forty varieties of shade trees upon his place and many beautiful, ornamental and fine fruit trees, in addition to handling trees he also sells decorative plants of all kinds and makes a specialty of peonies, of which he has many wonderful and beautiful varieties. His nursery goods are shipped widely over a number of states and he employ?s a number of men throughout the year and one hundred people during the fruit season. He has forty acres of land and every inch is made available for purposes for which he wishes to use it. His is indeed one of the line nurseries of Illinois and his nursery stock is received in most excellent condition, owing to the careful manner in which it is raised and handled in shipment.

In 1872 Mr. Hartwell was united in marriage to Miss Lucy Walker, a daughter of Wilson and Margaret Walker, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Ohio. They came to Illinois in the '50s settling in Pike county and Mrs. Hartwell attended the State Normal school at the same time her husband was a student there. She too has made a special study of flowers and landscape gardening and has many advanced ideas upon the subject. Indeed she is a lady of broad general culture, a leader in progress along those lines in which woman has made her most rapid advancement in recent years. She was the first president of the Dixon's Woman's Club and also president of the Phidian Art Club. She is a lady of notably strong character, of marked individuality and high ideals and her influence is a beneficial and uplifting one in the community. Mr. and Mrs. Hartwell have no children of their own, but have adopted and reared three: Mary, who is ex-superintendent of domestic work in the Chicago schools and now teacher of cooking and kindred branches; Leila, at home; and Robin, who is an expert landscape gardener and now has charge of the Five Oaks Nursery and Fruit Farm. Mr. Hartwell votes independently according to the dictates of his judgment and the needs of the situation. He is a well known Mason, belonging to both the lodge and chapter, and in his life exemplifies the beneficient spirit of the craft, which is based upon mutual helpfulness and brotherly kindness.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.


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