Lee County Biography

Luther W. Mitchell


HON. LUTHER W. MITCHELL, who is the present representative of the Nineteenth District in the Illinois State Legislature, is a man of weight and influence in the political and public life of Lee County, as well as one of its most enterprising and progressive farmers and business men. He is President of the American Shetland Pony Club, of which he was one of the founders, and he is extensively engaged in raising thoroughbreds of that famous race of horses on his farm on section 25, Palmyra Township.

Mr. Mitchell is a native of this State, Colchester, in McDonough County, being the place of his birth, and February 5, 1843, the date thereof. He was yet young when his parents removed to Warren County, whence they subsequently went to Knox County and later to Whiteside County when he was eight years old, where he passed the remainder of his boyhood. He was given excellent educational advantages, and was very youthful when he became a pupil at the Mt. Carroll Seminary, where he paid diligent attention to his studies and made his mark as a bright scholar. When the war broke out, our subject watched its course with intense interest, and as soon as possible before he attained his majority, volunteered to serve his country in the hour of her greatest peril, enlisting in 1863 in Company A, One Hundred and Fortieth Illinois Infantry, He did guard duty for some time, and after his first term of enlistment expired, re-entered the ranks as a private in the Fifteenth Illinois Infantry, and at the close of the war was mustered out as Quartermaster-Sergeant, having been in the Quartermaster’s department for more than a year.

Our subject retired from the army with a fine military record, showing him to have been a good soldier and an official of rare merit. Returning to the quiet scenes of his old home in Whiteside County, he resumed the profession of teaching, at which he had been engaged when he exchanged his books for the accoutrements of a soldier. In 1867 he came to Lee County to pursue that vocation and taught in the Sugar Grove school district the ensuing two years, when he moved to Jones County, Iowa, where he was engaged as farmer and teacher for two years, and then again returned to Sugar Grove, where he taught the following ten years. He subsequently turned his attention to farming and July 24, 1881, entered upon the business of raising Shetland ponies, for which his farm, that he devotes to that purpose, is admirably adapted. He has applied his whole energies to the further introduction of this breed of hardy little horses, which are such favorites with the children and he was one of the prime movers in the organization of the American Shetland Pony Club, of which he is now President, and which has a membersliip in every State in the Union. This association for the encouragement of the propagation of this peculiar breed of ponies from the far-away Scotch isles is greatly indebted to Mr. Mitchell’s zealous labors in its behalf for what it has accomplished. It has issued the first herd-book that has been prepared for the registration of the Shetland ponies, of which over five hundred are registered in this country, our subject, himself, having over sixty thoroughbreds eligible for registration. He has a herd of ninety-five of these ponies that are fine specimens and excite the admiration of all lovers of horses. At the head of his stud is the well-known “Trinket” and "Trinket Jr."

Mr. Mitchell has been eminently successful from a financial standpoint, he has considerable property in this county, including three tracts of land lying in this and Dixon Townships, nearly all of which is finely improved, and one of his farms, which he has acquired since he came here, is a well-equipped dairy farm, run in the interests of the condensed milk business.

Our subject was married in Lee County, Palmyra Township, to Miss Augusta Moon, and she has been an invaluable assistant to him in the making of their home, whose pleasant hospitalities are well-known and appreciated by their many friends. One daughter, Myrtle I., completes their household. She has been given fine educational advantages, and is now completing her musical studies at Dixon College. Mrs. Mitchell is a lady of superior character, is bright and well informed, and is a leader in social circles. She comes of one of the old pioneer families of the county and was born, reared and educated in Palmyra Township, of which her parents, Abner D. and Sarah (Hillman) Moon, were early settlers. Her father was born in 1817 and was but twenty years of age when he came to this county, before many settlements had been made within its borders. He was one of the first to locate in Palmyra Township, where he improved a good farm, and he was associated with the citizens who were most active in promoting its welfare, material and otherwise. He was a prominent Democrat and a well-known figure in local politics. He was a Baptist in religion, and his community lost one of its most trustworthy and valued citizens at his death in 1877. Hiis wife now lives in Ashland, Neb., making her home with her eldest daughter, Mrs. J. B. Russell. She is as bright and active at the age of seventy-four as many a younger woman, and in her the Methodist Church finds a zealous member.

Mr. Mitchell is well equipped mentally as a business man and for public life, as he has a receptive, well-trained, evenly balanced mind, possesses a calm judgment, is sensible in his conclusions, and has positive convictions of his own on all subjects with which he is conversant, while he is quick to perceive and acknowledge an error when it is clearly proven to him that he is in the wrong, and withal he is singularly true to his principles of right, and is correct in his habits. These characteristics have recommended him strongly to his fellow-citizens as eminently fitting him for the responsibilities of civic offices, and they have honored him and themselves by calling him to high positions. For two terms he was Supervisor of Palmyra Township, and in 1890 he was elected to represent the Nineteenth District, including Lee and Whiteside Counties, in the Illinois State Legislature. As a member of the House he has made his mark as a sound, progressive and public-spirited legislator, and he has made his influence felt in the passage of such laws as he has deemed would be most beneficial to the State. He has been on several important committees—on that of Finance, License and Claims, was one of the Agricultural Committee, and was President of the Republican Farmers Committee.

Perhaps few men in the county are better versed in politics than Mr. Mitchell, who has long been a recognized leader of the Republicans in this section. For four years he was Chairman of the County Republican Central Committee, and since he has been in the Legislature, he has stood loyally by his party. During the remarkable Senatorial contest in the last session, which resulted in sending General Palmer to the United States Senate, he showed his fealty to Republicanism under trying circumstances that would have daunted a less determined man. He was very sick at the time, yet he persisted, at the peril of his life, in being carried from his sick-bed into the Senate chamber seven times, that he might cast his vote for ex­Governor Richard J. Oglesby for United States Senator.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 481

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