Biographical Sketch of James A. Hartsell

From "1910 Shelby County History"

The pioneers of ILLINOIS have borne a very important part in the development and advancement of the State, and the present supremacy of this commonwealth has been largely attained through the importance of its agricultural interests. For many years SHELBY COUNTY land was not as valuable as that in some other parts of the State, owing to the fact that so much of it was bottom land. But, since it has been tiled, the black soil of those erstwhile fallow acres is yielding phenomenal crops and placing the farmer among the most prosperous in the State. (Note (JDH) - to "tile land" means to install drainage tile.)

JAMES A. HARTSELL, a pioneer agriculturist of ASH GROVE TOWNSHIP, was born near CONNERSVILLE, FAYETTE COUNTY, INDIANA, Mar. 18, 1837, a son of DAVID and BARBARA (NIPP) HARTSELL, the former of VIRGINIA, and the latter of WEST VIRGINIA. (Note (JDH) - Barbara's birthplace of Wythe County is in Virginia, not West Virginia.) They were married in INDIANA, whence MRS. HARTSELL had come in childhood, MR. HARTSELL having made his way there from OHIO. Both parents died in SHELBY COUNTY, ILLINOIS, advanced in years.

JAMES A. HARTSELL resided at home until his marriage at age of 21 years to ELIZABETH PALMER, and 2 years later, in 1860, he came to ILLINOIS, settling in RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, where he rented land until 1872. In the latter year he purchased 80 acres of partly improved land at $27.25 per acre (note (JDH) - this must have been $34.00 per acre), for the greater part of which he had to go in debt. Hard faithful labor soon cleared his indebtedness, and he later added to his holding from time to time, paying from $16.25 to $40.00 per acre, and in mean time draining numerous ponds and tiling his land throughout. He now owns 300 acres of excellent land, which he devotes to grain growing.

In 1896, MR. HARTSELL erected his present home, situated four and one-half miles southeast of WINDSOR, in ASH GROVE TOWNSHIP, his farm extending into RICHLAND TOWNSHIP on the west side. This property is operated by MR. HARTSELL and his son.

The first MRS. HARTSELL (ELIZABETH PALMER) died after 5 years of married life. On Dec. 23, 1868, MR. HARTSELL married SOPHRONIA WALKER, daughter of JOSEPH and MARY (note (JDH) - Sarah?) (DORSEY) WALKER of FAYETTE COUNTY, INDIANA (note (JDH) - they were in Illinois by now). To this marriage of MR. HARTSELL there were born these children: MINNIE ALBERTA, wife of JOHN HART of RICHLAND TOWNSHIP; WILLIAM WEBSTER, a leading attorney of WINDSOR; OMA ESTELLA, wife of JOHN CROCKET, Principal of Schools at STRASBURG, ILLINOIS; JAMES ORAN, assisting his father in operation of the home farm; SHERMAN DONALD and HARRISON MARINE, both at home.

In addition to his own children, MR. HARTSELL reared and educated several whom he adopted, among them ALMIRA LAWTON, whom he reared from 6 to 21 years of age. For 4 or 5 years, MR. HARTSELL's sister lived with them.

MR. HARTSELL has always been a staunch Republican and cast his vote in the TOWNSHIP. He is a self-made man on the truest sense of the word, and his success in the various operations has been hard earned and well deserved. He bears the reputation of a man of sterling integrity and has many warm friends in the TOWNSHIP where he has made his home so many years.

  JAMES A. HARTSELL     born March 18, 1837     died September 1, 1910
  ELIZABETH PALMER      born Sept. 4, 1836      died February 25, 1866
  SOPHRONIA WALKER      born June 15, 1849      died March 7, 1926

                        sister of JAMES A. HARTSELL
                        wife of TIMOTHY SMALL
                        Mother of JAMES W. SMALL
  All buried in ASH GROVE CEMETERY