Marshall County
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TWIST, William W.

William W. TWIST, the present efficient postmaster of Toluca, is one of the most popular and influential citizens of that thriving little village, of which he is really the founder, and with whose interests he has been closely identified since it sprang into existence. He is a native of Marshall county, his birth occurring near the present town of Varna, April 2, 1842, and is a son of J. W. and Mary (DAVIDSON) TWIST.

The father was born in London, England, but when a mere boy was brought to America by his parents, who located in New York city, where he grew to manhood, and with his father, John TWIST, learned the cabinet maker’s trade. There he wedded Mary DAVISON, a native of that city, and soon afterward came to Illinois, becoming one of the early pioneers of Marshall county, and one of its well-to-do farmers. He was a worthy and prominent citizen, a democrat in politics, and was called upon to serve in various township offices. His death occurred in 1883, but his faithful wife is still living. Of the three children born to them James died in the spring of 1895, leaving a family, who still make their home in Marshall county, and Mary is the wife of Leander BURNS, of Scotland county, Missouri.

Our subject, who is the oldest of the family, spent his boyhood days in much the usual manner of farmer lads, assisting in the labors of the fields and acquiring his education in the public schools. At the age of twenty-one he began life on his own account as a farmer upon rented land, but soon began speculating in property, in which venture he was very successful. In 1875 he invested in land on which the village of Toluca now stands, purchasing an eighty-acre tract before the railroad was constructed, and carrying on farming. It was in 1887 that the railroad was built, and two years later he laid out the town, but in 1892 sold out to the Devlin Coal company.

At the age of twenty-four years, Mr. TWIST was united in marriage with Miss Louisa PALMER, of Marshall county, who died in 1886. On the 10th of September, 1896 he led to the marriage altar Mrs. May MOFFETT, nee SAXTON, a native of New York.

Mr. TWIST is one of the leaders of the democratic party in the community, has served as a delegate to its various conventions and labored hard for its success. He has filled all the township offices with the exception of supervisor and justice of the peace, which he refused to accept, was made the first postmaster of Toluca, but after serving for fourteen months resigned. However, he was again appointed in 1893, and is still filling the position with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the many patrons of the office. As a man of sound judgment and intelligence, he is well worthy of representation in a work of this kind, and his many friends have been attracted to him by his geniality and kindness. Those who have known him longest have for him the highest regard, a fact which certainly indicates an honorable and well spent life.

Extracted May 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.


William W. TWIST is one of the oldest native sons of Marshall county, having been born in Roberts township in 1842, so that he has been a resident of the county for more than six decades. He now resides in Toluca, his home being the most beautiful residence of the town, and he derives his income from real estate, which is the safest of all investments, having four hundred and fifty acres of valuable land in this county. He was born in Roberts township, April 2, 1842. His father, John W. TWIST, was born in London, England, and came to New York in 1832. He was a cabinet maker by trade and after residing in the east for several years took up his abode in Roberts township, Marshall county, Illinois, in 1841. The present county division, however, was then unknown and the district formed a part of Putnam county. After coming to the new world Mr. TWIST followed the occupation of farming and was numbered among the substantial agriculturists of Roberts township. He wedded Mary DAVIDSON, who was born in New York city, and is still living at the advanced age of eighty-four years. She makes her home with her son William and spends the summer seasons with her sister in Kansas. She is a member of the Christian church and is a most estimable lady, whose life in its various phases has won her the respect and confidence of those with whom she has been brought in contact. In the family were three children: William W.; James P., who was born in 1846 and died in 1894; and Mary, the wife of Leander BURNS, who follows farming near Osage City, Kansas. The second son, James TWIST, served as sheriff of Marshall county for four years and was also county treasurer for four years. He proved a most capable and reliable official and the trust reposed in him was well merited. He was also a man of excellent business capacity and in his death the community lost one of its valued citizens.

William W. TWIST in his boyhood days attended the old Shaw school and acquired a fair English education. He started out in life for himself in 1866 when a young man of twenty-four years, having up to this time aided in the work of the home farm. On leaving the old homestead he engaged in farming where the town of Toluca now stands, but eventually sold his land to the coal company. The discovery of the rich coal veins of this district greatly enhanced the value of his property and he disposed of it at a high figure.

Mr. TWIST has been married twice. He first wedded Louisa PALMER, who was born in 1843 and died in 1886. In 1896 he wedded Mrs. Mae MOFFETT, who was born in the state of New York. They have one child, Erma Mae TWIST, now eight years of age. Their beautiful home is celebrated for its gracious and warm hearted hospitality and is the scene of many a delightful social function. Mr. TWIST is now living retired, his possessions being sufficient to supply him with a good income without further recourse to labor save for the supervision of his landed interests. He has filled various offices, including those of assessor, collector and school treasurer, and could undoubtedly have had other political honors had he so desired. Spending his entire life in Marshall county, he is largely familiar with its history, having been a witness of its development from an early day, and the fact that many of his stanchest friends are those who have known him from his boyhood is an indication that his has been an honorable and upright career.

Extracted June 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.


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