In retrospect E. J. TOWNLEY can see Putnam county when it was but sparsely settled, when its homes were mostly log cabins and when only here and there had a farm been made, showing that the work of development had been begun in this region. He is now one of the oldest citizens of Senachwine township, not only in years, but also in the length of his residence in this locality. He was born in Essex county, New Jersey, February 21, 1828, and his father, Clark TOWNLEY, was born in the same county, March 1, 1797. He married Rachel GILDERSLEEVE, who was born in the village of Jefferson, New Jersey, on the 11th of June, 1803, and their children were six in number, four of whom died in New Jersey. The other two, E. J. and George W. TOWNLEY, the latter now a resident of Nebraska, came with their parents to Illinois in 1854, and the winter was spent at the home of Elder GILL, at Toulon, Stark county, Illinois. In March, 1855, they located on the farm upon which the subject of this review now resides.
The father was a shoemaker by trade and the family were poor, but they managed to purchase forty acres of land. There was a little cabin on the place, but it had no chimney, and a stovepipe was put through a hole in the roof. About ten acres of the land had been broken and fenced, and the father and sons took up the work of further developing and cultivating the farm. There they lived for fifteen years and then the mother died, passing away February 8, 1869. The father afterward removed to the village of Henry, Marshall county, where he passed away October 19, 1884, at the venerable age of eighty-seven years.
E. J. TOWNLEY was a young man of twenty-six years at the time of the removal of the family to Illinois, and he assisted in the work of the home farm, and when the father removed to Henry he and his brother took charge of the farm, which they operated together for many years. Later, however, the brother sold out and went to Nebraska, while Mr. TOWNLEY has continued his farming operations in this county, and although he is not now actively engaged in the work of the fields, he still owns valuable farming land in Putnam county.
He was married in 1857 to Miss Julia BAUR, who was born in Wall street, New York, August 7, 1829. For some time she has been in poor health. Two sons and a daughter were born unto them, all yet living: John C., who is married and has a family, lives in Texas; Rachel is at home; and Arthur is in Texas.
Mr. TOWNLEY remembers well the trials and hardships of pioneer life in Putnam county, when all labor was performed by hand and when the farmer worked hard and long to till his fields and harvest his crops. His day's labor extended from sunrise to sunset, and even after that the chores had to be done. Although he has been successful in business he has always regretted that he had no better educational privileges in youth. He attended only the subscription schools, and because his father had little money his school opportunities were very limited. He has, however, practical common sense, the lack of which has caused many a man to fail in business, while Mr. TOWNLEY has prospered, becoming the owner of over seven hundred acres of valuable land in Senachwine township. He now rents his land, so that he is practically living retired - and his rest is well earned. In politics he has been a republican since the organization of the party, but has never wanted or held office. About a year ago he united with the Christian church. Earnest, unremitting toil was for many years his portion, and he certainly merits the rest which has come to him in the evening of life.
Extracted June 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties