Hardin County

LaFayette Twitchell

CAPT. LA FAYETTE TWITCHELL, a prominent citizen of Elizabethtown, Ill., at the present time police magistrate, was born on Feb. 26, 1829, in that part of Pope county, Ill., now included in the county of Hardin, his birthplace being on a farm about four and a half miles northwest of Elizabethtown. His father, Moses Twitchell, was born at Bethel, Me., March 6, 1779. In early life he was engaged in rafting lumber from Bethel to Brunswick, and also learned the trade of mill-wright. He married Lydia Harris in 1810, and in 1812 moved to Pittsburg, Pa., where he engaged in the milling and lumber business. In 1818 he placed all his personal property on a flat-boat and with his wife and two children came down the Ohio river to Elizabethtown. He bought eighty acres of land from a Mr. O'Neal, who had built a small grist mill on Big creek, one of the first mills in that part of the state. This mill Mr. Twitchell enlarged and added a saw mill. It afterward became known far and wide as "Twitchell's mill." Moses Twitchell did considerable business in shipping lumber down the river by flatboat, frequently going as far as New Orleans. He also conducted a cooper shop, blacksmith shop and still house. Later he built a saw mill on Three Mile creek but did not operate it for any great length of time. In that early day he held an office that corresponds to the present county commissioner. In the late fifties he had established at his place the first postoffice between Shawneetown and Golconda, known as Twitchell's Mills. He was postmaster until he died in 1832. His wife died in 1836. La Fayette is the youngest of the family, the other children being: Franklin, born in 1812 and died in 1855; Washington, born in 1814 at Pittsburg and died in 1851 in California; Hiram, who died in 1841 near Elizabethtown; Uzial, who died in 1862; and two daughters, both named Cynthia, who died in childhood. La Fayette Twitchell passed his boyhood at his father's mills. In 1837, after the death of his parents, he went to Elizabethtown, where he lived with his brother Franklin, attending the schools there and at Shawneetown. As soon as he was old enough to run on the river he engaged in the occupation of flatboating, his brother Franklin being one of the most noted pilots on the river. In the spring of 1849 in company with James and B. P. McFarland. George Jackson, William Chipp, John H. Lefler, and Robert Pierson, making seven in all, he started with a six-mule team for California. They left Elizabethtown on April 3, added two more mules to their team at St. Joseph, Mo., and arrived at Weaverville, Cal., on August 24. He remained in California until May, 1852, prospecting and mining, in which he was successful, and then returned by water to New York. From there he made his way back to Elizabethtown, where he engaged in the business of running a saw mill and flatboating until the mill was destroyed by fire in 1854. He and his brother then built a wharf-boat, which they conducted for about a year, when it was wrecked in a storm. Soon after this his brother died. In 1859 Captain Twitchell again caught the gold fever and went overland to Pike's Peak, remaining there for about two years, when he again returned to his home near Elizabethtown. In August, 1862, he helped to raise a company, which was mustered in as Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-first Illinois infantry. He was at first made adjutant of the regiment, and in June, 1863, was commissioned captain of his company. He was in many of the military operations around Vicksburg, fought at Arkansas Post and Milligan's Bend, and was engaged in doing guard and provost duty at Memphis. In November, 1863, he resigned, raised Company I, One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Illinois infantry, for the one hundred days' service, and was made captain of the company. He was discharged in October, 1864, by reason of expiration of service, and from that time until 1870 was engaged in the saw mill business. He then conducted a hotel near Rosiclare for about two years, when he was elected to the office of circuit clerk in 1872 on the Republican ticket and held the office for four years. Subsequently he served six years as master in chancery, and during President Harrison's administration was postmaster at Elizabethtown for four years. He was one of the county commissioners at the time the new court house was built, and took an active part in raising by subscription from the people of the town a sum of $1,200 with which to assist in building the structure. Captain Twitchell has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows ever since 1853; has passed through the chairs; and has five times represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge. He is one of the charter members of Alex Ragon Post, No. 565, Grand Army of the Republic, at Elizabethtown; has been honored by his comrades by being elected commander of the post, and has been a member of Western Association California Pioneers since 1893. In 1856 he was married to Miss Angelina, daughter of James and Elizabeth Steele, who came from South Carolina at an early date. Mrs. Twitchell was born near Rosiclare in 1836 and has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church ever since she was sixteen years of age. Captain and Mrs. Twitchell are the parents of the following children: Robert A., a physician of East St. Louis; La Fayette, an attorney at Denver, Col.; Mollie E., who died in childhood; Benjamin E. and James W., both physicians, practicing together at Belleville, Ill.

Extracted 2016 May 15 by Norma Hass from Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley, Personal and Genealogical with Portraits, published in 1905, Volume 2, page 392

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