Capt. Samuel Atwell was born in Harrison County, Ind., December 16, 1834. His father, Thomas Atwell, was born in Maryland, January 24, 1789, and his father, the grandfather of Capt. Atwell, removed from Maryland to North Carolina, and from there to Barren County, Ky., where he bought land and lived upon it until his death. Thomas Atwell was but a lad when his parents moved to Kentucky, where he was reared and married, and in 1832, accompanied by his wife and seven children, removed by teams and wagons to Harrison County, Ind. Here he rented land and lived until 1849, when he came down the Ohio River in flatboats, and landed in Brooklyn March 1. Here he also rented land, engaged in farming and resided until his death, August 18, 1863. The maiden name of his wife was Nancy Harlow. She was born in 1800 in Kentucky. Her father, Michael Harlow, was born in one of the Eastern States, and served in the Revolutionary War. He was a farmer, and spent the last years of his life in Barren County, Ky. The mother of Capt. Atwell died in August, 1851, and was the mother of ten children.
Capt. Samuel Atwell attended school in Harrison County, Ind., the schoolhouse being of the primitive style so often described in these pages. He afterward attended school in Massac County for a time, and in 1859 entered Shurtleff College, at Alton, Ill., remaining there two years. He was converted in his eighteenth year, and joined the regular Baptist Church. In 1855 he began teaching school and continued to teach until 1859. Two years later he commenced preaching, and the same year he enlisted as a private soldier in Company A, Fifty-sixth Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to be Sergeant in 1862, and to Captain the same year, and in 1865 was commissioned Major, but was not mustered. He was in command of his regiment at the time of his discharge. Among the important battles in which he was engaged may be mentioned the siege of Corinth, in May, 1862; the battle of Corinth, October 3 and 4, 1862; the siege and capture of Vicksburg, and Missionary Ridge. He started with Sherman on the Atlanta campaign, his regiment constituting a part of the rear guard until after the fall of Atlanta. Afterward he started in the march to the sea, and participated in the capture of Savannah. From there he went to South Carolina, and was there when the city of Columbia was burned. The rebels had taken all the cotton on hand and placed it in the middle of the streets and set it on fire. At night the wind arose and carried the flames from the burning cotton to the buildings. The soldiers could not arrest the progress of the flames, though many worked all night trying to do so, and as a consequence the city was destroyed. From Columbia he went to North Carolina and participated in the battle of Bentonville, and from there marched through Virginia by way of Richmond to Washington, and participated in the Grand Review, May 23 and 24, 1865. After this review he went to Louisville, and thence to Little Rock, Ark., where he was mustered out of the service August 12, 1865, and was finally discharged at Springfield, Ill., on the 26th of the same month. Upon returning home he found his health much impaired, and has never fully recovered. Previous to his return be purchased a farm, upon which he lived until the spring of 1866, when he sold out and removed to Brooklyn, and lived there until the spring of 1867. He then removed to Metropolis, and resided there until 1878, when he removed to Oregon and there lived two months, at the end of which time he went to Auburn, Cal. There he bought a home and lived two years, when he returned to Metropolis, where he has lived ever since.
Our subject was married in October, 1865, to Josephine Pell, who was born in Rosiclare, Hardin County, Ill., and is a daughter of Mitchell and Lethe (Badger) Pell. There are live children living, viz: George P., Lillian, Olive, Lethe and William. Samuel, the fourth child, died in 1875, aged two years. Capt. Atwell has always been a Republican, and has filled various offices of honor and trust. In 1866 he was elected Sheriff, and in 1869 elected County Clerk, serving in this latter office eight years. In 1882 he was again elected County Clerk, and has served continuously until the present time. In addition to his official duties he has also attended to his pastoral labors, preaching in different places, and a portion of the time he has been pastor of the church at Metropolis. His life has thus, it will be seen, been a very active and useful one, and the esteem in which he is held is very high.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 414
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