Hon. Halstead Townsend



This well known citizen of Warren was born near Bath, Steuben Co., N.Y., April 11, 1814, and is a son of Samuel and Sarah (Longwell) Townsend, the former a native of Dutchess County, that State. His paternal grandfather, Eber Townsend, was a Revolutionary soldier, wounded and captured by the British at the taking of New York City, and kept some time as a prisoner. The Townsends were from England, and the Longwells from the North of Ireland, of Scotch-Irish ancestry.

The subject Of this notice received a good education, largely by private study, and in 1830 came to Illinois, sojourning a few months at Springfield. The next year he emigrated to Mineral Point, Wis. While in the mining regions, in 1832, the Black Hawk War broke out, and he enlisted in a cavalry squadron, under command of Colonel, who was afterward Gen. Henry Dodge, and had a little taste of backwoods military life, coming out of the war safely with his scalp on. In 1833 he went to the lead mines near Galena, and devoted his time to mining until 1837. He then settled on a tract of land a few miles southwest of the present site of Warren, where he engaged in farming somewhat extensively until 1869. He then removed into the village, and has since given his attention to money-loaning, while at the same time superintending his farms and looking after his other interests.

While a resident of Rush Township Mr. Townsend held various local offices, such as Supervisor for twelve or thirteen years, School Trustee for a longer period, and School Director at sundry times. He was first chosen a member of the Legislature in1858, and again in 1870, each time serving a single term. He was the father of the bill to increase the jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace from $100 to $200; a bill which was savagely assailed by the lawyers, but which passed and is still in force.

Mr. Townsend is a Republican of Whig antecedents, a disciple forty years of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. He attended the first Republican State Convention held at Bloomington, in 1855, and had previously attended a district convention of the same kind at Rockford, one of the earliest ever held after the demise of the Whig party. He is a Blue Lodge Mason. In 1836 he was joined in wedlock with Miss Hannah Carver, of Fayette County, Ind., and they had a family of ten children.

Mr. Townsend is a man of success both as regards mining and farming, also in rearing a respectable family of children and in obtaining the confidence of his neighbors and constituents, and in faithfully discharging the duties of every official trust confided in him.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)