Birth: October 26, 1828, New Harrisburg, Dauphin Co. PA
Death: February 25, 1926, Decatur, Illinois
Parents: William Cassell and Elizabeth Leidig (Birth-PA)
Siblings: Augustus, Joseph, Berry Hill, Christian, Sophia (Albert), Rosannah (Allen), Esther Albert, Henry and Michael
1st Marriage: September 17, 1849, Putnam Co. IL
Spouse: Harriet Ursula Wyckoff
1. Ella (Danley)
2. Charles Henry
3. Anna F.(Andrews)
5. John Frank
6. Arminni Lucy (Linneham)
2nd Marriage: April 29, 1886, Decatur, Macon Co. IL
Spouse: Mary Jane Pettes
John Cassell was born on October 26, 1828 in the village of New Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. He spent his early life on his family&Mac226;s farm there. John and his brothers started helping their father on the farm at an early age. As a young boy, he learned to swing an ax, cradle and scyth which were the principle farm implements during that time. Whenever possible during the winter season, John attended the local school which was held in a log cabin and did his lessons on a slab bench. According to Civil War records, John was a small man with black hair and blue eyes.
In 1839, John&Mac226;s brother, Berry, convinced his parents to join their brothers, Augustus, Joseph and Christian - who were living in Illinois., They started on their journey in the fall of 1839. John and his family traveled down the canal from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The water was so low that steamers could not run so the family traveled by keelboat to Louisville, Kentucky. The trip took them 21 days.
In Louisville, John and his family rented a house to wait for low water. After a few weeks, they grew tired of waiting and purchased a one horse wagon. John and his family came by land from Louisville, Kentucky to Decatur, Illinois. By this time the weather was so severe that his brother, Berry froze his feet during the trip. They arrived in Decatur, Illinois on the November 20, 1839. By this time the snow was 4 foot deep and the weather so severe that they couldn&Mac226;t travel any further. His brother, Berry notified his brothers living in Putnam County, and one came to pick up them up to take them to their new home.
On September 17, 1849, at the age of 21, he married Harriet Ursula Wyckoff in Putnam County, Illinois. John and Harriet had six children. They were Ella, who was born in 1852; Charles Henry, who was born in 1853; Anna F., who was born in 1856; Willie, who died in infancy in 1859, John Frank, who was born in 1860 and Arminni L., who was born in 1867.
Between 1860 and 1870 John lived in Monticello Township, Piatt County, Illinois where he worked as a Justice of the Peace. John at one time was the magistrate for Dewitt County and Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer that visited with him at times. The story is passed down from generation to generation that Abraham Lincoln gave John a cane that he had carved. This cane is supposed to still be in the family. John also served in the civil war as a musician. Sometime before 1880, John and family moved to Big Creek, Ellis County, Kansas. It is unknown how long, John lived in Kansas but by the time of Harriet's death in 1882, they were living in Niantic, Macon County, Illinois.
Sometime after 1880, John and Harriet moved to Niantic, Illinois, where they continued to live the rest of their lives. John made a living as a baker. Harriet passed away on November 31, 1882. John married once again on April 29, 1886. His new wife was Mary Jane Pettes. They were married by John&Mac226;s brother-in-law, Thomas Albert. John ran his bakery and in the early 1890&Mac226;s, was also a merchant. By the early 1900&Mac226;s, John had retired was simply called Squire John. Mary Jane passed away in 1912. Sometime after that John moved to West North Street in Decatur, Illinois where he continued to live until his death. In 1920, his daughter, Minni and family were living with John. John died Thursday morning in his home on February 25, 1926. He was buried beside his first wife in the Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois.
Compiled by Nancy Piper; submitted by Betty Dickinson