THOMAS T. TOWNLEY. Men of strict integrity, whose lives are governed by prudence
and principle, are the real backbone of any community. The reliance which their fellow-men
are able to place upon them strengthens every commercial transaction and reinforces that
confidence in human nature which is the prime essential in all dealings between man and man. This
necessary help in the upbuilding of a community is given by such men as Mr. Townley, an old settler
of East Nelson Township, whose active life has brought him into relations with many of the men
in Moultrie County, and whose public-spirited course has ever commended him to those who have
had dealings with him.
Our subject is of English parentage, his father, William, having been born in Manchester and his
mother. Sarah (Acton) Townley, being also a native of England. They were married August 3, 1815.
They were both born in Manchester. This worthy and intelligent family came to America about the
year 1827, although the father had come to this country one year previous. He was a machinist
and found employment in the manufacture of cotton thread at Manayunk, and located his family
in that city some eight miles from the city of Philadelphia. He remained there for about
eight years, after which he took charge of a machine shop on Brandywine Creek for about
a year and later of another shop on the Schuylkill River. His work while in the vicinity of Philadelphia
was in the line of making machinery for these different factories. He had built a factory in England,
on German Street, Manchester, for a man named Duck.
About the year 1837, one year after the close of the Black Hawk War, the father of our subject
came to Illinois and secured one hundred and sixty acres of fine land in Shelby County and in the fall
of that year he brought his family on from the East and settled down upon his land and devoted
himself entirely to agricultural pursuits. Afterward he added to it by purchase till he had six
hundred acres. Both he and his good wife finally passed away in Shelby County. She died
April 12, 1853, and he May 28, 1860. They had six living children, of whom Thomas T. was the eldest.
Manchester, England, Thomas Street, was the native home of Thomas Townley, and July 23,
1810. was the date of his birth. He came to America with his father's family, and remaining with
them, did not come West until the fall of 1837. His marriage took place June 12, 1839, in what is
now Hickory Township, and his bride, who was known in her maidenhood as Emily D. Apple, was
born in Philadelphia. They settled in Whitley Township and there established a happy home.
This wife became the mother of two children, who lived to years of maturity, namely: Thomas W. and
Francis, but she herself passed away, leaving her husband and children to mourn her loss. Her
death occurred February 26, 1850.
The second marriage of Mr. Townley took place March 11, 1851. in Edgar County, Ill., and he was
then united with a lady of unusual amiability and character, who was known in her maidenhood as
Mary Barnes and was born in Ohio February 5, 1828. She brought to the arduous and onerous
duties of her position all the powers of her fine character and warm-hearted devotion, and was successful
in the training, not only of her three children — George, Lucy and Josie — but of the two
whom she found in her husband's home.
When Mr. Townley removed from Whitley Township he came to East Nelson Township and
settled upon section 35, where he has since been a resident. Upon his splendid farm of five hundred
acres he has erected good buildings, which are an ornament to the township. In his encumbency of
the office of Highway Commissioner he has greatly benefited the traveling community. He has a
good blacksmith shop upon his farm, which he uses to advantage, as he has worked at that business for
some thirty years, in connection with his farm.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 662/663
Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb