WILLIAM T. MITCHELL, a resident-farmer of Honey Point Township, is well known as a representative of one of the early pioneer families of this county, of which he is a native, his birth taking place in what is now Brushy Mound Township August 25, 1838. His father, Elijah Mitchell, was born in North Carolina in January, 1800, and was a son of Archibald Mitchell, who is supposed to have been a native of the same State. From the best information at hand we learn that the great-grandfather of our subject was born either in Scotland or in Ireland of Scotch antecedents, and came to America in Colonial times, settling in North Carolina, where he made his home the rest of his life.
Archibald Mitchell was reared and married in North Carolina. In 1805 he penetrated the wilds of Kentucky and cast in his lot with the pioneers of Warren County, that State, where he carried on farming until his career was brought to a close.
The father of the subject of this notice was five years old when his parents took him to their pioneer home in the Kentucky wilderness, and there he grew to a stalwart manhood. In due time he married, and in 1829 came to Illinois with his family, bringing his household goods with him, and making the removal with ox-teams, cooking and camping by the way. After a residence of one year in Marion County, he went to Morgan County, where he rented a house and lived until the spring of 1831, when he came to this county, and was one of the early settlers of what is now Brushy Mound Township. At that time this section was but thinly inhabited, and Carlinville was but a hamlet of a few log houses and one store. The home of Mr. Mitchell's nearest neighbor was five miles distant. He entered eighty acres of Government land on section 24. A cabin stood thereon which some squatter had abandoned and after he had taken his goods from the wagon the father of our subject proceeded to tear the cabin down, and then replaced it by a better one. Later he built another log house, which was covered with shakes that were rived by hand and held in place by poles, the floor was of puncheon, and the chimney of earth and sticks. He subsequently erected a log house, and later a frame and here he resided until death called him from the scenes of his many years of labor and he entered upon eternal rest August 17, 1877. During his long residence here of nearly half a century he had accumulated a goodly amount of property, and at one time had over a thousand acres of land in this county and fourteen hundred acres in Kansas. His name will ever occupy an honorable place among those of the pioneers who were the most active and enterprising in the upbuilding of this part of the State and were potent in advancing its agricultural interests.
Elijah Mitchell was twice married, and was the father of twenty-one children, eighteen of whom were reared. His first wife, mother of our subject, was Jane Moore. She was born in Kentucky, and died in 1843 on the home farm. She bore her husband twelve children, eleven of whom attained to maturity, namely, Millie, Levi, Martha A., Elizabeth, Travis, Lucy and Sally (twins), Jane, William T., Phoebe and Elijah. Mr. Mitchell's second wife, whom he married in 1849, was Hannah Hollingsworth. A review of her life appears elsewhere in this work.
William T. Mitchell was reared in his native township, and received his early education in the pioneer schools, which were taught in a rude log house that was heated by a fireplace, and a log was cut out of the wall nearly the entire length of the building to admit light. There was no floor, and poles were split to make benches, which were supported by wooden pegs. These primitive seats were entirely destitute of backs. At that early day game was plentiful, deer being numerous for some years after the Mitchell family settled here. There was no railway, and the markets and depots for supplies were Alton and St. Louis.
Our subject resided with his parents until he became of age, and then started for himself, working by the month for two months, and during the winter season chopping wood, for which he received seventy-five cents a cord, his board costing him $2 per week. He was very industrious, and prudently saved his earnings, and finally rented land for two years. His father then gave him a tract of seventy acres of wild prairie, on which he settled in the spring of 1863, and where he has since resided. He now has one hundred and ninety acres of very productive land, which is in a fine condition as to cultivation and improvements, and he has thirty-five acres of valuable timber land. He has erected an excellent set of frame buildings, and his place has an air of neatness and thrift that betokens good care and fine management on the part of the owner.
Mr. Mitchell and Miss Mary N. A. Williams were married February 28, 1861, and their wedded life has been mutually beneficial, and has given them four children, whom they have named Jesse C., Paul, Travis, and Nannie. Jesse married Rosa Perrine, and they have one child, Nona. Travis married Alice Barnstable and they had one child, deceased. Mrs. Mitchell is a native of Knox County, Tenn., and is a daughter of Jesse and Sarah Williams. Both she and her husband are members of the Baptist Church, and in all things in which it is concerned for the moral and social advancement of the community we find them active co-operators with their pastor and fellow-members. They are highly regarded by all who have the pleasure of knowing them for their many sterling characteristics. Politically, Mr. Mitchell is a warm supporter of the Democratic party.