WILLIAM B. OTWELL, farmer and nurseryman, third child of Justinian S. And Eliza E. Otwell, was born in Carlinville, Illinois, on January 27, 1863.
His father was a man of sterling character, well thought of by everybody. His mother was a devoted home-maker, in the constant association of her children; her greatest ambition was to see to it that each was given a good education.
William B. Otwell spent all of his boyhood days working on the farm in the summer and attending his home district school in the winter. He was energetic, ambitious to get on in the world, and so learned to do things. He graduated from Blackburn University in 1884 and was for 12 years advisory trustee of that institution. After leaving college he taught school in the winter and began the planting of a nursery in the summer. When the nursery had grown to be a substantial business, he stopped teaching and devoted all of his time to his nursery and farm work.
Mr. Otwell in politics has always been a strong Republican but has never ran for an office himself. He believes all good men should take an active part in politics. His influence has always been exerted in the management of county institutions, such as county fairs, farmers' institutes, and old settlers' associations. His favorite work has always been among farmer organizations and no one in Illinois has enjoyed a better acquaintance and stronger influence upon the platform of the farmer's institutes of the State than Will B. Otwell. As an evidence of his worth at these farmers' institutes, it may be stated in passing that during 1901, 1902 and 1903, Mr. Otwell was invited and made two speeches in each of 57 counties of Illinois. And to his effective work among the farmers of Illinois is due, perhaps more that to any other cause, the fact that he was selected by the State commissioners to have entire charge of Illinois agricultural interests at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held at St. Louis in 1904.
The entire Otwell family for four generations back have been strong Methodists.
In 1887 William B. Otwell was united in marriage to Mary H. VanWinkle of Morgan County and to this union five children were born, four of whom were living at the time this sketch was written.
Born and reared on a farm, he has always insisted that farm life was the best life of all.
Independent in thought and actions, yet conscious of the rights of others, William B. Otwell has exerted an influence that will live to do good in the lives of others when he is gone.