McDONNELL, HENRY, a well known citizen of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., who is engaged in the undertaking business, was born in County Mayo, Ireland, November 27, 1840, the son of Henry and Margaret (O'Maley) McDonnell, natives of Ireland. Henry McDonnell, Sr., was a blacksmith by trade, and was thus employed by Henry Ennis for many years. He came to Morgan County in 1849, after working for some time in St. Louis, Mo., and Springfield, Ill. The family originally came from the East, by way of the lakes to Chicago, then down the river to Naples, and on to Jacksonville by railroad. They were members of the Catholic Church, and the father was one of the first men in this region to organize those of his faith into a religious body. It was largely through his efforts that the first Catholic church in Morgan County was built. He died in 1890.
Henry McDonnell was about eight years old when he came with his mother, sister and two brothers to Jacksonville, where he received his mental training in the public schools. He was then bound out as an apprentice to learn the house painter's trade, which he followed until 1891. He executed many large contracts, among others those in connection with the schools for the Deaf and Blind, Illinois College, Illinois Woman's College, Grace M. E. Church, Centenary Church, the Catholic Church and Parochial School, Presbyterian Church, County Court House and many other public and private buildings. In addition to earning prominence in this line Mr. McDonnell also conducts one of the largest wall-paper and paint stores in Central Illinois, carrying with his other stock a choice line of pictures and frames. In 1891 he invented a kind of decoration for walls, spending about three years in New York in the work of introducing it. While thus engaged, he was obliged to return home, on account of sickness. He then engaged in the undertaking business, in which he has since continued, opposite the court house in Jacksonville. For four years he has also served as Coroner of Morgan County.
In 1866 Mr. McDonnell was united in marriage with Margaret McInerney. Of the five children born of this union, three are living, namely: John, an attorney of Jacksonville, who served in the Spanish-American War as Lieutenant of Company I, Fifth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry; Mary (Mrs. William H. Murphy), of Brooklyn, N. Y.; and Agnes, a saleslady with Marshall Field & Company, Chicago. Margaret died when five years old, and James, at the age of six months.
Mr. McDonnell has two brothers and one sister, viz.: James Franklin, of Morgan County; Patrick, of Chicago, and Margaret (Mrs. Michael Rabbitt), of Jacksonville. Patrick was a soldier in the Civil War. At the battle of Mission Ridge the color bearer was shot down, and Patrick, seizing the flag, bore it for some time, when he too was laid low with a ball in the thigh. He gave the flag to his Captain, and just as the latter planted the staff in the ground it was shot in two pieces. For his gallantry in this fierce engagement, Col. Alex. W. Raffen, commanding the Nineteenth Illinois Regiment, makes most commendatory mention of Patrick McDonnell. Since the close of the war he has been engaged in the wall-paper business, selling goods for prominent houses in New York and Chicago. His home is now in the latter city.
In politics, Mr. McDonnell gives his support to the Democratic party. He has no specific fraternal connections, but is identified with the great cause of humanity. In religion, he is a member of the Catholic Church. He is a man of upright character, and, in his business life, bears an excellent reputation.