Fell, Jesse W.

Born: 1808-11-10 Pennsylvania

Died: 1887-02-25 Normal, Illinois

Fell left his home state of Pennsylvania, arriving in 1832 in Illinois, where he became a lawyer. In 1837, he was one of the editors of the Bloomington Observer, and journalism was a focus of his life until 1858. He also practiced law, but buying and selling land became his primary activity for earning a living. On January 25, 1838, he married Hester Brown of Chicago. Fell, the brother of Thomas, Kersey H., and Joshua R., was involved with the establishment of the Illinois State Normal University (now Illinois State University) in 1857, he worked for the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company, and he was an extensive landowner. In 1860, he was a farmer in Normal, Illinois, where he lived with his wife and six children. That year he owned $100,000 in real property and $50,000 in personal property. Fell was a Whig and later a Republican, and he and Abraham Lincoln were long-time friends and political associates. During the Civil War, Lincoln appointed Fell as paymaster in the Army, a position he held from June 30, 1862, to January 26, 1863.

Obituary, Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 26 February 1887, 1:7; "McLean County in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65," Transactions of the McLean County Historical Society, vol. 1: War Record of McLean County with Other Papers (1899), 32; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Tazewell County, 25 January 1838, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Frances Milton I. Morehouse, "The Life of Jesse W. Fell," University of Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences 5 (June 1916), 15, 26-7, 36, 52, 55, 116; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), McLean County, IL, 101.