The present Mayor of Claremont, Richland county, Joseph A. Engle, is a
veteran of the Civil war. He was born December 12, 1829, in Vigo county,
Indiana, and was the son of John and Hannah Engle. His father was a native
of the Blue Grass state, coming from Kentucky to Indiana with his parents in
early life. There they settled upon a farm in Vigo county, where
subsequently the older couple died. John Engle at the time of his marriage
bought a farm of eighty acres in Parke county in the same state. The newly
married couple remained there but a short time, returning to Vigo county and
purchasing a farm of one hundred and twenty acres. About this time Joseph A.
Engle, the subject of our present sketch, was born. Later ninety-six acres
adjoining land was added to the family property. Work upon the farm went on
steadily with good results, and it became the permanent family residence.
Here his father's death occurred in 1863, and his mother's the following
year. At the time of his father's death he was in the army, but was home on
wounded furlough when his mother's death took place. His parents are buried
in Sulphur Springs Meeting-house cemetery, which is but a mile and a half
from the farm where they died. Joseph worked manfully on the farm in early
life and was of much assistance to his parents. In his youth the homestead
was a log cabin and the land was in a very raw state. He helped materially
to change the existing condition of affairs.
His mother was born on the 10th of January, 1812, and belonged to an old Indiana family. Up to the time of her marriage she lived with her parents on a farm on the banks of Deer creek in Perry county. Her father's death preceded her mother's by several years. During her married life she reared ten children, the oldest of which was Joseph.
In his sixteenth year Joseph A. Engle was apprenticed to the blacksmith trade in Terre Haute. At the end of his term he opened shop for himself, where he continued to work and prosper until the outbreak of the Civil war. His business as a blacksmith necessitated the use of three furnaces and the help of several skilled assistants. Plows were manufactured in his establishment and numerous wagons and buggies were quipped. At this period of his life his marriage with Rhoda C. Howell took place in February, 1851. His wife was born in the state. Her father died when she was quite young; her mother, whose maiden name was Gookins, survived him for several years.
His marriage resulted in a family of five children - three boys and two girls. Four grew to maturity, one child dying at the age of two years, while its father was away on active military service. His wife closed a happy life at the age of sixty-six on June 11, 1897. She is buried at Soddom cemetery. Her children's names are: Olive, John H., Samuel A., William and Mary, who died in infancy, as above recorded.
Joseph A. Engle in July 1862, joined Company B, of the Eighty-fifth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, under Col. John P. Beard, in the western division of the army commanded by Sherman. His company moved to the front via Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Covington, his company first engaging the enemy at Thompson Station. Being unwell at this crucial period he did not participate, but his brother, who was also on the ground fought in the engagement. He was a flag bearer to the company and was captured, being immediately shipped to Libby prison, from which place he was later discharged on account of chronic sickness. Joseph's indisposition, however, was only temporary. He was destined to go through the thick of the struggle. He participated in nine of the fierce engagements which took place in the vicinity of Georgia. He fought at Buzzard's Roost, Georgia, May 8, 1864; at Burned Church on May 26, at Calfsville, May 19th to the 22d; Culp's House, June 22d; Dallas, also known as Burnt Hickory, May 25th to June 5th; Dalton, May 9th and August 14th to 16th and October 13th; Lost Mountain, June 9th to 30th; near Dalton, January 21, 1864; New Hope Church, May 25th to June 5th; Battle of Resaca, May 13th to 16th; Peach Tree Creek, July 20th. In this last encounter he received a serious wound, a ball striking him on the head. After he had lain unconscious on the field for half an hour he was found and taken to a hospital. From there he was shortly afterwards invalided home, where he remained. He received his discharge at Indianapolis during the latter part of 1864.
On recovering from his wound and the wear and tear of the terrible conflict, he moved with his family to Richland county, where he had some time before acquired one hundred and twenty acres. At the end of seventeen years of a peaceable farm life, he moved to Olney, where he engaged in the grocery business for a few years, when he once more moved to Claremont township, where his wife died in 1897. Shortly afterwards he again sold his farm and moved into Claremont, where he purchased property. Here a second marriage took place on January 18, 1898, when he espoused Laura Stevens, daughter of Edward and Melissa (Shepherd) Stevens, natives of Illinois. She was born in Lawrence county, February 7, 1860. Her father was a Civil war veteran. Her mother still lives in Lawrence county with a young daughter. Her mother was born in 1835, and her father in 1836. On the mother's side the grandfather of Mrs. Engle was the first white child born in Lawrence county. In after life this relative took an active part in the Black Hawk war.
Joseph A. Engle's second matrimonial venture has proved to be as much a success as his first. He has been blessed with two more children, Joseph L., and Mary Josephine, aged nine and six years respectively.
In early life the subject of our sketch attended about three terms in the old subscription schools in Parke county, and afterwards attended for an equal period the schools at Sulphur Springs, Indiana. The old time elementary speller and Ray's arithmetic were then used; blackboards were unknown; plain rough planks, propped with stout wooden "pins," were used as seats, and the high desks ranged along the sides of the room for the pupils to write upon.
Joseph A. Engle's mind is still as vigorous as ever, his health also, though not as robust as formerly, is still good. His public life has been a most popular one and he well maintains his place as Claremont's premier citizen. He is well and favorably known in fraternal and social circles. He was formerly a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is a member of the Grand Army Post at Olney, Illinois.
Joseph A. Engle's public life began as a Ward Supervisor in the Third ward at Olney, serving in that capacity for four years. The esteem in which he is regarded by his fellow citizens may be determined from the fact that he is now serving a third term as Mayor of Claremont. In politics he has been an active Republican from the days of the Civil war, and is a vigilant party worker. The first time he cast his vote at a Presidential election it went to Henry Clay, who was then running in the old regime as a Whig candidate. He and his wife are both active and devoted members of the Christian church. They are diligent church workers.
Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 341-343.