My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the book,  Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

DR. W. H. BANWELL was born in the town of Ashtabula, Ashtabula county, Ohio, September 10, 1832, and is the only child born to Henry and Hannah (Castle) Banwell, natives of North Hamptonshire, England. His parents came of English stock from time immemorial. His father was a silk-stocking weaver and his mother a lace-maker, and belonged to the sturdy, industrious and useful class of their country. They immigrated to America in 1831, not long after their marriage, and settled in Ashtabula county, Ohio, where the father died in 1834 at the age of forty. The mother struggled on as best she could in a new country and reared her son, giving him as good education as her means and opportunities would permit. In 1857 they moved to Clark county, Ohio, and the son that year began reading medicine under Dr. James S. Hazzard, having decided to adopt medicine as his profession. His progress in his studies was impeded by his lack of means, he having to do like most young men who make their way alone in the world: carry their studies along hand-in-hand with their labors. The war put a sudden end to his reading, for he promptly obeyed the call for volunteers, enlisting on April 23, 1861, at Springfield, Ohio, in Company E, Sixteenth Ohio volunteer infantry. After a service of four months he was discharged, but soon after opened a recruiting office at Springfield, Ohio, and assisted in organizing the Forty-fourth Ohio infantry, commanded by Col. S. A. Gilbert, enlisting himself for three years. He was soon elected second lieutenant of his company, afterwards promoted to first lieutenant, and still subsequently to captain. He served the three years out, and at the end of that time was appointed to a position in the United States detective service, at Nashville, Tenn. He held this position till March 1, 1866, when he quit the public service and returned to Springfield, Ohio, and set about again to finish his education and enter upon the practice of his profession. While in the detective service he was instrumental in the capture of and in bringing to trial the noted guerrilla chief, Champ. Ferguson, who was subsequently sentenced to death by a court-martial for murder, and hanged. It was proved on his trial that Ferguson had killed over one hundred Union men with his own hand.

Dr. Banwell’s two half-brothers, George C. and Henry Stevens, were also in the army. George C. was a member of the same company with the Doctor, and Henry was captain in the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio, losing his life in battle April 2, 1865.

November 14, 1867, he married Miss Lucina E. Sprague, daughter of Darius Sprague, a prominent farmer of Clarke county, Ohio. He graduated from the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery in June, 1870, and located at once in Clarke county, Ohio, to practice his profession. He was actively engaged in the practice there till 1883, when, on account of ill-health he was compelled to relinquish his calling and try a change of location. He moved to Nebraska that year and settled at Orleans, Harlan county, where he soon afterwards opened a furniture store, and has there since resided, continuing in that business. He has built up a good trade in his line, and has an establishment which is a credit to his town and a monument to his industry and attention to business. It was his purpose on embarking in the mercantile business to give up the practice of his profession entirely, but this he has been unable to do. Old friends and those who know of his knowledge and skill as a physician still press him into service. He is also a member of the United States Pension Examining Board, resident surgeon of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company, and is frequently called in consultation with local physicians. He keeps up his interest in the literature of the profession and contributes occasionally to the journals. During his residence in Ohio he was a member of the county and state medical societies, and took part in their meetings and discussions. He is a zealous member of the benevolent orders, and his charitable impulses take the practical turn inculcated by these. Having no taste for politics, he has held but few public offices, yet takes an active interest in public questions, is well posted on matters of general concern, and has affiliated with the republican party since its organization, being a stanch advocate of its principles and methods in dealing with state and national questions. He and his estimable wife are both members of the Methodist church and liberal contributors to all charitable purposes. They have an interesting family of children, three in number, around whom now cluster the chief hopes and ambitions of their lives. These are two daughters and one son, the youngest in his fourteenth year. The oldest daughter. Miss Jessie Banwell, is assistant principal of the high-school at Alma, Harlan county; the other two — a daughter, Ollie, and a son, Hayes — are still in school. To his family Dr. Banwell is particularly devoted, and the names of his parents he holds in the tenderest remembrance.

* * * *

This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company. 

View additional Harlan County, Nebraska family biographies here: Harlan County, Nebraska Biographies

View a historic 1912 map of Harlan County, Nebraska

View family biographies for other states and counties

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.