Source: Biographical Memoirs of Wabash County, Indiana (1901), 404-406.


Among the representative farmers of Wabash county, Ind., none are more worthy of mention than J.M. Harrell, of Lagro township, whose landed interests are in both Lagro and Chester townships and whos extensive farming operations have been carried on in a systematic and business-like manner. He was born January 10, 1857, in this county, his parents being Jacob and Mary A. (Creamer) Harrell. Jacob Harrell was born in Decatur county, Ind., July 29, 1818, and spent his entire life in this state. He learned the trade of a machinist and worked at it for a number of years, making spinning wheels, reels, stands and a great many caskets. later in life he turned his attention to agriculture and about 1845 moved to Wabash county, purchasing land in Lagro township. He made this his home for a time and then bought a farm in Chester township and moved there, remaining there until his death, which occurred April 13, 1895. He was a Democrat of the Jackson type and a zealous member of the United Brethren church. He married Miss Mary A. Creamer, who was born in Ohio, September 20, 1820, and is still residing in Chester township. They were the parents of seven children, four of whom are living at this time. They are as follows: Thomas, a farmer of Lagro township; Mary E., wife of James H. Barnes, of Lagro township, who is represented on another page of this work; J.M., our subject; and Martha J., who married John W. Burton, of Chester township.

J.M. Harrell received a limited education in the public school and made himself useful at home during his boyhood and youth. He had been industrious and at the age of twenty-one was undisputed owner of one horse, his time having been given to his family. He had been brought up on a farm and found the employment so much to his liking that he has made it the vocation of his life and has been eminently successful. August 6, 1885, he was joined in matrimony to Miss Rose E. Burton, who was born in Shelby county, Ind., January 15, 1867, and is a daughter of James and Martha A. (Ferguson) Burton. One child, a bright little son, George Grover, has been born to them and is a student in the sixth grade at school. He is exceptionally bright in his studies and stands highest in his classes, receiving a grade of ninety-four per cent. Mr. Harrell and his bride began their wedded life in the frame house which stands on their present homestead. They went to work with a will, meaning to make a success of their undertaking if industry and endurance counted for aught. They now own four hundred and forty acres of good, tillable land in Lagro and Chester townships, and have prospered above their fondest hopes. They made it a rule to improve their place as they were able and to put there only such improvements as were lasting, and as a result they have one of the most desirable homes in the state of Indiana. Fruit and shade trees have added to the attractiveness of the surroundings and furnish the most delicious fruit to tempt the appetite. In 1898 a modern brick residence of handsome architecture and elegant appointment replaced the modest frame which has formerly served as their home. This tasty structure, surrounded by a well-kept lawn and beautiful trees, is one of the pleasantest sights the county affords and never fails to attract the pleased notice of the casual passerby.

Mr. Harrell is one of the enterprising farmers of Wabash county who may be safely counted on to take the lead in agricultural methods and who is looked up to by his neighbors as a man whose judgment may safely be relied on. He has been a life-long Democrat and bases his opinions from intellectual research into political questions. Both he and his wife are earnest workers in the United Brethren church of Urbana, in which he holds the office of trustee, while Mrs. Harrell is a teacher of the young ladies' class in the Sunday-school and holds a warm place in their affections. Her father, James Burton, was born in the state of West Virginia, July 3, 1810, and died June 2, 1883, after a long and useful life which had been crowned with success. After arriving at mature years he moved to Ohio and later to Indiana, reaching this state when the country was yet but sparsely inhabited. He was a practical farmer who appeared to know intuitively just the proper method to pursue on every occasion. In 1868 he came to Lagro township and purchased one hundred acres of land upon which he built a cabin and made his home, working unceasingly and adding to his original purchase from time to time until he owned six hundred acres of land and had provided liberally for his children. There are but two children living. Mrs. Harrell and her brother, John W., who is a prominent agriculturist of Chester township, a third child, a daughter, having passed into the light of the eternal morning.