SWANSON ESSEX , a carpenter and builder now engaged in business in Oquawka, claims this place as his native
city. He was born on the 3d of October, 1857, and is the fifth in a family of six children, whose parents were
Campbell and Emzy (Smith) Essex . They were numbered among the early settlers of this community, and were
prominently identified with its history and pioneer days. Mr. Essex was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on the 19th of
December, 1815, and was of German extraction. In his native city he was reared and educated, and there worked in a
store until he had attained his majority. In 1834, he came West, and, locating in Oquawka, engaged in freighting
from this place to Peoria for a number of years. He also owned a stone quarry, and furnished stone for a great many
of the old buildings of this locality. In later years he worked at the carpenter's trade. A great many Indians
still lived in the county at the time of his arrival, and on one occasion, when he was riding along the bluff three
miles east of Oquawka, he had the horn shot off his saddle by one of the red men. His death occurred in Oquawka in
1882, at the age of sixty-seven years, and was mourned by many friends.
His wife was born in Somerset, Ohio, June 16, 1828, and when a maiden of five summers came to this county with
her parents. They were also natives of the Buckeye State, and were of English extraction. In 1833 they took up
their residence near Oquawka, where they spent their remaining days. Mrs. Essex was a member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, and died in that faith on the 20th of December, 1892, at the age of sixty-four years.
Swanson Essex remained with his parents until he had attained his majority, and in the common schools he
acquired a good English education. He, himself, is familiar with many incidents of frontier life, and can also
relate many interesting stories of pioneer days told him by his parents. On attaining his majority, he began
working at the carpenter's trade in Oquawka, where he has made his home continuously since, although he has done
business in the surrounding towns. He is an expert workman, and now, as a contractor and builder, is enjoying a
large and lucrative trade. He always faithfully performs his part of the contract, and therefore has the confidence
On the 21st of September, 1876, Mr. Essex was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Hess, a native of Iowa. She
was born March 24, 1857, and when quite young came with her parents to Oquawka. Six children grace the union of our
subject and his wife: Clyde, Frederick, Eva, Effie, Emma and Verna , all of whom are still at home with their
parents. In his political views, Mr. Essex is a Democrat, yet has never sought or desired the emoluments of public
office. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, to
the support of which he contributes liberally. He now owns a pleasant home in Oquawka, and has become one of its
substantial citizens, as the result of his own enterprise. He has always lived in Oquawka, and here has many
friends, including people who have known him from boyhood and those whom he has met in maturer years.
Source: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson Counties Illinois, Chicago 1894
Note: Note: My research hasn't proved the Essex were German nor the Smith English! The Essex of Stark Co, IL I am
trying to connect with claim to be English. To date I haven't been able to find my Smith line in Henderson Co!!