JOHN McDOWELL, saw and planing mill, lumber, etc., Mound City, was born April 4, 1831, in Allegheny County, Penn., nine miles south of Pittsburgh, and is a son of John and Jane (Coulter) McDowell. He was born near Steubenville, Ohio, and was a farmer and manufacturer, the latter including woolen goods, linseed oil, milling, etc. He was a man of considerable prominence, and represented Allegheny County, whither he had removed in 1840, in the Legislature of 1846 and 1848; was County Commissioner for three years, and died in Franklin, Ind., in 1850. His wife, Jane Coulter, was a native of Allegheny County, and a daughter of Moses Coulter, a farmer and miller, and one of the pioneers of Allegheny County. He built the first flouring-mill in that county, and one of the first west of the Alleghany Mountains. Mrs. McDowell was the mother of four children, of whom only Mrs. Anna M. Alexander, and our subject, are now living. The latter was educated in his native county, and entered the mills early, where he obtained a practical business education. He remained with his father until he was nineteen years of age, when he came West and engaged in the lumber business in Franklin, Ind., where he remained until 1860, when he engaged in the milling business in Marion County, Ind. After one or two other changes, he went to Brazil, Ind., and engaged in the lumber and coal business, having a saw and planing mill and a coal shaft, and still resides and does business there. In 1877, he removed his saw-mill to Mound City, bringing several families with him. The following year, he removed his planing-mill here. He combined the two mills, and employs thirty-three men the year round. He gets his logs mainly from the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. They comprise poplar, ash, oak, walnut, sycamore, cottonwood, cypress, maple, gum, etc. The poplar lumber is shipped to the principal towns on the Wabash River, and to his yards in Brazil; the sycamore is shipped mostly to Louisville, Ky., and Detroit, Mich.; the ash and gum goes to Chicago, Toledo and other Eastern cities. Mr. McDowell has always been a live, wide-awake citizen, and in Brazil was a member of the City Council four years, in which body he was instrumental in getting water-works for the city, which cost, with other public and needed improvements, $70,000. He was married in Franklin, Ind., July 7, 1857, to Miss Eliza J. McCracken, born in New Madrid, Mo., in September, 1832. Her father, James McCracken, was a pilot of the Mississippi River. She is the mother of three sons now living — Elmer C., born in 1862; John, born in 1864; Robert H., born in 1866. Mrs. McDowell's mother was Sarah Allen, whose brother, Gen. Robert Allen, was in the Mexican war, and in the late civil war. Col. James Allen, another brother, made the first improvement in the harbor of Chicago; both were graduates of West Point. Mound City is indebted to our subject for promoting the business interest of the place, and for bringing other energetic business men here.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 271-272.