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Abraham Newland

NEWLAND, Abraham, was born February 3, 1838, in Evenwood. Durham County, England, a son of Abraham and Sarah (Porter) Newland, residing in Colchester, Ill. Oliver Cromwell, the great uncrowned King of England, had formerly a signal corps on a high hill in front of the home in which Mr. Newland's parents lived and in which he was born. One of his ancestors, Abraham Newland, of London, after whom he was named, was the renowned Cashier of the Bank of England for the period of fifty years — from September, 1757, to the year in which he resigned, September 8, 1807 — and the family would have received, with other beneficiaries, a large portion of his valuable estate but for the unfortunate accident of the burning of the parish register in one of the parishes in the County of Durham, destroying the records and dates of the birth of the great-grandparents and other relatives, which was necessary to establish and prove the relation and heirship to the estate. The grandfather on his father's side lived to be one hundred and eight years of age, and was twice married. The first of the family to come to America, after arriving at the age of maturity, emigrated and settled in the State of Virginia soon after the Revolutionary War.

Abraham Newland, Sr., came to this country in 1853, accompanied by his daughter, and located in La Salle County, Ill., when two years later he was joined by the rest of his family, consisting of his wife and three sons. Abraham, Jr., while a child, attended the public schools, and later during his youth, a select night school in England, and afterward by close application to his books he acquired a good education. He came to Colchester, Ill., in the winter of 1856 and became interested in and operated coal mines there until 1862. Soon after the Civil War commenced, being intensely loyal, he enlisted and enrolled himself in the army, and served until after the close of the conflict. At the time of his enlistment he joined Company D, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, of which the members of the company desired him to accept the office of Lieutenant, but he declined in favor of another who had done a great deal of work in recruiting the company. He was elected Sergeant, and afterward, by request of the men, he was made Orderly Sergeant. His company and regiment were in General Logan's Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, commanded by General McPherson, and was in Major-General Grant's army until after the fall and capitulation of Vicksburg. The One Hundred and Twenty-fourth did excellent service during the war, and no man in the entire regiment showed more bravery, or discharged his duty more faithfully, than Abraham Newland. At the battle of Raymond, Miss., while an Orderly Sergeant, he commanded the company, there being no commissioned officers present, and for bravery upon the battlefield and in that fight was commended by the Colonel, who promised him at the close of the battle promotion to a commissioned office, at the very first opportunity. A few days after this battle he was shot through the face and was reported killed, and the next day, when the surgeons had dressed the wounds, they still declared that he was mortally wounded and that he could not live. After a number of weeks and months of suffering the wound began to heal, and eventually he was again restored to active duty. Both the Lieutenants of his company resigned and soon afterward the Captain resigned and went home. He then was commissioned and became the honored Captain of his company. This position he retained to the close of the war, and was highly respected and honored by his men and his brother officers. Among the most important engagements in which he participated were the following: Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson. Champion Hill, and siege of Vicksburg. He was on all the marches, expeditions, campaigns and sieges in which the regiment took part, except one short expedition, when he was on detached duty and could not be relieved in time to go with his command. In the winter of 1864-65 the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment was transferred to the Sixteenth Army Corps, General A. J. Smith commanding, and in the sieges of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley and the capture of Mobile, Ala., the last great battle of the war was fought. General Lee surrendered at Appomattox to General Grant April 9, 1865, while General Canby's army was fighting and capturing Mobile. Captain Newland took part and was engaged in twenty-two battles and skirmishes and two sieges, one siege lasting forty-seven days and forty-seven nights, and the other thirteen days and thirteen nights. On the 15th day of August, 1865, the regiment was discharged, and Captain Newland returned to Colchester, McDonough County, Ill., with the full consciousness of duty well performed. Within two weeks after his return home he was engaged in the general mercantile business, which he conducted until the year 1884. In April, 1879, he leased some lands and coal mines in Colchester, and afterward sold a half-interest to a partner, and the firm was known as Colchester Coal Company, and continued operating the mines until April 1, 1884. He afterward built a large brick and tile manufactory and also opened up coal and clay mines at Tennessee, Ill., and the company was known as the Tennessee Coal and Fire Clay Works. The Captain owns 162 acres of land which he leases each year to neighboring farmers.

Captain Newland was married in Colchester, Ill., March 3, 1859, to Mary J. Musson, who died June 15, 1871, leaving two children, Sarah Florence and Thomas E. Newland. The Captain was married again June 18, 1872, to Annie Musson, and six children have been born to them: Mary O., George A., Abraham R., Gilbert, Haven and Henry W. Newland.

In politics, Captain Newland had always in his youth held and maintained strong antislavery sentiments, and at the time of the organization of the Republican party he accepted and adopted the principles advocated and sustained by that party, and has ever been a faithful and ardent supporter of its men and measures. As a man he stands high in the community, and none deserves more from his fellow-citizens. He is a pleasant, agreeable gentleman, having a heart overflowing with love for humanity, is a friend to the poor, and above all a true Christian. In the home circle he is kind and affectionate; in the church, an earnest worker; as a citizen he has the good of all at heart, and works to advance the interests of his town and county as much as he does his own individual interests. In the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1858 at Colchester he was one of the original members, and has since been an active worker in all the departments of that body. In the year 1859 Rev. Richard Haney, Presiding Elder for the district, granted him license and authority, and he has continued to labor and preach up to the present time. He has never asked for a regular appointment as pastor, believing he could accomplish as much good in the local work as in the regular field. Nearly every Sabbath he preaches for some of the neighboring churches, and on funeral occasions his services have specially been in demand. It is said he preaches more discources of this nature than any regular minister in the county. In Sunday school work he is especially preeminent, having from early youth taken great interest in this work. In all the neighborhood Sunday school conventions he is called upon to take active part, and in the county work possibly he is behind none.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 966-968, extracted 17 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass.

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