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Mikesell, John P.
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Mikesell, John P.
Contributed by Adams County ILGenWeb
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Comparatively few people in Quincy were aware that ex-Mayor John P. MIKESELL was of German lineage. But it nevertheless was true. A number of years ago John P. MIKESELL assured the writer of this narrative, that his ancestors were German; that his father spoke German fluently, and had German books in his library, which he read. His father was John MIKESELL, and his mother's maiden name was Elizabeth VAN DYKE, of Hollandish extraction, also belonging to the German race. They lived in Morgan, West Virginia, where John P. MIKESELL was born July 19, 1834. In 1839 the family came to Warren, Ohio, and in 1841 to Quincy, where they settled for life. In 1849, during the "Gold Fever," John P. MIKESELL, being only fifteen years of age, went to California, where he for two years worked in the mines. Then he went to Australia and later to South America. Finally he returned to the United States, and in 1861, when the Civil war broke out, enlisted in the Eighteenth Missouri Infantry (Union troops), and was elected as captain of Company I of said regiment. Taking part in the various battles in which his regiment became engaged, he was taken prisoner during the Battle of Shiloh, being interned for eight months in Libby and other Southern prisons, when he was exchanged and returned to his regiment, serving for three years. After the war John P. MIKESELL returned to Quincy and married Eliza PAYNE, a daughter of the old pioneer, Thomas PAYNE. (It may here be stated, that Thomas PAYNE was born October 4, 1814, in Montgomery County, Kentucky, and came to this county in 1834. After the death of his first wife, Thomas PAYNE married Roseltha HEBERLING, born in Pennsylvania. As the name indicates, she also was of German extraction, and was the mother of Eliza PAYNE, who became the wife of John. P. MIKESELL.) The writer of this history, although not doubting that Mayor MIKESELL's assurance about his German extraction was correct, yet was of the opinion that the name in German must have been different. And so he called on Mrs. Rachel Ann MILLER, a sister of John P. MIKESELL, and widow of David W. MILLER, for many years proprietor of the Quincy House, the celebrated old hotel. And her daughter, Mrs. Isabella MILLER, widow of Nathaniel MILLER, solved the question when she stated that the name of the family, originally was MAXWELL, and had been changed to MIKESELL, why this was done she was unable to explain. Nathaniel MILLER, the husband of Mrs. Isabella MILLER, was a son of Judge Andrew MILLER, born in Switzerland, whose name originally was written MUELLER. The name MAXWELL occurs in Germany and Holland. Capt. John P. MIKESELL was for many years a member of the firm Adams & Sawyer, who conducted an extensive pork packing business. That he was very popular among his fellow citizens is shown by the fact that he, although a republican, was elected as alderman to represent the strong democratic Sixth Ward in the city council of Quincy for three terms. In 1878 he was appointed as superintendent of the board of public works. And in 1892 he was elected mayor of the City of Quincy, being re-elected in 1893 and in 1894, serving for three successive terms. It was he who started the waterworks fund, by devoting the balance of approximately $10,000, left in the treasury at the expiration of his term in 1895, to that purpose. John A. STEINBACH, who became the successor of John P. MIKESELL as mayor of Quincy, being re-elected again and again, saved all he could in the different departments of the city government, adding substantial amounts at the end of each municipal year, so that, when the franchise of the Water Works Company had expired, the Citizens Water Works Company could be organized, which took over the plant from the Water Works Company, for and in the interest of the City of Quincy. Then John P. MIKESELL was selected as one of the directors of the company, in recognition of the fact that he had started the waterworks fund. November 30, 1915, he departed this life at the high old age of over eighty years.

QUINCY AND ADAMS COUNTY HISTORY AND REPRESENTATIVE MEN by David F. Wilcox. Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1919. p. 357-358.

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