J.H. Connell, a capitalist of Belton, was born in San Augustine county, Texas, when Texas was a province of Mexico, April 3, 1833, son of John H. and Matilda T. (Roberts) Connell, natives of Pennsylvania and Kentucky respectively.
John H. Connell's father, a native of Ireland, came to America at an early day and settled in Pennsylvania, where he followed his trade, that of blacksmithing. John H., leaving home when a youth, came in 1826 to Texas and engaged in the mercantile business near Austin, where he was married in 1830. Mr. Connell came to Texas with Sterling C. Robertson, and both secured large tracts of land.
The Roberts family were also among the pioneers of this section of the country. J.H. [sic -- i.e., should be Elisha] Roberts went from Kentucky to Louisiana in 1819, and in 1820 came to San Augustine, Texas. Elisha Roberts was one of the earliest settlers within the confines of the State.
Mr. Connell died at Viesca in 1834. He was truly a self-made man, and during his lifetime acquired considerable property. Belton is located on a portion of the land on which Mr. Connell once lived. Mrs. Connell having donated to the county of Bell 120 acres, in 1850, on which to establish the county seat. John H. Connell and his wife were the parents of two children: Josephine, wife of Anderson Hamblin, both being now deceased; and J.H., the subject of our sketch.
After the death of Mr. Connell, Mrs. Connell was married in 1835, to Samuel T. Allen, of New York, and their union was blessed in the birth of two children: Thomas R., deceased; and Eunice A., widow of Colonel John T. Coffee, of Missouri. Samuel T. Allen was killed by the Indians at the three forks of the Trinity, in November, 1838, and in the fall of 1847 Mrs. Allen married his brother, Thomas J. Allen. Her death occurred April 3, 1879, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Coffee, in Georgetown, Williamson county, this state.
The subject of our sketch was reared amid the frontier scenes of what is now San Augustine, Milam, Williamson and Galveston counties. In 1854 he went to California, making the trip from Galveston by water; spent two years in the southern part of the Golden State, and while working in the mines lost his health. He was, however, financially successful. Returning home in the latter part of 1855, he engaged in farming and stock-raising in Texas up to the year 1861. The war coming on in that year, he joined the Confederate forces; was in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and participated in numerous skirmishes and battles.
Returning to his home in the latter part of May, 1865, Mr. Connell set about repairing his wasted fortune, and with renewed energy engaged in his old occupation of farming and stock-raising. He continued his operations in Williamson county till January 28, 1884, when he rented his farm and moved to his property in Belton. He owns considerable valuable real estate, his Belton home place consisting of some 250 acres adjoining town. He has a handsome residence, an intelligent family, and is comfortably situated to enjoy life, having practically retired from active business.
Mr. Connell was married September 15, 1869, to Miss Jennie Howlett, a native of Texas, born in Milam county, October 5, 1844, daughter of James and Sarah (Moore) Howlett, natives of Kentucky and Tennessee respectively. Both the Howletts and the Moores were among the early pioneers of Texas.
Mr. and Mrs. Connell are the parents of five children: John H., Jr., T.E., Susan, May T. and Albert L. T.E. is now a student at the State University of Texas. Mr. Connell and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and are held in high esteem by all who know them.
A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).