Back in the early history of Virginia the name Fitzgerrell was a well known one, and like many other illustrious families the sons gradually moved westward and became in their turn factors in the development of other sections of the country. One branch of the family of this name is now a prominent citizen of Benton, Illinois, Mr. Evan Fitzgerrell, who was born in Jefferson county, this state, on November 10, 1844. His grandfather, James Fiitzgerrell, was a native Virginian who, when a young man, removed to Kentucky, where he met and married his wife, and from there he went to Indiana, settled on a farm in that state and continued to reside thereon until the time of his death.
Evan Fitzgerrell's parents, James J. and Patsy Ann (Martin) Fitzgerrell, both were born in Indiana, the father in 1812 and the mother in 1816. After their marriage the young couple moved west to Illinois, about the year 1840, settling in Jefferson county and they remained there throughout their lives. The mother died in 1861, the father surviving her many years, his death having occurred in 1889. The elder Fitzgerrell was one of the most successful farmers and stockraisers in Jefferson county. With quick perception he foresaw the great future in store for that part of the country and with great sagacity purchased a large amount of cheap land, which in later years became very valuable. He added to his acreage from time to time and finally accumulated holdings
amounting to five thousand acres. During a part of his early life he engaged in the operation of a flat boat on the Ohio river, running to New Orleans, and was well acquainted with much of that country along the Mississippi river. He was a strong believer in Democratic principles throughout his life, and never voted any other political ticket. His interest in moral and religious affairs was also pronounced and he held membership in the Missionary Baptist church. He belonged to the Masonic order and was always greatly interested in its affairs.
Evan Fitzgerrell was the fortunate recipient of a better education than was received by most young men of his time. He first attended the common schools of Jefferson county, then went to high school at Owensville, Indiana, and completed his studies in a two-year course at McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois.
The business world first knew Mr. Fitzgerrell as a dry goods merchant at Benton, at which point he soon built up a flourishing trade. He was also for nineteen years engaged in the milling business, in which line of endeavor he was likewise very successful. In 1885, however, he traded his mill for a Texas ranch, upon which he lived for four years. Not being satisfied to remain there indefinitely, in 1889 he again became a citizen and business man of Benton, engaging in the dry goods business for a second time, in this instance becoming a partner of his son-in-law, F. H. Stamper. They disposed of the store in 1910 and since that date Mr. Fitzgerrell has devoted his time and attention to conducting his four hundred and fifty acre farm, his activities including the buying and selling of cattle and stock. He is one of the large property owners of Benton and is counted as one of the community 's most substantial and prosperous men. The Fitzgerrell home is one of the largest and most beautiful here and is most graciously presided over by the wife and mother.
Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerrell were married in 1868. She was before her marriage Elizabeth Blake, a daughter of Aaron Blake. They are the parents of three living children, Anna being the wife of F. H. Stamper, a retired business man of Benton, while Nellie May and Inez are still members of their parental home. The family belong to the Christian church, in which they are willing and effective workers. Mr. Fitzgerrell is a member of the Masonic order and is a Chapter Mason. In politics he has always taken a great interest and works enthusiastically for the success of the Democratic party. In 1874 he was elected and served one year as county clerk, but in later years has avoided official life, preferring to exert his influence in private capacity. A man of comprehensive talents, unimpeachable integrity and the possessor of many admirable personal qualities, he is held in the highest esteem by the entire community.