John F. Moyle, secretary of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company and a resident of Yorkville, has long been actively and successfully identified with the business interests of his locality and well deserved success has crowned his efforts. His plans are well defined and carefully executed and the wise management which he displays in the conduct of his business affairs has brought financial success. He was born July 28, 1841, in Cornwall, England, his parents being Thomas and Susan (Foxwell) Moyle, who are also of Cornish birth and lineage. For several generations the male members of the Moyle family had been veterinary surgeons, the profession claiming ten representatives of the family. The paternal grandfather, John Moyle, devoted his life to the practice of veterinary surgery and passed away at the age of seventy years.
His son, Thomas Moyle, who was one of a large family, followed in his father’s business footsteps. On coming to America he made his way around the Great Lakes to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he arrived in May, 1842. He established his home in Yorkville Township, Racine County, purchasing three acres of land, on which the village of Yorkville now stands. On that place he erected the first frame dwelling in this section of the country. To his original purchase he added from time to time until he became the owner of two hundred acres of land in Yorkville and Raymond townships. He was the first veterinary surgeon of Racine County and he continued to practice the profession throughout his entire life, being very successful. A contemporary biographer has said of him: “He was public-spirited and a man of good education so that he naturally became one of the leading and influential men of the region and was often called upon to administer the estates of deceased friends. He also held various public offices, such as assessor, clerk and treasurer, and he did much to promote the best interests of the Township.” He died on the old homestead November 23, 1868, when fifty-six years of age, while his wife survived until January 10, 1876, reaching the age of sixty-nine years. Both were Methodists in religious faith and were charter members of the church of Yorkville, of which Mr. Moyle was for years a lay preacher. Their family numbered four children, of whom three are living: John F.; William, who is a preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church: and Thomas, who, following in the professional footsteps of the family, is now a veterinary surgeon at Whitewater, Wisconsin. A daughter, Mary, became the wife of Thomas Price, of Chicago, and has now passed away.
The maternal grandfather of John F. Moyle was William Foxwell, a native of Cornwall, England, where he owned a large estate, being well known as a country gentleman of means’ and a man of liberal education. After his death his widow, who bore the maiden name of Ann Harris, came to the United States and passed away at the home of her son-in-law, Thomas Moyle, when in her eightieth year.
John F. Moyle, whose name introduces this review, has been a lifelong resident of Yorkville save that the period of his infancy was passed in his native land. He has lived, however, in this County for seventy-four years, a period exceeding that of most of its other citizens. His education was acquired in a district school and he was also given the opportunity of developing his musical talent which was marked. For a number of years he taught singing schools and music has always constituted one of the delights of his life. He worked upon his father’s farm until nineteen years of age and then turned his attention to carpentering and building, being employed along those lines for thirty-seven years and taking active part in promoting the building activity of the County. He was engaged in that work for some time in Racine, but eventually he turned his attention to the insurance business and for twenty-two years has been the capable and efficient secretary of the Yorkville & Mount Pleasant Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.
In 1866 Mr. Moyle was united in marriage to Miss Susan Foxwell, who was born in Caledonia, Wisconsin, a daughter of John and Lucy Foxwell. Her father, now deceased, was for more than four decades successfully identified with the interests of Racine County. He was born in Cornwall, England, as was his father, William Foxwell, who spent his entire life in that country, where both he and his father, John Foxwell, were country gentlemen, owning good estates. William Foxwell received a medal from the Royal Society of England for saving the crew of the troop ship Royal George, which was wrecked off the coast of Cornwall when returning from India. He died when about seventy-five years of age and was survived by his wife, Ann Harris, a daughter of John Harris. a farmer who died in England. After her husband’s death Mr. Foxwell came to America with her family and lived in Yorkville Township. Racine County, until her demise, which occurred when she was in her eightieth year. A contemporary biographer has given the following account of the father of Mrs. Moyle:
“John Foxwell came from England to America in 1840, and located in Racine County, Wisconsin. He took up land from the government at one dollar and a quarter per acre, buying what is now known as the Thomas Shepard farm, but in less than a year he sold out and moved to Caledonia Township, buying a farm there. After some fifteen years residence there he returned in March 1856, to Yorkville Township, where he purchased a large farm, on which he lived until the day of his death. Mr. Foxwell was a man of more than ordinary mental attainments, and, having received a liberal education in his native land, became a valuable acquisition in this new community. With a musical and artistic temperament, and deep religious convictions, he was a power among his neighbors for good, and was one of the founders and a life-long supporter of the church and society at Yorkville, his best endeavors being freely given as a lay preacher, as long as he was able to build it up. Politically, before and during the Civil war, Mr. Foxwell was an abolitionist, and when that question was settled espoused the cause of the Prohibition Party. He was without political ambition, but never indifferent to the welfare of the state. He died at his home March 20, 1882, at the age of seventy-five years. John Foxwell chose for his wife Miss Lucy P. Briggs, daughter of Ansel and Susanna (Alton) Briggs, born in Zanesville, Ohio, August 30, 1820. They were married September 13, 1841, and Mrs. Foxwell is still living in their old home. They were the parents of twelve children, namely : William, of Lincoln, Nebraska ; Susan M., deceased wife of John F. Moyle ; Avis, wife of Wells M. Cook, of Des Moines, Iowa; Lydia, who married Jerome McLaughlin, of Hartford, Michigan ; Mary Ann. wife of Thomas F. Moyle, of Waterford, Wisconsin; Philander, deceased; John, of Wapello, Iowa ; Mark, of Manitoba ; George, of Waterford; Lucy, wife of George Richards, of Waukesha ; and Paul and Elsie, who did not outlive infancy. Mrs. Lucy P. Foxwell is in the seventh generation from the first of the Briggs family to come to America. There were three brothers, who came to Massachusetts early in the sixteen hundreds, ‘possibly among the Pilgrims. Her paternal grandfather, Zedock Briggs, a native of Massachusetts, and a farmer by occupation, bore arms in the Revolution. He married Miss Harriet Palmeter, and both lived to a good old age, her death occurring only six weeks prior to his. They had five daughters and seven sons. Their son, Abel, father of Mrs. Foxwell, was born in Massachusetts, and grew up and lived there, but in 1814 went with his wife to Ohio. He settled first on a farm the Muskingum River, but afterward moved to Medina County, and finally in 1837, went to Wisconsin, settling in Caledonia Township, Racine County, where he remained about thirteen years. Then he again sought a new home further west, finally locating in Iowa, in Illyria Township, Fayette County, where he and his wife died. They were buried in the cemetery at Lima. At the time of his death, May 8, 1855, Mr. Briggs was sixty-five years old, and his wife, Susanna (Alton) Briggs, died June 10, 1853, aged fifty-eight years. They had ten sons and two daughters, ten of whom grew to maturity. The maternal grandfather of Mrs. Fox-well, Amasa Alton, came to this country as a Hessian soldier, fought against the colonists, was wounded, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Saratoga. On parole, becoming better acquainted with the object of the colonists, he espoused their cause, and renouncing his allegiance to king and country, became an American citizen. When the strife was over he lived and died as a farmer in Massachusetts. He was twice married, first to Miss Rachel Blood and second to Miss Philena Rice. By the two marriages he became the father of six children, all daughters. Mrs. Lucy P. Foxwell made the journey from Ohio to Wisconsin with her father’s family in 1837, and she well remembers the trip, which was made by wagon. A resident of Wisconsin for seventy-nine years, she has seen the country develop from a wilderness, and can recall Racine when there were only four houses on the east side of Main street. One of the interesting characters in this sketch, she still lives at the age of ninety-six years, in her own home, and in the full possession of all her faculties. Her reminiscences of the early settlement of Racine County are highly prized by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, by all of whom she is duly loved and honored and whose great pleasure is to gather annually at her home and celebrate her birthday.”
To Mr. and Mrs. Moyle were born eight children, of whom six are yet living; Walter, who is engaged in the nursery business in Yorkville; Lydia, the wife of Professor Seederstrom, of St. Cloud, Minnesota; Nellie, the wife of Roy Blackburn, a dairyman of Texas; Cecil; Amy, and Mary, the wife of Leonard Kellogg, who is engaged in the nursery business in Texas. The wife and mother of this family passed away April 13, 1904, in the sixty-first year of her age, and in 1909 Mr. Moyle married Lydia Foxwell, a sister of his first wife and the widow of Jerome McLaughlin.
In his political views Mr. Moyle is a prohibitionist, which indicates his attitude on the temperance question and his loyal support of whatever he believes to be right. For thirty years he has filled the office of justice of the peace and his decisions have ever been strictly fair and impartial. He has served as town clerk for seven years and was clerk of the school board for twenty-five years. He has also been secretary in the Mutual Fire Insurance Company for twenty-two years and has been connected therewith for forty years. He still owns seventy-two acres of land, which, however, he rents and this brings to him a substantial income. His has been an active and well spent life and those who know him esteem him for his sterling worth. He has a wide acquaintance and high regard is entertained for him wherever he is known and most of all where he is best known.