Andrew Tornquist when he came to America from his native Sweden in 1879 had as his equipment some experience in mechanical trades and also as a farmer. Otherwise his capital was extremely limited. An earnest purpose, hard work, and that wisdom that comes with experience, have put him far ahead in the game of life, and while he is not wealthy as wealth is understood at the present time he is financially independent and for all that he has he has given an adequate reward in service and practical value to the communities where he has lived.
Mr. Tornquist was born in Sweden, July 13, 1857, a son of Daniel and Carolina (Anderson) Tornquist, being their only child. When he was fifteen years of age his father died and the mother married again and is still living in Sweden. His father was a blacksmith and carriage maker. At the age of fifteen Andrew Tornquist had to take upon his shoulders unusual responsibilities. With such knowledge as he had picked up of his father’s trade he managed to carry on the little shop and business and also managed the farming property of his father. At the age of twenty Mr. Tornquist left home and removed to the city of Stockholm, where he worked at the building trade as a carpenter and brick layer.
That experience continued for a year and a half and in 1879 he sought a home and better fortune in America. Locating in Chicago, he became a mechanical employee in the power shops of the Illinois Central Railway Company, , but in 1881 removed to Donovan, Iroquois County, Illinois. There he bought a machine and repair shop, and was successful in business there for about twenty years. He also bought a farm of eighty acres, and is still owner of that property. After selling his first shop he engaged in the hardware business with A. C. Swanson, under the firm name of Tornquist & Swanson, for three years. Mr. Tornquist then traded his interest in this store for one hundred and sixty acres of land in Minnesota. In the meantime he had taken up contracting and building, and he continued that until he came to Champaign. He had also built another machine shop, and thus was a man of varied interests and affairs.
In 1903 Mr. Tornquist moved to Champaign. He bought ground on Springfield Avenue, and built a ten-room house after tearing down the small house that had formerly occupied the site. He sold this house and bought a cottage, later bought two lots in the Fairland Addition, building on one lot and selling the other. Still later he bought the home at 408 Chalmers Street where he now resides. In 1913 he acquired the property at 601 Chalmers Street and during the same year put up another house on that ground. In 1907 he made a trip to his old home in Sweden, remaining away three months and upon his return Mr. Tornquist accepted a position as mechanic in the farm and mechanic department of the University of Illinois.
He married in 1883, four years after coming to America, Matilda Johnson, also a native of Sweden. Three children were born to their union, the second, a son, dying in infancy. Charles Herman, the oldest, is a graduate civil engineer from the University of Illinois, and is now employed on an irrigation and power plant project in the State of Idaho. Alpha Caroline, the only daughter, was graduated in the domestic science department from the University of Illinois in 1917. Mr. Tornquist is a Republican in politics. While living in Iroquois County he served as a member of the School Board six years. He is affiliated with Western Star Lodge, A. F. & A. M. of Champaign, Champaign Chapter, R. A. M., and Champaign Commandery, K. T., and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.