John H. Townsend was born at Smyrna, Costa (now Kent) county, Delaware, March 16, 1843. When seven years of age his parents removed to Madison county, Indiana, and settled at Collinsville, where he lived with them until he reached the age of eighteen years, and was there educated. On leaving home in 1861 he went to Placerville, California. On his arrival there he had but six dollars. On the first day after his arrival he was employed as a clerk by B. Meacham, a dry goods merchant, at a salary of six hundred dollars per year and board, and remained with him until 1865, receiving an increase of salary each year. By investing his earnings in mining stock and loaning he accumulated enough to return to the East.
Leaving Placerville in October, 1865, by steamer, and by way of the Nicaragua route, arriving at Brunswick, Missouri, where his parents had removed to during his absence, in the following November. In the spring of 1866 he engaged in the mercantile business at Brunswick with his uncle, Luke Townsend, in the firm name of L. & J. H. Townsend. Their co-partnership was of short duration as his uncle died in nine months after. However, young Townsend purchased his uncle’s interest of the executors and continued in business at that place until December, 1874. In this latter year he came to Gallatin and in April, 1875, established his present business, carrying on the dry goods and grocery business, separately, on an extensive scale and is one of the staunch business men of Gallatin.
December 3, 1868, Mr. Townsend married Miss Arbetia V. Higgins, daughter of Robert and Rebecca Higgins, of Brunswick, Missouri. They have two children; viz., Walter, born in Brunswick, September 19, 1870; and Bessie, born in Gallatin, July 4, 1879. Mr. and Mrs. Townsend are members of the Presbyterian Church, of Gallatin. He is a member of Gallatin: Lodge No. 106, A. F. & A. M., and of Gallatin Chapter No. 11, R. A. M.