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Eli A. Boutwell, a farmer and lumberman of Hopkinton, N.H., son of Samuel P. and Lydia A. (Allen) Boutwell, was born in Barre, Vt., February 25, 1833. His lineage has not been traced; but a little research would probably show that he belongs to the old New England family of Boutwells, of which the Hon. George S. Boutwell, ex-Secretary of the Treasury, is a representative. Its founder, James Boutwell, said to have been made a freeman in Lynn, Mass., in 1638 or 1639, died in 1651, leaving a wife Alice, sons James and John, and a daughter Sarah. The sons married, and settled in Reading, Mass., John being the ancestor of the distinguished statesman. Some of the descendants of the second James, and perhaps others, have spelled the name Boutelle.
Nehemiah Boutwell, grandfather of Eli A., of Hopkinton, was a native of Vermont, and served in the Revolutionary War at the time of the raid on Plattsburg, N.Y., when the English made a naval display. He married Susannah Holt. Samuel P., his eldest child, was born in 1806 in Barre, Vt. He married Lydia A. Allen, a daughter of Nathan and Esther (Paine) Allen. She was a relative of Ethan Allen, and resided in Brookfield, Vt. Samuel P. Boutwell and his wife reared fourteen children, only seven of whom are at present living, most of them in Vermont. Samuel Edson lives in Hopkinton, as did Elmer, who is now deceased. Seven of the sons were in the army; and of these Luther died in Virginia, and Augustus retired and died in his own State from the effects of army service.
Eli A. Boutwell, the subject of this sketch, during his early years remained at home on the farm at Barre, Vt. He received the education of the common schools of the town; and at the age of nineteen he left his native place, and went to Hookset, N.H., where he learned to make shoes. Coming to Hopkinton in 1853, and in 1856 removing to Meredosia, Morgan County, Ill., he continued in the same business, remaining at Meredosia until 1860, when he went to Berlin, Ill. On August 15, 1862, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Regiment, Company A, under Colonel Lathrop and Captain Henry Yates, half brother to Dick Yates, the famous war governor of Illinois. Mr. Boutwell was in service in Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and other places. In June, 1863, he was in active service before Vicksburg during the siege; and after the fall of Vicksburg he was sent to Helena, Ark., under General Steele, also to Little Rock, Ark., the Federal forces taking possession of the city. He entered the army as private, and was promoted to Sergeant, and in July was sent to a military school at Philadelphia, Pa., where he remained for a short time. He afterward rejoined his regiment at Little Rock, Ark., and went with them to Pine Bluff, where they were stationed until the close of the war, when he was discharged, and returned to Hopkinton, N.H.
In 1869 Mr. Boutwell left his business of shoemaking and went to farming, also engaging in lumbering; and in 1872 he purchased the farm in Hopkinton where he now resides. He also at the same time purchased the mill property, which was somewhat dilapidated, and at once rebuilt it, and has since built several additions. He now has an extensive plant, and is doing a large business, having generally ten men and about eight teams. He has recently added steam, thereby increasing to more than double the former capacity of his mill. He handles a large amount of lumber annually, and is said to have a ready market for what he can furnish, especially in Concord. His farm contains about fifty-five acres, besides which he owns several tracts of timber land, making in all about four hundred acres. He has served the town in official capacity for many years, having been Collector of Taxes in 1874 and 1875, Assessor and appraiser of real estate in 1875, Selectman from 1876 to 1878, being chairman of the board. In 1879 and 1880 he served as Representative, and from 1882 to 1888 he was supervisor of the check list. In 1892 he was again one of the Selectmen.
On March 27, 1855, Mr. Boutwell married Harriet Walker Weeks, who was born in Hopkinton, N.H., June 1, 1829, a daughter of Thomas J. and Hannah (Smith) Weeks. Her paternal grandfather, Captain William Weeks, a graduate of Harvard College, served on the staff of Washington in the Revolutionary War. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Boutwell, namely: Rozella, who died at the age of two years; Harvey Lincoln; Henry Beecher Allen; Arthur Jefferson; and Ella, who died when fourteen years of age. Harvey Lincoln Boutwell, born April 5, 1860, was graduated in 1882 from the New Hampshire State College and in 1886 from Boston University School of Law, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He is now a counsellor-at-law Boston, Mass., and is also serving his third term in the State legislature. He resides in Malden, Mass. December 28, 1886, he married Nellie C. Booth. They have two children-Robert Dewey and Louis Evans. Henry Beecher Allen Boutwell lives near his father. He married Alice Montgomery in 1885, and has had two children-Ernest Allen; and Nellie Maria, who died at the age of one year. Arthur J. Boutwell is now in business with his father, and is superintendent of the mill. April 12, 1890, he married Carrie J. Fitts. They have had three children, namely: Carrie Ella, who died at the age of four months; Earle Fitts; and LeRoy Arthur. Mr. Eli A. Boutwell has built up a large business, in which he has been successful; and he is at present taking an active part in it. He is alive to all the interests of the town, and enjoys the respect of his fellow-citizens. He is a Past Commander of Post No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic, of Hopkinton, N.H.