Harry James Cantwell Jr. was born on 1 May 1899 in New York, New York. He was the son of Harry James Cantwell Sr., born in 1859 in Pennsylvania, died in 1917 in Hot Springs Arkansas, and his second wife, Catherine Donnelly Cornelius, born in 1869, died in 1919, both in St. Louis, Missouri. Harry James Cantwell Sr. moved to Missouri in the 1880s, marrying his second wife, Catherine Donnelly Cornelius. Catherine was the daughter of Julia (Long) Francis and Thomas Cornelius. Harry Sr. was an attorney and mining engineer in the area known as the Missouri Lead Belt, as well as a land owner. He acquired 3,350 plus acres of land west of Belgrade, Washington County, Missouri, planting some 30,000 apple, plum, pear, and peach trees, and a grape vineyard. It was known as the Mountain Top Fruit Orchard, later called Topozark Orchard. Harry moved to St. Louis as a teenager.

He married Jane Hawkins Cummings, born on 7 April 1899 in St. Louis, on 19 May 1922 at St. James Catholic Church, in Potosi, Washington County. Jane was the daughter of Dr. Harry Cummings and Jane “Dearie” Hay. Harry James Cantwell and Jane had six children, who were all born in St. Louis: Harry James III, Cornelius “Connie” Cummings, and Jane Theresa have passed away leaving three children still living as of 2020. All married, having children of their own living in the Missouri area.

Harry Jr. obtained his degree from Washington University and received his Missouri license to practice as an attorney in 1927 in St. Louis. Harry was associated with Timothy R. “Ted” Cornin as a partner in 1930 in the United Service Car Company, taxicab, and parking enterprises in St. Louis. He was an attorney on prominent St. Louis cases. He continued to practice law until the early 1940s.

When Harry Sr. died in 1917, he left the orchard to his three living sons: Harry Jr., Lucius, and Cyril Cantwell. In 1922, Harry Jr. purchased his brothers’ thirds of the land. He commuted back and forth from Belgrade to St. Louis. He continued to work the orchard, sold timber for lumber and railroad ties, and rented the fields for cattle pastures. In 1933, he began to farm, raising cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. However, he found this unprofitable because a cholera epidemic killed the hogs and the sheep were stolen. One hundred and sixty acres of the homestead is still held by one of the children.

Harry James Cantwell Jr.
Harry James Cantwell Jr.
Photo in the collection of Abbie (Cantwell) Bast
Used with permission

In June 1946, the family moved permanently to the homestead in Belgrade. Jane Cantwell was a homemaker. She inherited her mother’s talent of crocheting and knitting. She took care of their children and loved her Cocker Spaniel dogs.

Harry James Cantwell Jr. died on 1 June 1948 in Belgrade. Jane H. Cummings Cantwell died on 25 March 1984 in Springfield, Polk County, Missouri. All Cantwell family members are buried in the Cantwell plot in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

(Sources for the above include birth, death and marriage certificates, Globe-Democrat newspaper article, other affidavits, and family information.)

Submitted by: Abbie Cantwell Bast
January 2021

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Last Modified: 29-Apr-2021 14:41