Biography - Josiah Whitnel

JOSIAH WHITNEL, M. D., who has for the past forty years been a successful farmer and a prominent physician, living on his present farm on section 32, in Burnside Township, Johnson County, was born in Caldwell County, Ky., in 1824. His father, John Whitnel, was a farmer and physician, and was born in Maury County, Tenn. He was a son of Josiah Whitnel and his wife, the latter of whom was a Miss Knox. Josiah Whitnel was an Irish weaver, and reared three sons and three daughters, of whom John was the eldest son. John Whitnel was married to Mary Reynolds, daughter of Charles and Mary (McAnally) Ladd, of Scotland, as appears by the record in an old English Bible purchased in 1762 for $6, the record having been made by Charles McAnally, the owner of this ancient volume. This Bible was printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1756, during the reign of George III. Charles McAnally was the maternal great-grandfather of our subject, and the record is written with a quill pen in the plainest old English style.
Josiah Whitnel, our subject, was reared on a farm near Murray, Calloway County, Ky., and in his boyhood days had the advantages of a good schooling in the common English branches in subscription and select schools. His parents had seven children, and reared five sons and one daughter, of whom Dr. Whitnel was the third and only surviving son. All five sons were graduates of the Louisville Medical College. The mother of these children died in 1841, at the age of forty-three years. The father lived many years a widower, and died in Vienna at the age of seventy-two, at the home of his son, David T. Josiah was the first of this family to come to Illinois, in the spring of 1852. He had then commenced the practice of medicine with his father, who was carrying on a lucrative business. He came alone on his horse and first located at old Reynoldsburgh. He was married in 1856 to Miss Susan E., daughter of Samuel W. and Rebecca (McCarty) Miller, the former from Kentucky, and the latter from Pennsylvania. Mrs. Whitnel was born in Montgomery County, Ky., in 1832, and came to Illinois in 1856 a bride.
The Doctor and his wife were reared in the same neighborhood and he went back for her, returning in his buggy instead of on horseback, as before. He had already built and furnished a house on an eighty-acre piece of ground near where he now lives, and at the time of his marriage had but $85 in money, his horse and a small store of medicines. They lived in this first home some eight or ten years, when he sold it, and later purchased eighty acres, which are now part of his present farm. From time to time since then he has bought more land, until at the present time he owns four hundred and fifty acres. He built his present commodious frame dwelling in 1863. It is a typical Kentucky farm house, or cottage, one and a-half stories high, 50x18 feet in size, with a 36-foot L, and a fine large porch in the center. Here they have lived and reared four children, two sons and two daughters, namely: John L., a practicing physician at home and unmarried; Mary R., wife of M. E. Mozley, a farmer and stock-raiser in Grantsburg Township, and who has one son and one daughter; David T., a young man at home, a farmer, who is not inclined to the profession of his ancestors, but whose hobby is mechanics, and who owns a steam threshing-machine, which he runs each fall; and Miss Lizzie. All the children are being educated in the best schools of this section and at Carbondale. The parents of these children have buried one son, an infant, named George William.
The Doctor has always been a Democrat in politics, and was appointed Surgeon of the One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry in 1862, but left the regiment at Springfield, Ill. His brother, David T. Whitnel, was Surgeon of the Thirty-first Illinois Regiment from the breaking out of the war until after the battle of Vicksburg, when he took the yellow fever and came home. He died within one and one-half years, leaving a widow and two children. His brother, Constantine L., who was a practitioner in Goreville Township, died there in the prime of life, leaving one son and. three daughters, and Robert died near Belknap on his farm. He was a physician and was forty-six years old at the time of his death. He left one son and four daughters to mourn his demise. Dr. Whitnel is a Royal Arch Mason, having joined the fraternity at the age of twenty-nine years, and he has a relic and souvenir left him by his father in the shape of a cane, cut January 9, 1815, at New Orleans, from the stem of a palm tree the next day after the battle of New Orleans, Dr. Whitnel's father being a private soldier under Gen. Jackson at that time.
Our subject has from his earliest manhood been one of the most important factors in the promotion of local enterprises and public improvements, and, as a progressive citizen of high integrity, has worthily won the confidence and regard of a large circle of old-time friends and acquaintances. He is resolved to keep in touch with the latest results of scientific research and all progressive ideas in relation to the treatment and prevention of disease.

Extracted 28 May 2002 by Rick Girtman from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 393-394.

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