Biography - John Whittenberg

REV. JOHN S. WHITTENBERG was born in Blount County, E. Tenn., in 1823 and now makes his home in Tunnel Hill Township, Johnson County. His father, William Whittenberg, was born in 1803, on the same farm, and was a son of Henry Whittenberg, Sr., who was born in Wittenberg, Germany, and came to the United States in an early day. He was a man of limited means, and settled in Blount County, Tenn., on wild land soon after the Revolutionary War, while Tennessee was still a Territory. He married Mary Pate, of German ancestry, with whom he lived happily for many years and reared five sons and four daughters. Three of the former were soldiers in the War of 1812 under Gen. Jackson. The names of these nine children were as follows: Henry, Daniel, Joseph, Matthew, William (father of Rev. John S.), Mary, Sarah, Betsy and Margaret, who all became heads of families and lived to a good old age. The grandfather of our subject removed to Illinois in 1840 or 1841 from Tennessee, where he had acquired six hundred acres of land, out of which he gave each of his sons a farm. Their son Joseph, and daughter Sarah, wife of John Phillips, were the first of the family to come to Illinois, which was soon after it had become a State.
John Phillips was the Representative of his county, Washington, several years, and was one of the framers of the Constitution of the State. Joseph Whittenberg went back to Tennessee and brought his aged parents to Illinois on a visit, but they liked Illinois equally as well as Tennessee, and sold their property in that State and made this their home the rest of their lives, the mother dying at the age of eighty-one years, being followed to the land of rest by her husband a few years later. Both were intelligent people, retaining their strength and mental faculties to the last, and belonged to the Methodist Church, of which they were active members for a number of years. William Whittenberg, the father of our subject, married Miss Nancy Smith, daughter of John M. Smith, a Methodist clergymen possessed of much ability, and a classical education. Mrs. Whittenberg was born March 7, 1800, in Virginia, in which State her mother, Nancy Dyson, who was related to William Henry Harrison, President of the United States, was also born. The parents of Rev. John S. Whittenberg were farmers in Tennessee, where the father died in 1842, only thirty-nine years old, leaving his widow and eight children, four sons and four daughters, and having previously buried two infant sons. About two years after the death of the father the remainder of the family moved to Henry County, Tenn., and in the winter of 1845 came to Johnson County, Ill. Their first home was in Grantsburg Township, where they entered forty acres of land and bought thirty-six acres, upon which there was already a little improvement, a few acres cleared and a small log cabin. Here they made a good farm, which remained the home of the mother until her death, June 24, 1868, in her sixty-ninth year, when her remains were interred in the Salem Cemetery. Her husband and two children are buried in Tennessee, and one son and a daughter are buried in Grantsburg Township.
Rev. John S. Whittenberg and his sister Malinda, wife of Elihu Vaughn, reside in this township on good farms. Sarah, widow of Kit Peterson, resides in Goreville Township, and Matthew is a well-to-do farmer of Pope County. Our subject was reared a farmer and had but nine months' schooling before he was twelve years old, and attended school but fifteen days during his fifteenth year. His mother was, however, well educated and taught her children the common branches, which helped them considerably, and all are at the present time well-informed young men and women. One brother, William P., is a wealthy farmer in Bloomfield Township. Rev. Mr. Whittenberg taught a term of school when he was twenty-three years old, and afterward taught during the winter months for thirty-five years, becoming very efficient in that profession. He was School Superintendent of Johnson County two terms, and organized the first school institute in the county, conducting it himself for four years. He has also been a local preacher in the Methodist Church for thirty-two years.
Our subject was married February 15, 1853, to Isabella Gregg, of Kentucky, but who was a resident of Metropolis, Massac County, this State, and a daughter of William and Dorcas (Clayton) Gregg, who were the first settlers of Massac County. Mr. Gregg was a farmer, and for some years a hotelkeeper at Metropolis, and it was at his hotel that Rev. Mr. Whittenberg met Miss Isabella and his fate. They began married life in the log cabin on the same farm where they now live, which comprised forty acres of new land. He added to the fortyacres from time to time until he owned over three hundred acres, some of which he has since sold, and now owns only one hundred and eighty-five acres, one hundred of which are under good cultivation. Living in the log cabin a few years, Mr. Whittenberg built, in the fall of 1861, a part of the present house, which is a good two-story building, partly frame and partly hewed logs, weatherboarded and ceiled inside. He lived economically and worked industriously until enabled to make an improvement on it in 1867, and twenty-five years later added an addition.
Rev. Mr. Whittenberg has taken ten degrees in Masonry and has been connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since 1877. He has represented the Grand Masonic Lodge some fifteen times and takes a strong stand in politics, being one of the organizers of the Republican party in this county. He could not well avoid being a Republican, for he had stood on the slave markets in the South and seen families separated, at which all the finer sensibilities of human nature must revolt. Mr. and Mrs. Whittenberg have lost four infant children, and one son, John W., who died in his eighteenth year, and was a teacher one year before his untimely death, in May, 1887. Our subject and his wife have eight children living, two sons and six daughters, namely: Ellen, wife of James Harrell, who has three sons and four daughters; Adeline, wife of G. W. Hood, who has two sons and one daughter; Sarah, a school teacher at Carbondale; Necy, engaged in the millinery business at Tunnel Hill Township; Belle, who is a young lady and at home; Alonzo, a farmer and teacher, who was married to Eva Race, and has one daughter; William C., at home; and Flora, a young lady still with her parents. Rev. Mr. Whittenberg is the youngest man of his years in this part of the country and is still very active, engaging still in some hard work. He inherited a splendid physical and mental nature, and has done his share of the work of the world.

Extracted 21 Sep 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 289-293

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