Biography - Noel Whitehead

HON. NOEL WHITEHEAD. Among men everywhere there must always be leaders. Persons not naturally demonstrative to too great a degree, with a high regard for the rights of others, and possessing proper ideas as to the best means of advancing the interests of their communities, are doubtless best fitted for leadership. They do not always attain to that position, but when they do their very character serves as a guarantee that the tasks intrusted to them will be well and faithfully performed, and that portion of the world which comes under their influence will be bettered in its condition because of their services. Noel Whitehead, whose admirable administration of affairs in discharging the duties of the office of mayor of Vienna has established the wisdom of the assertion that he would prove as able an official as he has a business man, although still a young man, has had a remarkably busy career and is connected with some of the leading industries of this section in an official capacity. Mayor Whitehead was born March 7, 1874, in Tunnel Hill, Johnson county, Illinois, and is a son of Sylvester and Mary (Brooks) Whitehead.

Sylvester Whitehead was born in the state of Arkansas, in 1849, and came to Johnson county, Illinois, in 1854 with his father, James Whitehead, and his brother, John, who served in the Civil War four years under General John A. Logan, participating in the battles of Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and various other smaller engagements, and participated in Sherman's famous "March to the Sea." He died in 1906. The grandfather of Mayor Whitehead was engaged in agricultural pursuits in Johnson county for the remainder of his life, and his son Sylvester was reared to the life of a farmer, but forsook the soil to engage in mercantile pursuits in the town of Tunnel Hill. He served as postmaster at that point for many years, was a successful business man, and became the owner of much valuable property, and at the time of his death, September 1, 1909, was one of his section's most highly esteemed citizens. Mr. Whitehead married Mary Brooks, who was born in 1849 and died in 1898, and they had a family of four children, of whom three died in infancy.

Noel Whitehead attended the public schools of Tunnell Hill, the Cape Girardeau (Missouri) Normal School and the Southern Illinois Normal University, and in the spring of 1893 completed a business course at Quincy, Illinois. He then entered into partnership with his father in the mercantile business, where for two years he served as assistant postmaster, and in 1895 came to Vienna and became assistant cashier of the First National Bank, of which his father at that time was vice-president. In July, 1898, he returned to Tunnel Hill, where he took charge of the business, retaining his interest therein until 1906, in the meantime maintaining a residence at Vienna. Since April, 1910, Mr. Whitehead has been connected with the Egyptian Land and Loan Company, of which he was one of the organizers, the present corporation consisting of D. Esco Walker, C. W. Mills and Mr. Whitehead. The company does a large general land and loan business, and has holdings throughout this part of the state. Mr. Whitehead is the owner of fourteen hundred acres of Johnson county farming land, is a stockholder in the First National Bank of Vienna, and has varied interests all over this section. He has all the essential qualities of a successful business man. Quick to perceive, ready to act, he meets minor business questions with quiet ease, while, careful to act rightly, larger matters are the subject of his full consideration. Honorable and honest in affairs, thoroughly informed on general business questions, logical in reasoning, considerate and broad in his judgment of general business conditions and tendencies, and a most certain and intuitive judge of the character of men, Mr. Whitehead proved his capability to successfully handle his own affairs, and the people of Vienna were quick to see that he would be equally successful in handling the affairs of the city. In April, 1911, he was elected to the mayoralty chair, and his administration has shown that his fellow citizens' confidence was not misplaced. Mayor Whitehead is very well known in fraternal circles, belonging to the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Consistory of the Masonic order; the Independent Order Odd Fellows, the Knight of Pythias, Marion Lodge No. 800, Benevolent Protective Order Elks, and the Order of the Eastern Star, while his wife is a well known member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

On August 21, 1893, Mr. Whitehead was married to Estella Chapman, daughter of Pleasant T. and Mary Chapman, and three children have been born to this union: Noel Paul, Clinton Sylvester and Mary Estella. Noel Paul is attending a private military academy at Staunton, Virginia, while the other children are students in the Vienna public schools.

Extracted 14 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 787-788.

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