Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Page 1457

GEORGE W. WHITECRAFT - George W. Whitecraft, who resides at No. 731 South Eighth street, is enjoying the rest which should ever follow years of active and honorable labor. From pioneer times down through many years he was interested in agricultural pursuits in this part of the state and kept apace with the general progress and improvement. Having acquired a very desirable competence, he is now resting in the enjoyment of the fruit of his former toil, making his home in Springfield, where he has many friends. He was born in Bath county, Kentucky, September 26, 1830, and comes of Scot lineage. His grandfather, John Whitecraft, was a native of Scotland and a hatter by trade. Crossing the Atlantic to America, he aided in the pioneer development of three states - Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Kentucky. The father of our subject was John Whitecraft, who in 1835 brought his family to Illinois and settled five miles southeast of Springfield, upon a farm owned by Alexander Humphreys, also from Kentucky. A year later, on the 6th of April, 1836, he removed to his farm in what is now South Fork township, Christian county, although that district was then a part of Sangamon county, the division having not yet been made. At the time of his death Mr. Whitecraft owned about one thousand acres, all of which he had purchased. There he carried on stock raising in addition to the cultivation of his fields, and was a prosperous, progressive agriculturist. After his death the farm was divided among the children. His widow continued to reside upon the old home place until 1860, after which she lived with her son George until her demise.

In the subscription schools of his neighborhood George W. Whitecraft pursued his education, and amid the wild scenes of frontier life he was reared, assisting in the development of his father's land and thus gaining good practical experience in the labor which he made his life work. After reaching man's estate he began farming on his own account and followed it continuously until 1873. He had sold his interest in the home farm and purchased three hundred and ninety acres in Christian county. There he engaged in raising stock and in the cultivation of the cereals best adapted to the soil and climate, and almost each year added to his financial returns until in the course of time he had accumulated a handsome competence. In the fall of 1873 he removed to Springfield and purchase property which he occupied for some time.

On the 1st of November, 1853, Mr. Whitecraft was united in marriage to Miss Susan Williams, who was born in this county January 19, 1834. They have traveled life's journey together for a half century, their mutual love and confidence increasing as the years have gone by. They lived upon their farm until 1873 and then came to Springfield. After a time they removed to the Williams farm in Cotton Hill township, where they remained for six and a half years, after which Mr. Whitecraft purchased a home in Edinburg, occupying it for two and a half years. In 1900 he returned to his home in Springfield, where he and his wife are no living happily, surrounded by the comforts and conveniences which make life worth the living. They are members of the Second Presbyterian church and people of the highest respectability, having the warm regard of friends and neighbors, not only in this city, but in every community in which they have resided. In politics Mr. Whitecraft is a Republican. He still owns a valuable farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Christian county, which returns to him a good rental.

It will be interesting in this connection to note something of the family to which Mrs. Whitecraft belonged. Her grandfather, Elias Williams, was one of the first settlers of Sangamon county. He was born near Clarendon, Vermont, in 1770, and was married there to Mary Boynton, whose birth occurred in Plymouth, Vermont, in 1773. In 1804 they removed to Essex county, New York; later to Hamilton county, Ohio, and thence to Butler county, in 1819. Their next place of residence was Henry county, Indiana, and in 1822 they came to Sangamon county, living for a year in what is now Cotton Hill township, after which they located in Rochester township. They had two children who died in early youth. Their son Samuel, born in 1800, came to Sangamon county in 1821, the year before his parents. He was married to Jane L. Trotter, who died in 1865. In 1832 he aided in organizing the South Fork Christian church, and for many years he preached the gospel. He also taught school in Rochester form 1831 until 1837. Elias, born in 1802, married Polly Baker and removed to Kansas and later to Missouri. Joseph, born in 1804, married Judith Delay and died in 1850. Mary, born in 1806, became the wife of R. E. Baker and after his death married Andrew Johnson, who also died. She next became the wife of Greenbury Baker. Isaiah Boynton, the father of Mrs. Whitecraft, is the next of the family. He was born June 10, 1810, in Hamilton county, Ohio, and was married in this county April 1, 1833, to Phoebe Baker, whose birth occurred in 1816. Her father Isaac Baker, was a native of Nicholas county, Kentucky, and wedded Phoebe Waddles, who was born in Maryland. They had twelve children, of whom Mrs. Phoebe Williams was the youngest, and there was never a death in the family until she was more than fifty years of age.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Williams were born eleven children, of whom two died before reaching the age of five years. Mrs. Whitecraft is the eldest. Mary, the second, became the wife of J. M. Martin and died in Cotton Hill township in 1880, leaving three children. James H., who was a soldier of the Civil war, has lived in the west for twenty years and is now in Oklahoma. He married Caroline Hedrick and had four children. Harriet is the wife of George Boyd, a retired farmer of Springfield, and has five children. Martha is the wife of A. M. Council, a retired farmer of Edinburg, Illinois, and they have two children. Amos S., who is engaged int eh cold storage business in New Sharon, Iowa, married Jane Hatter and has six children. Sanford married Etta Hatter and died in this county, August 3, 1890, leaving three children. Edward G., a fruit grower and farmer of Topwai, Idaho, married Sarah Hatter and has six children. Abraham L., who is postmaster of Edinburg, married Sarah Lawley and has two children. Susan was born in Rochester and all the others of the family were born on the home farm in Cotton Hill township. The father was one of the best known men of his time. On leaving the farm he and his wife removed to Berry, Illinois, where they remained for some time, and she died there June 29, 1881. Later he resided with Mr. and Mrs. Whitecraft until his death, which occurred in Edinburg, April 17, 1889. He was a member of and liberal contributor to the Christian church, and he lived an upright honorable life in consistent harmony with his professions. When he came to Sangamon county he had nothing save an ax, and he literally hewed out his fortune from the forest, acquiring a half section of wild land which he transformed into a very valuable property. He had attended a subscription school - the only kind in his day and neighborhood - and therefore had but a limited education, bu the made the most of his opportunities and possessed sound and practical business judgment. In politics he was a Republican and for sixty-five years voted in this county, never casting a vote outside. Prominently connected with the early development of the county, he was a valued pioneer settler and one whose worth to the community was widely acknowledged.

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