JOEL S. WHITMORE. The venerable subject of this sketch is one of the oldest native citizens of Madison County now living within its boundaries. He has witnessed its growth from the wilderness; by his industry and skill as a farmer has aided its development into a rich and finely improved farming country; and now, as the shadows of the evening approach when no man laboreth, he is pleasantly passing the declining years of a long and honorable life in retirement in one of its comfortable homes in the town of Hamilton. He is a native of Lebanon, born December 23,1806, a grandson of Jacob Whitmore, supposed to have been a life-long resident of Connecticut.
Francis Whitmore, son of Jacob, was a native of Connecticut, born in Windham County, where he grew to manhood and married. In the spring of 1806, accompanied by his wife and one child, he emigrated to New York, making the removal over land with teams. He came to Oneida County, where he remained through the summer, then, with a brother-in-law, Joel Stebbins, came to Madison County, and bought a tract of wild land in the south part of the town of Lebanon, and at once built the log house in which his son Joel, our subject, was born. Both families occupied the cabin for a time. Then Mr. Whitmore erected another one near by, which he and his family occupied several years. In the autumn of 1815 he disposed of this first farm, and purchased of Justice R. Smith, a large land-owner for whom he was doing business at the time, one hundred and ten acres of
timber land, situated in the north-east part of the town, only one mile and a half from Payne's Settlement, now the village of Hamilton. Here he erected a frame house, into which he moved his family in the ensuing fall of 1816. Industriously continuing the improvement of the farm, he at length built on the premises a substantial brick house, which remained his home till his death, in May, 1842. His wife, surviving him a little less than seven years, died in March, 1849. She was the mother of eight children: Yates, Moranda, Roxana, and Almira dying while young; and Caroline, Joel S., Francis, and Alexander living to maturity.
Joel S. Whitmore received his early education in the typical log school-house of that period, ere the excellent educational system of New York, now in vogue, had been organized. During the time of his earlier recollections there were neither railways nor canals in this part of the State, and the produce of the country had to be taken to Albany with
teams. The family, like all pioneers, subsisted on the products of the land and the wild game found in the forest, and dressed in garments of homespun, woven and made by the industrious wife and mother. The subject of this narrative was early initiated into the labors attendant upon agricultural pursuits, and remained at home with his father until attaining maturity. In 1836, leaving Lebanon, he emigrated to Illinois, journeying with teams to Buffalo, by boat to Detroit, thence with teams to Stephenson County in that State. Chicago was then a small village, with no promise of its present greatness as one of the leading cities of the commercial world. All Northern Illinois was sparsely settled, the greater part of the land being owned by the government, and for sale at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. Mr.
Whitmore bought a squatter's claim a few miles east of Freeport, on which a log cabin and sixty acres of cleared land constituted the improvements. The following winter he made a visit home, performing the journey in a sleigh. In the spring he returned to Illinois, and remained there, engaged in farming, until 1842, when he rented the place, and returned to his native State. He settled on the part of his father's farm which he inherited, and resided there until 1867. He then sold that property, and purchased the home in Hamilton which he has since occupied.
In 1844 Mr. Whitmore was united in marriage to Miss Marlitta Newton, a native of Oneida County, born in the town of Marshall, a daughter of Jotham and Sarah Ann (Titus) Newton. A history of the Newton family, which is widely known in the State, has been compiled,
and published by Pitt M. Newton, of Sandy Creek, Oswego County. Mrs. Whitmore died in 1886, leaving two children, Frank Y. and Newton J. One daughter, Mrs. Flora L. Markham, died in October, 1878. Frank married Alice Beach, and resides in West Union, Ia. He has three children, Frank B., Flora, and Alvah. Newton J. resides with his father. Mr. Whitmore is a man of sterling worth, honored and respected throughout the entire community. Religiously, he and his family are firm believers in the Universalist faith.
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