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William T. Whitelock

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William T. Whitelock

Posted: 1123279693000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Whitelock, Risk, Souers, Morgan, Plumb
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 304-306

One of the representative business men of Huntington, was born in Franklin county, Indiana, May 23, 1837, son of Abraham and Martha (Risk) Whitelock, the father a native of Maryland, and the mother a native of Ohio.

Reared to agricultural pursuits in the county of his nativity, William T. Whitelock remained under the parental roof until the age of twenty, accompanying the family in 1854 to Huntington county, settling in the township of Rock Creek. After receiving an elementary education in the district schools he entered the Hartsville University, remained in that institution only one year on account of failing health, which compelled him to lay aside his books and seek a more active life. Returning home, he divided his time between farming and teaching, following the latter vocation for seven or eight years in Rock Creek township and earning the reputation of a very efficient and popular instructor. There is no doubt that he would have gained distinction as a teacher had he seen fit to continue in educational work, but the confinement not being conducive to health, he finally abandoned the school room as the sole means of obtaining a livelihood, and, purchasing a farm of eighty acres, devoted his attention to tilling the soil, with occasional terms at teaching. He was thus engaged until 1867, at which time he came to Huntington and embarked in the grocery business, in connection with which he shortly afterward added a line of agricultural implements. His was the first business house on the south side of the river, a part of the city then known as Grovertown, and he has continued the stand there ever since, his success being commensurate with the energy and foresight that have signally marked his career since becoming identified with the business interests of the county seat. While still retaining an interest in the establishment he founded, it has for the past ten years been conducted by his son, and since retiring therefrom his attention has been devoted to different enterprises connected with the improvement and development of Huntington and various private concerns of his own. For several years he has served as city commissioner, and while acting as such made estimates for the present splendid sewage system. In this work Mr. Whitelock displayed rare foresight, and by careful adjustment of the assessments of taxes, amounting in all to over one hundred thousand dollars for the improvement, saved the city much needless expense. Huntington's sewage system is conceded by all experts who have examined it to be equal to that of any other city of its size in the state, and vastly superior to the majority of such improvements; and the work from inception to finish reflects great credit upon the gentleman who exercised general supervision over its construction.

In all matters pertaining to the material development of Huntington Mr. Whitelock takes no second place, and he may appropriately be termed one of the "city fathers." Public-spirited and enterprising to a remarkable degree, he takes a pardonable pride in all enterprises having for their object the beautifying of the place, and to him the people naturally look for advice and leadership when anything in the way of material improvement is to be inaugurated or accepted.

Mr. Whitelock was one of the first to call attention to Bass Lake, in Stark county, as a pleasure resort, and became a leader in opening up the beautiful grounds there to the public. He has a commodious cottage on the lake shore, where he spends the greater part of each summer, and, being quite an expert with the gun and rod, finds much pleasure during the heated season among the swamps and woods and on the lakes and streams of northern Indiana.

Financially Mr. Whitelock has met with well-merited success in his various business enterprises, and by prudent management and the exercise of wise forethought has accumulated a handsome competence, sufficient to enable him to spend the remainder of his life free from business cares. He is one of the oldest merchants of the city, also one of its wealthiest men, and for one of his years is still remarkably hale and hearty, a splendid specimen of sterling American manhood. In his younger days he allied himself to the Republican party, and while always an active worker in the ranks, has never been an aspirant for public favor. He has served his ward in the common council, and, as already stated, looked carefully after municipal interests as city commissioner, serving in the latter capacity for a period of fourteen years, the greater part of the time a clerk of the board. He became an Odd Fellow in 1867, and has been one of the most energetic workers in La Fontaine Lodge, No. 42, in which he has passed all the chairs, and upon different occasions representing it in the grand lodge of the state. He is now serving as trustee of the lodge, and is recognized by all of the members of the order in Huntington as one of the "stand-bys" who exemplifies its principles and teachings in his daily walk and conversation.

Mr. Whitelock was one of the organizers and promoters of the Huntington County Bank, of which he is now a director and one of the principal stockholders. His property in Huntington includes business houses and private residences, all valuable, and his home is the abode of a genuine, old-fashioned hospitality, which he knows well how to dispense to those claiming it.

Mr. Whitelock was married May 27, 1860, to Miss Artlisa J. Souers, daughter of George Souers, who located in Rock Creek township, this county, in the year 1844. Mrs. Whitelock was born in that township and has spent all her life within the present boundaries of Huntington county. She is a lady of many excellent qualities, retiring in disposition, and as a member of the Methodist church is well known in Huntington and elsewhere for her numerous though unostentatious acts of charity in behalf of the suffering and unfortunate.

Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Whitelock, three of whom died in infancy. Those living are: Ellen, wife of O. C. Morgan; George G., partner with his father in the mercantile business; and Martha E., who married Ed. Plumb, an employe (sic) of the Chicago & Erie Railroad, with their home in this city.

Like his wife, Mr. Whitelock is also a Methodist, being an active worker in the congregation worshiping in Huntington. He has served the church in various official capacities, and is a liberal contributor to both its local and general work.

Thus briefly but somewhat imperfectly have been set forth the leading facts in the life, character and business career of this well-known and popular citizen, because the world claims a certain property interest in the lives of its people, and biography is the lamp of experience to guide others in the path of success. He has borne well his part in life, made the world better by his presence, and the future awaits him with bounteous reward.

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