Hon. Orlando W. Whitelock
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 538-542
The Hon. Orlando W. Whitelock, lawyer and business manager of the News Publishing Company, comes of a sturdy old stock of farmers, from whom he has inherited a goodly store of sound common sense and energy. He was born in Rock Creek township, this county, on July 12, 1857, and the story of his life is the tale of one who has risen from the bottom by dint of thoroughly applying to the best of his ability the talents God has given him.
With his father, Jonathan, he owns and controls the News-Democrat, one of the best papers in this part of the state, and, though a practicing attorney of considerable note, he manages to find time to give personal attention to the management of his newspaper.
Jonathan Whitelock, the father of our subject, was born in Fayette county, Indiana, July 8, 1830, and is a son of Abraham and Margaret (Risk) Whitelock. Abraham Whitelock was a native of Maryland and there lived until his eighteenth year, when he accompanied his father to Lancaster county, Ohio. His parents dwelt there but a short time, moving to Franklin county, Indiana. For five years young Abraham helped his father in clearing a farm and making a home in the then sparsely settled region of Franklin county. At the age of twenty-three he married and settled down on an eighty-acre piece of timber land which he had purchased. By dint of hard work he thrived until the eighty-acre strip became one hundred and twenty acres, and the timber land was transformed into a fine farm. For twenty-four years he lived on this farm, but in 1824 he sold out and moved to Huntington county, where he purchased a small farm in Rock Creek township. In 1858 he decided to retire from active life and settled down at Warren, where he died five years later at the age of sixty-three years. A man of few words, he cared not for office, though all his life an enthusiastic Democrat. His father, William, was a native of England, who was brought to America when but a mere lad by an uncle, who used him as a hostler for a number of years. He served throughout the war of 1812, being in charge of a pack train. After the war he settled down in Maryland for a brief time, but soon immigrated to Ohio, and later to Indiana. He never acquired a goodly quantity of this world’s goods, only having a small farm of eighty-five acres of poor land at the time of his death. His wife was a Miss Watson, and they were the parents of ten children.
Our subscriber’s paternal grandmother, Margaret Risk, was a Buckeye by birth, having first seen the light of day near Cincinnati. Here she lived until a young lady, when her parents moved to Fayette county, Indiana, and there Margaret met her future husband. She died at Warren in October, 1863, at the age of sixty-four years. Like her husband, she was an earnest member of the United Brethren church. Three sons and five daughters came to brighten her home, and all are living to-day, though the average of their ages is past sixty-seven. In chronological order they are as follows: Prudence, who lives in Franklin county, Indiana; Rachel, residing at River Sioux, Iowa; Margaret Jane, who lives in Ottumwa, Iowa; Jonathan, brother of the subject of this sketch; Rebecca, who lives in this county; Elizabeth Ann, who also lives in Iowa; William T., a merchant in Huntington; David D., a resident of Toledo, Ohio.
Margaret Risk came of pioneer ancestry. Her father, William, was born near where Cincinnati now stands, his father having owned a large tract of land in that neighborhood. When he was young his father was killed by the Indians, while hunting on the Kentucky side of the river, and the young man migrated to Fayette county, Indiana, where he lived on a farm until death called him at the ripe old age of four score and four. All his life he was a great hunter and fisherman, the forests and streams abounding in game in those early days. In politics he was a Democrat; in religion he was of the United Brethren faith, and his descendants seem to have inherited these two qualities to the present day.
The boyhood days of Jonathan Whitelock were spent on a farm, where he had a chance to work all he desired, with no over-supply of recreation thrown in. His early education was acquired at a little log school house on his father’s farm. It was not a thing of beauty, rough logs, the cracks daubed with mud, greased paper for windows and slabs or puncheons placed upon wooden pegs serving as seats. Compared with our present commodious structures, it is surprising how the young men of that day learned so much under such conditions, and in after life proved so capable in meeting all requirements of citizenship. But to Jonathan it was the best to be had; he was glad to obtain it, and made the best use of his time and opportunities. When he reached his majority he was ready to start out for himself, and for more than three years he worked on the farm by the month and cut timber in the winter season. In 1851 he went to Wells county with his father and bought one hundred and sixty acres of land. His father backed him in the deal, and for the next few years Jonathan worked hard until he had paid his father the amount loaned him. In 1854 he traded his farm for ninety acres in Rock Creek township, this county. But fifteen acres had been cleared, and he moved into a log cabin and began the work of improvement. He soon bought ten acres adjoining, and cleared almost the entire one-hundred-acre tract. Here he remained for thirty-seven years, and in that time added to his land purchases until he at one time owned six hundred and twenty acres. He gave his son one hundred and forty acres, and traded part of the remainder for six residence properties in Huntington, retaining the three-hundred-acre farm that represents his individual earnings. On January 23, 1894, he moved to Huntington and retired from active business, though he has a number of interests that he looks after pretty carefully.
Jonathan was married in February, 1856, to Miss Elizabeth Anna Souers, the daughter of Jacob Souers, one of the honored old settlers of Rock Creek township, whose sketch is found elsewhere in this work.
Mrs. Jonathan Whitelock was born on May 14, 1835, in Wayne county, Ohio, her parents coming to Rock Creek township when she was but three years old. Here she dwelt on a farm in section 33 until her marriage, February 3, 1856. She died July 3, 1900, leaving a husband and one son, Orlando W., the subscriber. She was reared a Baptist, but some twenty-three years before her death joined the Christian church. Quiet and unassuming in manner, kind hearted, always gentle in her treatment of others, she was one of those Christian women whose years on earth are full of noble Christian acts.
In church and politics Jonathan Whitelock has always maintained most decided interest. Always actively associated with the Democratic party, he has seldom consented to hold any office. For some years he served as school director. He was township assessor for two terms, but when his fellow men wanted him to act as justice of the peace Jonathan said “No.” For twenty-four years he has been one of the most influential churchmen of the county. He was the main support of the Christian church at Plum Tree for many years, and has been superintendent of the Sunday-school since a day back to which “the memory of man runneth not,” so ‘tis said. In eighteen years of service as a Sunday-school official Mr. Whitelock missed but ten Sundays’ attendance. He has been very active in work among the Huntington churches, and is always looking for an opportunity to help some needy person. He says, “What I am working for now is to help the truly needy.”
A member of the Masonic lodge since 1876, Mr. Whitelock has affiliated with the lodge at Warren and later in this city. He is very enthusiastic over the secret work and the social benefits to be derived from this great order.
Though he has for some time been compelled to retire from business on account of failing eyesight, Mr. Whitelock can have the satisfaction of looking back upon a life that has been eminently successful. He is truly a self-made man in every respect. A farmer, a country store-keeper, a stock raiser and shipper, and now a real estate owner of considerable worth and part owner of a large newspaper, Jonathan Whitelock has been a man of great good to his communitl. (sic) It was him that established the present postoffice of Plum Tree, so named after a large plum tree standing on the farm. He still owns the building where the postoffice is located. Many industries were established by him, and in every way possible he has shown himself to be one of those men ever ready to aid in building up and improving his locality.
Orlando W. Whitelock spent the first fifteen years of his life on the farm and attending the country schools. When fifteen years old he entered the Bluffton public schools, which he attended during the winters of ’72, ’73 and ’74. In the winters of ’74 and ’75 he taught school in Rock Creek township, and with the money thus earned he was able to take two terms at the Lebanon (Ohio) Normal during the spring and summer of ’75. The winter of ’76 saw him teaching again, this time in Salamonie township. In the winter of ’77 he was teaching in Montgomery county, and in the spring of ’78 his finances were in such shape that he was able to enter the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, Indiana. He graduated from the scientific department of this institution the following year, and at once entered the freshman law class. He pursued the study of law at the Valparaiso school for one year, and then entered the law office of Colonel L. P. Milligan and Alfred Moore, of Huntington, where he read for one year and was admitted to the bar in 1881, but, desiring to better fit himself for practice, he entered the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and graduated with the class of 1882. The same year he entered into partnership with Colonel Milligan at Huntington, and at once began a prosperous career as an attorney. In 1886 Colonel Milligan retired, and in 1888 Mr. Whitelock took into partnership Mr. Cook an attorney, who had been reading law under him. They are still associated together.
His ability as an attorney and his activity in the cause of his party caused the Democrats to select him city attorney of Huntington, an office he conducted three years most successfully. This was from 1888 to 1893, inclusive. By appointment of Governor Mathews he occupied a vacant judgeship from ’93 to ’94, and was a candidate for the same office the year following, when every man on the Democratic ticket went down to defeat—a landslide. The law firm of which he is the head has been legal adviser for the county commissioners for a number of years, and during that time, a large amount of illegally collected fees have been paid back into the county treasury. Mr. Whitelock is compelled to divide up his business hours between law and newspaper management. Since 1895 he has been president of the then News Publishing Company, but on April 2, 1897, he concluded negotiations for the Democrat and brought about a consolidation of the two papers. He was at once, by unanimous voice of the stockholders, elected president of the new publishing company under the name of the News-Democrat. This is one of the best daily papers in this part of the state, and much of its success is due to the close attention given it by Mr. Whitelock.
When a young man Orlando Whitelock associated himself with the Christian church and has been one of its most active workers ever since. He was the leading charter member of the organization which was effected here in 1881, and has been one of its main supporters ever since. He served as president of the Eel River Christian Conference for nine years, and is at this time its president. At the Quadrennial Christian Convention held at New Market, Canada, in 1898, he was unanimously elected a trustee of the Christian Publishing Association, with headquarters at Dayton, and upon the resignation of Rev. W. D. Samuel, in 1900, Mr. Whitelock was elected president of that association and is still acting in that capacity. In October, 1900, the Indiana State Christion (sic) Conference elected him president. This was done during his absence, else he could not have been persuaded to accept the position. He felt that he had been honored with enough positions of trust by his church brethren. He was also elected a trustee of Union Christian College in June, 1901.
He certainly is a pillar of his church and Sunday-school here, and is recognized as one of the most prominent church workers in Indiana. A good, true Christian gentleman, eminently fitted to lead, he is a representative man in a good, live town.
On June 1, 1882, Mr. Whitelock was married to Miss Jennie M. Nottingham, of Mercer county, Ohio, and four children have come to bless the union, three sons and one daughter: Wilfred Jonathan is a student at the high school; Mary Etta and Clarence Jacob are at school; and Charles Nottingham, the youngest.