Lee County Biography


One of the prominent and influential citizens of Lee County, who after having followed a commercial career for many years is now practically living a retired life on his farm on section 18, Nachusa Township, dates his residence in the county from 1854. Being both widely and favorably known we feel assured his sketch will prove of interest to many of our readers.

Mr. Wetherbee was born in Northfield, Vt., in 1826, and is of English and Welsh lineage. His paternal grandfather, Daniel Wetherbee, was also a native of the Green Mountain State, and comes of an old New England family of Colonial days, whose members were prominent figures during the early history of our country. In the Revolutionary War he aided the Colonies in throwing off the yoke of British tyranny. It was in Heading, Vt., that he lived for many years and died at an ad­vanced age. His son, Rev. Josiah Wetherbee, father of our subject, was reared on the old home­stead farm near Reading, and acquired a good practical education. He became a prominent Free­will Baptist and for many years engaged in preaching in Vermont and New Hampshire. In his latter years he came to Illinois and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Shultz, of this county, in February, 1884, when past the age of ninety-one years. Up to the last he retained his physical and mental faculties almost unimpaired. A man of superior intelligence, he kept himself well informed and ever took an active interest in public affairs. He was a warm friend to all moral and educational interests and in early days was a stanch Abolitionist, when it almost cost a man his life to declare himself an opponent of slavery. Neither fear or favor could make him swerve from his principles and his steadfastness of pur­pose won him the high regard of all. His wife, whose maiden name was Abigail Jones, was born in Reading, Vt., of Welsh descent and died in the old Granite State in the summer of 1854, at the age of seventy years. She too, was a life-long member of the Free-will Baptist Church, and a lady of many excellencies of character. The only daughter of the family, Maria, wife of J. H. Shultz, died in Nachusa Township. A brother of our subject, Dr. I. J. Wetherbee, is President of the Dental College, of Boston, Mass., and has a large practice in that city, where he stands at the head of his profession.

Daniel J. Wetherbee, in New Hampshire, married Sarah A. Gilman, a second cousin of Gen. Cass. For a second wife, he chose Mrs. Ange-line McDonald, nee Zehring, their union being cele­brated in Ohio. The lady was born in German-town, that State, and is a daughter of John and Anna (Snavely) Zehring, natives of the Buckeye State and Pennsylvania, respectively. They were married in Ohio, and Mr. Zehring became a merchant of Germantown, where he did business for some years. He died at an advanced age in Jersey City, N. J., and his widow is now living in Middletown, Ohio, at the age of seventy years. He was a great worker in the Sunday-school and lived an honorable, upright life, being a Universalist in religious belief. His wife is a member of the Methodist Church, and is a lady of prominence in the community where she makes her home.

It was in 1853, that Mr. Wetherbee came to Illinois and after spending a winter in Elgin and one summer in Princeton, he located in Grand Detour. He there engaged as a commercial traveler with L. Andrews, proprietor of the plow works at that place, with whom he remained for eleven years, traveling extensively over the Northwest. He afterward became connected with the Moline Plow Company, of Moline, IL., with which he remained for more than eighteen years, having under his control a great many of the States both West and South. During that period his headquarters were in Moline. More than thirty years of his life have been passed as a commercial traveler and probably no other salesman lfas traversed so great an amount of territory in a given time. He sold more plows than any man in the trade and did many hundred thousand dollars worth of business for his employers, whose confidence he shared in a remarkable degree. It is said that he sold plows enough for the Moline Plow Company to bridge the Atlantic. At length, as he was becoming well advanced in life, he resigned his position, severed his connection with his employers and retired to private life.

Mr. Wetherbee and his estimable wife now reside on his farm in Nachusa Township, which comprises nearly three hundred acres of land. He spends his time in looking after the interests of his property. A commodious and substantial resi­dence is surrounded by beautiful shade trees and it seems as though nature had made this a resort for one who wished to live retired amid the enjoyments of a country life. In politics, Mr. Wetherbee is a stanch Republican. Himself and wife are held in the highest regard by all who know them and move in the best circles of society.

Transcribed by Christine Walters "Portrait and Biographical Record of Lee County, Illinois, Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens,

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