Lee County Biographies


Franklin Grove Illinois

This well-known resident of Lee County is a son of one of its earliest settlelersand occupies a prominent place in this community. He is proprietor of the celebrated Franklin Grove Orchard and Nursery Farm located on section 12, China Township, and is an extensive manufacturer of cider and vinegar. He was born in the town of Albion, Orleans County, N. Y., February 22, 1824. His father, the late Col. Nathan Whitney, was known far and wide as "Father Whitney" for more than fifty-five years and a biographical review of his life is appended to this biographical sketch of his son.

Our subject was four years old when his parents removed to Elba, Genesee County NY, and the next six years of his life were spent in that town. After that the home of the family was in Unionville, Lake County, Ohio, the ensuing four years. Early in the month of January, 1838, they again took up the march for the frontier, and coming to Lee County, located on a. tract of Goverment land which had been selected by the father when he visited this section in 1835.

Thus from the age of fourteen years Mr. Whitney has been a resident of this township. He grew with its growth, pioneer environments helping to mould his character in strength and manliness, and today is numbered among the prosperous citizens of the community where he has dwelt as boy and man for more than half a century. He early showed an independent and self-helpful Spirit, and at the age of eighteen made an agreement with his parents to take care of them the remainder of their lives and he in turn to have the homestead in his own right. He faithfully fulfilled his contract with them, surrounding their old age with every comfort that filial love could devise, and making their last days their best.

Mr. Whitney's farm comprises three hundred and sixty which was an origiual entry, and he still retains the patents from the Government. He erected a fine set of buildings, and has all the conveniences, including first-class modern machinery for carrying on the various operations in which he is engaged. He is one of the longest established nurserymen in the state, beginning that bnsiness in 1848, and his nursery is one of the finest and best managed for miles around. In 1849 be commenced to make cider and in 1843 added the manufacture of vinegar. He does an immense business, finding sale for his products in Michigan, Colorado, Texas, and in fact, almost all the Western and Southern States.

Our subject and Miss Mary T. Oakley were married at Franklin Grove August 14, 1851. Mrs. Whitney is a native of Hudson N. Y., and was born October 10, 1830. Her marriage with our suhject has been blessed to them by the birth six children, of whom two are deceased, Sarah who died when eighteen months old, and Carrie Louise, who died at the age of two years. The following is recorded of the four children living: Jesse R. a resident of Carroll County Iown, is engaged in the wholesale fruit and grocery trade and real estate business; Carre L. is the wife of Albert W. Crawford; Nathan A. is cashier and bookeeper for his father; Mary J. is the wife of C.L. Booth of Denver Col.

Mr. Whiteny was the first township clerk of China Township and held that office six years, and that of School Treasurer eight years. He was in early a Democrat but when the Republican party was organized he transferred his allegiance to it and has remained true to its principles through the victories and defeats of the many years that have since gone by. He is prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity as a member of the Franklin Grove Lodge, Nathan Whitney Chapter, Dixon Commandery and is a Thirty-second Degree Mason. He has been a liberal supporter of the churches and has contributed freely to charitable and other worthy objects, as well as to all enterprises that would in any way benefit the community.


Lee Co Bios

Illinois - "Our Way"