Reverend James DeWitt
Biography

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 262, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill, 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Rev. James Dewitt was born at Hope, Warren county, New Jersey, November 5, 1817, a son of James and Anna (Coates) DeWitt; the father was born in Sussex county, New Jersey, and about the year 1842 emigrated to Michigan; he located on a farm in Oakland county, and there passed the remainder of his days; he died at the age of eighty-six years; the mother was also a native of New Jersey, and died in Michigan, at the age of seventy years. They reared a family of eight children, seven of whom are living: one son was a merchant, another a tanner, and a third was a millwright, but they are now engaged in agricultural pursuits. James DeWitt, Jr., remained at home with his parents until he was thirteen years of age, and then began clerking for an older brother; at the end of two years he secured a position as a clerk in a general store, and three years later he went to Pennsylvania, where he was employed as a clerk by his brother. In the spring of 1838, he left the Keystone State, and came by rail, canal and river, to St. Louis; the journey was continued by water to Warsaw, where he embarked, and from that point he walked to Schuyler county. The first summer of his residence here he clerked for Dr. Benjamin V. Teel, and then returned to New Jersey, where he spent the summer of 1839, and in the fall of 1839 he came again to this county and secured a position with the firm of Wilson & Greer, which he held until 1842.
  Mr. DeWitt was united in marriage, January 25, 1842, to Miss Ellen Little, a native of Columbia, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania; she died in this county at the age of sixty-one years; seven children were born of this union, six of whom are living: James L. is married and has three children; John M. is married and has three children; George W.; Elizabeth is married and the mother of four children; Cyrus L. is married; William A. is the youngest. Mrs. DeWitt was a daughter of James and Rebecca Little, natives of Ireland, who emigrated to the United States in 1801, and died in Schuyler county, Illinois, the father, at the age of seventy, and the mother at eighty-four years of age. Mr. DeWitt was married a second time, October 3, 1883, to Mrs. Catharine H. (Pittinger) Waddell. She was born in Hancock county, West Virginia, April 30, 1837, a daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth (Matthewson) Pittinger, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively; the father died at the age of seventy-two years, and the mother at eighty-five; they removed to Illinois in 1838, and settled in Fulton county, where they resided two years, thence they came to Schuyler county, and here passed the last days of their life; the Matthewson family is of Irish descent. Mrs. DeWitt's first marriage was to William Waddell, and of this union was born one child, Clementine. Mr. Waddell died in Fulton county, Illinois, at the age of thirty-three years.
  After his first marriage, Mr. DeWitt settled in Rushville, and clerked for his father-in-law until 1844, when he engaged in business for himself, his partner being Mr. Greer; he conducted the business with different partners until 1850, when he sold out and removed to Littleton township, where he and his brother-in-law conducted a general store for four years; the firm was then changed, Mr. DeWitt retaining his interest for another period of four years; the old firm then resumed business, and in 1862 he sold out. He now resides on the farm which was given his wife by her father, and devotes much of his time to agriculture; he has added to the original tract, and built the residence they now occupy.
  Mr. DeWitt received his elementary education in the district school, but it was through his own efforts that his advanced studies were carried on; he was under theological instruction only one year, but during that time made great attainment. For more than fifty years he has been a local minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and during that half century he has accomplished much work for the Master. He has performed the marriage ceremony 130 times, and has as often called to administer the last sad rites of burial. In the affairs of the State, as well as of the church, he has taken a prominent part; he has been Postmaster, Collector, and Deputy Marshal, to take the census of one-half of the county, in 1870; and in 1874-‘75, he was a member of the State Legislature from Schuyler county, representing the people with great credit to himself and to their best and highest interests. Politically, he adheres to the principles of the Republican party. In all the walks of life he has borne himself with that dignity and rectitude worthy of his calling, and has made a record that will bear the scrutiny of age.

From: "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Illustrated 1908, edited by Newton Bateman, LL. D. and Paul Selby, A. M., Volume II, Schuyler County", edited by Howard F. Dyson, pages 814-815, a Reprinted by Stevens Publishing Company, Astoria, Illinois 61501, 1970, is sold by the Schulyer County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  DeWitt, Rev. James (deceased) - Arriving in Schuyler County in the latter 'thirties as an almost penniless pedestrian in search of a wider field of labor, Rev. James DeWitt remained the associate of the growing fortunes of this part of the State until his death, September 9, 1897, acheiving success in the meantime as a farmer, merchant, Methodist clergyman and politician.  Mr. DeWitt was born in Hope, Warren County, N. J., November 5, 1817, a son of James and Anna (Coates) DeWitt, both natives of New Jersey, the former born in Sussex County.  The family came to Oakland, Mich., in 1842, and here the elder DeWitt died at the age of ninety-six years, his wife dying at the age of seventy years.  They reared a family of eight children, of whom Rev. James was next to the youngest.
  James DeWitt knew few advantages in his youth, and the responsibility of self-support settled upon his life when but thirteen years had passed over his head.  He then began to clerk in the store of an older brother, and about 1830 went to Pennsylvania, and filled a similar position in the general store of another brother.  In the spring of 1838 he came by canal, river and rail to St. Louis, Mo., thence by boat up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Schuyler County, where he clerked for the rest of the summer for Dr. B. V. Teel.  Thrifty and economical, he saved all possible of his meager earnings, expending the same on a trip back to New Jersey, where he spent the summer of 1839.  Returning to Schuyler County in the fall of the same year, he secured a position with Wilson & Greer, which he held until 1842, when his marriage on January 25th, to Ellen Little, became the determining factor which resulted in his remaining in Rushville as a clerk in the general store of his father-in-law, James Little.  Mrs. DeWitt was born in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pa., and died in Schuyler County at the age of sixty-one years.  She was the mother of seven children: James L., John M., George W., Euphemia E., who died at eleven years of age, Elizabeth, widow of John A. Young, living in Schuyler County; Cyrus L., mention of whom may be found elsewhere in this work {page 814}; and William A.  James and Rebecca Little, parents of Mrs. DeWitt, were born in Ireland, and came to the United States in 1801, their deaths occurring in Schuyler County at the age of seventy and eighty-four years respectively.  October 3, 1883, Mr. DeWitt contracted marriage with Mrs. Catherine H. (Pittinger) Waddell.
  Leaving the employ of his father-in-law in 1844, Mr. DeWitt engaged in business for himself with Mr. Greer, eventually having other business partners, but in 1850 disposed of his business and with his brother-in-law, Dr. W. H. Window, engaged in conducting a general store in Littleton Township, with which he was connected for about ten years.  In 1862 he located on a farm and intelligently developed its resources up to the time of his death.  In the meantime, the commercial side of life had by no means overshadowed the large moral usefulness which inspired his activity for more than half a century.  With but limited scholastic advantages, he yet secured an excellent education, and he made study on of the great objects of his life.  Having determined upon the ministerial life he completed a theological course in one year, and thereafter exerted a wide influence in the Methodist Episcopal Church as a local peacher.  He had earnestness and enthusiasm, and comparative religious breadth and tolerance, and his half century in the ministry was prolific of good to uncounted thousands.  Politically also he was prominent and influential, serving as County Treasurer, Postmaster, Deputy Marshal, Census Enumerator for one half of the county, as Representative in the State Legislature one term (1875-76), and Supervisor for ten terms.




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