JOHN SMITH WHITTENBERG,
the oldest son of William and Nancy (Smith) Whittenberg, was born in Blount county, Tennessee, in 1822; and with his widowed mother and his family came to Johnson county, Illinois, in 1840. The first few years in Illinois were very trying times to poor people in a strange land. There was hard work, small wages and scarcely enough food to satisfy the growing family. The mother was a woman of strong character, strong in physique, profoundly religious, well educated for those times and favored with a good measure of common sense. She was a capable leader for her growing sons and daughters. There were no free schools, but the family home was a school and in this home were taught the most valuable lessons to be learned in life. After the work of the day was done the children were given instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. The Bible and a few works of biography were the books most used. John S. was eager for knowledge and read with delight, all the books he could get. He was peculiarly fond of the Scriptures and studied them diligently. At an early age he was licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church, to which calling he gave a good share of his time throughout his long and useful life, remaining only a local preacher.
At the age of twenty-nine he was married to Isabelle Gregg, of Metropolis, Illinois, and with his young wife removed to Tunnel Hill township, Johnson county, Illinois. Here he entered land from the government and erected his home the home of his lifetime. On this same farm this couple lived for forty-six years, until his death in 1898. For forty years or more John S. Whittenberg was one of the foremost public school teachers of his county. He was twice elected county superintendent of schools. He was a good thinker, a forceful speaker, a popular leader and a preacher of unusual power.
In this home were born three sons and six daughters: Ellen, a widow, living in Creal Springs, Illinois; Adaline, the wife of G. B. Hood, Vienna, Illinois; John W., who died in 1878, at the age of eighteen; Sarah J., a teacher in the Murphysboro township high school; Necy, the wife of W. H. Cover, of Tunnel Hill, Illinois; Belle, who died in 1901; Alonzo L., a farmer and teacher, Vienna, Illinois; William C., a physician and surgeon, of Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Flora, who died in 1898.