The Whittenberg family came to this country from Wittenberg, Germany, in colonial times and settled in Pennsylvania soon after the Revolutionary war. One branch of the family, Henry Whittenberg, great-grandfather of the present generation of Johnson county Whittenbergs, removed from Pennsylvania to Tennessee when but a young man and settled in Blount county. This sturdy pioneer, although thoroughly American by birth, was of the broad shouldered and imperturbable German type. He made his home for life amid the wilds of that mountainous country and there he reared his family of five sons. The eldest, Henry Whittenberg, remained in that country and today a number of Whittenbergs, descendants of his, are living in Blount county, Tennessee. The second, third and fourth sons, namely, Mathew, Joseph and Daniel, removed to Washington county, Illinois, in 1835, where they lived to ripe old age, and their numerous descendants are yet living in Washington, Franklin and Williamson counties, Illinois. The fifth and youngest son, William Whittenberg, was married to Nancy Smith, daughter of John M. Smith, a Methodist clergyman of Blount county, Tennessee, in 1822, removed to Henry county, Tennessee, in 1835, and three years later, in 1838, made a visit to his brothers in Washington county, Illinois, with the purpose of locating near them. He left Washington county, Illinois, for his home in Henry county, Tennessee, intending to return with his family, but was never seen or heard from by any of his family or relations. It was supposed that he was murdered or that he met with some fatal accident. In 1840 his family, consisting of the widow and eight children, came from Henry county, Tennessee, to Johnson county, Illinois, and settled in Grantsburg township, where the children grew to maturity, and where the widowed mother continued to live until old age and the marriage of all the children caused her to make her home with her oldest son, John S., in whose home she died in 1868.
To William Whittenberg and Nancy (Smith) Whittenberg, eight children were born, John S., Sarah, William P., Polly Ann, Harrison,
Matthew and Daniel Webster, all born in Blount county, and Malinda, the youngest, born in Henry county, Tennessee.