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Hon. Otis Whittemore
Born March 5, 1816


HON. OTIS WHITTEMORE, of Monticello, Iowa, was born in Fitzwilliam, Cheshire Co., N.H., March 5, 1816; he is a lineal descendant, on the maternal side, of William Locke, who embarked from the port of London for America on the 22d of March, 1634; he was the youngest child of William Snow Whittemore; his mother, Molly (Locke) Whittemore, was daughter of William Locke, of Fitzwilliam, Cheshire Co., N. H.; Mr. Whittemore has an old account-book kept by his grandfather, William Locke, which shows that, after the battle of Lexington, in 1775, Mr. Locke was called to Cambridge to aid in protecting Government stores—"powder and provisions;" the account-book makes a memorandum of his going on the 20th of April, 1775-next day after the battle of Lexington; his return to his home in safety is also noted. Mr. Whittemore's ancestors, on both sides, were quite active in aiding to secure our national independence; Mr. Whittemore has a book, printed by an ancestor in 1617, which contains the family genealogy for several generations in America; it also contains an able exposition of Colossians, and is dedicated by the reverend writer to an English nobleman.
During his entire minority, Mr. Whittemore lived with his father upon the home farm, but, in the mean time, he obtained a practical education in the excellent public schools of his native town. He was married, August 31, 1841, to Miss Harriet M. Eaton, of Fitzwilliam, Cheshire Co., N.H. The great-great-grandfather of Mr. and Mrs. Otis Whittemore was one and the same personage, namely, James Locke, born November 14, 1677—the eighth child of Deacon William Locke, of Woburn, Mass., the founder of the Locke family in America.
In 1843, the westward tide of emigration brought many sturdy pioneers beyond the Mississippi, and landed them in the beautiful Iowa country; which now contains the homes and marts of an intelligent, enterprising and freedom-loving commonwealth; in that year, he, with his worthy wife, began Western life at Bowen's Prairie, Jones Co., Iowa. His small "claim" was afterward increased to fully two hundred choice acres, whereon he erected a substantial farmhouse, which still stands; his home was on or near the military road between Dubuque and Iowa City, and pioneer life was frequently enlivened by seeing Government troops and the munitions of war pass their prairie settlement; Mr. Whittemore built the first frame house in the settlement, and afterward erected the first frame schoolhouse in the county that was built by taxation and was actively instrumental in the erection of a church within a few rods of his dwelling; in 1844, next year after his arrival, he, with others, built a church at Cascade, where he continued his membership until the church at Bowen's Prairie was built; in common with other beginners, his first efforts at farming were in the line of grain-raising, but soon changed to the more profitable one of stock-raising, in which he took a commendable pride; for fifteen years, he was in demand as a carpenter; his trade and his farm combined to tax his energy and industry; in 1854, he platted the town of Bowen's Prairie, and duly recorded the same in the Clerk's Office, and even sold some "corner lots," but the town stubbornly refused to graduate into a city; about this date, he engaged in merchandising, and continued therein for five years. Prom the organization of the first temperance society in Jones Co., at Bowen's Prairie, in 1844, to the present time, Mr. Whittemore has been an active, consistent temperance man.
He was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives during the years 1862 and 1863, and to his earnest and skillful opposition we are largely indebted for the defeat of the huge petition for the repeal of the prohibitory liquor law. From early manhood, he has been a firm opponent of American slavery; his time, his money, his voice and his votes have always been in the interest of freedom and loyalty, benevolence and humanity; whether in private life or in official station, he was always the liberal friend of the soldiers. His fellow-citizens accord him the honor of perfect integrity and faithfulness in all positions of trust. His high sense of duty and love of justice render him reliable both in the commonalities of life and in the greatest emergencies. His sacrifices in the past to meet actual or implied obligations prove that a part of his religion is to pay his debts—to "owe no man anything." Mr. Whittemore has sold his firm at Bowen's Prairie, and, for the last nine years, has been a respected resident of Monticello. His present home, erected by himself, is located upon a beautiful eminence, commanding a charming view of Monticello and the surrounding country. His residence, while being far from palatial, is in striking contrast to his early log cabin on the prairie; and his present furniture is more artistic, if it is not more substantial than that which decorated his cabin home; fence-rails-forest timber-were the material of which he constructed his first furniture. Some specimens still remain to remind him of his skill as a mechanic and his experience as a pioneer.
The hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Whittemore is proverbial. The "latch-string is out," and a hearty welcome greets all who have any reason to ask of them a temporary home. Early settlers and pioneer preachers have special cause to remember the hospitable cabin of the Whittemores. They have had no children of their own, but have adopted several, who have now attained their majority and are well settled in life. He is a friend of education, public-spirited, willing to suffer for the general welfare. Republican to the core, he nevertheless contemns the mere politician who resorts to "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain," in order to accomplish partisan purposes. He is ever ready to battle in all honorable ways for the success of his principles. For many years; he has been actively identified with the Congregational Church and Sabbath school, but is not a member of any secret organization. He is a liberal patron of several societies designed to promote the moral and religious elevation of the race. Respected by the community, with a fair competency and with diminished cares, he and his estimable wife are nearing life's sunset, beyond which lies the crown of life eternal.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879, page 685.

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