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Otis Whittemore
March 5, 1815–November 8, 1880
The heart of this entire community was touched with the pain of a common sorrow by the announcement yesterday of the death of Hon. Otis Whittemore, at his residence in this city, after a brief but painful illness. As late as Wednesday of last week, he spent two hours in this office,—a friendly visit, during which he recounted many of the incidents of his past life, and spoke confidently of his hope and plans for the future. At the same time he complained of feverishness, and other unfavorable symptoms, which, however, he attributed to the impure atmosphere in the crowded Opera House, where he had been listening with interest to the proceedings of the Dairy Convention. We advised him to hasten home, and take precautions against sickness. He did so, and informed us the day before his death that it was with the intensest difficulty that he reached his home. We saw him on Monday night and were shocked at the terrible change in him. It was apparent that his work was done and his journey ended; that the silver cord was loosened, and the pitcher broken at the fountain.
Mr. Whittemore was born in Fitzwillam, Cheshire Co. N. H., and was lineally descended from good old Pilgrim stock. His ancestors were men of distinction in the old Revolutionary days-the stormy epoch when the Republic was being born into the family of Nations. Mr Whittemore received a thorough education in the public schools of his native town. He was there married, Aug. 31st, 1841, to Miss Harriet M. Eaton. In 1843, he removed with his wife to Iowa, locating a "claim" on Bowen's Prairie, which he afterward increased to 200 acres. Here in few years he erected a commodious frame house, which for years had a reputation throughout all this region of country, for generous hospitality such as few private houses ever achieve. In 1854 the town of Bowen's Prairie was platted by him. He was foremost in every undertaking of a public, philanthropic or religious character, and Superintendent of the Sunday school, and leader of the choir in the Bowen's Prairie church, to which he was ardently attached for many years. He was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives during the years 1862 and '63, and was conspicuous in debates on the bill to repeal the prohibotory liquor law. To his untiring efforts the defeat of the bill was largely due. He was one of the earliest anti-Slavery advocates, and contributed time, work, and money to the work of freedom. He was throughout his whole life esteemed for his unwavering loyalty to his honest convictions of right and duty. He was not a great man, or man of unusual breadth or brilliance in any special direction, but he was an exceptionally pure and good man, who squared his conduct by the everlasting moralities, and took for the "man of his counsel" the gentle Nazarene, whom he loved and reverenced as the Savior who bore the sorrows and burdens of our common humanity.
Some nine years ago Mr. Whittemore's failing health compelled his abandonment of his farm. He removed to Monticello where he built the handsome and comfortable house in which he died. Mr. And Mrs. Whittemore were never blessed with children of their own' but they have adopted several who have grown to maturity, and taken honorable and useful places in the world. Mr. Whittemore was an ardent Republican from the birth of that organization to the last day of his life. During his last conversation with us he expressed with the utmost warmth his devotion to the great principles upon which the party was founded.
His life since he came to Monticello has been an open book, which all could read. He was so simple in his tastes, so hospitable and frank, and generous, that no man was repelled from him, and all men respected him. In the Congregational church he was a strong pillar. In the painful controversy through which it has just passed, or is passing, he was deeply interested on the side of his young pastor for whom he had an affection that was paternal. Almost his last words were an expression of hope for the speedy termination of the unseemly strife, and mild reproaches for the instigators of the troubles.
Not alone the church that loved him, but the community that knew his worth-feel the loss of such a man; and every heart is touched with the tenderest sympathy for the sorrowing wife left desolate in her declining years, and for all the many friends. Voiced regret or spoken eulogy, in the presence of such a loss, mocks only the grief which it can neither depict or lighten.
Mr. Whittemore's disease was pleuropneumonia, and until the last his sufferings were intense. "This pain shoots through me like a dagger," he whispered to the writer, the last time we saw him. Dr. Russell, who was both family physician and an old personal friend, was constant in his attendance upon the dying man. But many years of failing health had wrecked his constitution and wasted his vital force. Recovery was hopeless from the first. One of the touching incidents connected with his death, was the purchase of a large and elegantly upholstered arm chair by his friends in Monticello with which to surprise him on his 65th birth day, which occurs tomorrow (Friday the 5th inst). The chair arrived the day he died. It is easy to imagine how the old man's face would have lighted up with pride and pleasure over such an expression of the love and confidence of his old friends and neighbors. . . .

Submitted by: Mary Kay Kuhfittig
Source: Monticello Express Monticello, Iowa, March 4, 1880, page 3


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