Biography - John C. DeWitt

JOHN C. DEWITT. Among the successful self-made men of Southern Illinois, probably no business citizen has been the architect of his own fortunes to a greater extent than John C. DeWitt, general manager of the Union/ Fruit Package Company, of Anna, and a man whose activities in the discharge of public duty have reflected the greatest credit upon his administrative abilities. Mr. DeWitt was born on a farm three and one-half miles south of Anna, in Union county, Illinois, in 1855, and is a son of Bennett M. and Elizabeth (Cruse) DeWitt, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Illinois.

John C. DeWitt began life as a farmer boy, and his early education was secured in the district schools of Union county, but the greater part of his training was obtained in the school of hard work, as his father met his death while serving as a soldier in the Union army during the Civil war, at Jackson, Tennessee, and his mother passed away during the same year, 1863. Being thus orphaned at a tender age, young DeWitt went to work as a laborer in the timber business, accepting such employment as he could find and seizing every opportunity that presented itself to better his condition. Of a thrifty and industrious nature, when he was twenty-three years of age he had accumulated enough capital to enter the merchandise business in Johnson county, and after six years there, requiring a wider field for his operations, he located in Anna, where he carried on the same line for twenty years and developed one of the leading establishments of its kind in this section, finally selling out to John W. Moore. In 1906 he entered the fruit package business as general manager of the Union Fruit Package Company, in which he is also a large stockholder, and this company is now doing a business aggregating $16,000 per annum, and he is also interested as a director in the First National Bank of Anna and the Anna Lumber Company.

Mr. DeWitt first entered the political field in 1902, when he was elected county treasurer and collector, and served in those offices for four years, his first year being marked by the increase in the county's assessments of $200,000, while for the four years in which he was the incumbent of the collector's office the total increase was over $800,000. His excellent services in this capacity were appreciated by the people of his community, and when he became a candidate on the Democratic ticket for the office of alderman he was elected by a handsome majority and was returned to that office several times. He is president of the Southern Illinois Fair Association and a member of its executive committee, and has identified himself with various public-spirited movements, to which he has given freely of his time and means. He is prominent and popular fraternally as a member of Blue Lodge No. 520 and Royal Arch Chapter No. 45, of the Masonic order, and also belongs to the Odd Fellows.

Mr. DeWitt was married to Miss Delia Shaddrick, who was born in Union county, in 1862, and they have been the parents of the following four children: Julia M., who died July 28, 1898, when nineteen years of age; Stella Mae, who died in infancy; Elsie E., who died August 31, 1905, at the age of twenty years; and Calla, who is fifteen years of age and resides at home with her parents. Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and have always been active in its work, Mrs. DeWitt being especially interested in the Sunday School, while Mr. DeWitt is a trustee of the church. Both are widely known in charitable work, and as the possessors of numerous friends and acquaintances in Anna are popular in Anna's social circles.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 713-714.

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