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Hon. Clarence Gittings
From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.
HON. CLARENCE R. GITTINGS, one of the enterprising general farmers of Henderson County, now living on section 29, Terre Haute Township, was born in La Harpe Township, Hancock County, on the 28th of June, 1848. The Gittings family is of English origin and was probably founded in America at a very early day. The parents of our subject were James and Susie (Thompson) Gittings, the former a native of Virginia, and the latter of North Carolina. The father was twice married. In 1833 he wedded Jane Van Horn, and unto them were born seven children, namely: Quincy, who died in infancy; Luther, who enlisted in Company G, One Hundred and Eighteenth Illinois Infantry, during the late war, and died in 1863 from disease contracted in the service; Elizabeth, now of La Harpe; Samuel, who was killed by a horse in 1874; Harriet, who died in 1857; Robert, a farmer of Hancock County ; and one child who died in infancy. Unto James and Susan Gittings were born three children: James, who died in 1849; Clarence R.; and Mary, wife of I. W. Cassell, a farmer of La Harpe.
The father of this family was born February 21, 1801, was reared upon a farm, and became a cabinet-maker by trade. When he was five years of age his father removed to Belmont County, Ohio, and in 1820 went with his family to Muskingum County, where he was engaged in raising and shipping tobacco. In 1819 James Gittings began shipping flour down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, and was thus employed for three years. He also worked as a farm hand for three years, receiving about $6 per month for his services. In 1832 he emigrated from the Buckeye State to Illinois, making the journey on foot, and located in La Harpe Township, Hancock County, where he entered land from the Government. The following spring, however, he returned to Ohio, and did not again come to Hancock County until 1836, when he brought his family to the West. During his first trip he visited Chicago, which then contained only about sixty-five inhabitants. Here Mr. Gittings entered land and purchased more until he became the owner of fourteen hundred acres in Hancock County, and also some eight hundred acres in Missouri, besides tracts elsewhere, which made his landed possessions aggregate over three thousand acres. He was very successful in his business dealings and by his well-directed efforts secured a handsome property. In early life he was a supporter of the Whig party, but on the organization of the Republican party joined its ranks. His death occurred November 22, 1882. Both he and his wife were members of the Methodist Church.
She was called to her final rest in 1891, and was laid by his side in the family cemetery.
Upon the old homestead in his native county Clarence R. Gittings spent the days of his boyhood and youth. He began his education in the district schools, which he attended until about sixteen years of age, when he entered an academy at Denmark, Iowa. His literary education was completed by a two-years course in the College of Adrian, Mich. He started out in life for himself on attaining his majority, and, going to Rose Hill, Mo., there spent one year. In 1873 he removed to a farm of two hundred acres in Terre Haute Township, Henderson County. Another important event in his life also occurred in that year. On the 3d of August, he wedded Miss Mary Witherspoon, daughter of Robert and Mary Witherspoon. They began their domestic life upon his first farm, and there lived until 1879, when they removed to the farm on which Mr. Gittings has since made his home. He here owns eighty acres of land and is successfully engaged in general farming. Altogether he has four hundred and ninety-four acres of good land.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Gittings were born two sons, Frederick and Charles. The mother died January 14, 1889. and was laid to rest in La Harpe Cemetery. On the 22d of October, 1891, Mr. Gittings married Miss Rebecca Watrous.
In his political views, Mr. Gittings has always been a stalwart advocate of the Republican party and its principles. The confidence and trust reposed in him by his fellow-townsmen were made manifest in 1884 by his election to the State Legislature, and so ably did he discharge the duties of the office that in 1886 he was re-elected. Gov. Fifer appointed him one of the Board of Trustees for the Institution for Feeble Minded in Lincoln, and he has held some local offices, serving as Notary Public, Justice of the Peace and Township Trustee. He holds membership with the Masonic fraternity and with the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias lodges. Mr. Gittings is one of the most prominent citizens of Henderson County, and has a wide acquaintance throughout the surrounding counties as well. He has always been a capable and efficient officer, ever bears his part in the work of public improvement, and his sterling worth and fidelity to duty have won him high regard.