George W. Ditto
Posted by Jean Crowl 7 May, 2009
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.
GEORGE W. DITTO, one of the highly respected and prominent citizens of Henderson County, now living on section 5, township 12 north, range 4 west, has here engaged in farming for forty-two years. As he is both widely and favorably known in this community, we feel assured that the record of his life will prove of interest to many of our readers. A native of Ohio, he was born in Shelby County, March 29, 1820, and comes of a family of French origin. His father, Andrew Ditto, was a native of Pennsylvania, from whence he emigrated to the Buckeye State, and thence to Illinois, locating in Mercer County in 1836. By occupation he was a farmer, and made that pursuit his life work. He married Margaret Wyland, who was of Dutch descent, and they became the parents of ten children, namely: John W. and Sarah, both of whom are now deceased; George W.; Frank, who is living in Gladstone, Ill, Betsy, widow of Benjamin Fox, of Oregon; Samuel, of Seaton Ill.; Levi, who is located in Kansas; Andrew J., who resides near Gladstone; Barbara, widow of John Cotton; and Louis N., who makes his home in Henderson County.
George W. Ditto was a youth of only sixteen summers when with his parents he came to Illinois. He began his education in his native county, and after coming West received but limited privileges along that line. He has experienced all of the hardships and trials of life on the frontier, and has aided in the arduous task of developing wild land. After coming to Illinois, he entered the employ of John Rumley, a farmer of Mercer County, with whom he remained for a year and a-half. The succeeding winter he spent in Sangamon County, and then returned to Mercer County, where he engaged in breaking prairie until 1840. In that year he went to Texas, and spent the next decade in the Lone Star State. During that time he was quite extensively engaged in cattle-dealing, driving cattle from Shreveport, Tex.
In 1850, Mr. Ditto returned to Illinois, and on the 9th of March, 1851, he wedded Miss Elizabeth Davis, the sixth child of John F. and Nancy (Vannosdall) Davis. She was born in Bethel, Ohio, July 13, 1834. Of the thirteen children of the Davis family, seven are now living: Mary, wife of John Mason, a resident of Keithsburg, Ill.; Louisa M., wife of A. J. Waggoner, of Saunders County, Neb.; Okey, a Presiding Elder of the Baptist Church, now living in Lincoln County, Kan.; Thomas J., a soldier of the late war, who enlisted in the Eighteenth Wisconsin Infantry, and is now living on a fruit farm in Douglas County, Ore. ; Isaac Vannosdall, who was a soldier in the Sixteenth Kansas Cavalry, and now makes his home in Ashland Neb.; and William Polk, who served as a soldier in the Ninth Missouri Regiment, and is now engaged in merchandising in Kit Carson County, Colo. Mrs. Ditto comes from a patriotic family. Her grandfather, Okey Vannosdall, was a soldier of the Revolution, and his eldest son, Robert Vannosdall, was a soldier of the War of 1812, and was on the ship where Com. Perry with his coat stopped up the hole made in the vessel's side by a cannon-ball. Mrs. Ditto's educational advantages were very limited, as her early days were spent on the frontier in Illinois and Missouri. Instead of practicing on a piano, her fingers were busy with the spinning-wheel, or else she was engaged in planting the corn-field, herding sheep or cows, or burning brush in the clearing. She is now in her sixtieth vear, vet she does her own house work and attends to her garden and poultry. She is a great lover of nature, especially of birds and flowers. Since the age of fifteen she has been a member of the Methodist Church, and has lived a consistent Christian life.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ditto have been born fourteen children, nine of whom are yet living. George Thomas was born August 8, 1852; Letitia D., who was born on the 13th of June, 1855, is the wife of William Clark, of Clay City, Neb.; Nancy O., who was born August 9, 1857, died December 21 of the same year; Capitola A., who was born November 5, 1858, is the wife of Henry Shike; Adelia D., who was born February 26, 1861, is the wife of Charles Durr, of Aledo, Ill.; William, who was born May 15, 1863, died August 16, 1863; Charles H., who was born June 21, 1864, is now living in Monmouth; Walter P., who was born August 21, 1866, is living in Henderson County; Orlie C, who was born August 15, 1868, died March 21, 1874; Leah M., who was born December 2, 1869, is the wife of Rich Newell, of Ogle, Ill.; James C, who was born August 28, 1871, is now living in Sutherland, Neb.; Clarence C, who was born October 30, 1874, is now at home; Florence, who was born August 28, 1876, died in infancy; and Mattie, who was born August 30, 1878, died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Ditto also have twenty grandchildren, including a pair of twins, children of George T., whom Mrs. Ditto christened Frances and Ruth Cleveland.
Mr. Ditto cast his first Presidential vote for Martin Van Buren, and has since supported the men and measures of the Democracy. He has served as Supervisor of his township for several years, and for more than thirty years has been School Director. The cause of education receives his hearty support, and he has done much for its advancement in this locality. He is a member of Mercer Lodge No. 210, I. O. O. F., of Keithsburg, and is a charter member of the Encampment. Since the 10th of March, 1852, he has lived upon his present farm. He first purchased sixty-three acres of land, but to this he has added from time to time as his financial resources have increased, until his possessions now aggregate five hundred and sixty-one acres. All has been acquired through his own efforts and as the reward of honesty and industry. His life has been well and worthily passed, and all who know him respect him.