JOHN E. WHITMAN came to Pratt County at the age of sixteen and his life for thirty years has been one of growing influence and success as a farmer, land owner, business man and public official. He owns some of the best farming land in the vicinity of Preston.
The Whitmans originally came from Wales, but through his grandmother Mr. Whitman is also of Irish descent. His grandfather, James E. Whitman, was born in Ohio and moved from there to Iowa, and soon after the close of the Civil war established a home at Pleasanton, Kansas, where he was one of the earliest settlers and a pioneer merchant. He fought as a soldier in the Civil war. He died at Pleasanton in 1906. In politics he was a republican. He married Miss Savage.
R. W. Whitman, father of John E., was born in Ohio June 20, 1847, and lived in his native state to the age of sixteen. He then went with his parents to Centerville, Iowa, and about that time, in 1862, enlisted in the Seventh Iowa Cavalry and saw three years of active service, chiefly on the border against the Indians. After the war he farmed at Centerville and in 1884 moved to Pratt County, Kansas, and pre-empted a claim of 160 acres six miles southwest of Preston. After proving up his land and farming it for some years he moved to Pratt, where he was employed by the Rock Island Railroad Company. He died at Pratt April 3, 1913. He served as mayor of Pratt, was an active republican, belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic and the Pratt Lodge of Masons and was a consistent member and worker in the Methodist faith.
In 1866 R. W. Whitman married in Iowa Mary DeLa, who was born in Ohio in 1841 and died at Pratt, Kansas, August 31, 1916. Their children were two, John E. and Frances E. The latter is the wife of S. B. Pierpoint, a Santa Fe Railway engineer living at Wellington, Kansas.
John E. Whitman was born at Centerville, Iowa, November 4, 1867, and graduated from the high school there in 1884, the same year that he came with his parents to Kansas. He assisted his father in developing the homestead until he was twenty-one years of age, and since his father's death, he has owned the old home quarter section. At the age of twenty-one he entered the railway mail service, which was his employment for four years. Then for five and a half years he was locomotive fireman with the Chicago and Rock Island Railway Company, was promoted to engineer and continued to serve the company faithfully in that capacity for 3 1/2 years. Since leaving the railroad he has given his time to farming in Pratt County. He has developed a large body of land, comprising altogether 2,160 acres, and is producing abundant crops of grain and livestock. He and his family live on the farm in the summer and in the winter have a comfortable home in Preston, convenient to the local schools.
Mr. Whitman is president of the Preston Co-operative Elevator Company and is secretary and treasurer of the Pratt County Farm Bureau. He was elected on the republican ticket to represent Pratt County in the Legislature in 1916, and had no opposition for re-election in 1918. In the session of 1917 he was a member of the roads and highway committee, railroad committee and public land committee. In the 1919 session he was chairman of the railroads committee, a member of the state institutions committee and the roads and highways committee. He also served as county commissioner for four years. He is deeply interested in local affairs and in every movement for the general welfare. Mr. Whitman is past master of Preston Lodge of Masons, a member of Pratt Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Pratt Commandery, Knight Templars, Wichita Consistory No. 2 of the Scottish Rite, and Wichita Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of Preston Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights and Ladies of Security, and of the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
In October, 1897, Mr. Whitman married at Topeka Miss Maude A. Shields, a native of Iowa. They have two daughters: Eva M., born March 19, 1899, a graduate of the Lindsborg Academy and now in the first year of Washburn College at Topeka, and Mary Frances, born May 22, 1905, a student in the public schools of Preston.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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