One of the oldest men in Jackson County is John Wittman. who has lived in this part of Ohio more than three-quarters of a century. His years of activity were spent as a farmer, and have been fruitful in the things that go with material prosperity and also in the honor paid a good citizen who rears a family of useful men and women.


John Wittman was born near Allentown, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1830, and is now eighty-six years old. His father was Henry Wittman, a native of Pennsylvania, while the grandfather saw service as a teamster in the army of General Washington, and was at Valley Forge during that memorable winter that passed with so much suffering to the American troops and with so much gloom to all the hard-pressed colonies. Henry Wittman for an occupation learned the trade of shoemaker. There were no shoe factories then, turning out footwear by machinery, and the cobbler was a useful man in every community, did all his work by hand, and made boots and shoes only by order. In 1838 he left Pennsylvania with his family and came to Ohio. No railroads had yet been built west of the Alleghenies, and the journey was made by wagon and canal boat. They tarried awhile in Stark County, then went to Columbus, and on reaching Piketon took a team and wagon for the rest of the distance to Jackson County. Their location was in Scioto Township, where several Pennsylvania German families had preceded them. There Henry Wittman bought a tract of timber land, erected a log cabin, and that was the first home of the Wittmans in Ohio. The winter months were spent in cobbling for the settlers, while the rest of the year he spent in clearing off his land and tilling the soil. Henry Wittman died in that locality after a life of nearly eighty years. The maiden name of his wife was Lizzie Morey. a native of Pennsylvania and of German ancestry. She died soon after coming to Ohio, but six of her children grew up, as follows: Mary, Catherine, Jesse, Elizabeth, William and John.


John Wittman, the only survivor of this family, was reared to the vocation of agriculture, and for an education had to depend upon the primitive instruction of subscription schools. After reaching manhood he bought an unimproved farm near the old home, and for many years was busied with its clearing and cultivation. He still lives there, and in spite of his age is a hale and clear-minded old man.


John Wittman married Elizabeth Ann Elick, who was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1842. Her father, David Elick, was born in Germany, came to America in young manhood, and was employed in the iron works at Portsmouth, which city was his home until his death. Both he and his wife, whose maiden name was Anna Leser, died of the cholera in 1854. They left six children. Their son, David Elick, was well known in Portsmouth, where for years he published the Tribune, but in 1883 moved to Minneapolis, where he and Mr. Alvord founded the Commercial Bulletin.

Elizabeth Ann Elick was a small child when her mother died, and she made her home with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Leser, until her marriage. She died in 1910 at the age of sixty-eight. She was the mother of ten children, all of whom live to revere her memory. Their names are: Hattie, Ann, James D., John H., Frances E., George B., William J., Harry S., Cecilia C. and Jessie M.

 

From "A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor.  Published by Lewis Publishing Company, 1916