Van Gundy Family Tree

Notes for John Saunders Sr WHITLEY

Residences & events:


1790s North Carolina.

Abt 1800 Holston River Valley, TN.

White Co, TN, where the family stayed for only 3-4 years.

Livingston Co, KY, was the next destination by following the White River northward. The family split before coming to Illinois with brother, Sharp, returning to Tennessee.

1811 Bond Co, IL. There were about 35 people in the party, including John, his wife, 6 sons, 2-3 daughters, and 17 grandchildren. Family tradition says the women walked the whole trip. A walnut dresser brought from Tennessee was in the Coles County branch until a few years ago and John's Bible is still in existence in Missouri with the John S. Whitley, Jr, branch.

He fought in the War of 1812 but if those were sons that also served, they were very young:

A muster roll of a company of volunteer infantry, commanded by Capt. William Jones, ordered into the service by His Escellency, Ninian Edwards, governor of the Illinois Territory, Mary 9, 1813 to Jun 9, 1813.

Edward Reavis, 1st
John Whitley, Sr, 2nd
David White (spy), 3rd
Robert Brazil, 4th

Whitley, Mills
Whitley, John, Jr
Whitley, Randolph
Whitley, Elisha.

4/1813 He was on the muster roll of the volunteer infantry as a Sargeant.

4/19/1816 Fayette Co, IL. His was the first land entry of the county. The property was located at NE 1/4 S35 T4N R4W.

From the History of Bond Co, IL:

"An act forming a new county out of the county of Madison, approved January 4, 1817: Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives of Illinois Territory...The same shall constitute a separate county to be called Bond, and the seat of justice for said county shall be at Hill's Fort until it shall be permanently established in the following manner, that is to say, there shall be five persons appointed, to wit: William Roberts, John Powers, Robert Gillespie, John Whitley, Sr, and John Laughlin....

The first Circuit Court was held at Hill's Station, on Monday, May 30, 1817. The State being under a Territorial Government, all the offices were filled by appointment, and were as follows:

The Hon. Jesse B. THOMAS, Judge; Daniel CONVERSE, Clerk; Samuel G. MORSE, Sheriff; and Charles R. MATHENY, Satate's Attorney. The following persons served as
grand jurors: John WHITLEY, Sr., Foreman, Soloman REAVIS, Fields PRUITT, Coonrod HOOSONG, Samuel DAVIDSON, Paul BECK, William ROBINSON, John HOPTON, Robert GILLESPIE, Benjamin JAMES, Charles REAVIS, Charles STEEL, Andrew MOODY, Absalom MATHEWS, William McLANE, John WHITLEY, Jr., Peter HUBBARD, David WHITE, Francis KIRKPATRICK, William BURGESS, John SAMPLES, Elijah POWERS, Thomas WHITE."

5/18/1818 He was appointed Ensign.

5/4/1818 Bond Co, IL. Although he had land in Fayette Co, apparently the family had not moved yet as they were counted in the state's first census in Bond. John's household included 1 white male over 21 and 7 other whites. Sons John Jr and Mills were also found there.

1820 Perryville Twp, Bond Co, IL. Listed in the census as John Whitley Sen, his household included 1 male under 10, 1 at 10-15, 1 at 16-26, John over 45, 1 female under 10, and 1 also over 45. Two people were engaged in agriculture and 1 was in manufacture. Two doors down was son Elisha, follwed by son "Randle. In the other direction was sons "Mills" and John Jr. Other neighbors were the families of in-laws, Bateman, Duncan, and Little.

1821-1826 Fayette Co, IL. He served as County Commissioner, being mentioned several times in the minutes of their meetings.

He served on the first Grand Jury of the county.

3/5/1822 He was also on the list of petit jurors.

12/20/1826 Fayette Co, IL. His residence there was recorded in a land transfer when he purchased 80 acres in Shelby Co, IL, for $1.25 at a Federal sale. The property was located at S33 T12N R03E.

12/20/1826 He was still a resident of the same county when he purchased another 80 acres at S33 T12N R04E for $1.25/acre from another Federal sale.

1/23/1827 Whitley Point, Shelby Co, IL. The family probably never moved but rather a new county was formed out of the old and they found themselves in it. County lines would later shift again to put them in Moultrie Co.

The History of Shelby & Moultrie Counties spoke of the Whitleys:

"The first to grapple with these hardships (of pioneer life), were John Whitley and family, and his son-in-law, Samuel Lindley. They came in the fall of 1826 (the date was actually later) and settled at the head of Whitley creek timber, now Whitley's Point, on section 12, where J.M. Edmond's farm now lies. Mr. Whitley was a native of Maryland, and when he moved here, brought with him his wife and a large family of children viz: John, Sharp, Mills, Randall, William, Josiah, and two or three daughters. All the sons, except Josiah, were married, and had families when they came. They with their families and Samuel Lindley all settled in the same neighborhood with the old gentleman. Here they built their cabins, and broke the first ground in the county. A rude horse mill was constructed by the elder Whitley, which of course was the first mill of any kind built in the township. He as well as his boys were very fond of the sports of the day, such as wrestling, horse-racing, etc. They remained here only a year or two, when they scattered in various directions; some went to Texas, and others to Missouri. The old gentleman moved up the Okaw into Coles county about 1838 where he died a few years afterward. The township was named in honor of its oldest settler, John Whitley. William Price, also a pioneer, but a single man, came a year or two after the Whitleys and squatted near them, and married one of the old man's daughters. but soon afterward left the country."

In the list of Early Settlers of Whitley Township are:

John Whitley and family
Samuel Lindley (son-in-law of Whitley)
Hal McDaniel (arrived with Whitleys)
William Price (son-in-law of Whitley)

"The Whitleys were among the 1st settlers of the county, John constructed a rude horse mill, the first mill of any kind in the township.

They were a large athletic family who kept thoroughbred race horses with gambling as their chief occupation as well as racing and fighting."

Also recorded:

"The Whitleys were followers of horse racing and hunting almost to the exclusion of all else. The story was told that the elder Whitley journeyed to Kentucky and purchased a racing filly from a breeder named Dodge and returned here to win almost all the races he entered he in. Thinking to make some easy money, he entered her in a claiming race in which all entrants have a price set before the race and may be claimed afterwards at the price. John set a low price on her thinking to win an easy race and none would claim her. To his dismay she was claimed and to avoid losing her at a give away price, he slipped her out and hid her in a grove of trees north of Mattoon until the search died down. (The grove then became know as the Dodge Grove because the Dodge filly had been hidden there. It is now the Dodge Grove Cemetery.)

From the Geological and Historical Tour of Moultrie County, Illinois, is an article on the family:

"Moultrie County was settled later than most areas around us, probably due to the fact that our rivers were not easily navigable. Macon and Shelby Counties both had settlers in them by 1818. However, Moultrie's first settler (John Whitley) didn't arrive until the fall
of 1826. He and his family did not stay here permanently and moved out when the county became more crowded."

"John Whitley and his family of six grown sons arrived in the fall of 1826 and settled south of Whitley Creek on section 12 of what is now Whitley Township. The original survey of Moultrie County shows a spring near this location. Whitley probably chose this spot because of the spring. The small creek that crosses the east-west road here was probably begun by this spring. His cabin was somewhere between the Whitley Creek to the north and this east-west road. Whitley and his sons were gamblers, horse racers and able fighters; however, Whitley seems to have been trustworthy because he was chosen as one of three of Shelby County's first county commissioners. He also served as Justice of the Peace. (At this time Whitley Township was a part of Shelby County.)

Also in 1826 two other 'squatters' settled near Whitley, staying only a few years. Most of Whitley's sons moved West, and Whitley moved to Coles County in the 1830s."

Continuing again:

"The Methodists get credit for bringing the first church services to the county, a sermon being preached in Samuel Linley's cabin by Rev. Miles Hart in 1828. (Linley was one of Whitley's sons-in-law.)"

In Whitley Whittlings is an article which states:

"John Whitley was the first to settle in Whitley Township, near the head of Whitley Creek. Then, in order to file on a piece of land, it was necessary to go to the land office in Vandalia. That seemed too much of a trip for him so he did not file but just built his cabin and 'squatted'. As more settlers came and began to fill the available space; some of his neighbors convinced him he should file, for anyone else who wished could file on the land he was occupying and legally make him move away. So, he made the trip to the Land Office in Vandalia and filed on October 1, 1833 and of the Independence of the 'United States of American the fifty eighth.'

His claim was 'the East half of the Northeast quarter of Section twelve in the Township twelve North and Range six of lands subject to sales at the Vandalia Land Office, containing eighty acres.'

Another article said John owned hundreds of acres of land, claiming some of the first land of Shelby Co.

From "The Whitley Point Record Book" is the following: "The place selected by John Whitley had many advantages. Wood and water were at hand, and the game was plentiful--including deer and turkey. Bears, wolves, panthers, and wild cats were also encountered. Because of the good hunting, Indians frequented the area. Indeed in the winter of 1826-27, after the Whitleys first arrived, Indians maintained a large camp consisting of about 90 lodges a few miles south of the Whitley settlement in what is now Shelby County. These Indians were considered to be friendly by the settlers, with whom they maintained a lively social intercourse--including occasional contests of horse-racing, shooting, and athletic events."

And again: "The field notes of the first surveyors of Section 12 in Township 12N, Range 6E, where the Whitleys settled five years later, refer to 'gently rolling' prairie, with 'first rate' soil, and walnut, oak, elm, and mulberry trees.....The Whitley family settled near a point where the timber adjacent to the creek extended into the prairie. Hence the name of the settlement--Whitley Point."

He was one of three members of the 1st Co Board of Commissioners and was the first Justice of the Peace of the new county, for which he received $1.50/day for court duties. As Justice of the Peace he married several couples over the years and once as County Commissioner.

5/3/1827 Shelby Co, IL. As Co Commissioner, he officiated at the wedding of his wife's relatives, Sally Bateman and John Cochran.

2/25/1830 John was still a resident of Shelby Co when he purchased 2 plots of land in Moultrie Co on this date from a Federal sale for $1.25/acre. The two plots of 80 acres each were located at S12 T12N R06E.

1830 Prect 4, Shelby Co, IL. At census time, sons, John Jr and William, were neighbors while Mills and Sharp were just down the road. John Sr and his wife were 50-60 years old and had living with them 1 male 15-20 and 1 female 10-15.

In the History of Moultrie Co in an article on Jonathan's Creek Township, it states:

"It had previously been told and written by others, 'that one Jonathan Whitley was lost while out hunting, and from him the creek was named;' but this is a mistake; for there never was a Whitley by that name that lived in this county."

Another history says: "The Whitleys have not received as much attention as they have deserved, mainly because the family moved away after a few years' residence. However, they were real men, energetic and enterprising, even if they were not impressed with the value of the land."

From the History of Coles Co:

"The fact that a settlement was in the township as early as 1833, seems to be pretty fully established and John Whitley and his son John, Elisha, William and Randall, are recorded as among the first, if not the first, to settle and make improvements in its limits. Their improvements were made along the Okaw, near the southwestern limits of the township. Elisa and John were on the west side, while William and Randall located east of the stream. The Whitleys came from Tennessee, and must have come to the State at an early day; from statements made by the elder Whitley, they seem to have passed up the Kaskaskia, making settlements at various points; so soon as neighbors began to settle in around them, they would desert their places, and moving up the stream, would again locate, only a few years later to move still higher up the stream."

1831 His name appears in the Circuit Court Case Files as the defendant against a Brazel Losey for damages, specifics unknown.

5/29/1832 John performed the marriage ceremony for great granddaughter, Clarissa Price, and John Grice.

7/20/1836 Still living in Shelby Co, he purchased 80 acres in Douglas Co at S3 T15N R07E for $1.25/acre at a Federal sale.

Gilbert Waggoner said of the Whitleys: "The Whitleys were a rough set--a bad lot." A history said "their ways of life were different, and the two families didn't understand each other. The Whitleys, doubtless, were brave, strong, active, and restless. Some of them went to Missouri and others to Texas, where they probably fought for the independence of the Lone Star."

"They were 'rough and ready' but I believe Uncle Gilbert was too severe in pronouncing them a 'bad lot.' They were the typical pioneers--the advance guard of civilization, and their kind made the frontiers safer for those who came later."

1838 Cooks Mill, Coles Co, IL. When the rest of the family moved west, John sold his land to William Hayden and moved nearer other family members.

Some sources say he was a native of Maryland but since the family lived in VA for generations before him, it is unlikely.

Son, Elisha, was administrator of his estate and, as such, initiated suits to collect payment of notes owed the estate. From the parties at law:

Elisha Whitley Adm of John Whitley Decd. vs John G Purvis action on note for $140.47 due 295h April 1837
cr $50.00 the 11th April 1836
also cr $25.50 this 2nd Feby 1839
Summons Issued 2nd Feby 1839
Subpoena for John Bracken
2/16/1839 Summons Returned Executed by reading to defendant
parties met and hearing
the Judgment against
J Purvis for $95.72
and cost--Justice $1.12 1/2
Constable 2.43 3/4
3/9/1839 Execution Issued WG Haydon JP
12/14/1839 Execution returned Amos Waggoner JP
12/14/1839 Renewed

Amos Guinn for the use of Elisha Whitley Adm of John Whitley Deceased vs John G Purvis & Peter Warren action on note for $11.00 due 15th August 1835
2/2/1839 Sums Issued to I Walker
2/16/1839 Returned executed on John G Purvis by Reading the same
Warren not found
Cr by order of Pl $7.00
this 16th Feby 1839
And stayed by plaintiff
Justice cost .50 cts
Const 56 1/4 cts

Elisha Whitley Admr. of John Whitley Deceased vs John G Purvis & John Whitley Junior
action on note $125.75
2/2/2839 Sums Issued to I Walker
Credited 10th June 1839 $5.25
also $53.55 same date
2/16/1839 Returned Executed on John G Purvis by Reading the same
John Whitley not found
Judgment against JG Purvis for $84.70
and cost J Cost $00.68 3/4
Constable .56 1/4
3/9/1839 Execution Issued to I Walker
12/14/1839 Execution Renewed Amos Waggoner JP
3/4/1844 Execution returned with a cr
$60.00 & the balance Stayed by order of Plaintiff

Copyright 2010 by BJ Van Gundy

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