Biography - D. O. ROOT

D. O. Root, second son and third child of Levi and Polly Root, was born in Decatur township, Washington county, Ohio, September 24, 1834. His father was a native of Livingston comity, New York, and was born April 9, 1809. He came with his mother and stepfather to Washington county, Ohio, soon after the close of the second war with the mother country, in which war his own father had been a soldier, and died just at its close.

The mother of the subject of this sketch, whose maiden name was Stewart, was born upon the farm upon which now stands the village of Stewart, in Athens county, Ohio, March 7, 1809, and her mortal remains are sleeping in a cemetery near that village, upon the old Stewart farm, less than one-fourth of a mile from the place where she was born. She died in May, 1857. Her father, Daniel Stewart, born in November, 1762, in Litchfield, Connecticut, was a soldier in the continental army in the war of the Revolution. He came to Ohio in 1802, and died upon the farm he then settled upon, in 1859, of an accident, and not of disease or old age, though he was in his ninety-eighth year. The parents of our subject removed from Washington county to Athens county, same state, when he was a mere infant, and settled on the Big Hockhocking (now abbreviated into simply Hocking) river, just below the village of Stewart. Here he spent the first twenty years of his life, except two years — 1852-53 — during which he was a student in the Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware, Ohio. Failing health caused him to quit school before graduation.

After arriving at sufficient age, when not in school — the common and select — he was engaged in the ordinary farm work, in a woolen factory and as clerk in a country store of general merchandise. At the age of twenty he left the parental home for good and struck out for himself and for the west as well. He landed in what is now Douglas county — then Coles — October 17, 1854. It may be of some interest to the younger generation, at least, as showing the difference in the mode of travel then and now, to state that the first thirteen miles of Mr. Root's westward journey — from the home he was just leaving to old Athens — was made in a common road wagon; from Athens to Lancaster, forty-five miles, in a canal boat, towed by horses, and twenty-three consecutive hours were consumed in making this distance. From Lancaster to Terre Haute, Indiana, via Cincinnati and Indianapolis, by rail. And, by the way, it was the only route by which it could, at that time, have been made by rail. From Terre Haute to Paris, Illinois, was on a construction train, on the old I. & St. L. R. R., its track having just been completed as far west as that point. From Paris to Oakland the trip was made in an old time "hack" or "stage coach," which was then run from Terre Haute westward, on the old Springfield "trace," passing through Oakland, then locally known as Pinhook. During the winter of 1854-5 Mr. Root taught a term of school at "Catfish Point," near where the village of Isabel, in Edgar county, now stands. For this he received the sum of twenty-five dollars per month, an amount considered rather extra-ordinary for the times.

In the spring of 1855 — April 5 — he was united in marriage with Mrs. Sarah Winkler, the widow of Charles V. Winkler, who had been a prosperous farmer and an old settler on the Brushy Fork timber. He died in June, 1854, leaving, besides his widow, two children, Vashti, who became the wife of L. E. Root, a brother of our subject, and who is now deceased, and Luther, who is one of Newman's enterprising farmers and stock raisers. The latter occupies the old farm entered and improved by his grandfather and father, to which he has made various and substantial additions and improvements. After his marriage Mr. Root settled upon this same farm and remained on it until the fall of 1873, after his election to the office of county clerk. To Mr. and Mrs. Root there were born nine children, five sons and four daughters: Harriet K., January 10, 1855; Edward T., November 6, 1857; Ornon L., July 3, 1860; Rosecrans, November 2, 1862; Leula, October 9, 1864; Pitner, November 26, 1866, and died September 25, 1867; Isabelle, January 12, 1868; Mary, April 13, 1869; a son. unnamed, September 30, 1873, died October 3, 1873. Edward T., oldest son died December 23, 1892, unmarried, in the thirty-seventh year of his age. Hattie F. has been mistress of her father's house and, as nearly as it is possible for any but a real mother to be, a mother to the other children ever since the death of her mother, in October, 1881, while the family resided in Tuscola.

In July, 1861, Mr. Root entered the service of his country, in the war of the Rebellion, and became a member of Company H, Twenty-Fifth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until October, 1862, when, his health failing he was discharged for disability. From 1868 to 1873 he was four times elected the assessor of his (Newman) township. In November, 1873, he was elected to the office of county clerk, re-elected in 1877, and by reason of a change in the constitution of the state, an extra year was added to this term, which expired in 1882, making in all nine years. Shortly after his retirement from office, and while on the lookout for some permanent business, he entered the store of F. M. Friend & Son. of Tuscola, as a clerk, remaining until February, 1884, at which time he bought a half interest in the large general store of James Gillogly, of Newman, forming the firm of Gillogly & Root. Four years thereafter L. E. Root, a brother of D. O. Root, bought Mr. G.'s interest in the firm and it was changed to Root Bros. The firm is still in business, occupying a large two-story brick on the north side of the square, fronting on Yates street and extending north to Mathers street, with a rear entrance on same. It is the leading firm in the city. Mr. Root is a member of the M. E. church of long standing, having entered its fold in January, 1851. He is a Freemason and a Knight Templar; has also taken all the degrees in Odd Fellowship except the uniform rank, and is a member of the K. of H. and of H. & L. of H. orders.

The family to which Mr. Root belongs is in some respects remarkable. To his parents there were born twelve children, eight boys and four girls, of whom eleven are living, one son having been killed fighting for the flag in the war of 1861-5, at Perryville, Ky., in October, 1862. These children were all born between 1831 and 1852. His mother, as has before been noted herein, died in 1857, and in 1862 his father remarried. From this union one son was born, making the family to-day consist of the original number, eight boys and four girls, the youngest thirty-seven years of age, the eldest near seventy. Six of the boys were in the Union army during the Rebellion, five returning. All served three full years except the subject of this sketch. Few families can show such a record.

Extracted 09 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 206-209.

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