Source: Dunn, Jacob Piatt. Indiana and Indianans Vol. III. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919.
William Tyre Whittington was born on a farm in Brown Township, Montgomery County, Indiana on the 21st day of December 1861 and died in his 50th year on March 28, 1912. He was one of those unusual men who live a long life in a brief period of years. He attended the local public schools near his father’s home in Brown Township, Montgomery County, Indiana until he was 18 years of age after which he finished his education in the Ladoga Normal and Wabash College. He took a special law course in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he was graduated in 1887, doing two years work in one. When he returned home he began the practice of law in Crawfordsville, Indiana where he was in active practice continuously until the time of his death. He was first associated in the practice of law with John H. Burford, who later moved to Oklahoma and became distinguished as the chief justice of that state. He was then associated in the practice of law with Judge AD Thomas for several years and up until about 1901. He then took his brother, Walter A. Whittington into the firm under the name of Whittington & Whittington which continued until about 1904, when his brother’s failing health required him to withdraw for the firm and go to a different climate.
During the last seven years of his life he was associated in the practice of law with Robert H. Williams under the firm name of Whittington & Williams.
William Tyre Whittington’s career brought him swell deserved fame in the State of Indiana as a lawyer and as a public spirited citizen ever ready to take a firm and active stand for the better things in civil, political and religious life. Few men have accomplished so much in so short a time.
The members of the Montgomery County Bar with whom he had practiced law for more than a quarter of a century paid this tribute to him in a memorial adopted by the Bar at the time of his death. “His fine mental equipment and great energy could always be enlisted in causes that went to the uplifting and betterment of social conditions. He loved men and the things that make for true manhood. And while he was a lover of his fellowmen, yet he was always ready to battle against conditions and forces that he thought had a tendency to thwart and hinder the growth of the best and noblest in men. He placed a high estimate on the worth of men and had an unshaken faith in God.
“As an attorney, William T. Whittington was enveloped with a consuming purpose to wear the laurels of clean and dignified professional success. He has left to us the legacy of his accomplishment of this high purpose. Few men have done so much in so short a time. His zeal in this work we can not portray with words; it may not be too much to say that it contributed to his untimely death. His striking characteristics as a lawyer were his versatility, his energy and his courage.”
But the life of this man was not limited to his profession. He was a vital force in affairs of his community and sate. He gave time, counsel and money to aid the church and the best things in civic life. He loved books and education, read history and romance, and when absent from the contest he delighted to rest near the gentle heart of nature. In his home he gave a joyous glow of warmth to every comer about his fireside he was wisdom, strength, gentleness and mirth. To William and Rebecca Whittington were born 12 children, 9 sons and 3 daughters of which family of children William Tyre was the sixth.
His father, William Whittington was born in Shelby County, Kentucky Nov 17, 1825 and died Nov 11, 1915. He was a farmer by occupation – a man of sterling qualities and Christian character. His mother, Rebecca Whittington was born in Montgomery County, Indiana Nov 17, 1833 and was a daughter of the Rev. Reese L. Davis, one of the pioneer Baptist minister of Montgomery County, Indiana and Elizabeth Rice Davis, a woman of fine qualities and Christian character. Mr. Whittington’s mother naturally followed the traits of her pioneer father and mother and was a fine Christian-spirited, motherly, home-loving woman.
William Tyre Whittington was united in marriage with Miss Elva Jane Deere Oct 26, 1887. From this union two daughters were born: Mildred Davis Whittington born April 11, 1899 and Mary Joel Whittington born Feb 21, 1901. The older daughter, Mildred died June 1, 1903. The wife, Elva D. Whittington and the younger daughter, Mary Joel Whittington have continued to live in the Whittington homestead at 209 South Grant Avenue, Crawfordsville, Indiana since the death of Mr. Whittington. His widow, Elva D. Whittington was the sixth of 10 children 7 sons and 3 daughters of the union of Joel Garnett Deere and Mary E. McGrigg, who were united in marriage April 19, 1849.
Joel G. Deere, was one of the early pioneers having been born in Shelby County Kentucky March 29, 1828 and brought Montgomery County when 9 months old. His father, the grandfather of Mrs. Whittington built the first flour mill in Montgomery County and Joel G. Deere practically grew up in the mill and afterwards became its owner. The site of this mill is on Sugar Creek about 15 miles below Crawfordsville. The mill still stands and is known as Deere’s Mill. Joel G. Deere died on 9 Feb 1903 but the mother, Mary E. Deere and widow of Joel G still survives and is living with her daughter, Mrs. Elva D. Whittington at the Whittington home on Grant Avenue.
William Tyre Whittington loved his home and was very devoted to his wife and children and never fully recovered from the blow he received because of the death of his daughter Mildred. He was very appreciative of the help his wife gave him in his successful career.
His wife, Elva D. Whittington, always took an active part in all forms of community, church and club affairs and at the same time, keeping her home as the main shrine about which herself and family worshipped. This home gave a joyous glow of warmth to every comer and Mrs. Whittington delighted in his home and the home ties between himself, wife and family.,
William Tyre Whittington was a man of great eloquence and his services as an orator were in demand not only for political but other occasions. One of the many public addresses which he made in the sate was the address at the dedication of the Soldiers Monument on the Courthouse corner in Crawfordsville. He was a republican in politics an active Mason a member of Eastern Star and Knights of Pythias. At the age of 17 he united with the Baptist Church at Freedom and later and up until the time of his death was an active member of the Baptist Church at Crawfordsville.
His practice in law was wide. As a lawyer he represented a large number of legitimate and important interests and his services were given to many of the leading cases tried over the state. About his last important work as a lawyer and business man was in connection with the receivership of the Ben Hur Traction Company in the Federal courts of Indianapolis. He accumulated a comfortable competency and made a number of profitable investments, both in and outside of the state. He used his means intelligently and traveled extensively over his home country and was very fond of outdoor life and athletic sports, being an enthusiastic golf player and member of the C’ville Country Club at the time of his death. His surviving law partner, Robert H. Williams paid him this much deserved tribute:
“William Tyre Whittington was one of the ablest lawyers in Indiana. Most lawyers are fitted for a few special phase of their work; he was capable and skillful in every phase. He was unexcelled as a trial lawyer and yet equally as good as an office lawyer – a combination that is rare. He never lacked for energy and he never shrank from work but had to be driven away from it. His client’s cause was a part of his life. During the 7 years I was closely associated with him in his large business, I never knew him to make a statement to a client about any matter that was different from what had been gone over and worked out in consultation out of the client’s presence. In other words, he always put himself in his client’s position and worked out his client’s cause as carefully and sincerely as if it was a matter pertaining to his own personal affairs. “He was one of the most sincere, lovable, loyal, upright men that I have ever known. He approached all questions in a well-balanced, conservative, broadminded manner and when he finally arrived at a conclusion was ever ready to enter into negotiations to secure his client’s rights without litigation but if this could not be accomplished, he never lacked energy and courage to champion the cause at the bar of justice. No client represented by him ever had feeble or faint-hearted support and he never lost because he came to court unprepared. “For years he walked in the shadow of death and a warning voice constantly called him away from those activities he loved so well yet with iron will he daily faced it with a smile. His social instinct was strong. To him Nature was bounteous in her gifts. His was a splendid intellect, a warm and generous heart, a character upright and unsullied. His integrity was like granite. He loved liberty and believe in equality of opportunity before the law. He lived nobly his part. His life and character, his career, his ideal, his conduct and his achievements may well challenge the admiration of those who knew him best and stand as a fitting example to the young men of the coming generation.” - typed by kbz