Family:Widney, John (1766-1836)

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John1 Widney, son of James and Mary (Wilson) Whitney, was born 9 Feb 1766, and died 29 Jun 1836, Near Piqua, IA.

He married, 15 Apr 1794, Franklin Co., PA, Mary Johnston, daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth (Bernard) Johnston. She was born 27 Nov 1769, co. Donegal, Ireland, and died 17 Mar 1847, Piqua, Miami Co., OH.

Trustee of Washington Township in 1814, at its organization.

Elected Associate Judge for Miami Co., May 1817, and served five terms.

"Stephen Widney, retired farmer and stock-raiser P. O. Piqua born in Franklin Co., Penn., April 9, 1806; is the son of John and Mary (Johnston) Widney, who, in 1810, sold their farm and a mill property and removed to Ohio, then known as the "backwoods; " they settled in Miami Co., three miles northwest of where the city of Piqua now stands, but which then consisted of two log cabins; he bought a quarter-section of land, with 3 acres cleared and a log cabin on it, and entered three quarter-sections adjoining, one for each of his three sons; his uncle, John Johnston, then Government Agent for five or six of the Indian tribes, brought his family at the same time and settled within one mile of them; at that time, there were no settlers outside of their location, and, with the exception of three or four families, from two to four miles on the south of them, the Indians, for the first year, were their only neighbors, but they were not troublesome, with the exception of stealing two of their horses, one of which they never recovered, and, occasionally, their fat hogs, when running in the woods, although that was often done by others, on the Indians' credit; the first year, they raised potatoes sufficient for their own use; the next year, nearly all their own provisions and the third year, they had grain to sell to new settlers. They had nine children, three sons and six daughters; their first cabin was about 20x24 feet, and, besides their own family occupying the beds, they often had eight or ten Indians to sleep on their blankets on the floor. During the war of 1812 to 1815, some of the settlers went into "block-houses;" the country was patrolled by rangers, and, although the Government kept and fed from 2,000 to 3,000 Indians, in the immediate neighborhood, to keep them from joining the English in Canada (which many of them did), yet no serious depredations were committed in this vicinity, though some were in other parts of the county. In 1815, the first school-house was built, a round log cabin about twenty-four feet square; the first teacher was a young Kentuckian, returning from the war, who fought his last battle with Harrison where Tecumseh was killed; he taught one quarter, and wore out about one black-haw switch every day, often taking a whole bench-row at a time, in order, as he said, to make them mind their books; in 1818, a number of the settlers joined together and built a brick schoolhouse, twenty-five feet square, with a good fireplace in each end, a jointed floor, benches and desks of slabs; a teacher was employed at $500 per year, paid by subscription, and taught most of the time for about seven years; and here Mr. Widney, the subject of our sketch, with a number of other boys, graduated as " Bachelors of General Knowledge," which consisted in being pretty well grounded in the three R's; honest reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic and a smattering of English grammar; this house was for years used as a church, on Sabbath Days, and here, on alternate Sabbaths, the Methodist circuit riders dispensed the Gospel with no uncertain sound; most of them were "sons of thunder," and Mr. Widney, when a boy, has heard old Abbot Goddard, on a still evening, from the schoolhouse to his father's, a distance of three-fourths of a mile through the woods; not many went to sleep under the Gospel ministry in those days. In 1818, Mr. Widney's father was elected, bv the Legislature, one of the Associate Judges for the Court of Common Pleas, for the county, and served in that capacity for seven years; the Court was held in a log building which would not now be thought good enough for a stable and many persons attending Court, for want of other accommodations, had to stop at a private house; yet the scales of justice were held with as even a balance as now, and not half the "red tape" to untie to come at a decision. After the peace with England in 1815, the county began to settle up rapidly, and, soon, to wear the aspect of civilization; everything was low-priced, but dry goods and groceries; wheat, 25 cents per bushel; corn, 10 cents, oats, 6 cents; but the people raised flax, dressed and manufactured it themselves, carded, spun and wove their own wool, made it up at home, and were generally prosperous and happy. In 1827, Mr. Widney cast his first vote for John Quincy Adams, and since voted with the Whig, and latterly with the Republican party, when he thought such vote would best subserve the public interest, but has always been an independent voter; in 1836, Mr. Widney's father, after a life of honest enterprise, came to the close of his 71st year; then death came, in a quiet hour, and found him at peace with his God and surrounded by friends his mother lived on for nine years, and then her vigorous frame and active spirit felt the weariness of age, and she, too, laid herself down to rest by the side of him with whom, for nearly fifty years, she had traveled life's dusty road; they sleep in Upper Piqua Cemetery, with many of their old pioneer associates, who, with them, helped to redeem the Upper Miami Valley from a savage wilderness, and make it the luxurious home of future generations; may their sleep be sweet, and honored alike be the humble mound or statelier stone that mares their graves."[1]

Will of John Widney, Sr., dated 21 Aug 1834, proved 8 Aug 1836, Miami Co., OH, p. 150. Wife: Mary; Sons: Stephen and Wilson; daughters Mary Ann Caldwell, Elizabeth Keyt, Sarah Ross, Jane Widney; Executor: wife and sons, John & William Johnston, Jr.[2]

Children of John1 and Mary (Johnston) Widney:

i. (child)2 Widney, b. 10 Feb 1795; d. 10 Feb 1795.
ii. (child) Widney, b. 10 Feb 1795; d. 10 Feb 1795.
iii. Elizabeth Widney, b. 24 Dec 1795; d. young.
iv. Mary Ann Widney, b. 5 Aug 1797; d. 7 Jul 1841; m. Joseph Caldwell.
v. Margaret Widney, b. 5 Apr 1799; m. 1817, Miami Co., OH, John Keyte.
vi. Elizabeth Widney, b. 6 Mar 1801; d. 6 Sep 1848; m. 1821, James D. Keyt.
vii. John Widney, b. 14 Nov 1802, Washington Co., PA; d. 13 Jan 1879, White Twp., Kendall Co., IL; m. 22 Jun 1824, Dayton, OH, Mary Henderson.
viii. Rachel Widney, b. 18 Aug 1804; d. 15 Jul 1822.
ix. Stephen Widney, b. 9 Apr 1806, Franklin Co., PA; d. 28 Mar 1886, Piqua, OH.
x. Sarah Widney, b. 13 Feb 1808; d. 5 Jul 1875; m. 9 Nov 1826, Miami Co., OH, Charles Ross.
xi. Wilson Widney, b. 4 Dec 1809, PA; d. 22 Mar 1852, Piqua, Miami Co., OH.
xii. Jane Widney, b. 26 Jan 1812; d. 1852.



  • Census records

1.^  [

1880 History of Miami County, Ohio, Biography 1352].

2.^  OHIO GENEALOGY EXPRESS, Miami County, Ohio, Probate Records, vol. T-Z, p. 150.

Copyright © 2009, 2011, Tim Doyle, Robert L. Ward, and the Whitney Research Group.