By Amanda Bloomer

John A. Templeton was born in Union County, Pennsylvania, on February 12, 1831.  His father and mother were both natives of Pennyslvania.[1]  In 1844, John and his parents moved to Freeport, Illinois, where his father took up farming.  He and his family were one among many New England families who made this journey to the Midwest.[2] John’s future wife, Elizabeth Gettemy, was from a family that, like the Templetons, had migrated from Pennsylvania to Illinois. John and Elizabeth were married on December 20, 1855, at the bride’s home right outside of Freeport.[3]

 The couple moved to Monmouth in April of 1865 and remained there for the rest of their lives. John marked his arrival in town by buying out the lumber business of W. B. Jones (later McCullough Lumber and Coal Company). He continued in that business until 1878 when he sold it to O. D. Rugg.[4] He and his wife were active members of First Presbyterian Church. Both John and Elizabeth’s obituaries state that the two never had any children of their own, but two children are listed under their household in the 1870 census.  One of the children, George, lived out his days in Monmouth with a large family of his own; at one time, even holding a position at the same plow company that his foster father worked for. His obituary says that he and his sister moved from New York to Monmouth in 1861 to live with their foster parents John and Elizabeth Templeton. [5] George was three at the time; his sister, Electa, seven.[6]

 In 1869, Templeton was elected to the office of mayor. There are no documents to indicate anything extraordinary of his administration. Although his year in office did see the damaging fire at the planing mill of Roberts, Dunn, and Co. as well as the creation of the Monmouth College Courier.[7] It is unclear how he landed the job or if he had any previous political experience. However, as a young, productive member of Monmouth society, it is possible to imagine why Templeton would have been an appealing candidate. He only served one year as mayor, but continued to be an active member in the community long after his exit from office. At the conclusion of his term, Templeton bought some farm land, and served as a representative for the Weir Plow Company for a ten year period in which he traveled extensively, his brother, D. C. Templeton, also traveled widely as a Weir Plow Company salesman from about 1868 to 1888

A sad moment in his life came in April of 1898, when D. C. Templeton's body was brought to John's home for viewing, then to the United Presbyterian Church for the funeral. According to the Review of April 21, D. C. Templeton was genial and generous, with many friends, a characteristic that made him very successful in his profession of salesman; D.C. Templeton had been born near Freeport, Illinois, March 2, 1845, had had married Harriet Paine; he was an 1867 graduate of Monmouth College, she an 1865 graduate.

There is anecdote about John Templeton from the latter half of his life which speaks either to his character or old age (maybe both). On June 18, 1909, Templeton went to the house of a Mrs. Royce in an “attempt to regain property he had just sold to the Royce family”.[8] Mrs. Royce refused to return the papers to Mr. Templeton who, in turn, got “a bit angry”. The article cites a “scuffle” that took place between the two before Mr. Templeton walked away with the deeds in his possession. He then burned the documents for good measure. Templeton was later arrested under a warrant and had to pay a hundred dollar fee although there is no record of whether or not he was ever forced to replace the deeds. Another incident involving Mr. Templeton occurred on June 28, 1910, when the elderly Templeton (then seventy-nine) was run over by a horse and buggy while trying to cross the road.[9] He came away from the accident with some cuts, bruises, and three cracked ribs, but rebounded quickly from his injuries. Elizabeth died in December of 1921. There were plans, if she had lived, to celebrate her and John’s sixty-fifth wedding anniversary.[10] John died at the Warren County Home on January 21, 1924 at the age of ninety-two.[11]

Amanda Bloomer wrote this biography for her historiography class at Monmouth College in the fall of 2005 under the direction of William Urban.

[1] Monmouth Review Atlas, 25 January, 1924 , 26. In John’s obituary, his father is identified as Simon C. Templeton. However, the 1850 census has him listed as Alexander C. Templeton. Even though John’s middle name is never mentioned, it would have been common for a father to pass his name on to his son--especially an only son (John’s middle initial is A.).

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Binder 2 p. 702.  Children originally named Stillwagon.  No further information on Electa.

[6] An advertisement in the April 7, 1865, issue of the  Monmouth Review announces that an agent from the New York Juvenile Asylum would be coming to Monmouth with orphans in need of foster homes; Census of 1880 has John aged 39, a lumber dealer; Lizzie aged 36, born PA, Electa 16, Geo. W. aged 12, and living with them were Rebecca Bunell, 33, born PA, and Mary Gettemey, 72, born PA.

[7] Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Warren County (ed. Hugh R. Moffet & Thomas H. Rogers. Chicago, 1903).

[8] Moffit Book: The Old Timer Columns. Vol. 10, page 81.

[9] Moffit Book: The Old Timer Columns. Vol. 11, page 36.

[10] Monmouth Review Atlas, 25 January, 1924, 26.

[11] Monmouth Review Atlas, 25 January, 1924, 26.