The largest department store in Fortville, Hancock county, Indiana, is that conducted by A. J. Whetsel. Mr. Whetsel is a native of Indiana and was born December 20, 1850, a son of Joseph and Nancy (Sherman) Whetsel, who came to Indiana in an early day. Joseph Whetsel first located in Noblesville, Hamilton county, where he was employed as an engineer on the Lake Erie & Western railway for a few years and then came to Hancock county, and for several years was employed as a stationary engineer at Woodbury. In 1872 he settled in Fortville, where he passed the remainder of his life and died May 20, 1894, of heart failure, at the age of eighty-five years. He was a highly respected member of the Methodist Episcopal church and was familiarly known as Uncle Joe. Mrs. Nancy (Sherman) Whetsel passed away in 1864 at the age of fifty-three years, leaving her husband with a family of five children, three of whom still survive, namely: Amanda, wife of Charles Sprong; Andrew J., the subject proper of this record, and Ametta, wife of Abner Kinnaman.
Andrew J. Whetsel was reared to work on a farm in summer, while his winters were passed in attending a primitive school in Woodbury, in the meantime working for his board and clothes. After a few years of this course of life he began as a clerk in a general store which was conducted by W. S. Bills at Woodbury, and this position he faithfully filled for fifteen years. When the business was transferred from Woodbury to Fortville Mr. Whetsel was made a partner and the business conducted under the firm name of Joseph Bills & Company until January, 1893, when Mr. Whetsel withdrew from the firm and established a similar business on his personal account in the Cahen block, at Fortville. Two years later he removed to the Schultz block, which he occupied seven years, and in November, 1901, removed to the new Henry, Walker and &McCord block, the largest and most modern business edifice in Fortville. Mr. Whetsel is now doing the largest department trade in Hancock County, the establishment being complete in every detail and the stock more varied and satisfactory than any that can be found in neighboring cities.
Mr. Whetsel was first united in marriage in 1873 with Miss Sallie Huston, daughter of Thomas W. Huston, of Fortville, Indiana, but this lady was untimely called away in 1886, leaving to deeply mourn her death her husband and two children, Everard N. and Gertrude May. The second marriage of Mr. Whetsel was with Miss Hattie Thomas, daughter of Levi Thomas, of Fortville, and this union has been crowned also with two children, Raymond Victor and Hortense.
Religiously, Mr. Whetsel is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, to the maintenance of which he freely contributes from his means on all available occasions and the precepts of which he formulates into a rule by when are measured or gauged all the acts of his daily life. Fraternally he is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; he is likewise a member of the Eastern Star and Rebekah branches of these orders, besides being a member of the Knights of Pythias encampment.
Mr. Whetsel is one of the most enterprising and progressive business men of Fortville, and socially the family are among the highly esteemed and best element in the vicinity in which they reside. The Thomas family hold equally high standing, Levi Thomas, the father of Mrs. Whetsel, being one of the older residents of the locality.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 433-434.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI Aug 15, 2006.
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