Biography - G. E. PENNEY
G. E. Penney, a retired farmer residing at Ottawa, Illinois, may well be classed among the representative men of LaSalle county. Intelligent, public-spirited and liberal, his life has been an example and inspiration to others to make the best of their opportunities, even as he has done. He was born in the town of Adams, Jefferson county, New York, October 3, 1832, the state in which his father, George Penney, was also born. The family came from England to this country about the year 1630 and settled in the New England colony. The grandfather Penney married a Miss Crosby and moved to "York" state, where he brought up his children. George Penney married Miss Polly Gardner, whose father, Ezekiel Gardner, was a native of Rhode Island and moved from that state to New York after the birth of Polly. She died in that state in 1870, and her husband twenty years later.
Mr. Penney was the second child in a family of five who reached mature years. His boyhood and youth were passed in Jefferson county, and there he received his education, finishing with a course in Adams college. He farmed in the summer and for three years employed his time by teaching during the winter months, but his natural inclination was for farming, and in 1856 he came to LaSalle county and purchased a farm of one hundred acres at Freedom Center, in Freedom township. This land and its cultivation received his closest attention and he brought it to such a state of perfection that it yielded him a sufficient return to enable him to add to it until he owned four hundred acres of the choice land for which this state is famous. He has been much interested in raising cattle and hogs of a fine grade, and in this respect he has been a benefactor to the community by teaching them the benefit to be derived from raising choice stock on the farm. He has been unusually successful as a corn-grower, raising some two hundred acres annually and feeding a part of it to his hogs and cattle, thus not only getting more for his crop, but also keeping his land in the best possible condition of fertility. He feeds and sells from this farm each year a carload of hogs, and his successful crops and handsome returns from the stock raised has demonstrated clearly that he has solved the problem of extensive crop-raising without impoverishing the land. For twenty years he gave his entire attention to agriculture, and then took up his residence in Ottawa in 1877, and the following twelve years carried on his farm by means of hired help. Since then he has rented the land and for four years engaged in buying grain near the Rock Island Railroad.
In 1855 Mr. Penney was married to Miss Arvilla Wheeler, daughter of Daniel Wheeler and a native of the township of Lorraine, near Adams, New York, where our subject was born. Three children were born to them: Anna Dell, wife of Thomas McCall, of Chicago; Edith M., wife of Emil Johnson, of this city; and George B., of Chicago. Mrs. Penney passed to her reward May 6, 1896, a sincere member of the Baptist church, and left a host of friends to mourn her demise.
April 17, 1899, Mr. Penney was married to Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, the daughter of Rev. David and Ruth (Lewis) Prichard. Her father was a native of Brekenshire, Wales, and her mother of Remsen, Oneida county, New York. Mrs. Penney was born in Delhi, Delaware county, Ohio, January 26, 1850. By her former marriage, to W. W. Johnson, she had two daughters: Mrs. Lucy Lansing, who lives at Amboy, Illinois; and Gertrude, who lives with her mother.
Mr. Penney is an earnest worker in the Baptist church, of which he is a trustee, and he is also a prominent Mason, belonging to Freedom Lodge, No. 194, A. F. & A. M. In politics he is a Republican, but has never aspired to office. In 1892 he erected a fine residence in one of the most pleasant locations in the city, on Paul street, which is a model of modern architecture and convenience. It is finished in the most approved modern style and heated throughout with hot water, making it a most comfortable and desirable property. Mr. Penney is characterized as a broad-minded, upright man, whose conduct in life will bear the test of the closest scrutiny and who has the esteem of everyone.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 163-165.