The German press of the United States is a power that must always be considered by those who watch the trend of public sentiment. The German press of Illinois has long been recognized as of first-class ability, and the Central Illinois Wochenblatt, published by J. J. Witte & Son, at Ottawa, long ago attained a standing as one of the strongest German papers in the state, which position it is likely to maintain for many years.
John J. Witte, editor and publisher of the Central Illinois Wochenblatt, was born in Colmar, Prussia, August 20, 1845, and came to the United States in 1865. He worked at his trade, that of printer, for four years in New York, Milwaukee, Chicago and Springfield, until March 4, 1869, when he came to Ottawa and purchased an interest in the Wochenblatt. For ten years the paper was published by Denhard & Witte, until the death of Mr. Denhard in February, 1879, since which time it has been published by John J. Witte and the firm of J. J. Witte & Son. Mr. Witte is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is widely known in German newspaper circles throughout the country.
Edward R. Witte, junior member of the firm of J. J. Witte & Son, was born at Ottawa, April 4, 1874, and attended the schools of that city. He learned his trade in the Wochenblatt office, and was admitted to partnership with his father a few years ago.
He enlisted in Company M, of the Sixth Infantry, Illinois National Guard (now Company C, Third Infantry), March 29, 1891, and he is now second sergeant of the company. On January 2 he was appointed corporal in said company, and on Alay 3, 1897, he was promoted sergeant. On April 27 Edward R. Witte enlisted with Company C as quartermaster sergeant in the volunteer army, U. S. A., serving in that capacity throughout the Spanish war, doing duty on the island of Porto Rico, and was discharged with said company on January 19, 1899. Since then he has again enlisted in Company C, Illinois National Guard, and ranks as quartermaster sergeant.
The Wochenblatt has been ably edited for nearly thirty-two years by Mr. Witte, and is one of the most influential German papers in Illinois. For twenty-five years it has been the official German paper of LaSalle county, and is widely read throughout this part of Illinois.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 287-288.